Tips and tricks

ESXi and View, completely mobile

Being able to do demo’s on the fly, when connectivity is an issue, is key in my role.

I put together a cool solution last year and I wanted to share some of the technical details with you.

First things first, you need to find hardware where ESXi will install and run smoothly. Multiple choices are possible and you can definitely google for recipes, personally, I liked the Elitebook 8540w, a little bulky but solid as a rock and very stable!

A contact at HP was kind enough to point in the right direction obtaining the hardware to get me started.

This model can no longer be bought from HP but you can surely find new models that will work just as well.

Hardware configuration:

– Mobile Intel QM57 Express Chipset, Quad-Core i7

– Comes built-in with 8 gigs but easily upgraded to 16 gigs

– Built-in hard drive, 720rpm SATA-II drive.

– I removed the built-in DVD reader

– Added a second hard drive, 200gigs SSD drive in the expansion bay instead of the DVD


Now, the fun part.

You can install ESXi 5 barebone on it, no problems, it recognizes the NIC, nothing special to do upon install.

After initial installation, I installed the following Virtual Machines:

– 1 Windows 2k8 Ent., running Virtual Center and View Composer

– 1 Win2k3 Domain Controller (when trying to use the smallest footprint for resources, Win2k3 takes a lot less than Win2k8. If you don’t have any specific requirements for Win2k8 domain, this is a better setup)

– 1 Win2k8 Ent, running View Connection Server

– 2 Windows XP  (built from a View Desktop pool)

– 1 Windows 7  (built from a View Desktop pool)

This gives you a complete setup running at around 7-8 gigs of RAM, plenty of horsepower left to spare and to potentially add more VM’s to the environment (i.e. Horizon Application Manager)

Then, on the management side, you’ll need a 2nd laptop and I recommend putting the following software on it:
– Adobe Flash
– Adobe Reader
– Virtual Center Client
– VMware View Client (with or without local mode)
– VMware Workstation (this is just in case you want to do domain management without adding your demo laptop to the demo domain, you run a VM within workstation)


Additional hardware:

– a small GbE router you buy from Futureshop or BestBuy
– Power extension cord (I’ve had a lot of demo’s where I only had 2 plugs available, you need 3 for this setup)



In vSphere, setup the auto-start for your VM’s, make sure you have your DC first, then your vCenter and your View Connection server.

Now, boot your laptop, wait 4-5 minutes and you have a full View deployment, wherever you need to take it, without the need to ask for external connectivity.

Those are the cliff notes, it takes about 8 hours to setup everything from beginning to end and you now have a 100% mobile demo environment where you can demonstrate VMware View from a laptop or even a thin or Zero-Client.

Will elaborate on the demo’s in a future post and I’m brewing another setup (Mac Mini) that looks promising as well.

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