The reasons why not to upgrade to ESXi are getting less and less recently, I think I knocked the automated configuration on the head at the London VMUG with my recent presentation which can be seen here.
With the improved vSphere API’s and using PowerCLI we are slowly able to replace most of the things which used to be performed at the service console, a few of these can be read about here.
But what happens when PowerCLI can not help ?
At a recent engagement with a customer we pretty much got rid of all reasons why we couldn’t move to ESXi apart from one.
Being based on Dell hardware the customer needed to be able to send a detailed report on what the issue was with the physical host, the Dell readers amongst you will be familiar with a Dell System Extraction Tool (DSET), this is a utility which is run on the host (through the service console) which looks at the logs, the Dell management agents and the system to create a packaged hta file which can be sent to Dell, in our case the customer often found it very hard to get hardware components replaced unless a DSET was sent, if not impossible.
The obvious part of this statement was the fact that it ran in the service console, when checking the Dell documentation it was clearly stated that the DSET application was not supported in ESXi:
So when reading the above statement “The server can be rebooted to a supported Linux environment to use DSET” gave me an idea: Live-CD.
After searching for a while I managed to find a nice repository of Dell Live boot CD’s with various different versions of the Dell Open Manage Client already pre-installed, just booting from this CD not only enabled the web interface which you can normally view by accessing the https://<ip address>:1311 url but also allowed me to design a support mechanism where we could boot to a supported operating system via the live boot CD and copy the DSET app over to the box which runs and produces our hardware report for us.
This might sound simple but believe me, it was nearly a show stopper when moving to ESXi, I hope this post helps others in the same predicament this customer was in.