In response to Microsoft releasing free Hyper-V Server (actually a full Windows 2008 Server with only one role – Hyper-V) VMware followed with crippled version of their flagship product, ESX Server. The product is called VMware ESXi Server and the current version is 3.5 update 3. Unlike VMware Server it does not require operating system to be installed first as it is actually heavily modified and customized linux-based hypervisor.
I decided to give it a try and migrate couple of my virtual machines from Windows 2003 + VMware Server to ESXi. Since it uses its own file system (vmfs3) I had to move all the VM’s to another server before installation. And that’s where my problems started.
Booting and installing the ESXi is quite simple, on IBM xSeries 3250 it detected all required hardware (LSI controller, Broadcom network adapters) and the system was ready within 10 minutes.
The only way how to manage ESXi is through VMware Infrastructure Client, GUI application that you need to install on your client machine – you can download it from the ESXi host.
I connected to the ESXi server and tried to transfer the original VM’s I moved out earlier, but there is no obvious way. You can create a new virtual machine or import virtual appliance, but nothing else.
After spending couple of hours googling and reading various forums I finally succeeded and here are some tips I found: