VMware vSphere 6.0 Part 2 - vCenter, Alarms and Templates

Learn VMware vSphere vCenter Installation & Configuration, Clones & Templates, Permissions, Alarms and vSphere Converter
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  • Lectures 216
  • Length 10 hours
  • Skill Level Beginner Level
  • Languages English
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About This Course

Published 1/2016 English

Course Description

VMware vSphere 6.0 is the platform businesses depend on to deploy, manage and run their virtualized Windows and Linux workloads.

In this course you will learn how to add vCenter management services to your stand alone ESXi environment. Once you have vCenter working, we will show you how to rapidly deploy new VMs via Templates and Clones, how to control vCenter access with Permissions, how to monitor your inventory with Alarms and how to migrate workloads into your new vSphere environment with VMware vCenter Converter.

Learn vCenter and Core vCenter Features

This course covers five major topics that all vSphere 6 vCenter administrators must know:

  • First, we start by learning how to install and configure vCenter including vCenter for Windows and vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA). From there, learn how to create vCenter's inventory hierarchy, how to join vCenter to an Active Directory domain, how to import an ESXi host into vCenter management, how to connect to and use Web Client. We will also learn how to access VM consoles using both the VMware Remote Console application and the Web Client Console.
  • vCenter enables rapid, effective VM deployment using both Templates and Clones. We will see how to perform cold/hot VM cloning to make a one-time copies of VMs. We will then see how to create Template VMs - which are used for rapid copy-and-customize VM deployments. We will look at vCenter's Guest OS Customization Wizard and use it to easily establish new Name and Network properties for our rapidly deployed VMs.
  • Next,we will learn how to manage access and Permissions on both standalone ESXi hosts and in vCenter managed environments.
  • vCenter has extensive ESXi host, Storage, VM and Cluster monitoring capabilities. We will learn how to use vCenter Alarms to identify exactly the inventory objects we wish to monitor, what conditions we need to check and what actions we want vCenter to take when exceptional circumstances are detected.
  • In the final chapter of this course, we will learn how to install and use VMware vCenter Converter. Converter is a workload migration and consolidation tool that lets you migrate Windows or Linux workloads from source physical or foreign virtual machines (e.g. Hyper-V or XenServer) to ESXi Virtual Machines.

The skills you will acquire in this course will help make you a more effective vSphere 6 administrator.

What are the requirements?

  • You should have a good understanding of operating systems such as Windows or Linux
  • You should have a working knowledge of Ethernet and TCP/IP networks
  • You should know how to install and configure ESXi
  • You should have a working knowledge of Standard Virtual Switches
  • You should know how to create and administer Virtual Machines using ESXi 6

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Explain the role of vCenter Server in a vSphere environment
  • Install, configure and administer vCenter Server appliance
  • Rapidly deploy Virtual Machines using VM Templates and Clones
  • Understand and use vSphere permissions
  • Monitor vCenter inventory with Alarms
  • Use VMware vCenter Converter to perform physical-to-virtual workload consolidations

Who is the target audience?

  • This course is intended for anyone who wants to learn how to install, configure and use the core components of VMware vSphere 6.0 including vCenter Server

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction
VMware vSphere 6.0 Part 2 – vCenter, Alarms and Templates
VMware vSphere 6
Course Goals and Objectives
Course Goals and Objectives (continued)
Presented By
Should You Take This Course?
Let's Get Started!
Section 2: Install and Configure vCenter Server
vCenter Server
Project Plan
Central Management with vCenter

Once you introduce vCenter to your network, vCenter will act as a management proxy accepting inbound vSphere Client connections and performing the appropriate back-end work on the vSphere Client's behalf.

vCenter can proxy all requests including ESXi host requests and VM requests (including Remote Consoles). Remote Console proxies are especially useful because you do not need to be concerned about which host your VM runs on to open a console to it. If the VM moves (say through VMotion) your console session will be proxied by vCenter through to the new host without your having to take any action.

