It was a cold dark night in the winter of 2005 when I screamed myself awake out of a horrible nightmare. For over 7 years I was knocking on the Microsoft gate, but no one ever opened.  It became clear Microsoft just would take another 2 years of Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and their “award winning” Virtual Server 2005, before Server 2008 and Hyper-V would be released….. It became clear to me I was in desperate need of some innovative new IT solutions.  I needed change, and I needed it right now….

After a hot shower (getting rid of the the cold sweats). I started  surfing the internet, searching for that one product that would change my IT life. Looking at the trends to come, and the innovators of the past, there was one company ranking number 1 on all searches: VMware. Why didn’t I know about them? Where had they been my begone IT life? But more important, How could I get educated in the Holy Grail of virtualization products….

After reading multiple sites and books, a second chance for my IT life unfolded for my eyes that night. The next morning I registered for the: VMware infrastructure 3: Install and configure course. Only my job as an IT administrator claimed to much time to get certified. Suffering a severe Spinal disc herniation (and operation) in 2009, my main focus was on getting my life back the last 2 years. In 2010 I followed the VMware vSphere: What’s New? course and did the exam, becoming a VMware Certified Professional 4 (VCP4). Now everything is slowly going to “normal” again, I’m aiming on becoming a VCAP-DCA and VCAP-DCD before VMworld Europe 2011. The world changed, the IT changed (it’s getting more Cloudy every day ;-)) but VMware still is the holy grail in virtualization, and they will be for many years to come.

Although VCP is a great certification, it’s not enough for the virtualized environments build these days. Sure, it provides a very solid foundation in the virtualization world, but to build a complete infrastructure you’ll need more. A lot of issues are being discussed briefly or even left open. Troubleshooting, Security, PowerCLI, Performance, Design and Disaster Recovery are discussed in depth in the courses provided by VMware Educational services (just click the links for more info).

For me the VCAP Quest begins with installing ESXi in my Home lab all over again. And it made me realize it would be a good thing to write everything down step by step and put them on this blog. Although there are several very good guides and blogs online covering the installation of the vSphere software, I noticed my learning curve spikes when I’m writing down the stuff I’m learning about. Everything will be done in step by step guides.

One last thing: Only VMware ESXi will be allowed in my home lab. Why? VMware announced all upcoming products will be ESXi only…. Sure ESX has the Service Console and is the product which made VMware the Holy Grail, but it’s also extra bagage that needs to be protected and administrated…. Added to that, ESXi is as good and maintainable as ESX and learning how to install and maintain ESXi will be affordable in all years to come.

In the next posts we’ll begin the installation of ESXi. To make a screenshots for the step by step guide I used the opportunity to install ESXi within workstation. This is a great and easy way to get started with VMware ESXi and with “normal” (non Hardware Compatibilty List)  hardware. Don’t think ESXi will only install on expensive “server”hardware, though. There are plenty of guides online which show how to install ESXi on normal “client”hardware (just search on ESXi on a whitebox). This is a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago on hardware for my ESXi host.

For installing VMware ESXi in VMware Workstation you’ll need to download the following products:

Workstation 7.1.4 (30 day trial):

ESXi 4.1 U1 (60 day trial):

As said We’ll start with the installation of VMware workstation 7.1.4. Go to the first guide by clicking HERE