Today I had to set up some ESXi servers that required additional hardware drivers to recognize the 10GB NICs we purchased for them. I’ve done this easily before with ESX and the service console but never with ESXi which has no dedicated service console. Enter the vSphere Management Assistant! vMA for short. This great little downloadable OVF based appliance allows you to do all sorts of great things within your VMware environment. In this case, it allowed me to add these drivers to the ESXi servers in no time at all.
After downloading the Appliance into your VMware environment, you can pull up a console to the appliance and log in. The default username is VI-ADMIN.
I had previously downloaded the additional drivers from VMware’s support site as an ISO file. From my local VI client, I mounted the ISO to the vMA appliance.
Once logged in, sudo mount /dev/cdrom /mnt will mount the ISO into the /mnt directory on the appliance.
From there, you can change to the /mnt/offline-bundle directory.
Using the vihostupdate command, you can remotely add the drivers to all of your ESXi servers in the environment. This did assume that the ESXi servers had SOME network connectivity. (In my case, it was over 1GB connections).
vihostupdate –server <ESXi server name/ip> –install –bundle <package name>
A quick reboot and the new NICs were available on all the systems. Nice!