As a management proxy, vCenter accepts requests to perform some action, decides how that action needs to be completed and then takes the appropriate steps. For example, if you connect the vSphere Client to vCenter and then power on a VM, vCenter will:

- determine if you have permission to power on the VM

- determine which host currently holds the VM you wish to power on

- send that host the appropriate power on request

- monitor the status of that request (updating your vSphere Client session), and

- inform you of the completion status of the request

vCenter Lab – Part 1 Only

vCenter Server Appliance has a lengthy and involved install process that involves completing multiple tasks with significant waits in between.

In this first task, we will install the Client Integration Plugin and launch the vCenter Server Appliance web based installer. We will go through the install wizard and identify our ESXi target host, our new VM's size, name, network properties, database and more. When we finish the wizard the new vCenter Server Appliance will be imported onto our selected ESXi host.

The import process takes about 20-30 minutes (and is not included in this video because it is really boring!)


vCenter acts as a management proxy for ESXi hosts and Virtual Machines. When a user logs into vCenter, their permission settings are consulted and vCenter displays only that subset of the inventory over which the user has some rights. In this way, unauthorized inventory items are kept private.

When users interact with vCenter, vCenter takes the desired action (on the appropriate host) on their behalf. For example, if a vCenter user powers on a VM, vCenter will:

- check to see if the user has power management rights, and if so, vCenter will

- contact the host on which the VM resides and

- issue a VM power on command

vCenter Server for Windows is a 64-bit application built on Microsoft's .Net framework. vCenter also acts as an enabler for advanced VMware capabilities including:

VMotion – hot migration of VMs from one host to another

Distributed Resource Scheduler – automated VM/host load balancing using VMotion

High Availability Clusters – automatic VM placement, boot after an ESXi host failure

vCenter functionality can also be extended using modules. VMware currently offers modules for Capacity Planner (what hosts do I have and would they make a good VM), Converter (physical to virtual migration) and Update Manager.


The vCenter Server Appliance includes the open source PostgreSQL database. Unlike free versions of Oracle, DB2, MS SQL Server, PostgreSQL has no vendor imposed limitations. You can give it as much CPU, RAM as you like, it can run as many threads as it wants and it can create/access databases as large as you need.

vCenter for Windows vs. vCSA
Single Sign On Service

vCenter normally sits on your management LAN segment. It is not necessary for you to deploy a separate physical or virtual LAN segment for vCenter but it is a good idea to isolate management traffic from the spikes and load of production, storage and/or back up networks.

VMware uses only encrypted connections between its client and server software. That is, all data exchanges between the vSphere Client, vCenter and ESXi is encrypted using strong (SSL) encryption. The ESXi firewall, by default, does not allow non-encrypted protocols (e.g.: FTP, Telnet, HTTP) but instead does permit their encrypted counterparts such as SFTP, SSH and HTTPS.

vCenter for Windows Databases

SQL Server is available in four editions. These editions can function locally (run on the same box as vCenter) or remotely (on a separate server). vCenter uses Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) to connect to remote database services. If you intend to use a remote database service, then you will need to have your DBA team:

- create a new database instance for you

- assign your account the appropriate roles within SQL Server

- use SQL Server authentication and not Windows (i.e.: Active Directory)

If you run SQL Server on the same box on which you run vCenter (very reasonable for smaller deployments), then you must define your vCenter/SQL Server connection to:

- Use a SYSTEM DSN (File or User DSNs will test correctly but will not function)

- Use MS local or AD based authentication, or use SQL authentication

Furthermore, you must ensure that you have enough room on the local system for the files that make up your SQL database (minimum 6GB).

MS SQL Server is a resource intensive application. If you run full SQL Server on your vCenter server, ensure you have a minimum of 6+GB of RAM to help maintain performance.


vCenter stores all of its data in a SQL database. The single largest class of data it stores inside SQL is performance data. Using the vCenter Server Settings > Statistics window, you can take control of how much performance data is stored. You can also estimate total database size based on the number of ESXi hosts and VMs under management.

