Installing VMware vCenter

This chapter covers installing VMware vCenter Server, including:

  • An installation walk-through

  • The initial vCenter Server Configuration

  • Adding a host

  • Setting a vCenter appliance to auto-start

  • Mounting an NFO ISO data store

Review the prerequisites in section 1.5.4 before proceeding with these installations.


This deployment guide assumes you are building an environment for a proof of concept. Refer to VMware best practice guides before building your production environment.

Installing vCenter Server Appliance

About VCSA

The VCSA is a preconfigured virtual appliance built on Project Photon OS that allows you to manage multiple ESXI 6.7 host and perform configuration changes from a single pane of glass. Since the OS was developed by VMware, it offers better performance and boot times than the previous Linux-based appliance. Furthermore, it uses an embedded vPostgres database, giving VMware full control of the software stack, and resulting in significant optimization for vSphere environments, and quicker release of security patches and bug fixes.

The VCSA scales up to 2000 hosts and 35,000 virtual machines. A couple of releases ago the VCSA reached feature parity with its Microsoft Windows counterpart, and is now the preferred deployment method for vCenter Server. Features such as Update Manager are bundled into the VCSA, as are file-based backup and restore and vCenter High Availability. The appliance also saves operating system license costs and is quicker and easier to deploy and patch.

Software Considerations:

  • VCSA must be deployed to an ESXi host running version 5.5 or above. However, all hosts you intend to connect to VCSA should be running ESXi 6.0 or above. Hosts running v5.5 and earlier cannot be managed by the VCSA and do not have a direct upgrade path.

  • You must check compatibility of any third-party products and plugins that may be used for backup, virus protection, monitoring, etc., as they may need upgrading for ESXi compatibility.

  • To check version compatibility with other VMware products, see the Product Interoperability Matrix.

Architectural Considerations

  • When you implement a new vSphere environment, you must plan its topology in accordance with the VMware vCenter Server and Platform Services Controller Deployment Types.

  • Most deployments include vCenter Server and Platform Service Controller in one appliance, following the embedded deployment model, which is used in this guide.

Other Considerations

  • The VCSA with embedded PSC requires the following hardware resources (disk can be thin provisioned):
    • Tiny (up to 10 hosts, 100 VMs): 2 CPUs, 10 GB RAM.

    • Small (up to 100 hosts, 1000 VMs): 4 CPUs, 16 GB RAM.

    • Medium (up to 400 hosts, 4000 VMs): 8 CPUs, 24 GB RAM.

    • Large (up to 1000 hosts, 10,000 VMs): 16 CPUs, 32 GB RAM.

    • X-Large (up to 2000 hosts, 35,000 VMs): 24 CPUs, 48 GB RAM; new in v6.5.

  • Storage requirements for the smallest environments start at 250 GB and increase depending on your specific database requirements. See the document Storage Requirements for further details.

  • If the PSC is deployed as a separate appliance it requires two CPUs, 4 GB of RAM, and 60 GB of disk storage.

  • Environments with ESXi host(s) that have more than 512 LUNs and 2048 paths should be sized large or x large.

  • The ESXi host on which you deploy the VCSA must not be in lockdown or Maintenance Mode.

  • All vSphere components must be configured to use an NTP server. The installation may fail or the vCenter Server Appliance vpxd service may be unable to start if the clocks are not synchronized.

  • FQDN resolution must be enabled when you deploy vCenter Server.

  • Required Ports for vCenter Server and Platform Services Controller.

  • vSphere VMware Configuration Maximums.

vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) Installation

  1. Download the VMware vCenter Server Appliance ISO from VMware downloads: v6.7.0.

  2. Mount the ISO on your computer. The VCSA installer is compatible with Mac, Linux, and Windows.

  3. Browse to the corresponding directory for your operating system, e.g., vcsa-ui-installerwin32. Right click Installer and select Run as administrator.

  4. As we are installing a new instance click Install.

  5. The installation is split into 2 stages, we begin with deploying the appliance. Click [Next].

  6. Read and then accept the EULA, click [Next] to continue.

  7. Select the deployment model, in this example we will be using an embedded deployment combining the vCenter Server and Platform Services Controller in one appliance, click Next.

  8. In this step you are selecting the ESXi host to install the VCSA on as a guest, this can be on a host running ESXi 5.5 or later. It is recommended that the vCenter server (Windows or appliance based) run on a separate management cluster from the one designated for VDI workloads. Enter the IP address or Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) of the chosen host, then its root username and password and click [Next].

  9. If your desktop can reach the host then you should see a certificate warning as it connects, this is due to the use of a self-signed cert. If you are using signed certificate, then you will not see this warning. Click [Yes] and continue.

  10. The credentials you provided are validated.

  11. With a successful connection you are now prompted to name the appliance, then enter a root password for the appliance, enter it twice and click Next:

  12. Select the deployment size in line with the number of hosts and virtual machines that will be managed, click Next.

  13. Select the datastore where the VCSA will be deployed, select thin provisioning if required, and click Next. Configure the network settings for the appliance and click Next.

