Nested virtualization using VMware hypervisors

Nested virtualization is the act of running a hypervisor nested within another hypervisor.

For example, it is possible to run a Nested VMware ESXi 6.0 hypervisor over a VMware Player 7 hypervisor:


We may need to make some changes to the Nested Hypervisor virtual machine configuration file, as described in (VMware: Running Nested VMs – VMware: Running Nested VMs ).

It would be interesting for a guest machine to be able to detect to be running over a Nested Hypervisor.

I haven’t found a direct method (virtual hardware-based) yet. Some network testing and MAC Address and ESXi services correlation could do the trick, when networking is available.

For example, consider the following NMAP scan:

# nmap -vv -sV --version-all -p 443
Starting Nmap 6.47 ( ) at 2016-01-22 10:45 EST
Scanning [1 port]
443/tcp open ssl/http VMware ESXi Server httpd
MAC Address: 00:0C:29:BD:16:1F (VMware)

NMAP detects that there is an ESXi Server at IP and that its MAC Address is 00:0C:29:BD:16:1F, inside the VMware virtual MAC address range. This indicates that this machine may well be a Nested ESXi.

More details in the full paper at VMware hypervisor fingerprinting Tool ( & Paper)



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