The first step is to fine tune how performance data is retained. VMware updates performance statistics every 20 seconds (Performance tab in the vSphere Client) but stores only 5 minute summaries into the SQL database. 5 minute summaries are held for 24 hours before they are rolled up into 30 minute aggregates. These 30 minute aggregates are then held for 1 week before they are further rolled up into 2 hour aggregates. Then, after one month, 2 hour summaries are reduced to 1 day averages. In this way, VMware attempts to provide usable performance data without overpopulating the database. You can edit the time intervals by clicking on any existing interval and clicking Edit. Statistics are the single largest consumer of database storage.

Once the vCenter knows how performance data is handled, it can estimate how much SQL data space (rows and total space) is needed once you tell it how many ESXi hosts and VMs will be managed by vCenter. Note that 20 ESXi hosts and 500 VMs using the default data retention and aggregation policies will only occupy about 3.9GB of database space making this size deployment the theoretical maximum for either of the free (Oracle or SQL Server) databases. Note: performance and other issues will ensure your MS SQL Express database remains small.

Windows vCenter Installer App
Installing vCenter Server Appliance
Activate the Client Integration Plug-in
vCSA Ready to Start the Install
Select target ESXi 6.0 host
Set vCSA Password
Platform Service Controller (PSC)
Embedded / External PSC
Set SSO Password, Domain

Note that the Tiny size is the absolute minimum CPU and Memory that vCenter Appliance can (barely) run. If you select Tiny, then the initial install of vCenter Appliance will proceed very slowly as the VM uses all available resources to install the appliance, configure all services, initialize the vPostgres database, etc.

In the author's own experience, during the install process, a vCenter Appliance needs more than 6GHz of cycles and about 11GB of RAM to function without CPU/RAM resource starvation. However, once the install has completed, vCenter Appliance will happily run on 2 vCPU cores and 8GB of RAM.

There is no option to customize the vCenter Appliance hardware during the install process (other than selecting Tiny, Small, Medium or Large). Once the VM has completed its initial install, you can change the hardware:

- perform an orderly shutdown of your vCenter Appliance

- Edit the VM's settings and dial CPU up to 3 cores and RAM to 12GB

- Power on the vCenter appliance and continue with the installation

Set vCSA Target Datastore
Set vCSA Target Datastore
Ready to Complete vCSA Deployment Wizard
vCenter Server Appliance Deployment Completed
vCenter Lab – Parts 1, 2 Only

Picking up where we left off on the first vCenter HowTo, we will take our freshly installed vCenter Server Appliance and perform an orderly shutdown. When the VM is powered off, we will upgrade it's virtual hardware to 3 vCPU cores and 12GB of RAM (the minimum virtual hardware needed to minimize CPU starvation and avoid paging). We will then power on our vCSA, log in via Web Client and configure the base SuSE Enterprise Linux OS so that it can join our Active Directory domain. Once we reboot again, we will configure Single Sign On so that it can query our ESXLab domain.

Log in to vCSA using Web Client
Add vCSA to Active Directory
Add vCSA to Active Directory
Update Single Sign-on
Grant Admin Rights to Domain Accounts

It is generally a bad idea to attempt to work with an ESXi host directly if that host is also being managed by vCenter. Here's why...

ESXi hosts always permit direct vSphere Client logins. Once a host has been imported into vCenter, the only reason to connect to it directly is to perform maintenance – and then only if you can't fix the problem through vCenter.

If you use the vSphere Client to connect directly to an ESXi host that is being managed by vCenter then:

- The ESXi host will accept your connection

- It will do whatever you say (if you log in as root)

- It will carry out your requests even if they conflict with vCenter

- It will make reasonable (but not guaranteed) efforts to advise vCenter what it is doing

The result is that vCenter may become confused about the state of your ESXi host and it's VMs because their configuration settings, etc. are changing outside of vCenter's control.

In extreme cases, vCenter may decide that your host has failed and may initiate either DRS load balance or HA VM failure recovery to correct the problem. It may also remove your ESXi host from a cluster if vCenter feelsit has lost control of the ESXi host. For these reasons:

It is a bad idea to directly interact with an ESXi host that is under vCenter control.


vCenter adds a new, top navigation layer to the standard VirtualCenter inventory views. This new view makes it easy to get to the most popular vCenter functions quickly and easily. It also makes it easy for 3rd party companies to add their product to vCenter (so that you can find it easily!).

