Re-image Nutanix nodes to VMware ESXi 6.5u1

This week I deployed a Nutanix cluster based on VMware ESXi 6.5u1. I wanted to share with you how to re-image the Nutanix nodes to VMware ESXi. Usually Nutanix blocks are shipped with nodes imaged on AHV. So, you have to re-image the Nutanix nodes to the wanted hypervisor (Hyper-V, ESXi or KVM). In this topic we’ll see how to re-image Nutanix nodes to VMware ESXi

The following procedure regards Nutanix blocks. If you have a branded block (such as Dell), the procedure may change especially about network adapter to plug.

I’m sorry, the screenshots are blurred. I promise, I’ll do better next time 🙂


To re-image Nutanix nodes, you need Nutanix foundation that you can download from Nutanix portal. This is a VM provided by Nutanix which contains tools to re-image node. This VM should be run on your laptop so you need a hypervisor which can run this VM such as VMware Workstation or VirtualBox.

I heavily recommend you to bring a simple switch (no manageable, 8 ports) to plug your laptop and Nutanix nodes. In this way nothing will trouble the deployment. The node discovering is based on IPv6LL.

You need also the lastest AOS release (5.1.3 at the time of writing this topic) and the VMware ESXi 6.5u1 ISO. To summary you need:

  • A laptop with VMware Workstation/Fusion, VirtualBox
  • Download the Foundation VM, add it to the hypervisor you chose and start it
  • A non-manageable switch 8 ports
  • Download the last AOS from the Nutanix Portal
  • Download VMware ESXi 6.5u1

About foundation VM

Once you have downloaded the foundation VM, you can unzip it and add it to the hypervisor on your laptop. The VM must be connected to a bridge network. Be sure about this configuration. The default credentials are Nutanix / nutanix/4u.

About Nutanix nodes

The Nutanix nodes must be connected to the switch where your laptop is plugged. From my side, I have plugged the lower integrated network adapter port (Nutanix brand block). This configuration can change depending on the block brand. For example, for Lenovo blocks, I read that 1GB and 10GB network adapter must be plugged. For other, you need to plug also the IPMI. Please read the documentation for branded block about the right connection for re-imaging.

About network

Each Nutanix node requires four (three mandatory) IP addresses:

  • One for IPMI
  • One for Hypervisor (management)
  • One for Controller VM (CVM)
  • vMotion (Optional but recommended)

It is recommended that the CVM network and the Hypervisor network were on the same subnet. An additional IP is required for the cluster address.

Re-image Nutanix Node

Once the Foundation VM is started and you are authenticated to the system, you should get the following desktop. Run the script set_foundation_ip_address.

Choose Device configuration. Then set an IP address which will be on the hypervisor network to reach the cluster and the nodes.

Next I use a tool like PSCP to copy inside the VM the AOS and VMware image. To copy files, run the following command:

Pscp.exe c:\path\to\my\file nutanix@<foundation VM IP address>:/tmp

Then run the Foundation Applet to open the following GUI. The interface shows you the discovered nodes. In this example, only two nodes are discovered instead of three, I don’t know why. I chose to click on a node and launch foundation.

By magic in foundation, the three nodes are well discovered. If your nodes are not discovered, you can specify the IPMI MAC address to discover nodes manually. A label is stuck on back of each node with the IPMI MAC address.

On the next screen, specify the cluster information: cluster name and IP address, NTP server, DNS server and time zone. I activate the checkbox Configure IPMI IP to configure IPMI of each node. Next, I choose a netmask and a gateway for CVM and hypervisor network. Finally, I changed the CVM memory to 32GB which is a recommended value when you enable deduplication.

Next for each node, specify the node name and an IP for each network.

In this example, I choose Single Hypervisor because I want to deploy the same hypervisor in each node.

On the next screen, click on manage in AOS section and upload the AOS image that you have copied previously in /tmp. Do the same thing for ESXi.

After upload is finished, you should have something like that:

PS: You can upgrade the hypervisor whitelist to install latest VMware ESXi version. For that, you need to connect to Nutanix portal and download the last ISO_WhiteList.json. Then use PSCP to copy the file in the Foundation VM. Next click on View Whitelist and update the whitelist with the file that you have just copied.

Then the re-imaging process is running. It took 2h to finish the re-imaging.

Once th re-imaging process is finished, the cluster is creating.

If the cluster is well created, you should get the following screen:

Connect to Prism from a web browser (http://<Cluster IP>) and complete requested information. You have to change the default password also.

Next choose to activate or not Pulse.

After the wizard, you should get the Prism dashboard with cluster information. Now you can configure Prism and deploy vCenter. Have fun

About Romain Serre

Romain Serre works in Lyon as a Senior Consultant. He is focused on Microsoft Technology, especially on Hyper-V, System Center, Storage, networking and Cloud OS technology as Microsoft Azure or Azure Stack. He is a MVP and he is certified Microsoft Certified Solution Expert (MCSE Server Infrastructure & Private Cloud), on Hyper-V and on Microsoft Azure (Implementing a Microsoft Azure Solution).


  1. Nutanix uses IPv6 to discover nodes. Be sure to install Apple Bonjour and to disable your AV. Otherwise you’ll have to enter the IPMI MAC addresses manually.

    Moreover, CVM now use 32 GB memory by default. This is a recommended setting.

    And finally, I advice you to use a 1 GB switch when imaging the nodes, especially if you have at least 4 nodes. Why ? Because using a 100Mb switch, the iso upload will be so long that Foundation will throw you a timeout error 🙂

  2. Fantastic, just what I needed…. Thanks.

  3. Nice article… if you have more documents ESX on Nutanix with the network configurations..will be grateful
    I also want to know do you have any suggestion or tested on VMware SRM on Nutanix hardware

  4. “In this example, only two nodes are discovered instead of three, I don’t know why ”

    I have the same issue , not be able to discover all the nodes ( 17 nodes ) , i have only discovered 3 nodes ? Do you know why ?

    Thank you in advance ..


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