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Creating a mini VMware Lab using VMware Workstation – Part 1

Creating a mini VMware Lab using VMware Workstation – Part 1

VMware vSphere 5.0 has finally arrived and includes several new unique features – such as Storage DRS and Autodeploy – that deliver unprecedented value to VMware customers. Unlike prior versions, vSphere 5 supports only the ESXi hypervisor architecture, the only thin purpose-built hypervisor that does not depend on a general purpose operating system.

Altogether, it’s an awesome server virtualization software from VMware. What we’ll do in this part of the blog series is set up the ESXi server as a VM on VMware Workstation 8. Later on, we’ll create a FreeNAS server too as a VM and connect the ESXi with it, creating a mini Lab!!

Steps to Install VMware vSphere 5 (ESXi 5) in VMware Workstation with Windows 7

VMware is one of the coolest virtualization software. It supports most of the operating systems as guest operating system. Microsoft Server operating systems such as windows 2008 and windows 2008 R2 also can be installed in VMware workstation. Here I’m going to show how you can install ESXi 5 server on VMware Workstation

1) Make sure your computer processor supports hardware Virtualization Technology (VT) and its enabled in BIOS. If not, enable it in BIOS and check whether the Operating System in sensing it.

Find out more information on how to enable VT-X.

It is enabled in my Intel processor computer which is running Windows 7 64bit.

Memory – vSphere 5 requires minimum 2GB memory for virtual machine, so make sure you have enough of physical memory to allocate for virtual machine and physical computer. I have 4GB physical memory in host.

2) Download the vSphere 5 (ESXi 5.0) and Client version 5 from official site HERE. Registration is required.

3) Create a new virtual machine in VMware workstation or player. Browse the ESXi 5.0 installable ISO file you downloaded. Unfortunately the OS type can’t be detected automatically in Workstation versions 7 and below, but it automatically detects the ESXi on Workstation 8. The one I am using.

4) Set the location of virtual machine and hard disk size also. Here is the summary of my ESXi 5 virtual machine. If you like to customize some settings, such as processor cores, network, sound and extra hard disks, then press ‘Customize Hardware’

NOTE: in order to utilize ESXi as a VM on VMware Workstation, the Virtualize Intel VT-x/EPT or AMD-V/RVI option has to be enabled in the VM Settings à Processors section. In order for this option to work, your physical machine MUST support Virtualization Technology. To know more how to check whether your Machine supports VT, CLICK HERE

5) Start the virtual machine and select ‘Standard Installer’ option.  Press ‘ENTER’ to continue the installation in next screen.

6) Press F11 for EULA.  Select the disk to install if you have multiple virtual disks here. I created and started the vSphere 5 virtual machine with single 40GB disk.

Next screen will be to select the keyboard layout and type the root password. Its better to assign root password (which should be with minimum 7 characters) now.

7) Press Enter to continue the installation if you are sure your physical computer is having hardware virtualization enabled processor.

8.) Once installation completed, remove the ISO from CD drive of virtual machine and restart the VM. It should boot properly and receive DHCP IP as a management IP.

9) Press F2 to customize the server management settings. Enter the root password which was given during the installation.

You need to make sure the virtual machine’s network setting is configured properly to communicate with other hosts or guests. In my case, I will be accessing this vSphere 5 virtual machine from my host computer Windows 7, so I set up the network ‘Host-only’ network type in VMware network settings which will enable the host and guest network communication.

Check the connectivity by pinging the vSphere ESXi 5 server. I could ping to 192.168.2.219 from my physical windows 7 computer.

10) Access the server IP address in your internet browser. Ignore or continue the certificate error, you must be able to see the Getting start page which will redirect you to download vSphere 5 client.

Note- This will take you to VMware’s official site to download vSphere 5 client. If you already downloaded this client package (as shown in Step 2), then skip the download and install the client package.

11) After installing the latest Client version, enter the IP of server and root password. You can ignore certificate error here too.

12) Here is the working VMware vSphere 5 in VMware workstation with Windows 7. Performance is normal because I have only 4GB memory in host. No doubt, this is very helpful for learning and experiment purpose.

It’s always nice to have these type of server virtualization software in normal PCs and create virtual machines in it.