Note: The fourth category, Solutions and Applications, is not presented until add-on software is installed into that category.


vCenter adds a new, top navigation layer to the standard VirtualCenter inventory views. This new view makes it easy to get to the most popular vCenter functions quickly and easily. It also makes it easy for 3rd party companies to add their product to vCenter (so that you can find it easily!).

Note: The fourth category, Solutions and Applications, is not presented until add-on software is installed into that category.


The fundamental unit of organization in a vCenter inventory is the Datacenter. A Datacenter is a collection of ESX Servers, Networks and Datastores that will be used cooperatively to run virtual machines.

While it is common for a vCenter Datacenter to match a physical data center, it is not a requirement. For instance, a physical facility could contain servers, network, storage, etc. for multiple clients with no intention to be shared across clients. This is quite common when multiple stake-holders share a rented facility. It may also be the case that funding (such as a government grant) may strictly limit the purpose to which hardware can be used. In both cases, it makes sense to isolate hardware in vCenter's inventory by creating separate vCenter Datacenters for each stake-holder or project.


The business organization may be mapped inside vCenter by using folders above a datacenter. In the example above, folders are used to represent geographical deployment of datacenters across a multi-national organization.

Folders act not only to hold datacenters (such as the USA and North AM folders) but also as a point at which permissions can be set. In the example above, permissions might be assigned as follows:

Local administrators could be given Datacenter Administrator rights at their particular datacenter. With this permission, they would have full administrative rights over all of the hardware and VMs only within their datacenter.

Second-tier administrators could be assigned appropriate rights at either the North America or Asia folder. These more experienced administrators rights would inherit down into datacenters below the folder so that one permission assignment would grant them rights to all of the facility within their country.

Finally, top tier administrators could be given rights at the World Wide Operations folder or at the root folder. With permissions assigned at this level, they would be free to enter and work in any datacenter within the organization.


Folders are a key organizational element within a datacenter. Folders are used to provide technical, functional, political or geographic structure to the items within a datacenter as follows:

Technical – A folder that contains similar objects (e.g.: Windows 2003 Server VMs)

Functional – A folder that contains VMs that perform a similar function (e.g.: Web Servers)

Political – Folders used to contain all inventory items owned by a unit of the organization. An example of this might be Sales VMs or Human Resources VMs.

Geographic – VMs assigned to a particular geographic region.

There is no preferred way to use folders to impart structure to your inventory. The best approach is to create a hierarchy that maps naturally to the various structures within your organization.

Note that folders can contain sub-folders so you could implement a multi-tier hierarchy (e.g.: Sales > Web Servers > Windows 2003).

Just like folders above datacenters, folders within datacenters act as objects to which permissions can be assigned. That way, users can be assigned the appropriate rights at the appropriate folder and those rights will inherit down into that branch of the inventory.

ESXi Host Managed by vCenter

In vSphere Client, the navigation would be

Home > Administration > Sessions


vCenter includes a simple task scheduler. With this feature you can select a particular action, select an inventory object for that action and then specify the date/time that action is to occur.

When you add a scheduled task, you complete the same wizard for that task that you would if you were doing the task now. The only difference is you get a chance to name the task (for later recall) and assign a date and time (or times) to run the task. This makes it easy to re-run a task either periodically or when needed.

If you have tasks that you've already scheduled, they will show in the tab. Completed tasks will show in the Tasks and Events tab.

Task Console
Events Console
Web Access Remote Console
Remote Console Menu Items
Review / Edit Virtual Hardware
VM Actions Menu
vSphere C# Client – Use Cases
Functions Only in Web Client
vCenter Maximums
vCSA Changes from vSphere 5.5

For more information on how to set up the VMCA, please see the supplemental material at the end of this section.

VMCA Options
Custom Certificate Management
vCSA Management Interface
Best Practices
vCenter Lab - Parts 3, 4 and 5

In this HowTo, we complete our vCenter Server Appliance configuration by adding Active Directory Domain accounts to vCenter and giving them the Administrator role. We then build an inventory hierarchy with a new Datacenter object and new folders and then add our ESXi host to vCenter management. We finish by installing the VMware Remote Console (VMRC) Windows application so we can easily interact with VM console windows from our local desktop.

