Minimal Nested vCenter 6 Lab – Lab Design

Lab Design

We will have one vCenter named VC, two ESXi hosts named ESX1 and ESXI2, and one Windows Server 2016 named DC, holding Active Directory, DNS and iSCSI Target roles. The ESXi hosts will connect through iSCSI to consume the iSCSI LUN created in the DC server.

We will deploy this test environment with the following servers and resources

Server CPU RAM Before Install RAM After Install Role
DC 1 1GB 512MB Domain Controller + iSCSI Target
VC 2 6GB 4GB vCenter Server
ESXi 1 1 4GB 3GB ESXi host 1
ESXi 2 1 4GB 3GB ESXi host 2


Here is the trick to run these four servers in an only 8GB box; for the ESXi hosts, we’ll proceed with the installation on 4GB VM, then after installation is successful, we’ll reduce the RAM to 3GB, as 4GB is the minimum to run the ESXi installer, and only 3GB is needed to power it up without any issue. Same procedure will be done for the DC server, 1 GB for installing Windows Servers, then only 512MB to run the OS. For vCenter, 6GB before and 4GB after the installation is done.

With such configuration, the screenshot below shows all my four servers running at the same time on an 8GB box with no performance issue.



One question though! Will 4GB only be enough for the ESXi hosts? Yes. It will. For the guest VMs, we will run a tiny version of Linux OS called TinyCore Linux. It needs only 128MB of RAM to run and it can be downloaded from here. To check how to install this tiny Linux fork on a minimal resource ESXi host, check this post.

Network Broadcast Segregation

As we are installing the whole environment in one box, we need to simulate the broadcast segregation on VMware Workstation. To do so, we will the VMware Workstation Virtual Network Editor to create the necessary networks needed for our environment. We’ll need a Management network, a vMotion network, an iSCSI network for shared storage connectivity, and a Data Traffic network for VMs network.

These networks will be in the same physical broadcast domain, as the packets do not even leave you physical network card, but this configuration will create a production-alike network environment, where each common used VLANs (Mgmt, vMotion, iSCSI, …etc ) need to be in its separate broadcast domain.

The networks needed to be created are as follow:

Network Type Use Range Connect a host virtual adapter Use Local DHCP
VMnet1 Host-only Management 10.0.0.x/24 Yes No
VMnet2 Host-only vMotion 172.16.0.x/16 No No
VMnet3 Host-only iSCSI 192.168.1.x/24 No No
VMnet4 Host-only Data 192.168.10.x/24 No No


For VMNet1, you’ll need to connect a virtual host adapter and assign to it an IP in the same range to be able to communicate with this network from your workstation.

To create the corresponding networks, go to VMware Workstation > Edit > Virtual Network EditorVMwareVirtualNetworkEditor

The Window to manage Virtual Network will appear. Select VMnet1. Make sure Connect a host virtual adapter to this network is selected, and deselect Use local DHCP service to distribute IP address to VMs. You may want to put the range that will be used in this network as a reference only, as DHCP will be disabled for this network.VMwareVirtualNetworkEditorTo be able to communicate with servers connected to this network, you’ll have to have an IP in the same range assigned to your VMnet1 NIC in your PC. In my station, my VMnet NIC IP is

VMnet1 IP

Add the vMotion (VMnet2), iSCSI (VMnet3 and VMnet4), and Data Traffic (VMnet5) networks following the table above.

AddVirtualNetwork AddVirtualNetworkVMnet2

Once done, you’ll have something like this. The other VMnet are not needed and optionally, may be deleted!



Our needed networks are now created. Next, we will prepare the ESXi hosts VMs and go through the installation of the nested hypervisors. Stay tuned!

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