VMware vSphere 6.5 Series (Part 2) – VMware Host Client – Configuration

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series VMware vSphere 6.5 Series

VMware vSphere 6.5 Series

This is my first attempt at a series and I decided to make it about vSphere 6.5.  I’ll be covering as many new components and features of vSphere 6.5 as possible here so sit back and enjoy!

VMware Host Client – Configuration

So by now you may be asking, “How do I configure this thing?” and by “this thing” you mean the VMware Host Client.  I’ll be going over that here by configuring networking, storage and building a VM.  This is the follow up to the article I recently posted called VMware Host Client – Introduction.  That article was, as the name implies, an introduction to the VMware Host Client including what it looks like and what’s new.

This article should demonstrate a few fundamentals for configuring a host using the VMware Host Client.  I’m going to configure networking components on the host including vSwitches, VMKernel NICs and Ports Groups,  On the storage I will configure the iSCSI Initiator and present a pre-provisioned datastore to the host.  Finally I will install Windows Server 2016 on a new virtual machine.

A quick refresher

If you read the previous article you’d recognize exactly where we are here.  If not, we’re on the Virtual Machines tab of the VMware Host Client.  We’re just starting on a freshly installed host so of course we don’t have any VM’s listed yet to manage.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

Dropping down to the Storage section you’ll see we have one datastore and though you can’t tell from this view it’s a local disk datastore.  We certainly don’t want to use this for the VM(s) we’re going to create.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

On the Networking section we have our VM Network Port Group and Management Network Port Group.  These are defaults when you install ESXi and they become used after your host gets an IP from DHCP or when you configure IP settings on your host from the DCUI.  Although they aren’t shown here we also have vSwitch0, the physical NICs and the Management Network VMKernel NIC that are also tied into getting your host on the network.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

Configuring iSCSI on the host

I’m using my WD DL4100 to present an iSCSI volume to my hosts but in order for the host to see it we have to do some configuration.  There are several ways to go about presenting iSCSI storage to hosts.   I’ve got VLANs broken out in my switching to separate the traffic and allow me to have multiple networks for different purposes in my lab.  Some of that is currently in transition so the IP’s I use initially may not reflect a best practice or end state configuration.  The bottom line is it’s definitely subject to change.  That being said this will at least demonstrate the things we need to fill out and configure to get iSCSI running on the host.

The first thing we need is a new vSwitch for our iSCSI traffic.  Clicking on the Virtual Switches tab and then on Add standard virtual switch we’re presented with the dialog below.  I set the name to something obvious so we know what this vSwitch is used for.  I have the option to change the MTU and select the primary uplink vmnic.  You can also click Add Uplink to add multiple uplink vmnics to the new vSwitch.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

Here we see the result of adding the new iSCSI vSwitch.  Notice I have no port groups associated yet.  Currently I’m only using 1 uplink and will add more later.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

Now we’re ready to add a VMKernel NIC for iSCSI.  This is also referred to as a VMKernel Port.  I click on Add VMKernel NIC here to Add/Configure the new VMKernel interface.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

The Add VMKernel NIC dialog comes up.  Here I set the Port Group to New Port Group.  I set the new port groups name as iSCSI0 (this can be whatever you want really) and I pick the iSCSI vSwitch created earlier.  I am not setting the VLAN ID in this example since as I mentioned my lab network is in transition and I don’t have my NAS in the right place just yet, but in the future this will be set to my iSCSI VLAN.  Most iSCSI storage arrays can benefit from using Jumbo Frames so in most cases you would set the MTU to 9000.  In my lab this isn’t really necessary and won’t benefit performance in any meaningful way.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

Of course we want to set a Static IP so I expand the IPv4 Settings and input the IP Address and Subnet Mask I want to use.  A few more options here include setting the TCP/IP Stack and picking Services for the VMKernel NIC to use.  The Default TCP/IP stack is what we want to use in this case.  The drop down also allows you to pick vMotion Stack or Provisioning Stack.  Changing the TCP/IP Stack gives you the ability to set a dedicated Default Gateway, routing table and DNS configuration for that traffic type which could be handy.  The Services check boxes allow you to set type of traffic this VMKernel NIC can be dedicated for.  The Services are system/host specific traffic types like vMotion, Management and Fault Tolerance among others.  In the case of iSCSI it’s not system specific traffic and so we don’t define a service here for this VMKernel NIC.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

Clicking the Create button on that dialog build the VMKernel NIC with the settings we specified, listed as vmk1 below.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

Switching to the Port Groups tab we see our actions have added a iSCSI0 Port Group with an Active Port and associated to the iSCSI vSwitch we created.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

