Solutions provider takeaway: There are many processes involved in a vCenter Server installation, and this chapter excerpt examines the best practices to successfully complete the implementation. You will also learn how to properly install a vSphere Client and vCenter components, including vCenter Guided Consolidation and vCenter Update Manager.
Install vCenter Server
Now that you have configured a database, you can begin installing vCenter Server. Remember that vCenter Server includes an installation of Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, and if a database has not previously been installed, the vCenter installation will provide the ability to set up an initial database.
Installing vCenter Server consists of these steps:
- Prepare for installation.
- Install vCenter Server.
- Install additional components.
- Install vSphere Client.
- Configure vCenter.
About the book
This chapter excerpt on Installing and Configuring vCenter Server (download PDF) is taken from the book VMware vSphere 4 Administration Instant Reference. This book provides information on the ins and outs of vSphere 4 for solution providers. You will learn about vSphere features, vCenter Server best practices for installation and configuration, managing and configuring virtual machines, and how to handle licensing issues.
The vCenter Server best practices steps have been segmented in this way to provide a better logical flow of how the process works. Each step is dependent on the previous task, and all the steps are detailed in the following sections.
Prepare for Installation
Before attempting to install the vCenter Server, make sure that your server meets the following criteria:
- The server must meet the hardware requirements (see Table 3.1).
- The server must be configured with a static IP address.
- The computer name must consist of fewer than 15 characters. To conform with best practice, ensure that the computer name matches the hostname in the fully qualified domain name of the system.
- The system must be joined to a domain, and not a workgroup. This will ensure that when you're using advanced features like the vCenter Guided Consolidation Service, it will be able to find all domains and systems on the network for the purpose of converting physical systems to virtual machines.
- A supported database must already be created, unless you're using the bundled SQL Server 2005 Express Edition.
- A valid DSN must exist to allow vCenter Server to connect to the created database.
- The vCenter Server must be able to directly access the hosts it will manage without any type of network address translation between the server and the hosts.
- The vCenter Server must be able to communicate with the ADAM (LDAP) server.
More on VMware virtual server best practices
VMware HA best practices
Using alarms to monitor vSphere performance
Choosing between vCenter Server and vCenter Client
Install vCenter Server
To start leveraging the capabilities and enterprise-class features of vSphere, you must install vCenter Server. The installer will guide you through each step of the process:
- Because VMware does not typically ship software to its customers, to get started you must download the vCenter Server installation media from the VMware site (Figure 3.1). The download area is located at http://www.vmware.com/download/.
Note: To download the software, you must set up an account at the VMware store, which you typically do upon purchase of VMware products. vCenter Server is available in two formats: ISO format (DVD-ROM image file) or a .zip (compressed) file.
Figure 3.1: vCenter 4 Download Links
Either format will install all of the components necessary, but there are differences. The .iso file may need to be burned to a DVD-ROM for the purpose of installing the software, while the .zip file must be extracted to a location large enough to accommodate the decompressed files.
- vCenter Server can be installed from a DVD-ROM, local path, mapped drive, or network share, but the software can only be installed to the local machine on a local drive. Select autorun.exe to start.
- On the splash screen shown in Figure 3.2, click vCenter Server to begin.
Figure 3.2: vCenter Server installer splash screen
- On the next screen, select the appropriate language for your installation and click OK.
- Accept the license agreement by choosing "I agree to the terms of the license agreement," and then click Next.
- On the Customer Information screen, enter your name and organization; then click Next.
- On the next screen, enter your license key; vCenter Server will be installed in evaluation mode if you fail to enter a key. (You can update the licensing at a later time through vSphere Client.) Click Next.
- On the Database Options screen shown in Figure 3.3, select the Use An Existing Supported Database radio button, and from the Data Source Name (DSN) drop-down list, select the ODBC connection you set up in the previous section "Create a vCenter Database in Microsoft SQL Server 2005" or "Create a vCenter Database in Oracle," depending on the database platform chosen. Select the Install A Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Instance option if no other supported database is available. Click Next.
