Last week I had to build a couple of Nested VSAN environments for testing and of course I used my VSAN Nested ESXi OVF template to help expedite the deployment. After deploying the OVF for the third time to get my three Nested ESXi nodes, it hit me. Why am I doing this each time when I know I will need a minimum of three nodes for a proper VSAN environment? Not sure why I did not think of this earlier, but why not create a vApp that contains three Nested ESXi VM templates?

By leveraging the Dynamic Disk feature in OVF, I was able to create two tiny vApps (40KB & 410KB respectively) based off of my original Nested VSAN ESXi OVF template:

The only difference with these OVF templates is that you can now easily an quickly deploy a single OVF that will contain the minimal number of VSAN nodes up to the maximum supported which is 32.

Disclaimer: Nested Virtualization is not not officially supported by VMware, please use at your own risk


  • vSphere Web Client
    • To deploy either the single VSAN Nested ESXi OVF template or these new ones, you need to make sure you deploy using the vSphere Web Client. The reason for this is that the lossless OVF import/export feature is only available when using the vSphere Web Client, else you the import will not capture all the settings the OVF template was configured with.
  • vSphere Cluster w/DRS enabled
    • vApp creation is only possible when DRS is enabled

Step 1 - Deploy the OVF template using the vSphere Web Client and make sure you select "Accept extra configuration options" which contains extra parameters needed to run ESXi and VSAN in a nested environment.

Step 2 - Go through the OVF deployment wizard as you normally would. When you get to "Customize Template" you will notice each Nested ESXi VM is in its own Category as seen in the screenshot below. Here you can leave the defaults for a minimal VSAN deployment which contains 2GB disk for ESXi installation, 4GB disk for an "emulated" SSD and 8GB disk for MD or you can specify the size for each disk.

In just a couple of seconds, you will now have a vApp that contains either a 3-node Nested ESXi VM or you can go big and deploy a 32-node Nested ESXi environment.

Note: Please note there maybe other configurations changes such as this one and/or increase in VM resources to run larger VSAN Clusters.

I know these OVF templates will come in handy for myself when needing to quickly deploy a VSAN running in a Nested ESXi environment and hopefully it will also benefit others in the community as well!

13 thoughts on “OVF template for creating Nested ESXi 3 or 32 node VSAN Cluster

  1. Is it just me or are others unable to download these images? I’ve tried both IE and Chrome. What gives?

  2. Getting this Error also. A connection error occurred. Verify that your computer can connect to vCenter Server when deploying OVF.

  3. Looks like a permissions error on the S3 bucket … interesting stuff though, I’m about to build a mini-cloud out of overpowered gaming laptops and this would come in really handy (Yes I know I’m insane, but that never stopped me, I was going to do it out of Mac Mini’s but you beat me to the punch)

    Access Denied


  4. Hi william,

    i have few questions about after import vsan,
    all these templates running on esxi 5.5 but i have some issuses about vsan network all three nested esxi servers vsan interface cant connect each is not just only about vsan network managemetn and others but i cant solve it. which case do i have to consider ?


  5. I deployed the OVF successfully but the ESXI VMs are not getting ON, it says the Host is not not compatible with the virtual machines(the three ESXi). The host is Dell PowerEdge 2900 and it has ESXi 5.5 installed as hypervisor

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