If you are interested in create and connect NAS (Network Access Storage) in same testing environment, you can install FreeNAS OS as a separate virtual machine and connect to vSphere 5. You can read more on a step by step to connect FreeNAS with VMware vSphere server HERE.

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Desktop Virtualization

Desktop Virtualization

As the size of your enterprise increases, so does the scope of its technical and network needs. Something as seemingly simple as applying the latest OS hot fixes, or ensuring that virus definitions are up to date, can quickly turn into a tedious mess when the task must be performed on the hundreds or thousands of computers within your organization.

VDI Allows One to Manage Many

A virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment allows your company’s information technology pros to centrally manage thin client machines, leading to a mutually beneficial experience for both end-users and IT admins.

What is VDI?

Sometimes referred to as desktop virtualization, virtual desktop infrastructure or VDI is a computing model that adds a layer of virtualization between the server and the desktop PCs. By installing this virtualization in place of a more traditional operating system, network administrators can provide end users with ‘access anywhere’ capabilities and a familiar desktop experience, while simultaneously heightening data security throughout the organization.

Some IT professionals associate the acronym VDI with VMware VDI, an integrated desktop virtualization solution. VMware VDI is considered the industry standard virtualization platform.

VDI Provides Greater Security, Seamless User Experience Superior data security: Because VDI hosts the desktop image in the data center, organizations keep sensitive data safe in the corporate data center—not on the end-user’s machine which can be lost, stolen, or even destroyed. VDI effectively reduces the risks inherent in every aspect of the user environment.

More productive end-users: With VDI, the end-user experience remains familiar. Their desktop looks just like their desktop and their thin client machine performs just like the desktop PC they’ve grown comfortable with and accustomed to. With virtual desktop infrastructure, there are no expensive training seminars to host and no increase in tech support issues or calls. End- user satisfaction is actually increased because they have greater control over the applications and settings that their work requires.

Other Benefits of VDI

  • Desktops can be set up in minutes, not hours
  • Client PCs are more energy efficient and longer lasting than traditional desktop computers
  • IT costs are reduced due to a fewer tech support issues
  • Compatibility issues, especially with single-user software, are lessened
  • Data security is increased

VDI Models

There are several different conceptual models of desktop virtualization, which can broadly be divided into two categories based on whether or not the operating system instance is executed locally or remotely. It is important to note that not all forms of desktop virtualization involve the use of virtual machines (VMs).

Host-based forms of desktop virtualization require that users view and interact with their desktops over a network by using a remote display protocol. Because processing takes place in a data center, client devices can be thin clients, zero clients, smartphones, and tablets. Included in this category are:

Host-based virtual machines:Each user connects to an individual virtual machine that is hosted in a data center. The user may connect to the same VM every time, allowing personalization, (known as a persistent desktop) or be given a random VM from a pool (a non-persistent desktop). See also: virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)

Shared hosted: Users connect to either a shared desktop or simply individual applications that run on a server. Shared hosted is also known as remote desktop services or terminal services. See also: remote desktop services and terminal services.

Host-based physical machines or blades: The operating system runs directly on physical hardware located in a data center.

Client-based Virtual Machines: types of desktop virtualization require processing to occur on local hardware; the use of thin clients, zero clients, and mobile devices is not possible. These types of desktop virtualization include:

OS streaming: The operating system runs on local hardware, but boots to a remote disk image across the network. This is useful for groups of desktops that use the same disk image. OS streaming requires a constant network connection in order to function; local hardware consists of a fat-client with all of the features of a full desktop computer except for a hard drive.

Client-based virtual machines: A virtual machine runs on a fully-functional PC, with a hypervisor in place. Client-based virtual machines can be managed by regularly syncing the disk image with a server, but a constant network connection is not necessary in order for them to function.

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What is virtualization?

What is virtualization?

If you work with virtualization for a living, inevitably you’ll be asked what virtualization is. Trying to explain it to someone who doesn’t work with computers can often be challenging, and after you explain it they still may not know what it’s about. So how do you explain it to someone for the first time? I find that using analogies that anyone can relate to is a good way to explain things to people. Before I attempt a virtualization analogy I’ll try explaining it in basic computer terms.

