Home Lab – Deploy vCenter 7 and vSAN on nested ESXi

If you’ve followed the guide this far, you’ve deployed 3 esxi hosts nested on your baremetal esxi install. This guide takes it a step further by deploying vcenter and creating a vSAN cluster on the esxi hosts.

Download vCenter Server

Login to your account at https://my.vmware.com/ and go to Products and Accounts ->Products -> All Products

Select VMware vSphere. View Download Components
Select your version and download the vCenter Server. I’m using VMware vCenter Server 7.0U2b with Enterprise Plus
Download the VMware vCenter Server Appliance (7.5GB)

Mount the ISO and use the install wizard to configure vCenter 7

I’m using windows 10, and it was relatively easy to mount the ISO. In Windows explorer, I just navigated over to the downloads directly where the ISO was, and double clicked it. Open the directory vcsa-ui-installer -> win32 -> installer.exe.

Stage 1

You should see a popup like this. Go ahead and click Install
Click Next to deploy vCenter server
Accept the EUL.
Put the IP/fqdn of the first esxi host, and the credentials.
Select Yes to accept the warning.
Specify a name for the vm, and set the root password
For deployment size I chose Tiny since it more than met my needs. If you need more, select Small.
Select “Install on a new vSAN cluster containing the target host” Feel free to modify the names.
We’re going to claim all the 200GB disks as capacity tier, and the 20GB disk as cache tier. The other disk we will not use. Additionally, I selected “Enable Thin Disk Mode” and “Enable Deduplication and compression” Since it’s a lab, i’m not too worried about a vSAN failure. Worst case, i’ll just rebuild the entire lab and get more practice.
Set the fqdn for vcenter, IP address and mask, default gateway, and dns server. vCenter is very picky about dns.. Make sure that the fqdn resolves and the ip address reverse lookup resolves as well.
Here’s the summary page. Go ahead and hit Finish then grab some coffee. This step takes a while.
Congratulations! It’s installed. Now onto stage 2 for some additional configuration. Click Continue

Stage 2

Into the setup wizard for stage 2. Click Next
You’re welcome to sync with a public ntp server (or private), I just selected the host for mine. Additionally, it’s a lab and ssh access to vCenter is very handy when troubleshooting issues later.
Set the SSO domain, I chose the default “vsphere.local” and enter your password.
Choose whether you want to join the CEIP.
Summary page. If all looks right, click Finish.
Stage 2 Completed. Vcenter is all setup. You can now access the UI:

vSAN Initial Setup

Launch vCenter in the browser.
Login with the administrator@vsphere.local account and password.
You’re going to see lots of alarms and warnings, don’t worry.. we’re going to fix it all in the next few steps.

Step 1: Cluster Basics

Navigate to the vSAN Cluster and select Configure. Then under Configuration click Quickstart. This provides a easy to use wizard for deploying HA and vSAN.
Step 1: Click Edit under Cluster Basics and make sure that all the options are turned on. vSphere DRS, vSphere HA, and vSAN.

Step 2: Add Hosts

Step 2: Under Add hosts, click ADD. Then add in the IP or fqdn of each of the other 2 esxi hosts. Then the user and passwords for each.
Select the hosts and click OK to accept the certificate security warning.
Summary of the hosts. Click Next
Ready to add them, click Finish. After you click finish, this will take some time. Just be patient.
Hosts are added, now on to step 3.

Step 3: Configure Hosts

Step 3: Click Configure under Configure cluster. I left all these settings default.
Set the vmnics as shown above. We will use this to setup vSAN and vMotion. Click Next.
I am using vlan20 ( for my vmotion traffic. So I configured 3 interfaces for this traffic, 1 per esxi in the cluster. Also i’m not using vlans, so I have unchecked that box. Click Next.
Similarly, the vSAN vlan is vlan30 ( and I configured 3 IP addresses on this network. Uncheck vlan if not in use. Click Next.
I left all of these settings default. You can turn on “Virtual Machine Monitoring” if you want. Everything else is fine as default. Click Next.
For the disks, select the “Group by:” as Host, and expand the hosts. You will see all the volumes that we created on the esxi setup.
Go through and claim the following:
200GB Claim as capacity tier
20GB Claim as cache tier
4GB do not claim
Click Next.
Skip this step, since we have already configured internet access.
Summary page. Review everything and click Finish. This step takes a while.. be patient.
Eventually everything will normalize and look like this. You can ignore those yellow alerts. As long as nothing is red, you will be fine.

Licensing vCenter

Click the Menu and navigate to Hosts and Clusters. Right click the vcenter1 instance, and select Assign License. Select the appropriate vCenter license and click Ok.

Licensing the ESXi hosts in vSAN cluster

Enter your licenses separated out by a new line. Click Next. Then you have the option to name your licenses, Next. Summary page. Save.
After adding the licenses, you will see them available here.
Select the Menu at the top and navigate to Hosts and Clusters
Right click on one of the ESXi hosts in the vSAN cluster and select Assign License. Then in the popup that will appear, you select the appropriate license. Repeat this steps for the other 2 ESXi hosts.

Set vSAN as default storage policy

Right click on the vCenter vm, and navigate to VM Policies, and select Edit VM Storage Policies
At the top select vSAN Default Storage Policy from the drop down and click Ok.


  1. thank you for this, its really great. is Production VLAN 5 included in the distribution switch? I followed your instruction and when sniping off new VM’s i get .4 IP address and not .5.

    1. If you’ve configured vlan5 in pfsense you should be able to get DHCP ip addresses. I left it optional since most home labs don’t really need 5 /24s. I ended up configuring it initially in my lab, then removing it later on.

  2. very great tutorial, thank you again.
    i think your tutorial is missing a very important part on how to configure networking once all 3 esxi hosts are in a cluster an are managed from vSphere. As it is now if you go to networking there is only one VM network and DSwitch that was configured during vSAN configuration. Suppose i want to set up a Server and have it grab IP from .5 DHCP how can i explicitly tell it to do that? As well as if i want to set up a Workstation that i want to have .4 DHCP address. Right now anything i spin Server or Workstation the only option thats available is VM Network and therefore there is no real control of which ip newly created vm will get. All my port groups that we have created earlier and associated with vSwith1 are on vlan 0, if it makes any difference.

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