Easy VMware Installs – Magical Dream or Reality?

VMware is core to most operational environments, so why can’t we have easy VMware installs? Do things like easy VMware installs, updating hardware so upgrades (or patch fixes) take hours instead of weeks, repaving servers after a security scare, or properly decommissioning and repurposing cluster hardware sound like a magical dream?  

At RackN, easy VMware installations and all sorts of VMware related operational tasks are a reality. We help customers all over the world install VMware thousands of times a day, bringing their level of effort for this complex process effectively to zero. Even people who’ve never used RackN Digital Rebar can replicate this experience with just a little bit of preparation. 

This post will explain what it takes to revolutionize your VMware install process with Digital Rebar.

Easy VMware Installs Aren’t a Magical Dream.

Actually, nothing about Digital Rebar is magic. RackN’s core competency is making a complex process consistent, repeatable, and standardized.  Magic doesn’t run data centers, but good tooling makes operations look like magic.

VMware installations are hard because there isn’t an out-of-the-box,  repeatable process that can do the work to prepare any type of installation environment into a consistent, known state. However, this is what Digital Rebar was built to do. It discovers, conforms, prepares, and sets up your VMware infrastructure in a consistent, repeatable way. It paves the way for easy VMware installs.

Change the Way You Think About Installations

Digital Rebar works best when you allow the software to do the work for you. In addition to changing your thought process about installations, it’s important that you embrace the concept of quickly iterating through a process, making changes until you achieve the desired result. No one, no matter how advanced their skills are, gets this process right the first time they execute it. 

Our strategy isn’t to do the perfect VMware installation for your unique environment the first time you run Digital Rebar. Insead, the goal is to run installs quickly,  but make it easy to reset and repeat. Fundamentally, the thing that makes VMware easy to install with Digital Rebar is that there isn’t a  penalty for doing it wrong and trying again. 

Are you ready to experience an easy VMware install? Here’s what you need to try it with Digital Rebar.

Steps for an Easy VMware Install with Digital Rebar

Servers

You’ll need the servers to build the cluster. As long as your hardware is on the VMware’s HCL (hardware compatibility list) you should be good to go. VMware requires that you have the same gear all across your cluster. 

VMware ISO

The next thing you’ll need is your VMware ISO. Many of our customers have a custom ISO or one that they build themselves. 

If you have a vendor ISO and a custom build process, you’ll need to inject RackN’s signed VIB into that build process. This allows us to do post configuration workflows on the ESX server for game changing capabilities. 

Digital Rebar Discovery

Once you have the hardware and a VMware ISO with RackN VIB, you’re pretty much ready to go. 

Discovery

Allow Digital Rebar to discover and inventory the servers. This process is fast and easy and will produce a comprehensive scan of the entire system. 

Digital Rebar Configuration

Hardware Installation

Next, install the hardware components to allow configuration of the hardware using Digital Rebar. We recommend starting out with the vendor-grade and BIOS configurations. Eventually you might want to customize but it’s much easier to start with the standard BIOS configuration settings.

Install VMware Plugin

Once you have those things ready, install the VMware plugin. The VMware plugin allows you to have workflows to run the process start to finish. 

Identify the servers that will be part of the new VMware cluster, and start the VMware ESXi install workflow. 

When this install process completes, you will have a working VMware-installed system. Just like magic!

Real Talk 

The real secret to making a long-term robust, resilient, and repeatable  installation process for VMware clusters is to continue to experiment even after you get the initial installation process working. 

Get used to the idea that you can tear down and reset your cluster with just the click of a few buttons. Then go back, reset and repeat. The more often you repeat the process, the more confident you’ll be that you can apply the same process generically across any component in your infrastructure.


Try Digital Rebar yourself and see!

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  1. Pingback: Consistent Day 2 VMware Operations: No Longer a Pipe Dream - RackN

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