Configuring a Local ESXi Server for Lab Virtualization

So, I was recently challenged by one of my favorite Professors, and Advisor, Dr. Scott Bell, to create a virtual router for use in the Networking Lab here at Northwest Missouri State University. This project quickly expanded into much more than I had anticipated for, which certainly anyone who tinkers with anything knows, expect the unexpected. So for the time being, this page is going  to be the static landing page for all things related to the project. You’ll find a change-log of everything that is performed, updated, initialized, etc.
VMWare ESXI Project Virtual Router


Change-log:

2/28/17:

Figured out which server to use (small victory nonetheless)

Discovered how to upload ISOs to the datastore (datastore2) which will allow for local deployment of ISOs as needed

Initialized the VM to be used, (router) and added support for a USB controller (unused if ISO deployment is successful)

 

3/2/17:

Successfully uploaded the pfSense 2.3.3 ISO to the local datastore on the server (datastore2)

For this task, I created a new folder called ISOs for storage of all needed ISOs that will be used in the lab. Additionally, it serves as a useful redundancy depository in the case that anything goes wrong and there is a need to reinstall fresh
     Current ISOs: CentOS build 1611, pfSense 2.3.3.
Installed the pfSense through a virtual CD/DVD drive using the ISO from the datastore as the image file. (All standard options, no user input necessary)

Of course, nothing goes as planned, and after about an hour of fiddling with the different interfaces, VLANs, etc on the pfSense VM, realized, that indeed, for a router you need both, WAN, and LAN interfaces/NICs.... To remedy this, I created a new VM Network called "Virtual WAN" which acts as our "out" to the internet. For obvious reasons, it serves no purpose as of now and is a dead feature. (Dr. Bell and I briefly discussed the possibility of utilizing the host as a production server for other classes, Web Apps/Dev, etc.)

Configured the Interfaces for LAN, WAN. (this is a long one!)

    Connected the "Virtual WAN" network to em1 (virtual NIC), which in turn is configured to act as the WAN interface. This was given an arbitrary IP of "192.168.1.5" 
    Connected the "VM Network" network to em0 (default physical NIC), which is configured to act as the LAN interface. This connects to the physical switch/hub in the Lab. This was given the logical address of "10.0.0.1". I utilized only a 8-bit reserved subnet to act as my controller network. That means that there is an additional 24 bits of address space that can be utilized by an additional 3 subnets (which will be used - hopefully! to connect to 3 physical routers when we reconfigure the lab). Thus the preferred subnet is "255.0.0.0 ".  The addresses that are of note are:
        "10.0.0.1 " - Router Reserved Address, and management console
        "10.0.0.2 " - ESXi Reserved Address, for management of the Hypervisor
        "10.0.0.5 " - Start Address for DHCP IPs -- Eventually I'd like to have al machines assigned IPs
        "10.0.0.250 " - End of DHCP Addressing -- Leaving a few reserved IPs at the begining and end for misc use
        More to come!
Uploaded the CentOS ISO to the datastore for deployment of a test Apache Server for simple testing.

Configured auto-start of the "router" VM to ensure that it is available for use upon startup of ESXi Hypervisor!

 

More Coming Soon™

Article by nwCDCEnkrona

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