Figure 3.3: Database Options screen
- You'll install the vCenter Service next, as shown in Figure 3.4. This service is the core of vCenter Server. For our example, leave the Use SYSTEM Account radio button deselected, and fill in the Account Name, Account Password, and Confirm The Password text boxes. It is considered a best practice to use a Windows domain account, especially if the database is utilizing SQL Server 2005, as you can then use Windows authentication when connecting to the database. Click Next to continue.
Figure 3.4: The vCenter Service screen
- On the next screen, accept the default installation path as recommended, unless you wish to modify it, and then click Next.
- A new component of vCenter Server is the ability to run Linked Mode vCenter Servers for additional scalability. During an initial installation, you must install the first instance for vCenter Server, as shown in Figure 3.5. After you select the first option, click Next.
Figure 3.5: The vCenter Linked Mode Options screen
vCenter Server now uses Microsoft ADAM to handle Directory Services.
- The Configure Ports screen appears next, as shown in Figure 3.6. The default ports appear in the fields; you can modify these ports to fit your environment, but for this example, accept the default values by clicking Next.
- Click Next on the last screen to kick off the installation. When the vCenter Server installation is complete, vCenter will be ready for you to configure to manage ESX and ESXi hosts. To perform management tasks, you must install vSphere Client. Additional components can be installed before or after the installation of vSphere Client. To make the process flow more evenly, let's start by installing the additional components first.
Figure 3.6: The Configure Ports screen
Install Additional Components
To extend the functionality of vCenter Server, several additional components are included. These add-ons give vCenter greater functionality in the area of ESX and ESXi patching, as well as the ability to convert physical, or other virtual, systems into a vSphere environment. These add-ons include
vCenter Guided Consolidation This add-on is used to determine whether systems are good candidates for virtualization. It works hand in hand with vCenter Converter Enterprise to import systems into vSphere.
vCenter Converter Enterprise This add-on is used to perform a physical-to-virtual (P2V) conversion or a virtual-to-virtual (V2V) conversion of systems into vSphere.
vCenter Update Manager This add-on is used to manage security updates, or patches, for ESX and ESXi hosts, Windows guests, and various Linux guests.
Now that you are familiar with some of the additional components, let's see how they are installed.
Install vCenter Guided Consolidation
vCenter Guided Consolidation is a lightweight version of VMware's Capacity Planner service. It analyzes systems that you want to virtualize in a vSphere environment.
vCenter Guided Consolidation cannot function without the foundation of vCenter Server. Once vCenter Server is installed, you can install vCenter Guided Consolidation, thus extending the functionality of vCenter Server.
To install vCenter Guided Consolidation Manager:
- Select vCenter Guided Consolidation Service on the splash screen, shown in Figure 3.7.
Figure 3.7: VMware vCenter installer splash screen
- On the next screen, select the appropriate language setting and click Next.
- On the next screen, accept the license agreement by choosing "I agree to the terms of the license agreement," and then click Next.
- On the next screen, accept the default installation path, unless you wish to modify it, and then click Next.
- The VMware vCenter Collector Service screen shown in Figure 3.8 opens. This service requires an account that will have local administrator rights on the systems it is evaluating for possible P2V conversion. The account may be a domain account, but Microsoft doesn't recommend that you use a domain admin account. Enter an account and password with local administrator rights, and then click Next.
Figure 3.8: The VMware vCenter Collector Service screen
- On the next screen (Figure 3.9), review the port information. The Guided Consolidation Service requires two additional TCP/IP ports for the Collector Service and the Provider Service. These ports are set to 8181 and 8182 by default. Click Next.
Figure 3.9: Reviewing the port information
- On the VMware vCenter Server Registration screen shown in Figure 3.10, enter the name or IP address of the vCenter Server, along with the SSL port number (443 by default). Then enter the credentials required to register the extension with vCenter Server. The credentials you use must have the extension registration privilege. Click Next once you've entered this information.
