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Deploy Nutanix Community Edition on VMware

Here we are with a new article series about the steps on how to deploy Nutanix. This series covers the Hyper Converged Infrastructure solutions. We’ll start this series with Nutanix Community Edition.

The Nutanix CE is available for download and offers the great features of the commercial models. Everything is software-defined and very easy to use. There are many benefits of using an Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) over a more traditional one. The market currently offers excellent solutions addressing both Converged Infrastructures and Hyper Converged Infrastructures addressing different scenarios.

Typically CI and HCI solutions are the preferred choice for big environments where there is a need to easily manage and scale VDI deployments, high transaction database applications and more in general Cloud services. From this perspective Nutanix has been pioneering this approach trying to bring the Cloud services within the Enterprise. With the help of Software-Defined approach the aim is to make the “Infrastructure invisible”.

Hyper Converged Infrastructures are built on purpose from the ground up to support and configure all aspects with regards to Storage, Network and Computational Power. Everything is managed through a software overarching the entire infrastructure. Hence Software-Defined approach. The purpose of this series is to explore and learn more about these solutions and the great news is some of the leading HCI vendors have Community Editions we can simply install and learn in our home lab. Surely it is also possible to take advantage of the online environments, pre-configured by the vendors. Of course they are hosted by a 3rd party which requires a financial commitment.

For the “Die Hard” out there it is possible to download the necessary software and install it on own hardware in a personal home lab. Personally this is route I prefer taking the chance to learn and test specific scenarios.

Another great news: We can deploy Nutanix Community Edition as nested installation into VMware!

No need to buy extra hardware as long as we can guarantee the minimum specs. Although it is still possible to tweak them where required! And this is all what this article series is about 🙂 The idea is to go step by step and explore the following stages:

As per usual I will keep this list open and add new articles to expand on different topics like Cluster Management, Storage and Network configurations, File Server services, Data Protection and a lot more.

So at this point we are ready to start!


Deploy Nutanix CE VMware vSphere

In this step we are going to prepare the Guest OS Virtual Machine we’ll use to deploy Nutanix CE. Personally I have repeated the same installation steps on both VMware Workstation and vSphere and have noticed a slightly different behaviour. I will highlight such differences where required. The other important thing I would like to mention is that apart from the minimum prerequisites we also need to create a VMware Disk Descriptor file to present the virtual disk as “system disk.” Everything will be more clear along the way. In case it is possible to use the same VMware Descriptor Disk file I have previously created directly from this link NOS.vmdk. Just remove the .txt in the end! 😉

In terms of prerequisites these are considered the safe minimums for decent performances. Although it is also true we can change them we should start ideally with the following:


  • vCPU: 4
  • Enable VTi / AMDv instructions on Guest OS configuration


  • Memory: 16GB (4GB for the Hypervisor + 12 for the Nutanix Controller VM)


  • Disk0: System Disk
  • Disk1: 200GB for performance (can be thin provisioned to save on space)
  • Disk2: 500GB for capacity (can be thin provisioned to save on space)

This article focuses on how to deploy Nutanix nested into VMware vSphere. As we’ll go through I will highlight the differences with VMware Workstation. As per usual let’s create a new Virtual Machine using the wizard as per screenshot below.

domalab.com Deploy Nutanix nested VMware new Virtual machine

Let’s define a name and the location where this Virtual Machine will be created. In this instance we are starting with a Nutanix Single Cluster configuration. Nutanix CE supports 1,3,4 Nodes onto the cluster. I would recommend a good naming convention to keep them all together!

In this case we now select the physical Host to associate to the Nutanix CE virtual machine.

At this point let’s choose the datastore where to accommodate this VM. The fastest the better! During the installation of Nutanix a script is checking the IOPS of the underlying storage. Should them not be enough we can tweak this script to go for a lower threshold. I know this is not the best practice.. but is just to make the installer happy and progress with the deployment. This is sufficient for a home lab.

Let’s select the latest version to guarantee compatibility at least from version 11 of the virtual hardware.

domalab.com Deploy Nutanix nested VMware compatibility

With regards to the VMware OS template to use I have opted for Other 64-Bit operating system. Guest OS name “NOS”

domalab.com Deploy Nutanix nested VMware guest OS

In the Virtual Hardware section let’s make sure the following settings are configured:

  • x4 CPU
  • Expose hardware assisted virtualization to the Guest OS

domalab.com Deploy Nutanix nested VMware CPU

Memory minimum 16GB. With regards to the Port Group to use I would recommend to create a custom distributed Port Group configured in Promiscuous Mode and use it for Nutanix Guest OS. This will ensure communication with both Nutanix Host and CVM from another machine on the network as the physical VMware Hosts.

In the case of VMware Workstation I have used successfully a custom NAT configuration and was able to ping both Nutanix Host and Nutanix CVM. It will make more sense with the next step about the installation of Nutanix OS.

And to finalize the wizard which shows the main settings to the new Guest OS before committing.

domalab.com Deploy Nutanix nested VMware summary

Before starting the Nutanix Guest OS we need to add 3 virtual disks: the System disk, the Performance Disk 200GB and the Capacity Disk 500GB. As an additional step once we have obtained the Nutanix installation file let’s follow these steps:

  1. download the Nutanix CE install file. At the time of writing it is ce-2017.07.20-stable.img
  2. on Windows I use the excellent 7zip to extract the content from the archive
  3. rename it to NOS-flat.vmdk
  4. copy NOS-flat.vmdk on the same Virtual Machine folder on the Datastore (Nutanix CE in my case)
  5. create the VMware Descriptor file or download this one from here NOS.vmdk

At this point let’s edit the Virtual Disks settings. Let’s add the “system disk”

Let’s point to the VMware Disk Descriptor file which now reflects the size of the flat file.

domalab.com Deploy Nutanix nested VMware select disk

This Disk is allocated and will be mounted on the SCSI(0:0).

Let’s now add the Performance Disk 200GB as thin provisioned drive in case we want to save on space. This will be positioned on SCSI(0:1)

domalab.com Deploy Nutanix nested VMware add disk performance

Let’s now add the Capacity Disk 500GB as thin provisioned drive in case we want to save on space. This will be positioned on SCSI(0:2)

If we now take a look at the VM Hardware from the Summary settings we should have something similar to this.

At this point we are ready to proceed with the next steps on how to install Nutanix CE on VMware vSphere. The next article covers this topic in more detail.


About the author

Michele Domanico

Passionate about Virtualization, Storage, Data Availability and Software Defined Data Center technologies. The aim of Domalab.com is sharing with the Community the knowledge and experience gained with customers, industry leaders and like minded peers. Always open to constructive feedback and new challenges.

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