  14. Configure network settings, this is a long page and will require scrolling down to see all settings. Before configuring these settings, choose an appropriate static IP address and enter that into local DNS (e.g., on the Domain Controller). Once you can resolve the address, enter that IP address, host name, and then scroll down for remaining entries:

  15. On the summary page click Finish. The appliance will now be deployed.

  16. With the VCSA now deployed we can move on to stage 2, click Continue.

  17. Click Next to begin the VCSA setup.

  18. Configure the NTP servers, enable SSH access if required, and click Next.

  19. Enter a unique SSO domain name, the default is vSphere.local. The SSO domain name should not be the same as your Active Directory Domain. Configure a password for the SSO administrator, click Next.

  20. Select or deselect the customer experience improvement program box and click Next.

  21. Review the details on the summary page and click Finish.

  22. Click Ok to acknowledge that the VCSA setup cannot be paused or stopped once started. When the installer is complete click Close to close the wizard.

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Post Installation

This section describes post install and configure vCenter Server.

Adding Licenses to Your vCenter Server

Use the following procedure to configure vCenter.

  1. Connect to the vCenter post install using the IP or FQDN of the vCenter. Access vSphere by clicking either Launch vSphere Client (HTML5) or Launch vSphere Web Client (FLEX). As the web client will be depreciated in future versions, and the HTML5 client is now nearly at full feature parity, we will use the HTML5 vSphere client.

  2. The VMware Single Single-On page displays.

  3. Enter the username and password that you specified during installation, and then click the Login button. The VMware vSphere Web Client page displays.

  4. You must apply a new vCenter license key within 60 days. If you have purchased vCenter Server then log into your licensing portal here. If the license key does not appear then check with your VMware account manager. Log in to the vSphere Web Client using the SSO administrator login.  From the Menu drop-down click Administration.

  5. Select Licenses from the left-hand menu and then select the Licenses tab to open the Licenses tab. Click Add New Licenses to open the New Licenses popup.

  6. Enter the vCenter Server Standard license key provided at the vSphere beta program website.

  7. Enter a unique name for the license in the License Name field and then click Next.

  8. Review your selections and then click Finish to close the Enter New License popup and return to the VMware vSphere Web Client page


Adding a Host

Use the following procedure to add a host in vCenter.

  1. Select the Home icon (house) on the VMware vSphere Web Client page

  2. Select Hosts and Clusters.

  3. Drop down ACTIONS and select New Datacenter

  4. vCenter displays the New Datacenter dialog.

  5. Enter a name for the Datacenter in the Datacenter NAME field and click OK. The new Datacenter is visible in the left panel of the vSphere Web Client.

  6. Drop down ACTIONS and select Add a Host.

  7. Enter the host name or IP address of the vSphere host and click Next.

    • The Connection settings dialog displays.

  8. Enter the administrator account credentials in the Username and Password fields and click Next.

  9. Click YES to replace the host certificate.

  10. Review the settings and click NEXT to proceed.

  11. Confirm the license selection and click NEXT.

  12. Accept the default setting (Disabled) and click Next.

  13. Select a cluster or accept the default option and click Next to proceed.

  14. Click Finish to complete adding the new host.

    • The new host is now visible in the left panel when you click the datacenter name.


Setting the NTP Service on a Host

  1. Click the first host object in the menu on the left.

  2. Click Configure > System > Time Configuration > Edit

  3. Enter a valid time server and click OK.

  4. Do this for each host to ensure time is accurate for all guests.

Setting a vCenter Appliance to Auto-Start

Use the following procedure to set a vCenter Appliance to start automatically.

  1. In the vSphere Web Client, select the host then select Configure -> Virtual Machines -> VM Startup/Shutdown.

  2. Click the Edit button.

    • The Edit VM Startup and Shutdown window displays.

  3. Select the vCenter Appliance and click the Up arrow to move that virtual machine up to the Automatic Startup section. Click the Edit button.

  4. Select the following options:

    • Set Startup Behavior to Use specified settings and select Continue immediately if VMware Tools starts

    • Set Startup Delay to 0

    • Set Shutdown Behavior to Use specified settings

    • Set Shutdown Delay to 0

    • Select Guest Shutdown

  5. Click OK to apply the configuration.


The vCenter Web Client may not reflect these configuration changes immediately. Either click the Refresh icon or different configuration group and return to the current setting.

Mounting an NFS ISO Data Store

Use the following procedure to mount an NFS ISO data store.

  1. In the main vSphere Web Client window, select Hosts and Clusters and select the host.

  2. Select Storage -> New Datastore from the Actions drop-down menu.

  3. The New Datastore window displays with the Type tab selected.

  4. Select NFS and click Next to proceed.

    • Select the correct NFS version and click Next to proceed.

  5. Enter the NFS exported folder path and the NFS server address in the Folder and Address fields, respectively.

    • Since this an ISO data store, consider mounting it as read-only by checking the Mount NFS as read-only checkbox.

  6. Click Next to proceed.

    • The Host accessibility tab displays.

  7. Select the host that will be used as the new data store,

  8. Select Next to proceed.

  9. Review the settings.

  10. Click Finish to complete adding the NFS ISO data store.

The new datastore is now accessible as an installation source for virtual machine CD drives.