Figure 3.10: The VMware vCenter Server Registration screen
- On the Server Identity screen shown in Figure 3.11, specify either the FQDN or the IP address of your vCenter Server and click Next.
Figure 3.11: The Server Identity screen
- Click Install on the next screen to begin the Guided Consolidation Service.
The vCenter Guided Consolidation Service will now be available to you through vSphere Client; just select the Consolidation tab.
Install vCenter Converter Enterprise
vCenter Converter Enterprise is the natural progression from vCenter Guided Consolidation. The information vCenter Consolidation gathers is only useful if it can be acted upon—in other words, if you want to convert a physical system into a virtual system. vCenter Converter Enterprise handles the task of converting a physical system that has been determined to be a good virtualization candidate into the vSphere world.
To add the ability to perform P2V conversions from within vCenter Server:
- Select vCenter Converter from the splash screen shown earlier in Figure 3.7.
- Select the appropriate language setting on the next screen and click Next.
- Choose "I agree to the terms of the license agreement" on the next screen and click Next.
- Accept the default installation path, unless you wish to modify it, and click Next.
- On the Setup Type screen, shown in Figure 3.12, click the Custom radio button. This way, you can control which components are installed.
Figure 3.12: The Setup Type screen
- The screen shown in Figure 3.13 appears. Note that Converter Agent is only required if the server that vCenter Converter is installed on is going to be converted. Click Next.
Figure 3.13: Custom Setup screen
- On the next screen, shown in Figure 3.14, enter the IP address and port of the vCenter Server, along with a user account that has appropriate permissions in vCenter Server and the password associated with it. This will ensure that Converter Enterprise can effectively integrate with vCenter Server.
Figure 3.14: The Specify The vCenter Server To Connect To screen
- Select the default ports on the next screen (Figure 3.15) by clicking Next.
Figure 3.15: The vCenter Server Port Configuration screen
- On the screen shown in Figure 3.16, specify the vCenter Server identity to verify which vCenter Server instance will be used. Click Next.
Figure 3.16: vCenter Server Identification
- Click Install to begin the installation.
- On the final screen, click Finish to complete the installation.
With vCenter Converter Enterprise installed, growing the vSphere environment can be accomplished quickly and easily.
Install vCenter Update Manager
As the vSphere environment grows, additional ESX and ESXi servers may be added. As the numbers of hosts grow, maintenance, and specifically patching, can become a burden. In the days of ESX 2.x, patches had to be copied to hosts, hosts had to be rebooted into a Linux singleuser mode, and then patches were installed. The majority of times, it was easier to simply rebuild hosts using some type of automated scripting.
This manual patching process required VMware administrators to have some Linux command-line
knowledge or at least familiarity. VMware released VMware Update Manager with the launch of Virtual
Infrastructure 3 with the aim of making the patching process significantly easier. vCenter Update
Manger also has the ability to patch Windows and Linux guests in a similar fashion to ESX and ESXi
It is a complete solution for the patching of VMware hosts, Windows guests, and Linux guests. In vSphere, this product has been rebranded as vCenter Update Manager.
To take advantage of the abilities of vCenter Update Manager:
- Select vCenter Update Manager from the splash screen shown earlier in Figure 3.7.
- On the next screen, select the appropriate language setting and click Next.
- On the next screen, click "I agree to the terms of the license agreement" and click Next.
- On the next screen, shown in Figure 3.17, enter the IP address and port of the vCenter Server installation, followed by a username and password so that vCenter Update Manager can properly communicate with vCenter Server. Click Next.
- On the next screen (see Figure 3.18), select the database to be used for the vCenter Update Manager. If the default SQL Server 2005 Express database was installed during the vCenter Server installation, select Install A Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Instance; otherwise select Use An Existing Supported Database radio button, and select the preconfigured DSN from the Data Source Name (DSN) drop-down menu.
Figure 3.17: Entering the vCenter Server information
Figure 3.18: Specifying a database
- As you can see on the next screen (Figure 3.19), vCenter Update Manager requires authentication. If the DSN created uses NT Authentication, then a username and password is not required. If the database uses database authentication, then enter a username and password and then click Next.