Virtualization software, also called a hypervisor, emulates computer hardware allowing multiple operating systems to run on a single physical computer host. Each guest operating system appears to have the host’s processor, memory, and other resources all to itself. The hypervisor, however, is actually controlling the host processor and resources and allocates what is needed to each operating system, making sure that the guest operating systems (called virtual machines) cannot disrupt each other.

There are two types of x86 virtualization: bare-metal and hosted. Sometimes these types are referred to as Type-1 and Type-2 hypervisors respectively. Bare-metal means the virtualization layer (hypervisor) installs directly onto a server without the need for a traditional operating system like Windows or Linux to be installed first. “Hosted” means that an operating system must first be installed on a server, and the virtualization layer is installed afterwards, just like an application.

Bare-metal hypervisors include VMware ESX, Citrix XenServer and Microsoft Hyper-V Server. Hosted hypervisors include VMware Workstation, Fusion, VMware Player and VMware Server, Microsoft Virtual PC and Microsoft Server, and Sun’s VirtualBox. Some of the differences between hosted and bare-metal hypervisors are listed below.

Hosted hypervisors

  • Requires a host operating system (Windows/Linux/Mac), installs like an application.
  • Virtual machines can use all the hardware resources that the host can see.
  • Maximum hardware compatibility as the operating system supplies all the hardware device drivers.
  • Overhead of a full general-purpose operating system between the virtual machines and the physical hardware results in performance 70-90% of native.

Bare-metal hypervisors

  • Installs right on the bare metal and therefore offers higher performance and scalability but runs on a narrower range of hardware.
  • Many advanced features for resource management, high availability and security.
  • Supports more VMs per physical CPU then hosted products.
  • Because there is no overhead from a full host operating system performance is 83-98% of native. There is a small bit of overhead from the virtualization layer of the hypervisor

Why is virtualization such a great thing? Because most computers do not fully utilize the resources (memory, CPU, disk, network) that they have which is very wasteful. Would you rather have 10 computers that are all using less than 20% of their total resources, or three computers that are using 70% of their resources?

You might think you could avoid this by simply installing more applications on one computer but this is often a bad idea as the applications may conflict with each other and cause problems, and a single OS crash will take down all your applications. Virtualization solves this by allowing the applications to run on the same physical computer, but separates them by allowing each one to have its own isolated guest operating system.

Imagine computers as cars on the road in motion. Each car has its own resources, such as fuel, heat/cooling, radio, etc. Most cars are never filled to capacity, and many have only one person in them which is wasteful.

Imagine virtualization as a bus, instead of many people driving in many cars you now have many people being moved around by a few buses. A person may only ride one bus at a time, but if a bus becomes inoperable due to a flat tire or an engine problem, the people may simply get off and transfer to another bus that has unused seats. In virtualization, this “transfer” happens because of features like High Availability (HA).

A person may also hop from one bus to another if it becomes too crowded while it is moving. In virtualization, this is called VMotion, if you’re using VMware or Live Migration if you’re using Hyper-V. By utilizing buses that hold more people instead of cars, fewer resources are wasted, while all the people still get where they are going. Buying and operating one bus instead of 10 cars is a lot cheaper and more efficient.

Benefits to Virtualization:

Virtualization can help you shift your IT focus from managing boxes to improving the services you provide to the organization. If you are managing multiple servers and desktops, virtualization can help you to:

  • Save money. Companies often run just one application per server because they don’t want to risk the possibility that one application will crash and bring down another on the same machine. Estimates indicate that most x86 servers are running at an average of only 10 to 15 percent of total capacity. With virtualization, you can turn a single purpose server into a multi-tasking one, and turn multiple servers into a computing pool that can adapt more flexibly to changing workloads.
  • Save energy. Businesses spend a lot of money powering unused server capacity. Virtualization reduces the number of physical servers, reducing the energy required to power and cool them.
  • Save time. With fewer servers, you can spend less time on the manual tasks required for server maintenance. On the flip side, pooling many storage devices into a single virtual storage device, you can perform tasks such as backup, archiving and recovery more easily and more quickly. It’s also much faster to deploy a virtual machine than it is to deploy a new physical server.
  • Reduce desktop management headaches. Managing,  securing and upgrading desktops and notebooks can be a hassle. Desktop virtualization solutions let you manage user desktops centrally, making it easier to keep desktops updated and secure.
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