Build your own VMware vSphere ESXi 5 Datacenter, starting with 1 PC

Posted by Paul Braren on Jan 24 2012 (updated on Sep 23 2013) in
  • Motherboard
  • Virtualization
  • Finally, here it is, one of my most useful videos to date, hopefully you'll agree. It's particularly helpful for those who have never taken the time to get NTP and hosts files working in a no-DNS home router environment, or never deployed the VMware vCenter Server Appliance.

    This step-by-step guide that walks you through getting your vSphere 5 lab running. Yes, it's soup-to-nuts, all the details are included. Please let us know your experiences in the comments.

    With considerable additional time and effort, this could become detailed printable documentation with screenshots someday, but in all honesty, I figured it makes the most sense to get this all published now, with descriptive audio-voiceover.

    I should also mention that there are some minor breaks in continuity, where it was deemed best to excise long and potentially confusing dead-ends, such as the 15 minutes-wasted incident where I changed the timezone of the vCenter appliance in the wrong sequence, which caused the appliance's database to become corrupt, as documented here. I re-recorded it the right way, and removed the wrong way.

    So my advice is to not be too "creative," following the steps in exactly in the order presented, and you'll likely do well, particularly if you have the same or nearly the same configuration as detailed at

    Free must-haves you'll want to install on your client workstation before getting started include Veeam FastSCP (for rapid transfer of OS install ISO files into ESXi datastores), and WinSCP (handy for easy tweaking of ESXi and vCenter Appliance hosts files, if you have no real DNS in your lab).

    Why use the vCenter appliance? Well, you'll then be able to login to vCenter (instead of the ESXi host), to allow rapid cloning, deploying VMs from templates, testing HA features, and a lot of the other "fun stuff," without needing to worry about learning the vCenter install on a separate Windows server or VM, and all the SQL Server database administration that requires.

    If you prefer to jump right to a certain chapter, use the links below.

    Chapter 1:
    Configure ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Pro Gen3 Motherboard BIOS for ESXi.

    Chapter 2:
    Install VMware ESXi 5.0 Update Rollup 1 and configure fixed IP address on NIC for console/management.

    Chapter 3:
    Install vSphere Client, configure NTP and datastore, download VMware vCenter Server Appliance 5.0.0

    Chapter 4:
    Configure VMware vCenter Server Appliance 5.0.0.

    Chapter 5:
    Setting vCenter Appliance to autostart after ESXi, and to gracefully shutdown before ESXi is shutdown or rebooted.

    Chapter 6:
    Once vCenter Appliance is tested and configured, clone to a new, thin-provisioned template as a quick, effective, and free backup.

    related video:

    ...coming up soon, handling UPS/power outage conditions, gracefully shutting everything down.

    Jan 15 2013 Update:
    See also How to use a CyberPower UPS solution for proper automated shutdown of your VMware ESXi lab during power outages, including all VMs

    Sep 23 2013 Update:
    There will be a refresh to this article, and the popular Build your own VMware vSphere Datacenter in under an hour with the free ESXi 5.5 hypervisor by Paul Braren Sep 2 2013 article, based on the now released vSphere 5.5. See also Download all the VMware vSphere 5.5 pieces to get your home lab started.