Deploy Windows Nano Server 2016 in vSphere

While studying for my MCSA 2016, i was reading a chapter about deploying a Nano server 2016. In this blog I will describe how you can deploy a Nano server on ESXi.

With other versions of Windows Server standard or datacenter, you can install the core or desktop ui version while booting/mounting the iso.
Because Nano server is smaller than the core Version, it’s only possible to deploy a Nano server while configuring a vhdx or vhd file.

Create a VHDX

  • Copy the folder “NanoServerImageGenerator” from the 2016 Iso to a local folder ( c:\temp\ )
  • Start Powershell as an administrator, change the directory to the local folder ( c:\temp\ NanoServerImageGenerator )
  • PS: Import-Module .\NanoServerImageGenerator -Verbose
  • Mount the Server 2016 Iso

New-NanoServerImage  -Edition Standard -DeploymentType Guest -MediaPath <path to root of media> -BasePath .\Base -TargetPath .\NanoServerVM\NanoServerVM.vhd -ComputerName <computer name>

-Edition = “standard”
-MediaPath = “Root directory of the server 2016 iso”
-Targetpath = “TargetPath for the output file (.vhd or .vhdx )

#Additional, you can add drivers with the -DriversPath command#

In my test lab the following drivers are included ( C:\temp\nano\Drivers\ ) :

  • VMXNET3;

PS C:\Temp\NanoServerImageGenerator&gt; New-NanoServerImage -Edition Standard -DeploymentType Host 
-MediaPath C:\temp\Server2016\Core_and_DataCtr_Core_2016_64Bit\ -TargetPath C:\temp\Nano\file\NanoServer5.vhdx 
-ComputerName TSTNano5 -DriverPath C:\temp\nano\Drivers\

Set the administrator password;

Done, The file is created with the correct file format

Create VM

Create a new VM with the following options;

  • Guest OS “Windows server 2016”
  • Change the SCSI controller to VMware Paravirtual ( pvscsi )
  • Delete the disk
  • Change the boot firmware to EFI

After creating the vhdx file and vm, you must convert the vhdx file to a VMDK file, For converting this format there are several tools;

At my home lab I used StartWind v2v Converter, because it is a free tool and straight forward with a lot of options. One of the option is to connect directly to the ESXi host, and convert and upload the vhdx file.

Source Image Location;

  • Local File
  • VMware ESXi Server
  • Microsoft Hyper-V Server

In my home lab, I used the local file option as my source image location



  • Select VMware direct conversion to ESXi
  • ESXi credentials
  • Select the datastore and upload the file


After converting the vhdx, you must manually add the vmdk to the VM and increase the size of the disk.











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