Friday, 21 December 2012

Nested Virtualization Support in vSphere 5.1

Nested Virtualization Support in vSphere 5.1

Although only recommended for testing purposes, having Nested Virtualization in your VMware vSphere Lab is really something worth trying out!!
I already have a Lab with VMware vSphere 5.1 installed and configured, so I'll straight away get to the steps of it.
  1. VMware ESXi 5.1 installed server preferably with either Intel-VT or AMD-V support on the CPUs.
  2. a VM (I am using a Windows 2008 R2 VM, which I will use as a HyperV Host later on..)
NOTE: If you wish to run nested VMs or other hypervisors on ESXi 5.1 and run 32-bit nested virtual machines, you must meet the following hardware requirement: 
  • CPU supporting Intel VT-x or AMD-V If you wish to run nested 64-bit virtual machines in your nested ESXi or other hypervisors, in addition to the requirement above, you must also meet the following hardware requirement:  
  • CPU supporting Intel EPT or AMD RVI If you only meet the first criteria, you CAN still install nested VMs or other hypervisors on ESXi 5.1, BUT you will only be able to run 32-bit nested virtual machines.
RECOMMENDATION: For good performance of your nested virtualized VM, make sure you supply it with adequate RAM and vCPU.
DISCLAIMER: This is not officially supported by VMware, please use at your own risk and DO NOT try this in a production environment.
Select your VM and browse to its Datastore

VM Summary Page

Select the xxxxxxx.vmx file. The VMX file is the VM's configuration file.

Browse VM files in Datastore

Once you have selected your VMX file, simply download it to your local machine. For this, select the Download option on the tool bar as shown

Download Files from Datastore

Browse the location where you want to save the VMX file locally.

Save file locally

You will get a Warning message as shown. Click Yes to continue.

Open the saved VMX file using Notepad.

You will see a lot of configuration elements present in the file. Simply add the following two lines of code at the end of the file.  

DO NOT make any other changes in the file UNLESS you know what you are doing.

vhv.enable = "true"
hypervisor.cpuid.v0 = FALSE

VMX File

Once the changes have been made, simply upload the VMX file back to the Datastore. This can be achieved by selecting the Upload File option in the Datastore as shown

You may get a warning message that a file with the same name already exists. Simply agree to it and continue.  

DO NOT change the VMX file name under any circumstances.

NOTE: The VMX file icon may appear as an "unknow file" or you may have issues when you try to power on the VM after you made changes to it. 

There can be two reasons for this: 
1. The VMX file needs to be encoded in UTF 8. Sometimes when we save the VMX file using notepad/ wordpad, this encoding gets changed.  
You can correct it by opening the VMX file in Notepad and saving the file again with UTF 8 encoding.
2. You may have invalid characters in your VMX file. I would recommend that you type out the two additional lines in the VMX file rather than copy/ pasting them as the character formats can vary from system to system.  
This can cause your VMX to display an error message saying "unknown characters"



Usually I do not post comments on blogs, but I would like to say that this blog really forced me to do so! Thanks,for a really nice read.

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Navin R. Thadani said...

Interesting post. Just ran into it. In fact its closely related to something Im working on. Its called Ravello Systems We have developed some technology that we are very proud of and are offering a completely free beta. Its essentially a high performance nested hypervisor (we call it HVX) along with an IO overlay (SDN). It allows you to take a multi-VM application running on VMware (or KVM) in a datacenter and run it unmodified on AWS/Rackspace/HP Cloud - on both PV and HVM VMs. So you can simple upload your vmdk/vmx and deploy. Thats it. Any users willing to give it a shot and provide some feedback?

Yohan Wadia said...

Hi Navin..

This is an awesome utility and i would like to try it out and blog on the same..

Thanks for the comment..


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