Preparing for a Successful Hypervisor Installation
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Installing a hypervisor is a reasonably straightforward process, but several prerequisites should be considered before doing the actual installation. While this article references VMware ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V, the concepts can be applied to most hypervisors on the market. One of the first things that should be done is to check server hardware with the vendor's compatibility matrix.
A hypervisor compatibility matrix is a table or chart that lists the compatibility between a hypervisor and various other components, such as guest operating systems, hardware platforms and management tools. The purpose of a hypervisor compatibility matrix is to provide information about what components are compatible with a particular hypervisor and to help ensure that the components work together correctly.
A hypervisor compatibility matrix typically includes information about:
- Guest operating systems: Which operating systems are supported as virtual machines on the hypervisor, and which versions are supported.
- Hardware platforms: Which hardware platforms are supported by the hypervisor, including information about processor architectures, memory configurations and network adapters.
- Management tools: Which management tools are compatible with the hypervisor, including information about compatibility with virtual machine management software, backup software and monitoring tools.
- Other components: Information about compatibility with other components, such as storage systems, security tools and software development tools.
The hypervisor compatibility matrix is an important resource for administrators and engineers who are planning or deploying virtualized environments, as it provides information about which components are compatible with a particular hypervisor. This information can help ensure that the components work together correctly, which can help to improve the performance, stability and security of the virtualized environment.
The VMware Compatibility Guide is an online resource that provides information about the compatibility of different hardware and software components with VMware products, including VMware ESXi. The guide includes information about server hardware, storage devices, network adapters and other components that can be used with VMware products. It also provides information about software compatibilities, such as operating systems, device drivers and applications.
Users can search for specific products and components to see if they are compatible with VMware products and which versions of those products are supported. The guide also provides information about end-of-life and end-of-support dates for certain products and any known issues or limitations.
Another vendor example is Microsoft. Microsoft has a Windows Server Catalog to help administrators verify hardware compatibility. As you can see from the screenshot, an administrator can view various hardware components to confirm compatibility before installing Hyper-V.
A final example is Nutanix. The Nutanix Compatibility and Interoperability Matrix can be used to verify hardware and software compatibility on the Nutanix platform.
Most popular hypervisors have a compatibility matrix, but it would be repetitive to list all of them. If you're working with a different hypervisor, a web search will be able to point you to the compatibility matrix of your chosen product.
Installing a hypervisor typically requires a system with the following minimum specifications:
- Processor: A processor with hardware virtualization support, such as Intel VT-x or AMD-V, is necessary for running a hypervisor.
- Memory: The minimum recommended memory for a hypervisor will vary by product.
- Storage: A hypervisor typically requires a minimum amount of storage, but the actual amount of storage required may vary depending on the number of virtual machines and the size of their virtual disks.
- Networking: A hypervisor requires at least one network adapter for communication between the host and virtual machines.
- Operating system: Some hypervisors must be installed on a supported host operating system, such as Windows or Linux. Some hypervisors are installed on bare metal and do not need a host operating system.
It is also important to note that some hypervisors have additional hardware and software requirements, so it's important to check the vendor's documentation for specific details.
It's worth noting that the storage requirements can vary depending on the number of VMs, the size of the VMs, and the storage policies that are in place. Additionally, storage performance can be essential, so it's recommended to use high-performance storage devices such as solid-state drives (SSDs) or high-speed storage arrays.
It's also important to consider data protection and disaster recovery. Use a data protection method such as RAID and/or a data backup solution.
Hypervisors typically use shared storage to provide a centralized repository for virtual machine disk images. Shared storage enables multiple virtual machines to access the same disk images, which can be useful in several ways:
- High availability: Shared storage can be used to provide high availability for virtual machines by enabling multiple hosts to access the same disk images. This enables virtual machines to be moved between hosts in the event of a host failure, which can provide improved availability and disaster recovery capabilities.
- Improved performance: Sharing disk images on a centralized storage system can also provide improved performance by reducing the load on individual hosts and enabling faster access to data.
- Simplified management: By using shared storage, virtual machines can be managed from a central location, which can simplify management tasks and improve efficiency.
- Improved data protection: Shared storage can also provide improved data protection by enabling multiple copies of virtual machine disk images to be stored on different hosts, which can provide protection against data loss in the event of a hardware failure.
Overall, shared storage is an important component of many hypervisor environments and provides benefits such as improved performance, high availability, simplified management and improved data protection.
There are several BIOS settings that may be needed for the hypervisor to function correctly:
- Virtualization Technology (VT-x or AMD-V): This setting is required for running virtual machines on the host.
- Intel Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (VT-d): This setting is required for some advanced features, such as the passthrough of physical PCI devices to VMs.
- BIOS Memory Map above 4GB: This setting is required if there is more than 4GB of physical RAM on the host.
- Execute Disable Bit (XD): This setting is recommended for security to prevent buffer overflow attacks
- NUMA (Non-Uniform Memory Access): This setting is recommended to be enabled if a NUMA-based server is used. It will help the performance.
It's worth noting that the specific BIOS settings and their names can vary depending on the hardware vendor and model. It's always a good idea to consult the vendor's documentation for the specific BIOS settings required for all hardware.
Additionally, it's recommended to update the server's firmware and BIOS to the latest version available to ensure the best compatibility and performance.
A hypervisor installer is a software application or tool that is used to install a hypervisor on a physical server or computer. The purpose of the hypervisor installer is to automate the process of installing and configuring the hypervisor and its components on the host system.
Typically, a hypervisor installer includes a graphical user interface (GUI) or command-line interface (CLI) that guides the user through the installation process. The installer may also provide options for configuring various aspects of the hypervisor, such as the amount of memory allocated to virtual machines, the networking configuration, and the storage configuration.
The hypervisor installer may also include other tools and utilities, such as management and monitoring tools, that are used to manage and monitor virtual machines running on the hypervisor.
In general, the hypervisor installer is an important component of the hypervisor software and provides an easy and efficient way to install and configure the hypervisor and its components on the host system.
Hopefully, this article has helped clarify some of the prerequisites that should be done prior to installing a hypervisor. Virtualization has many benefits, but a poorly designed environment can cause unnecessary problems, so it is best to plan carefully before beginning any installation of hardware or software.