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Installing Management PC

It is recommended to have a dedicated PC from where to run vSphere Client and connect to vCenter Server and other hosts or NAS storages. This would be the PC you would use to manage your Virtual Lab, simulating to be a physical machine as well, just like the hosts we will configured. In a production environment, and in the unlikely event the whole virtualisation goodie goes bust, you still will be able to access the Management PC for some troubleshooting, Internet browsing and to help you out get things back on their feet.

Virtualisation is a wonderful technology so easy to fall in love with, we all know that, and you should by all means try to virtualise every single service that can possible run on your network, including obviously the machine where vCenter will run, but don't ever be 100% virtual (only %99.9!) Same applies to Wireless; it is wonderful to have WiFi but a network cannot (shouldn't be) 100% WiFi.

Pick you your OS of choice for our Management PC, but the requirements specify that it needs to be a 64-bit OS if we want to install the VMware Update Manager plug-in later, which we'll need. Therefore the option that we clearly have at hand is to download the trial of an 64-bit Operating System from Microsoft, like Windows Server 2008 R2 and test it for 180 days, enough for you to learn about virtualisation http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/server-cloud/windows-server/2008-r2-trial.aspx

 

For my MgmtPC I am not using anything fancy, standard trial of Windows Server 2008 R2with 4GB of RAM and 40GB hard drive for the applications we would be running. As you can see for the screenshot the 40GB vDisk on the MgmtPC is pre-allocated, in order to get the best performance of the machine

Notice that this Management PC only has one network card:

  1. VMnet2 would be the default management network on our Virtual Lab, again that vNet does not have the Internet

 

Once you install the OS on the Management PC, the VMware Tools, the latest service pack for the OS and such (see "Enable Folder Sharing" to see how you can access the service packs from your computer to this non-Internet VM) you need to set an IP address to the Virtual network card, so you can connect to the hosts and see if you can ping them.

Grab an IP address that belongs to the same network on your router, this is so that we can later on connect MgmtPC to the Intenet. On my case I chose 192.168.1.50 which I know is not use anywhere on my home network and I also know is excluded from the DHCP pool of my home router. Set the DNS also for our incoming Domain Controllers

Tip: use always the command "ncpa.cpl" to quickly access t he Network Connections folder on any windows OS

Set the name of the computer as "MGMTPC" and you may as well set the workgroup name as "VIRTUAL"

Remote Desktop Connection Manager

I strongly advise you to install the Remote Desktop Connection Manager http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/download/details.aspx?id=21101 This will allow you to control all of your Windows VMs on one single place

Once you install RDCM go to File > New > and create a new .rdg file called "Virtual Lab", then save it on the root of the C:\ drive (not on the desktop, as we'll be adding MgmtPC to a domain later). Then, inside the Virtual Lab add a Do group called "Domain". Now edit the properties of the Domain group and ensure the Drives section under the Local Resources tab is ticked. This will allow all of our future VMs to connect to our main computer to donwload stuff like service packs and such

Still in the Group Properties, you may as well edit the "Logon Credentials" tab and set there the password we'll use for our virtual lab together with the domain "VIRTUAL", domain that we have yet to create.

Only after we have added MgmtPC to our domain, you may want to also visit the "Logon Credentials" tab and input the username and password for the Domain Administrator account that you would be using for your whole of the Virtual Lab; just ensure the password is complex (with funny symbols like @#+) and has a minimum characters of 9 (Chocolat@99 was mine)

Enable Folder Sharing

Now we need to get the vSphere Client to the VM, but remember the Mgmt PC has no Internet connection, so how do we do that? Well, you need to enable "Shared Folders" for the VM using Workstation 9, and map a drive to the Management PC where you will have all of your .iso images, VMware applications and such

On my example, I have mapped to MgmtPC my whole drive S:\, where I stored all the goodies I download from VMware, Microsoft and Open Source locations

 

Extend Windows 2008 R2 activation

It is likely that the 10 days of grace period to use Windows Server 2008 are not enough for us, but Microsoft is at hand:

When Windows start aksing for activation, run this command to extend the grace period for another 10 days:

slmgr.vbs -rearm

Running this parameter will display the remaining time you got for activation

slmgr.vbs -dli

Install vSphere Client

We got a couple of options here:

  • Either visit VMware website to download the vClient for windows
  • Or visit the home page of any of our ESXi server and click on the link under "Getting started"

With this setting up, we can go ahead and install the vSphere Client on the Mgmt PC. We need to get it downloaded first of all on our main computer, and you can do that by visiting any of these sites:

https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/details?downloadGroup=VC50&productId=229 and choosing the option at the bottom

Or from our ESX 1 host by visiting its IP address, copying the relevant shortcut for the client and paste it on the browser in our main computer. The actual link is: http://vsphereclient.vmware.com/vsphereclient/6/2/3/3/7/3/VMware-viclient-all-5.0.0-623373.exe

Right, our final goal after the installation of the Client is to ensure that it works. No better way of testign it that by logging on onto host (the 60 days evaluation of the EXSi OS will start counting from them) and this is it, all done for our Mgmt PC!

 

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References
Unable to download the vSphere Client from the host; since ESX4.1 you need to visit the Internet to download the Client from there, the host will no have it anymore which is actually a good thing. Download to your S:\ drive and grab it from there to the Mgmt PC. http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1029925
 
How to extend the Windows Server 2008 evaluation period; this KB contains the info about how to extend the trial grace period http://support.microsoft.com/kb/948472
 
Availability of vSphere Client for Linux systems; this says the client is only available for Windows ;-( http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1006095