Review & Questions
Section 3: Rapid VM Deployment using Templates and Clones
Templates, Clones
Project Plan
VM Rapid Deployment

A Template is a virtual machine that has been converted into a VM rapid deployment image through vCenter (no templating capability with standalone ESXi). A Template starts off as a VM. Once you feel that the VM is perfect, power it off and convert it into a Template. This marks it as a no-power-on VM so that the Template cannot be accidentally powered on or put into service.

Templates serve as an image source. New VMs can be rapidly created from existing templates by simply deploying a new VM from the template. When deploying a new VM from a template, you get the same:

- Hardware (VCPUs, memory size, NICs, SCSI HBAs, SCSI disks)

- Resource settings (shares, reservations, limits)

- Same hardware configuration (NIC plugged into the same Port Group)

- Customized settings (VM > Edit Settings... > Options)

What is new in the VM's

- Name. A new name is assigned to the VM

- Resource Pools and folders. The VM can be deployed into any Resource Pool or folder

- ESXi host. The VM can be created on any available host

- Datacenter. A VM can be deployed to a completely different datacenter

- Identity. Through Guest OS Customization, you can set a new identity for the VM

so your new VM does not conflict with existing VMs or physical servers


Templates pay off the most when significant effort is put into getting the VM used to create the template absolutely perfect. Administrators creating a new VM that will serve as a rapid deployment template should take the time to:

- Install the Guest OS as per the company's policy and best practices

- Secure and lock down the OS

- Apply any patches, updates or Service Packs to the OS

- Install any middleware (security, antivirus, etc. software)

- Install any 3rd party applications onto the OS

- Perform any other post install steps appropriate for the workload

However, because the VMwill be used only as a Template, you do not need to establish a final identity or configuration for the VM. At this time, you do not need to:

- Set a permanent FQDN, IP properties, License, etc.

- Configure any applications, or

- Perform other configuration tasks necessary to put the VM into service

These steps will be performed at actual deployment time on a new VM that is created from this template.

A key benefit of templating (other than rapid deployment) is that junior admins can deploy from known good images in little time and in full compliance with corporate standards and policies.


A Template is a vCenter inventory item that only shows up in the VMs and Templates view (and specifically not in the Hosts and Clusters view). However, it is possible to turn a powered off VM into a Template while in the Hosts and Clusters view. If you do this, once the New Template wizard completes the VM will disappear from the Hosts and Clusters inventory (because it is no longer a VM, it is now a Template).


ESXi VM virtual disks can be either pre-allocated (Thick Disk) or allocated to current needs and grow as more data is added to the virtual disk (Thin Disk). With Thick virtual disks, there is no risk that, when the VM attempts to perform I/Os against the virtual disk, the declared space isn't available. Thick virtual disks are more likely to be contiguous, allowing the VM to complete I/Os more efficiently.

But Thick virtual disks often include significant disk space allocated for future use. While this might be appropriate for an in-service VM, it is a potential waste of SAN storage for VMs whose storage needs grow slowly. It is also a waste for of space for template VMs (that will never be put into service as a VM).

VMware has an alternative disk format called a Thin disk (aka Sparse or Compact disk format). Thin disks only allocate actual used disk blocks in the virtual disk file (declared but unused disk blocks are not allocated) so a Thin virtual disk will take up (potentially much) less physical disk space than the same disk in Thick format. With Thin disks new storage is added to the virtual disk file as new data is written by the VM to it's virtual disk. This may lead to performance issues on VMs that do a lot of I/O because you can now get fragmentation at the VMFS/VMDK level and at the guest OS (i.e.: NTFS) level.

You can convert virtual disks from Thin to Thick format while a VM is powered on:

Right-click VM's datastore > VM' folder > Right-click virtual disk > Inflate

The only way to convert a Thick disk to a Thin disk is to Storage VMotion

Thick Disk Use Cases
Thin Disk Use Cases

The Clone Virtual Machine to Template or Convert Virtual Machine to Template wizards include a step that lets you select the Template's disk format. Select Thick (Monolithic) or Thin (Compact or Sparse) depending on your needs.

