VCP 5 Objective 1.1 – Install and Configure vCenter Server

For this objective I used four documents:

  • VMware vSphere 5.0 – Licensing, Pricing and Packaging White Paper
  • vSphere Availability
  • vCenter Server and Host Management
  • vSphere Installation and Setup

Objective 1.1 – Install and Configure vCenter Server

Knowledge

Identify available vCenter Server editions

– vCenter Server Essentials – Provides the same features as vCenter Foundation, integrated with the Essentials and Essentials Plus kits

vCenter Server Foundation – Provides powerful management tools for smaller environments (up to 3 vSphere hosts) looking to rapidly provision, monitor, and control virtual machines

– vCenter Server Standard – Provides large scale management of VMware vSphere deployments for rapid provisioning, monitoring, orchestration, and control of virtual machines

Further details see page 8 of the VMware vSphere 5.0 Licensing, Pricing and Packaging white paper

Deploy the vCenter Appliance

– As an alternative to installing vCenter Server on a Windows machine, you can download the VMware vCenter Server Appliance. The vCenter Server Appliance is a preconfigured Linux-based virtual machine optimized for running vCenter Server and associated services. Microsoft SQL Server and IBM DB2 are not supported for remote databases with the vCenter Server Appliance. The vCenter Server Appliance does not support Linked Mode configuration nor does it support IPv6.

For further information see page 201 of the vSphere Installation and Setup document and pages 41 thru 48 of the vSphere Server and Host Management document

Install vCenter Server into a virtual machine

When installing vCenter Server on a virtual machine the “hardware” recommendations and software prerequisites do not change. The following are advantages when doing so:

  • Rather then dedicating a separate server to the vCenter Server system, you can place it in a virtual machine running on the same host where your other virtual machines run
  • You can provide high availability for the vCenter Server system by using vSphere HA
  • You can migrate the virtual machine containing the vCenter Server system from one host to another, enabling maintenance and other activities
  • You can create snapshots of the vCenter Server virtual machine and use them for backups, archiving, and so on

Size the vCenter Server Database

– The size of your vCenter Database is dependent on how many host you have, have many VM’s you have, and the level of statistics you are using. From within vCenter Server under Administration -> vCenter Server Settings-> Statistics there is a section for Database Size. You can plug in your environments specifics and get a DB size. Also, on VMware’s website there is a Database Sizing Calculator. Currently available is the calculator for vSphere 4.

Install additional vCenter Server components

– Besides vCenter Server there are several additional components you may wish to install. Full details on pages 204 thru 211 of the vSphere Installation and Setup document.

  • vSphere Client– Windows program that you can use to configure the host and to operate its virtual machines
  • vSphere Web Client – Allows you to connect to a vCenter Server system to manage an ESXi host through a web browser
  • Update Manager Server – Allows for the patching of ESXi hosts as well as virtual machines. Can be installed on the same computer as vCenter Server or a different computer.
  • vSphere ESXi Dump Collector – ESXi can be configured to dump its vmkernel memory to a network server instead of writing it to disk when the system has had a critical failure
    (Purple Screen of Death). ESXi Dump Collector can be used as the network server
  • vSphere Syslog Collector – Allows ESXi hosts to be configured for their system logs to be captured on a network server
  • vSphere Auto Deploy – Allows for the deployment and customization of ESXi hosts by loading the ESXi image into the hosts memory
  • vSphereAuthentication Proxy – Enables ESXi hosts to join a domain without using Active Directory credentials. Enhances security for PXE-booted hosts and hosts that are provisioned using Auto Deploy, by removing the need to store Active Directory credentials in the host configuration.

Install/Remove & Enable/Disable vSphere Client plug-ins

– After the server components of a plug-in is installed and registered with vCenter Server, its client component is available to vSphere clients. Client component installation and enablement are managed through the Plug-in Manager dialog box. The Plug-in Manager lets your perform the following actions:

  • View available plug-ins that are not currently installed on the client
  • View installed plug-ins
  • Download and install available plug-ins
  • Enable and disable installed plug-ins

See page 27 of the vCenter Server and Host Management document for step by step

License vCenter Server

To license a single vCenter Server 5.0, you need a vCenter Server 5.0 license key with a capacity for one instance. If you have vCenter Server systems in Linked Mode group, you can purchase a vCenter Server license key with a larger capacity and assign the key to all vCenter Server systems in the group.

See pages 70 thru 97 of the vCenter Server and Host Management document for additional information and procedures.

Determine availability requirements for a vCenter Server in a given vSphere implementation

– Obviously you want as little down time as possible for your vCenter server. Just be aware of the options to allow vCenter Server to highly available:

  • Run vCenter Server in a VM to take advantage of VMware HA/DRS
  • vCenter Server Cluster Heartbeat
  • Cold standby vCenter Server (virtual or physical)

Determine use case for vSphere Client and Web Client

  • vSphere Client – As VMware Administrators we are quite familiar with the traditional vSphere Client. It is the one stop shop to configure and maintain your entire environment. Using this client may not be suitable for non-administrators (think VM owners or Operations staff).
  • Web Client – Better suited for your non-administrative users. Uses a java based web page to allow for the basic tasks of managing VM’s.

See page 17 of the vCenter Server and Host Management document for further details

Tools

  • VMware vSphere Basics Guide
  • vSphere Installation and Setup guide
  • vCenter Server and Host Management guide
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