Nov 272014

Connection DiagramI’m responsible for several VMware ESXi hosts that are secured using a Bastion host. These Bastion hosts help to protect our client’s infrastructure and only allow access over some specifically enabled network protocols.

It’s clear that they don’t allow traffic from the Internet to our VMware ESXi systems, so we have to go a different route to manage them. Fortunately we can connect to our Bastion host using SSH and then tunnel the vSphere connection from the client machine to the ESXi system. The diagram on the right shows the corresponding data flow. This post will focus on the necessary configuration as I always forget how to setup a new client machine.

Before we start, here’s a screenshot that summarises all the steps:
ESXi over SSH Steps

1.) hosts File

The first thing you need to do is to add a new localhost alias in your hosts file. If you don’t know where to find it or how to modify it, check out this great article. At the bottom of the file append the following line:	esxilocal

2.) Connect to your Bastion host

Now connect to your Bastion host using a client that supports SSH Tunneling. I always go with PuTTY.

3.) Tunnel Configuration

In the next step we have to configure the three necessary tunnels. For the vSphere Client to successfully connect we have to forward the TCP ports 443, 902 and 903. Please ensure that you use the same ports locally.

4.) Connect

If you have setup everything correctly you are now able to connect over the SSH connection. Be aware that you have to use the hostname that you configured in the first step (like esxilocal) not the machine’s real one.

Congratulation, that’s it!

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