Building a lab datacenter: Upgrading ESXi4 to ESXi5

I recorded a quick video that shows how quickly you can update an ESXi server from 1 version to the other.  Before doing this, your host will need to be in maintenance mode, so all of your virtual machines will need to be vmotioned off first, but this procedure should not cause a lot of pain.

Once the server is down, boot it with an ESXi 5 cd and here is what you will see.  Notice that I am destroying the local VMFS 3 filesystem, as if you simply upgrade your VMFS to 5 you will miss out on certain features.  So if you are storing VM’s locally you will want to keep this in mind and storage vmotion them off prior to doing something like this.

This was recorded in VMWorkstation for demo purposes.


Can’t remove a NFS datastore even though its already offline?

Ran into this tonight, wanted to make a quick post for others who may or may not have seen this before:

This is the message I got after right clicking the NFS datastore and selecting unmount.  Most commonly, this will happen because Vmware thinks a file from the datastore is still being use in by a VM that is running on this host.  Most likely, this is where you kept your ISOs to build your VMs and you forgot to unmount your isos.  Edit the properties of your VMs and make sure there are no mounts still pointing to this datastore.  The easier way to do this would be to use a PowerCLI script, it’ll take care of things like this for you much faster than the GUI.


Building a lab datacenter from the bottom up

In the coming weeks I am going to be making several posts, videos, and screenshots about building a lab datacenter.  The why’s and how’s to this are pretty lengthy, however I will be taking a short answer to the why’s because basically it is for education.  Your goal in this field, if you want to exceed (rather than just succeed) then you must have a desire for education and knowledge.  Most of us learn the best by doing.  In the coming labs we will be doing a lot of doing from setting up storage, installing Vmware ESX , installing Windows 2008 R2 (several times), installing Windows 2008 SQL Server (for vCenter, and later for Vmware view), configuring DNS and maybe some other things depending on what comes up during the process.

It is expected that the lab will change in that we get some new hardware to incorporate into the lab, we’ll make the necessary adjustments and push forward.  Along the way we’ll be taking a look at the importance of planning your environment to avoid some potential “gotchas” as we go along.

One of the first things to think about as far as that is concerned as I plan to leverage a new feature in Vmware ESXi 5 known as Auto Deploy.  This will allow you to boot servers without local storage.  Today this is known as PXE booting, roots are from BOOTP and it all basically still works the same.  However, what happens in a total outage?  Your Auto Deploy environment needs to have DHCP, DNS, vCenter all available in order to operate itself.  Therefore we will create a architect around this issue by creating a Tier-1 environment with local storage to avoid this issue.