ESXi installer for HP hardware

I’m a big fan of pre-failure warnings in my ESXi servers and that’s the single biggest reason for deploying my hardware vendor’s management tools.  Since my lab currently runs on HP Proliant servers that means I want Systems Insight Manager (SIM) running in my lab.  In addition I want the HP CIM (Common Information Model) management providers on my ESXi hosts.

These providers aren’t in the main ESXi installer distribution that comes from VMware.  In the past the ways to get them were either to order ESXi Embedded with your Proliant or to download HP’s ESXi installer.  Both of these options could lead you to a rather out of date ESXi build with the support troubles that this implies.

With ESXi 5.0 VMware have given us a third option, build your own ESXi installer image.  The Image Builder is a collection of PowerShell scripts that are part of VMware’s PowerCLI 5.0, to use the scripts you simply install PowerCLI 5.0 and start building.  There is great documentation in the vSphere 5.0 Documentation Centre, but one of the top tips came from the unstoppable Duncan Epping.  Duncan posted about using the online repository provided by VMware to get the latest released VMware components directly, rather than downloading them at each release.  The next puzzle piece came with an HP online repository for their components.  It didn’t take a lot of research to find out how to draw from the two repositories to build an image with the VMware components supplemented by the HP components.

The benefit of combining the latest HP management packages with the latest hypervisor packages from VMware is being up to date and in control.  A side benefit is the ability to strictly control which versions of which packages are in your install build, removing the surprises some encountered in the past.  For best control you may choose to download from the online repositories so you have a permanent copy of the packages to choose from.

I chose to build an installer ISO that I could present through the ILO to my ESXi hosts, so the command sequence was:

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot -DepotUrl

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot -DepotUrl

Get-EsxImageProfile | format-table Name, ModifiedTime

New-EsxImageProfile –CloneProfile ESXi-5.0.0-20111104001-standard –Name “HP_Install”

Get-ESXSoftwarePackage -Vendor H*

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile HP_Install -SoftwarePackage hpnmi

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile HP_Install -SoftwarePackage char-hpcru

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile HP_Install -SoftwarePackage char-hpilo

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile HP_Install -SoftwarePackage hpbootcfg

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile HP_Install -SoftwarePackage hponcfg

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile HP_Install -SoftwarePackage hp-smx-provider

Export-EsxImageProfile –ImageProfile HP_Install –FilePath C:\HP_Install.iso –ExportToIso

The line Get-EsxImageProfile | format-table Name, ModifiedTime allowed me to select the latest VMware release, or an earlier one if I chose. The line Get-ESXSoftwarePackage -Vendor H* allowed me to choose which HP packages I wanted to add to the basic VMware build.  A little more scripting could automate both of these choices and the manual steps that followed them, however I doubt that these are things that you will want to automate.  Even with the manual copy and paste of base build name and HP packages I was able to create a new installer image in under an hour and then use it to upgrade my two blades (without loss of configuration) in another hour each.  The slowest parts were the enter maintenance mode tasks and the Proliant POST.

The Export of the ISO will cause the download of the packages from VMware and HP, this is the nature of using the online repositories.  There is no caching of the downloaded packages, they are re-downloaded every time you export. If you want a bundle to use with AutoDeploy then the last line should read: Export-EsxImageProfile –ImageProfile HP_Install –FilePath C:\ –ExportToBundle

So what difference does the HP management build mean?  The simple thing is that the Hardware Health information has more sensors, the standard build shows 144 on my old BL460c blades and the HP build 165.  In addition SIM knows plenty about the blades, so next is completing the setup of SIM and integrating into vCentre.

© 2011, Alastair. All rights reserved.

About Alastair

I am a professional geek, working in IT Infrastructure. Mostly I help to communicate and educate around the use of current technology and the direction of future technologies.
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