Getting Started with BIG-IP Next: Installing Central Manager on VMware ESXi

Introductions have been made, fundamentals have been shared, and NOW it's time to make stuff happen! In this article, I'll show you how to get BIG-IP Next Central Manager installed on VMware ESXi.

Download the bits...

Login to MyF5 and head to the downloads section. Select the Central Manager product line, your choice of the product version (20.0 in my case for this article, the rest of the values in parentheses follow suit, but you might choose different versions/locations), then select a product container (20.0.2). Select the OVA file (BIG-IP-Next-CentralManager-20.0.02-0.0.68.ova), select the download location (USA - EAST COAST) and then click download. My selections as stated are shown below.

Install Central Manager

Connect to VMware ESXi, and make sure the system has 8 VCPus, 16GB RAM, and 350GB of disk handy for the installation! Click on Virtual Machines in the left-hand menu and then click on create / register VM.

On the select creation type screen, select deploy a virtual machine from an OVF or OVA file and click next.

On the select OVF and VMDK files screen, enter the name for your virtual machine (Next-CM1 for me) and then select the bits you downloaded and click next.

You might deviate from my choices on the select storage screen, but I stuck with the default standard type and datastore1 I setup up initially on my ESXi system. Click next when you have made your selections here.

On the deployment options screen, select your network mappings. I set mine to the VM Network that allows my VM to grab an IP address on my local network so I can get to it outside of the ESXi system. You might have a different requirement here for networking and disk provisioning as well. I'd recommend leaving the default of power on automatically enabled.

Review the information and click finish.

ESXi will now begin setting up the virtual machine.

By default on my installation, the CPU and memory reservations were set to none. This is desirable on my lab box, but for production this likely is not preferred, so make sure to adjust these to fit your needs. The virtual machine will need to be powered down to make adjustments.

Set up Central Manager

Once the Central Manager virtual machine installation has completed, select your new virtual machine in the left-hand menu, click console, and then your choice of consoles. I chose the browser console.

Once the console loads, login with admin/admin. You'll be prompted to update the password.

Enter the setup command, and work through the list of questions. I named mine cm.test.local (forgot my cm1!) and stuck with a DHCP address. I kept the defaults on the remaining questions save for external storage. This is local discovery on an ESXi lab device for me, so I don't need that, but that's something you might need for a more permanent installation. After the summary is presented, you can select yes and move on.

After a short pause, you'll be prompted to start the installation. Select yes.

Take a bio break and grab some coffee! It'll take several minutes to complete the install.

Once complete, I logged out and back in at the ESXi virtual machine browser console just to make sure my password update was successful. Grab the IP address (if you didn't set one statically) from the console view, launch your favorite web browser and enter said IP into the locator bar and hit enter. Then enter admin, admin and click sign in. Note that even though you are re-using admin, it's a different account in the web interface than at the command line via console or ssh.

Here you are required again to change the password. Do that and then click save.

With an updated password, you are now ready to login to Central Manager! Submit your credentials and click sign in.


Congrats! Now you can begin exploring/using Central Manager.


Create BIG-IP Next Central Manager on VMware


Updated Feb 02, 2024
Version 3.0

Was this article helpful?


      • mihaic's avatar
        Icon for MVP rankMVP

        I've put my CM on ESXi, and also the bigip-next vm. It works. Now I am waiting for a trial license.

        As  I am using Eve-ng in my lab , I gave it a try . did not work .
        I am trying this also using different versions of bigip-next. Unfortunately, now I am forbidden to download anymore. ;-(



  • thanks JRahm document is very clear and well written. I liked the way CM checked to see if the IP address assigned was reachable via DNS. :) 

  • It has been 2 days, and have not received a trial license. If I have to do this every month, I would better not.

    And also I am still forbidden to download anything anyway. So can't test anything.

    I have never seen something like this. Pretty dissapointing.


    That's why need a license for 1 year, just like we got last year for BigIP classic.

    But that will expire next month.

  • It has been 1 week and I still have not get a trial license or be able to download again.
    Still in Pending status.


    • JRahm's avatar
      Icon for Admin rankAdmin

      is your existing trial license not allowing you to license a new instance, or have you never had the trial license for Next generated at all?

  • I have never had a trial license for NEXT.

    But still, it has passed 1 week and I still done have it.

    I was thinking in 24 hours I would have one.

    • JRahm's avatar
      Icon for Admin rankAdmin

      Is this a hung process on myF5 trial activation? Let me know and I’ll track this down.

  • "

    Pending approval

    Trial fulfillment on hold, pending approval from F5 Inc


    And it has been in this state for 1 week already.

  • Is SSH access to BIG-IP Next CM locked or not allowed ?  I can open a connection on port 22 but whatever password i try for root or admin I get access denied. 

    • JRahm's avatar
      Icon for Admin rankAdmin

      yes, you can SSH to CM. It might be a little confusing, but the cli and the gui have an admin username, though can be different passwords. Try admin with ssh instead of root.

      • DevBabu's avatar
        Icon for Cirrus rankCirrus

        Thanks. Looks like my admin account password is messed up then for SSH. I can successfully login via GUI but getting permission denied while using SSH.

        Is there a different default password for SSH access ? Besides, is there any way I can reset the admin password for SSH access? I don't see option via GUI.