I think it is pretty clear that VMware Workstation 8 is really bringing the features in this release. With version 8, there is native support for ESXi as a virtual machine. Let’s be clear on what this functionality is for, however. This is for test and development capabilities of vSphere. Under no circumstance should you run a production workload on an ESXi 5 system that is running as a virtual machine on a VMware Workstation host.

That being said, it couldn’t be easier to set up a test lab with VMware Workstation 8. It is done simply by selecting the option for a custom new virtual machine, the first screen of the menu for which is shown in Figure A:

Figure A

Note that the wizard even displays ESXi 5.0 as a compatible product when having the virtual machine running in compatibility mode “Workstation 8”. The next step of the wizard in creating a Workstation virtual machine is to select the CD-ROM .ISO file for the operating system installation. Note also that the operating system is detected, as shown in Figure B:

Figure B

At this point, the options are very straightforward on the build. Just ensure that 2 GB of RAM, 2 CPUs (or cores), and at least 10 GB of virtual disk space are provisioned on the virtual machine. From that point, the installation of the virtual machine can start just like that of a normal ESXi system. Once the installation is complete, the ESXi system is installed, designated as running on a VMware virtual machine. The installed virtual machine is shown in Figure C below:

Figure C

(Click to enlarge)

This can be a great learning environment for the migration to vSphere 5 or to get started with virtualization. I would also be remiss if I didn’t once again mention Eric Gray’s VCritical blog post on the topic, including details on 64-bit guests on physical ESXi hosts.

Can it be any easier to virtualize ESXi 5? I don’t think so. Have you started working with vSphere 5 yet, and has VMware Workstation 8 helped you thus far along? Share your experience below.