The nested ESXi appliances that William Lam provides to the community are great resources for testing. But what about interoperability? Can you run a nested ESXi 7 VM on a ESXi 6.7 server? Unfortunately the answer is; it depends.

We can’t all be early adopters right? I currently work in an environment where 6.7 is still the predominant version of ESXi in use. So what better way to get started with vSphere 7 than deploying some nested ESXi servers? As it turned out this was not a straightforward process for me.

I started out with the most recent build of the nested appliance which at the time of writing is ESXi 7.0 Update 3c. When the OVA was deployed I expected to simply add the management IP to vCenter and continue configuring the server. However, there was absolutely no connectivity to the management interface. The management webinterface didn’t work, I could not ping the server; nothing.

Continuing my troubleshooting efforts I logged in to the console and tried to ping the gateway. Even though it did not respond, my ARP table did contain the MAC address of the gateway. Now I know when hosting nested VMs you need to either enable Promiscuous Mode and Forged Transmits or configure the MAC Learning feature that was shipped with vSphere 6.7 and onwards. But the management interface should work out of the box.

Could this be an issue which is version related I wondered. So I deployed the ESXi 7.0 Virtual Appliance and…….. totally works! 😱

I continued to test every vSphere 7 version available and here are the results.

Nested ESXi VersionRuns on ESXi 6.7.0, build 19195723
ESXi 7.0 Virtual Appliance
ESXi 7.0 Update 1 Virtual Appliance
ESXi 7.0 Update 1d Virtual Appliance
ESXi 7.0 Update 2 Virtual Appliance
ESXi 7.0 Update 2a Virtual Appliance
ESXi 7.0 Update 3c Virtual Appliance

If you also encountered this issue, please leave a comment. So I know this wasn’t an issue that was specific to my environment.

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