I was lucky to have some free time over the last couple of weeks and upgraded my lab environment to vSphere ESXi 5.0. Just a little background on my home environment, it is a Dell PowerEdge T105. As usual, I checked the HCL list on VMware’s site to see it it was on there for 5.0. It was not, but I did a bunch of googling and saw that many people were successful in installing/upgrading on hardware that was on the 4.x HCL. I figured since I installed all of this on a USB key, that worse case scenario, I just re-install 4.1 if it FUBAR my server. My VMs (important ones) where on an eSATA datastore drive array, so I felt pretty safe. Also one of my goals was to screen shot the upgrade, but alas if anybody saw my twitter when I did this, the install went so quickly, I wasn’t able to take anything useful.
Anyways, I am happy to say that the upgrade worked great, all of my VMs fired up and was able to start upgrading the VMtools on machines that were using it. So on to playing with some of the new features. First thing I tried was enabling the USB connection on my server for VMs. I had an older USB legacy IDE drive enclosure around (about a TB) from my old Windows 2003 server. I always had to plug it into a workstation to pull up anything on it, a real pain. It was primarily setup for simple backups or stuff I just didn’t want laying around on cramped disk space workstations, so it was something I would like running off a server if possible. Well I turned it on the device, added the USB virtual hardware to my Windows 2008 R2 VM, and the popup in the system tray found it right away. I was browsing the drive within a minute. Nice! For anybody that wants a quick write on adding USB devices, here you go from TechnoDrone. Once I clean up the drives, I want to test it out on my FreeNAS VM.
Also, for the curious, I found there is a way to run ESXi 5.0 within your existing 4.1 environment in case you do not have the available hardware, or just would like to do a POC. I was initially thinking of doing this, but just went for the whole enchilada since this was only a test lab. Also, if you were thinking of doing Hyper-V within ESXi 5.0, yep, supposedly doable as well. Also note, they say it works with VMware Workstation 8 as well (which I would love to get my hands on and work with).
What I would like to do for testing, is you my Dell T105 as one environment, and my laptop as another. My laptop has 8gigs of RAM so I can setup a modest/scaled down box so I can run through vMotion and Storage vMotion scenarios. I have a gigabit Dell 2808 PowerConnect switch and a gigabit Ethernet port on my laptop, so I am hopeful I can get some decent speed out of that environment.