On the Storage section and on the Adapters tab we can see the local hardware based storage adapters/controllers.  With this configuration we’ll be using the iSCSI Software Initiator.  It’s not enabled by default and previously this would have been a 2 step process to enable the iSCSI Software Initiator and then configure it through Properties.  The VMware Host Client has added this Configure iSCSI selection which does both steps at once.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

On the Configure iSCSI dialog the first thing we need to do is click the Enabled radio button to enable the iSCSI Software Initiator on the ESXi host.  Next we see it has auto-created an iSCSI IQN name which is normally an important bit of information to copy down.  You will need this IQN to add to your iSCSI storage array to tell it to allow access from your host.  Skipping down to Network Port Bindings we add the VMKernel port we created previously.   In this configuration I’m not using a Group or Discovery IP for Dynamic discovery of iSCSI targets, but in most cases that is where you would configure the Group/Discovery IP address for the iSCSI storage array.  Since I only have one iSCSI LUN on my NAS I’ve added it as a Static target using the NAS IQN and IP address.  That’s it here and we’re ready to click Save Configuration

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

The Configure iSCSI dialog has added an iSCSI Software Adapter as seen below.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

New Datastore Added

After the new iSCSI initiator is created I took the IQN and added it to my NAS so the host can talk to it.  I clicked New Datastore and added the new LUN as WDESXVOL01.  Notice it’s formatted as VMFS6.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

The new Datastore Browser is pretty cool in that it allows you to switch between datastores in dialog instead of making you open multiple datastore browser windows for each datastore.  This new WDESXVOL01 datastore is blank since we just created it.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

Clicking Create Directory pulls up the New Directory dialog and I want to upload some ISOs into a folder so I enter ISOs in the Directory Name box and click Create Directory.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

Back on the Datastore Browser we see the new ISOs directory we just created.  Now I want to upload an ISO so I click Upload.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

The Open dialog comes up and I navigate to where I have my Windows Server 2016 ISO and click Open.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

The ISO image begins uploading to the folder on the datastore and we can watch its progress on the Recent Tasks section.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

Once finished uploading if we open the Datastore Browser again and navigate to the ISOs folder we can see the Windows Server 2016 ISO we just uploaded.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

Creating a new VM and installing Windows Server 2016

We now have the datastore created and the Windows Server 2016 ISO uploaded so we can attach it to a VM and get the OS installed.  On the Virtual Machines section we can see there’s no VM’s yet so I click Create/Register VM to get started.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

A couple options are presented but this time we’re just going to Create a new virtual machine.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

My lab is pretty much vanilla at this point and to do much more moving forward it would be nice to have an Active Directory Domain Controller so that’s the first VM I’m going to build.  I set the Name of the VM, choose Hardware Version a.k.a Compatibility mode and Guest OS Family and Version.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

I select the datastore created in the previous steps to house my new VM.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

I set the hardware options here and chose to have 2 vCPUs, 8GB of RAM and a 60GB disk.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

The last screen allows us to validate the settings for the new VM.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

Here’s the new VM in its powered off state.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

I need to make some changes to the VM so I jump to the Actions menu and select Edit Settings.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

I want to install Windows Server 2016 and in order to do so I have to connect the ISO I uploaded previously to the CD/DVD drive attached to the VM.  I edit the drive and attach Datastore ISO File and select the Windows Server 2016 ISO from the datastore.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

Once the ISO is attached I power up the VM and get the Windows Server 2016 install started.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

The VMware Host Client shows a preview of where the VM is at in the boot process but I need to interact with it.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

With the VM selected I have a Console menu with a number of options.  I’m going to select Open Browser Console which will open the VM console inside the browser.  It’s also recommended to install the VMRC (VMware Remote Console) plugin.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

On the new Console tab we have the Windows Server 2016 install which is really easy.  Click Next and select the disk you want to install it onto and that’s pretty much it.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

The install process only takes a few minutes and a quick reboot.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

After the install is done we have to set the local administrator password.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

And that’s it.  Windows Server 2016 is installed and ready to go.

vSphere 6.5 Series - VMware Host Client

In Conclusion

In this article I’ve worked through configuring our host using the VMware Host Client, configured some networking components, configured iSCSI and built a new VM.  Using the VMware Host Client definitely takes some getting used to because everything seems to be a bit different workflow than the vSphere C# Client.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing though.  There’s certainly some improvements that have been made to working with and configuring a host.

I’ll be following this up with installing the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) once I get the Active Directory Domain Controller built.  I’ll post the Domain Controller process in an article not associated with this series so stay tuned!  Thanks for reading!

Series Navigation<< VMware vSphere 6.5 Series (Part 1) – VMware Host Client – Introduction

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