Deploy VMware vSphere in 5 Steps

This is a quick post bringing together the the key guides published on this site to get vSphere 6.5 up and running. The vSphere 6.0 links have now been relegated to the bottom of the page!

1. Install ESXi on one or more machines by following the VMware ESXi 6.x Install Guide. Sign up for a VMware account to obtain a license key for free use of ESXi here.

2. Install the vCenter Server Appliance to manage ESXi and pool resources together by following the vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 Install Guide. Update Manager is now bundled into VCSA. Use your VMware account to register for a 60 day trial license key here.

If you’d prefer to use a Windows vCenter see the Windows vCenter Server 6.5 Install Guide and the VMware Update Manager 6.5 Install Guide

3. Add your ESXi host machine(s) to vCenter for centralised management and create a HA and DRS enabled cluster by following the Configuring a vSphere Cluster guide.

To learn how to deploy virtual machines and templates see the VM Templates and Customisation guide. To learn how to convert a physical server to a virtual machine see the Physical to Virtual Machine Conversion Guide.

4. Enable Virtual SAN to pool disks together in a highly available stretched datastore by following the VMware vSAN 6.5 Install Guide. A 60 day trial of vSAN is included with the vCenter Server license we obtained earlier.

5. Backup your virtual machines using vSphere Data Protection; following the vSphere Data Protection Install Guide. A 60 day trial of vSphere Data Protection is included with the vCenter Server license we obtained earlier.

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If you are building a home lab or test environment you can either use physical ESXi hosts or configure a nested vSphere environment (hypervisor installed within a hypervisor) by following the Altaro nested vSphere guide by Jason Fenech here. Furthermore William Lam has created a nested ESXi 6.5 Virtual Appliance which can be deployed on vSphere 6.0 U2 or above, download the appliance and read the post here. For training see the Free VMware Training Resources post. The catalogue of paid learning courses and certification can be viewed at vSphere 6.5 Training, alternatively access pre-installed environments for free using VMware Hands On Labs.

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vSphere 6.0 guides: vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 Install Guide, Windows vCenter Server 6.0 Install Guide, VMware Update Manager 6.0 Install Guide.

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