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Deploy VMware ESXi on Equinix Metal with Layer2

Learn how to use a VMware ESXi deployment on Equinix Metal in Layer 2 unbonded trunk mode

Deploy VMware ESXi on Equinix Metal with Layer2

Equinix Metal is a globally accessible bare-metal-as-a-service that offers automated, interconnected, and low-latency infrastructure. It is specifically designed to empower digital businesses with scalable, secure, integrated, and on-demand infrastructure across Platform Equinix.

With VMware ESXi, you can partition your server into virtual machines, enabling efficient resource allocation and management. Equinix Metal provides support for ESXi deployment, allowing you to install it as an operating system on various x86-based bare metal server configurations.

This guide demonstrates how to deploy VMware ESXi on Equinix Metal, using the Layer 2 unbonded trunk mode. This mode enables the allocation of identical VLANs to both the eth0 and eth1 interfaces. You'll use the VMware vSphere Cluster wizard to add servers and configure Distributed Networking specifically for Metal servers.

When provisioning servers with L2 unbonded trunk mode, default IP provisioning is disabled. As a result, you are responsible for self-provisioning IP addresses on server interfaces using the SOS (Self-Service Portal) system.

(Note: The screenshots of the Equinix Metal console in this guide are not up-to-date. There will be some differences in the UX as you step through the guide. However, the intention and overall strategy of the technical steps remain the same.)

(Another Note: If you're interested in automating some parts of this guide with Terraform, check out the equinix-metal-vcf Terraform module that the Equinix Labs team maintains.)

Deploy Metal servers using the VMware VCF Operating System Option

Begin by deploying an Equinix Metal server through the Metal Portal. Choose the desired site for the deployment. Select the appropriate server instance type and Operating System according to your requirements.

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Specify the number of servers to deploy and assign names to each server.

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In this new mode, the deployment of servers does not include any pre-assigned IP addresses. Default IP provisioning is deactivated for servers provisioned with L2 unbonded trunk mode.

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Configure Metal server Network interfaces with VLANs and IPs

After the servers have been prepared, you can proceed to assign VLANs to their network interfaces. Click Network in the navigation bar and locate the Server Network Interfaces section. Select Add New VLAN.

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Choose the eth0 interface to add the VLAN.

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Choose the VLAN type that you wish to add to the eth0 interface.

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The VLAN has been successfully added to the eth0 interface.

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Now, add an identical VLAN to the eth1 interface.

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Select the eth1 interface and add the same VLAN to it.

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As shown here, the VLAN 1026 has been successfully added to the namely eth0 and eth1 interfaces.

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Optional: You can add more than one VLAN on the same interface. Initially, when only a single VLAN is assigned to the eth0 interface, the 802.1Q TAG status will display as No. However, as you add more VLANs to eth0, the tag flag will change to Yes.

If you have a single VLAN assigned to an interface, 802.1Q tagging will not be enforced. However, if you assign more than one VLAN to an interface, 802.1Q tagging will be implemented.

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Next, you'll connect to the server and assign a custom private Management IP. To access the server's console, click on "OUT-OF-BAND CONSOLE" and copy the provided SSH command. Make sure to copy the SSH root password and save it in a notepad. The password will no longer be visible on the Metal portal after 24 hours.

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Use a terminal client such as PuTTY to access the console. Make sure to select a private PPK file corresponding to your User Profile and the SSH keys configured on the Portal.

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After you connect to the Server Console, press F2 to rotate the ESXi passwords and configure the Custom Private Management IPs.

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Choose the Configure Password option to set a new password.

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Enter the Old Password and specify the New Password.

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Choose the Configure Management Network option to configure the new Custom Private Management IP.

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Optional: If applicable, select the VLAN option and specify the VLAN for your Management subnet. This step is not necessary if you are using non-tagged VLANs.

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Specify the VLAN ID for your Management VLAN.

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Next, navigate to the IPv4 Configuration section to assign the Custom Private Management IP.

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Assign the Custom Private IP address, Subnet Mask, and Default Gateway for the Management network.

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You can also configure the server to use your DNS servers for name resolution. To do this, select DNS Configuration and enter the IP addresses of your DNS servers along with the desired hostname for the server.

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To check that the configuration was successful, select the Test Management Network option.

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The following is the output indicating a successful test:

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You can conduct an ICMP ping test to verify the connection has been established.

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You can now access the ESXi UI by using either the server's management IP or the hostname you assigned previously.

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Configure vCenter Cluster & Distributed Networking using Cluster QuickStart Wizard

Open the VMware vCenter UI. You'll create a Datacenter and Cluster objects.

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Right-click on the vCenter host and choose New Datacenter to create a new Datacenter object.

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Assign a name to your Datacenter object.

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Next, right-click on the Datacenter and select New Cluster.

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Assign a name to the Cluster and, if desired, enable additional features such as DRS (Distributed Resource Scheduler), HA (High Availability), and VSAN (Virtual SAN).

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After creating the Cluster object, launch the Cluster QuickStart Wizard.

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Select Add Host.

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Add new hosts to the cluster and provide the necessary credentials for each host.

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Accept the default SHA1 thumbprints of the certificates without making any changes.

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Verify the summary information of the host to ensure its accuracy.

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Review the task details click Finish.

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All the hosts have been successfully added to the Cluster. The hosts without any workload (VMs) will remain in "Maintenance Mode."

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Now you'll configure network settings and add Virtual Distributed Switches. Click the Configure tab and select the appropriate options under the Configure cluster section.

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Configure the distributed switches by specifying the desired number of switches, assigning names to them, and selecting the number of uplinks.

NOTE: Only vCenter (VCSA) should be powered on and active on the hosts before configuring the Cluster Network settings through the Cluster QuickStart wizard. Any other VM workloads should be powered off during this process.

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Next, input the NTP server information for synchronization purposes.

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Review the configuration details and click Finish.

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The Cluster QuickStart wizard configures the distributed network switches and migrates the VM workload to the new vDS (Virtual Distributed Switch) port groups.

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In vCenter, you'll see the new distributed switch and port groups. The ESXi hosts are now added and managed by the new distributed switch.

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Here is an example of a Management port group within the vDS (Virtual Distributed Switch), displaying the assigned VLANs and the configured Teaming policy.

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The active vCenter VM (VCSA) will be automatically moved to the new "ephemeral" port group within the vDS. If needed, you can modify the VCSA settings and adjust the vNIC network to the required Port Group.

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vCenter is now fully operational on the newly configured distributed switch and port group.

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Conclusion

You've now deployed Metal servers with the VMware VCF Operating System Option on Equinix Metal.

You first deployed the servers through the Metal Portal. With the Layer 2 Unbonded trunk mode, VLANs were assigned to both eth0 and eth1 network interfaces. You accessed the servers through the out-of-band console, to assign custom private Management IPs and rotate ESXi passwords. You switched to VMware vCenter to create a Datacenter and Cluster, configure network settings, and add Virtual Distributed Switches. You used the Cluster QuickStart Wizard to establish distributed network switches and migrate VM workloads. You can now use VMware to control the servers running on your Layer 2 network, while maintaining the safety that a VLAN provides.

Last updated

27 June, 2024

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