One of the most exciting new feature in VSAN 6.1 is the new Stretched Clustering capability which also provides support for a 2-Node ROBO deployment. If you are interested in learning more about the new VSAN 6.1 capabilities, be sure to check out Duncan's blog post here as well as a video on how to configure the new VSAN Stretched Clustering here. Like many of you, I am sure you are looking forward to giving both vSphere 6.0 Update 1 as well as the new VSAN 6.1 capabilities a spin in your home lab or development environment. By now, you probably know how easy it is to run Nested ESXi on top of your existing vSphere environment. However, not everyone has access to a vSphere environment. The next best thing is using VMware Fusion and Workstation which also supports Nested ESXi and for many of our customers and field, it is a great solution as it allows you to easily play with all the VMware goodies while you are on the go, especially useful if you travel frequently.
How to evaluate the vSphere VCSA Beta running on VMware Fusion & Workstation?
If you are taking part in the vSphere Beta (available to public to sign up but still under NDA), you may have recently noticed a new milestone release (RC) that has been made available for download. Having been a long time Beta participant when I was customer and still continuing to do so in my current role, the best way to evaluate and test new VMware software is to of course run them on top of vSphere! I know this may not be an option for everyone and the next best thing would be to use VMware Fusion or Workstation.
For those of you who have tried to run the vSphere Beta of VCSA on VMware Fusion or Workstation, you may have found that it does not work as there are some input parameters that are required as part of the new VCSA deployment. These parameters leverages OVF properties which are currently not supported in VMware Fusion and Workstation and therefore the new injectOvfEnv option in ovftool can not be used.
Having said that, VMware Engineering is quite aware that this can be challenging for many customers as well as VMware Employees who make use of Fusion and Workstation on a daily basis. That is why they have built the VCSA to be quite flexible to support both vSphere as well as Fusion and Workstation, however the process may not be completely obvious for the latter. If you inspect the latest VCSA Beta OVA, which you will need to extract from the ISO, you will notice a series of "keys" that begin with guestinfo which is just leveraging custom key/value pairs for the OVF environment.
Ideally, these are passed in from the OVF Properties using either the vSphere Web Client or the new VCSA deployment tool. However, due to the lack of OVF Property support, it can also be passed in through the VMX file of the Virtual Machine.
Here are the steps to deploy the VCSA Beta using either VMware Fusion or Workstation:
Step 1 - Download the VCSA Beta which is available as an ISO
Step 2 - Extract the contents of the ISO and add the .ova extension to following file located in vcsa/vmware-vcsa (this is the VCSA OVA)
Step 3 - Upload the OVA using either VMare Fusion or Workstation (you can either double click or just go to File->Open) but make sure you do not power it on after deployment. (this is very important)
Step 4 - Locate the directory in which the VCSA was deployed to and open up the VMX file and append the following (make sure to change the IP information and passwords based on your environment):
guestinfo.cis.appliance.net.addr.family = "ipv4" guestinfo.cis.appliance.net.mode = "static" guestinfo.cis.appliance.net.addr = "192.168.1.90" guestinfo.cis.appliance.net.prefix = "24" guestinfo.cis.appliance.net.gateway = "192.168.1.1" guestinfo.cis.appliance.net.dns.servers = "192.168.1.1" guestinfo.cis.vmdir.password = "VMware1!" guestinfo.cis.appliance.root.passwd = "VMware1!" guestinfo.cis.appliance.time.tools-sync = "True" guestinfo.cis.appliance.ssh.enabled = "True"
Note: The example above is a very basic VCSA deployment which should suffice for the majority of you. If you wish to deploy a more complex scenario, you can inspect the VCSA OVA for additional parameters and see their expected values.
Step 5 - Once you have saved your changes, go ahead and power on the VCSA. At this point, the guestinfo properties that you just added will be read in by VMware Tools as the VCSA is booting up and the configuration will begin. Depending on the speed of your hardware, hopefully in a very short amount of time you will have a fully configured VCSA that is ready for your evaluation and testing.
Here is a screenshot of running the VCSA Beta on both VMware Fusion and Workstation:
If you wanted to take this one step further and automate the entire deployment, you can leverage the ovftool to deploy the OVA as shown with the Fusion example below:
'/Applications/VMware Fusion.app/Contents/Library/VMware OVF Tool/ovftool' --name=vmware-vcsa --acceptAllEulas --allowExtraConfig /PATH/TO/VCSA/OVA '/Users/lamw/Documents/Virtual Machines.localized'
and then append the specific configuration using either an echo or here-statement. You can also do the same on Windows leveraging either plain Windows Bat script or PowerShell.
Hopefully for those of you who only have access to Fusion or Workstation, you can now also take part in the vSphere Beta if you do not have a vSphere lab that can be used. I would also recommend checking out the vSphere Beta Community as there is a new contest that launched today for finding bugs in the latest RC release. Not only can you help improve the product through your feedback, you can also win some some $$$ in doing so!
An alternate way to inject OVF properties when deploying virtual appliances directly onto ESXi
I recently published an article demonstrating how to inject OVF properties into the VCSA and other virtual appliances when deploying directly onto ESXi using an unreleased version of ovftool (4.0). A fellow reader by the name of VirtualJMills, as he is known on Twitter left an interesting comment using an alternate solution which I thought was actually pretty clever!