Lazy Zeroed vs. Eager Zeroed

VMware zeros out virtual disk blocks when the first read attempt is made to the block. This is done for security reasons. There are two strategies used to zero out disks.

Thick Provisioned Lazy Zeroed – Disk is pre-allocated to full size but disk blocks are not zeroed out until the first read or write attempt is made to the disk block

Thick Provisioned Eager Zeroed – Virtual disks are fully allocated in advance. The entire virtual disk is filled with zeros


Templates can be created from powered off or powered on VMs. If the VM is powered on the VM is snapshotted, cloned and then the clone is turned into a template.

After you complete the installation and configuration of your VM, be sure to perform an orderly shutdown of your VM. If you simply power off the VM, then the file system of the file system(s) on the virtual machine may be left in a 'filesystem dirty and needs to be cleaned' state (i.e.: chkdsk (Windows) or fsck (Linux)).

Convert to Template

This choice is usually selected when you built your VM specifically to turn it into a Template (i.e.: your VM was created pro-actively to simply/standardize future VM deployments).

Clone to Template

Is most likely selected during the creation of a new production VM. The scenario might be something like... You just spent significant time building a perfect VM. You installed the Guest OS, secured it, locked it down and performed other configurations necessary to conform to your company's best practices. Just before you put the VM into production, you power it down and select Clone to Template... This leaves the original VM intact and gives you the chance to harvest a new Template based on all of your good work. In this case, you not only get your production VM, you get a Template that lets you rapidly deploy new VMs based on this image.


If you build a Template using the Clone to Template... menu option, then your new Template is almost completely identical to the original VM used to create this Template. The only differences between the original VM and the Template are:

- The Template VM gets a new virtual NIC MAC address

- The Template gets a new virtual motherboard hardware UUID

- Host, datastore, NIC port group and other properties may be different as well

All other OS properties are identical, including the guest OS identity (SID. License, FQDN, IP properties and other settings). The virtual hardware is also identical (same number of VCPUs, virtual NICs, virtual SCSI HBAs, virtual disk number & sizes, virtual disk contents, etc. Finally, any customizations you applied to the VM (e.g.: Edit Settings... > Options) are carried over to the new VM.

Because a Template shares all guest OS properties with the source VM, any attempt to power on the Template (Convert Template to VM then Power On) could result in undesirable behavior. An IP address conflict could result in both VMs dropping off the network.

A Windows SID conflict could result in both VMs being rejected by Active Directory or the local Domain Controller. And, a License conflict (same license deployed over and over again) could leave your organization liable to significant costs and penalties (unless you have an MS Enterprise agreement that allows for a license to be used repeatedly).


Templates show up in the VMs and Templates view but not in the Hosts and Clusters view. To see Templates in the Hosts & Clusters view, pick any high level inventory item (e.g.: Hosts and Clusters, datacenter, folders containing either hosts or clusters, a host or a cluster), and then click the Virtual Machines tab. Templates will appear in the roster of VMs visible to the selected inventory item.

Note that objects in the Virtual Machines tab have the same right-click menu that they would have if they were in the standard inventory view!


Once your Template is built, you can easily deploy new virtual machines from the Template. Simply right-click on the Template and select Deploy Virtual Machine from this Template.

This launches a 5-step wizard that takes you through all the steps necessary to build your VM. Including:

Name – provide a new name for your VM (to be used in the vSphere Client to refer to your VM)

Assign Host/Cluster/Resource Pool – identify the target ESXi host or cluster for the new VM along with the resource container (Resource Pool) for the new VM

Datastore – select a datastore visible to the target ESXi host/cluster for the VMs files

Disk Format – Select either Thick or Thin provisioned disks

Guest OS Customization – Provides a new Guest OS identity, license, etc. for the VM

Go – build the new VM from the above specifications


Any powered on/off VM can be cloned using either the Clone... or Clone to Template... menu options. Clone makes an exact duplicate of the VM including virtual hardware, settings, virtual disk, etc. Both of these menu options take you through a wizard that lets you specify the ESXi host/cluster, datastore, etc. for the new VM.

