VMs hosted on VMware’s virtualization platform are widely used throughout many organizations, from small businesses to large enterprises. Whether migrating physical servers, expanding services, or creating new client desktops for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments, there are a number instances when administrators might need access to data stored on optical media.

SEE: IT pro’s guide to effective patch management (TechRepublic PDF)

Though servers may be equipped with optical drives, many of the newer high-density servers eliminate extraneous options, choosing to focus instead on optimizing for performance and efficiency. In such cases, using ISO files to install operating systems, deliver critical updates, or deploy applications is a viable option but the files must first be uploaded and configured for use with VMware’s datastore.

Note: To configure the datastore to use ISO images, the VMware hypervisor must first be installed on the server(s) you wish to use.

To begin, log in to your ESXi host and click on the datastore button to access the volumes stored on the host server (Figure A).

Figure A

Clicking on the Datastore Browser button will open a new window (Figure B), allowing access to the file structure. Though you may add your ISO files anywhere within the file structure, it is a good practice to keep them in a separate folder for ease of management (Figure C). To create a new directory, click on the Create Directory button and provide a name for the new folder.

Figure B

Figure C

After navigating the browser and locating the ISO, it will be uploaded to the datastore and stored for future use. Click the Close button to return to the console after verifying that the file has uploaded completely (Figure D, Figure E).

Figure D

Figure E

Once the ISO you wish to use has been uploaded, click on the Virtual Machine button and place a check mark next to the VM(s) you want to configure access to the ISO file for. Then, click on Actions | Edit settings (Figure F).

Figure F

The configuration screen will open in a separate window, allowing you to modify settings for one or many VMs. Click on Add Other Device and select the CD/DVD Drive option from the dropdown menu. Next, select the dropdown menu next to the newly added CD/DVD Drive and select Datastore ISO File (Figure G, Figure H).

Figure G

Figure H

You will be prompted to locate the ISO you wish to link to the VM(s) using the Datastore browser. Navigate to the location where the ISO was uploaded and click on the Select button to link it (Figure I).

Figure I

If installing an operating system, when powering on the VM it will automatically boot the ISO and begin the installation process. Otherwise, the VM will boot normally and the ISO will be mounted and assigned a drive letter (Figure J).

Figure J

Also read…

Other tips?

Is there something we missed? Do you have any favorite configuration tips for VMware? Please share them with us in the comments section below.