Figure 3.19: You can leave these fields blank if the DSN uses NT Authentication.
- On the next screen (see Figure 3.20), enter the required connection information, which tells vCenter Server, ESX, and ESXi hosts how to talk to vCenter Update Manager. Then click Next.
Figure 3.20 : Entering the required connection information
- On the screen shown in Figure 3.21, if the vCenter Update Manager service is behind a proxy server, select Configure Proxy Settings and enter the required information. Otherwise, click Authenticate Proxy Using The Credentials Below and complete those fields. Once you've entered the information, click Next.
Figure 3.21: Configure Proxy Settings
This information will give vCenter Update Manager the ability to access and download patches when connected to the Internet behind a proxy server.
- Use the default installation paths and click Next.
- Click Install to start the installation.
- Click Finish to complete the installation.
Now that the additional components for vCenter Server have been installed, the installation of vSphere Client will provide you with the ability to manage vCenter Server and the additional components.
Install vSphere Client
vSphere Client is the next iteration of the VI Client. When the VI Client was introduced with
the 1.0 version of VMware Virtual Center, it lacked the ability to directly manage the vast
majority of settings in
ESX 2.x hosts. When version 2.0 was introduced to manage ESX 3.0, and later ESXi, the VI Client was given the ability to manage either vCenter Server or ESX and ESXi hosts directly. The release of the 2.5 version of the Client, which was coupled with the release of vCenter Server 2.5, added the ability to use custom plug-ins for the purpose of better integrating all the features and offerings into a single interface.
vSphere Client is similar to the VI Client, version 2.5, in operation.
Here's how to get started using it:
- Select vSphere Client from the splash screen shown earlier in Figure 3.7.
- Select the appropriate language setting and click Next.
- On the next screen, click "I agree to the terms of the license agreement" and click Next.
- Enter the appropriate customer information on the next screen and click Next.
- vSphere Client will present an option to install the vSphere Host Update Utility 4.0. This utility allows administrators to patch, or update, ESX and ESXi hosts without using the vCenter Update Manager. This is an optional component that extends the ability to upgrade ESX and ESXi hosts without using Update Manager.
- On the next screen, choose the default installation path, unless you wish to modify it, and click Next.
Click Install to start the installation.
Microsoft Visual J# 2.0 Second Edition is installed as a required component of vSphere Client.
- On the final screen, click Finish to complete the installation. vSphere Client is installed. Plug-ins for additional components that were installed will have to be added upon connecting to vCenter Server. Now that vSphere Client is installed, the initial setup of the vSphere environment can begin. vSphere Client is the administrator's window into the vSphere world.
vSphere Client is installed. Plug-ins for additional components that were installed will have to be added upon connecting to vCenter Server.
Now that vSphere Client is installed, the initial setup of the vSphere environment can begin. vSphere Client is the administrator's window into the vSphere world.
Installing and Configuring vCenter Server
VCenter Server installation requirements
VCenter database installation in SQL Server 2005, Oracle
VCenter Server installation steps and components
Printed with permission from Wiley Publishing Inc. Copyright 2009. VMware vSphere 4 Administration Instant Reference by Scott Lowe, Jason W. McCarty and Matthew K. Johnson. For more information about this title and other similar books, please visit Wiley Publishing Inc.
About the authors
Scott Lowe has worked in the IT field for more than 10 years and is the author of Mastering VMware vSphere 4. Lowe is currently the IT director for the National Association of Attorneys General and he writes technical articles for CNet's TechRepublic.
Jason W. McCarty has worked in the IT industry for more than 15 years. McCarty wrote VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center and has experience in most Microsoft products and operating systems, several different distributions of Linux and the majority of VMware's virtualization offerings.
Matthew K. Johnson moderates VMware forums and a weekly VMware podcast and has experience with VMware infrastructures.
This was first published in June 2010