Because a clone of a VM is an exact copy, you need to be careful selecting deployment options for your new VM. When deploying a new VM as a clone of a production VM, you should consider:

- Changing the Port Group of any virtual NICs to a test/dev/QA isolated network

- Deploying the VM onto a different ESXi host/cluster (e.g.: test/dev/QA or Disaster

Recovery host/cluster rather than your production host/cluster

- Using Guest OS Customization to change the identity of the VM

Clones can greatly facilitate:

- Testing of patches, configuration changes, updates, etc

- Development (as the new Dev. VM is the same as the production VM

- Training as users get their own private VM with live corporate data that they recognize

- Disaster Recovery. A cloned VM could be deployed to your DR site to provide a recent

copy of a production VM

- Configuration changes. Validate any configuration changes on your clone VM before

applying the change(s) to production VMs

- etc.


You can also Clone a Template. In this case, the result is a new Template that is a copy of an existing Template. Use this procedure to fork a template... For example, you build a Windows Template as follows:

- You build a new, perfect Windows 2003 Server VM with just the base Windows OS

- You patch, upgrade, Service Pack and configure the VM to make it fit corporate best

practices and procedures

- You power the VM off and convert it to a Template. You now have a Windows 2003
rapid deployment VM image

Next, you find you need to deploy a number of new VMs based on your original Windows Template but you need to install/configure a new application into it. To do this, you could:

- Clone the Windows Template

- Convert the clone of the Windows Template to a VM

- Use Guest OS customization to assign a new unique (and temporary) identity to the VM

- Boot the VM and install the 3rd party application into the VM

- Customize, configure, etc. the application

- Shut down the VM and convert it to a new Template

You now have a new VM that is Windows + Application. Note that you didn't have to start from scratch. All you did was leverage your existing work to complete just the necessary changes to make your application function properly.


Template maintenance is very easy to perform. For example, If you need to do any of:

- Apply Guest OS patches or updates

- Apply application patches or updates

- Add/remove OS or application software

- Make configuration changes to your template (e.g.: for security purposes)

- etc.

You can easily convert your Template back to a VM.

Remember that once you convert your Template back to a VM, the new VM has the same OS and IP properties as the VM used as the Template source (i.e.: you selected Clone to Template... from a functioning VM). To avoid any Guest OS/network identity conflicts you can:

1. Plug your VM into an Internal only (isolated) virtual LAN segment before power on
or disconnect the VM's virtual NIC from it's configured Port Group

2. Use Guest OS Customization to give your new VM a unique identity


Guest OS Customization is the process of establishing a new Identity for your VM. The official way to establish a new identity for Windows is with the appropriate version of Microsoft's System Preparation (Sysprep) tool. Each major version of Windows has a unique Sysprep tool used to reset the Windows identity. Sysprep 1.1 was used for Windows 2000 while Sysprep 2003 works for Win2k3 Server. There are also different versions of Sysprep for Microsoft 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems. Sysprep tools are free downloads from Microsoft's web site.

Sysprep can remove and/or apply a new identity to a Windows OS. It can work off a response file (in batch mode) to set the new identity according to the values in the response file or, Sysprep can simply wipe the current Windows identity, in which case you will be prompted to establish a new identity for the VM the next time the VM boots.

Guest OS Customization works as follows. You are prompted for Guest OS identity values. Once the VM is deployed, vCenter then mounts the VMs C: drive and copies over Sysprep and the response file. When the VM boots, Sysprep is run with the response file to establish the VM's identity. After Sysprep finishes, the VM reboots and is now ready to function with it's new identity.

Legacy Windows Customization
Enable SSH on vCSA Appliance
Enable PI Shell on vCSA
Upload Sysprep Files to vCSA

There are two major differences between Windows and non-Windows OS' that simplify Guest OS customization:

1. With non-Windows, there is no SID or license to set/defend

2. Non-Windows OS' use well documented plain text files for their properties

As a result of these two differences, vCenter can easily establish a new identity for a Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris or NetWare VM without the need for 3rd party tools. When deploying a new VM, all VC needs to do is copy over the new configuration and arrange for the VM to apply the configuration at first boot (using a simple script).



AV – Anti-virus

AS – Anti-spam

IDPS – Host or Network based Intrusion detection and prevention systems

UTM – Unified Threat Management

Note that you are unlikely to find Windows as the base OS of non-commercial virtual appliances because Microsoft does not have a Windows base OS that can be freely deployed. Consequently, most activity in the non-commercial virtual appliance space uses Operating Systems that can be freely deployed including Open Solaris, Free BSD and Linux.

Virtual Appliance Examples

Virtual appliances have many benefits over traditional physical appliances:

- They use your existing virtual infrastructure hardware so they benefit from enterprise

class CPUs, storage, networks, back up , recovery, etc.

- They can be easily clonedfor back up, disaster recovery and redundancy purposes

- If resources become an issue, you can power them off and add CPU, memory, etc.

Physical appliances force you to go through costly redundancy and upgrade purchases

- Fast to deploy and evaluate. Just download directly from VMware's web site.


However, there are some concerns about virtual appliances:

- They put more load on your virtual infrastructure (more VMs to run)

- They may lack commercial support

- They may not have all of the features you would expect from a physical machine

- Benchmark their performance before assuming that performance will be on par with

a physical appliance

- They likely use open source operating systems. Is your organization prepared to adopt

open source and provide support, security, etc.?


Virtual appliances can be imported directly into your virtual infrastructure from either VMware's web site, from local files or from any URL.

Virtual appliances are typically distributed in Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF). An OVF format VM contains both a VMX file (VM properties) and a VMDK file (VM virtual disk).VMware also has OVA format virtual appliances. An OVA VM is an archive that contains both the OVF VMX file and VMDK file – in a single file.

OVF is a VMware championed, vendor neutral VM format that promotes the free exchange of Virtual Machines. OVF compliant VMs consist of:

- a .vmx file that fully specifies the properties of the VM

- a .vmdk file for the virtual disk image of the VM (in Compact format)

OVF is an open (fully documented and published by VMware), royalty-free format that can be used by any vendor to create compliant OVF format VMs.

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Instructor Biography

Larry Karnis, VMware vSphere Consultant/Mentor, VCP vSphere 2, 3, 4 and 5

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What do you do if you need to learn VMware but can't afford the $4,000 - $6,000 charged for authorized training? Now you can enroll in my equivalent VMware training here on Udemy!

I have created a six courses that together offer over 32 hours of VMware vSphere 6 lectures (about 8 days of instructor lead training at 4hrs lecture per day). With Udemy, I can provide more insight and detail, without the time constraints that a normal instructor led training class would impose. My goal is to give you a similar or better training experience - at about 10% of the cost of classroom training.

I am an IT consultant / trainer with over 25 years of experience. I worked for 10 years as a UNIX programmer and administrator before moving to Linux in 1995. I've been working with VMware products since 2001 and now focus exclusively on VMware. I earned my first VMware Certified Professional (VCP) designation on ESX 2.0 in 2004 (VCP #: 993). I have also earned VCP in ESX 3, and in vSphere 4 and 5.

I have been providing VMware consulting and training for more than 10 years. I have lead literally hundreds of classes and taught thousands of people how to use VMware. I teach both introductory and advanced VMware classes.

I even worked for VMware as a VMware Certified Instructor (VCI) for almost five years. After leaving VMware, I decided to launch my own training business focused on VMware virtualization. Prior to working for VMware, I worked as a contract consultant and trainer for RedHat, Global Knowledge and Learning Tree.

I hold a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Math from the University of Toronto. I also hold numerous industry certifications including VMware Certified Professional on VMware Infrastructure 2 & 3 and vSphere 4 & 5 (ret.), VMware Certified Instructor (ret.), RedHat Certified Engineer (RHCE), RedHat Certified Instructor (RHCI) and RedHat Certified Examiner (RHCX) as well as certifications from LPI, HP, SCO and others.

I hope to see you in one of my Udemy VMware classes... If you have questions, please contact me directly.



Larry Karnis

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