vCenter Part 1 – Installation

vCenter is the centralized management component of the vSphere suite. It allows a single pain of glass for managing your entire VMWare infrastructure (ESXI, NSX, vSan).

vCenter used to be a pain to setup and configure. You had many deployment options (VCSA or Windows, Embedded Database or External SQL Database). Each option had its plusses and minuses and upgrades were often done by installing a new instance.

Today with the VCSA, the install takes less than 1 hour from start to finish and is fully feature rich. If you are curious about setting up vCenter for your self, follow these steps.

Downloading vCenter
vCenter can be downloaded with a 60 day trial from here. Once that 60 days has expired, vCenter will stop working. I highly recommend leveraging VMUG licensing (more on that in a future post) At time of writing vCenter 6.7.0d is the latest version with 6.7.0U1 scheduled to release soon.

Installing
vCenter downloads as a .iso file. Within that .iso file there will be 2 important folders called “vcsa-ui-installer” and “vcsa-cli-installer”. This guide will go over how to use the GUI but feel free to try out the CLI. Its fun!

Each folder will contain 3 additional folders. These folders have operating system specific installers. I am currently on MacOS so the “mac” folder is for me!

In your operating system folder there will be an installer file that needs to be double clicked. This will kick off the installer. It should look something like this.

VMWare has done a great job with the vCenter installer in recent years. One installer handles installation, upgrades, migration and restore. We are only covering the installation so click that!

A new screen will appear outlining the 2 steps of a vCenter deployment.

After clicking next. You will be prompted to read the EULA and accept.

After the EULA, the installer will ask for your desired deployment type. There are two aspects of vCenter, the vCenter server and the PSC or Platform Services Controller. The vCenter Server is the part of vCenter that you see and interact with. The PSC handles replication, SSO, Certificates and much much more. If you are interested in the components of the PSC. Check this article from Virtually-Limitless.

The installer will default to using the vCenter Server with Embedded PSC. This is the best option for both simple and complex deployments. At VMWorld 2018, there was talk about the deprecation of the External PSC. I expect it in 6.7.0U1/U2.

In our deployment we will be leveraging the Embedded PSC. Click next to continue.

We need to define the ESXI host that we want vCenter to live on. I am going to deploy to 10.1.106.27 using the default local administrator account. You will need to modify these values to fit your environment.

After defining the ESXI host, Its time to give the VCSA a name and root password. I am calling mine VCSA-DEV as this will be my Test\Dev vCenter server for my lab/work.

We have a few different options for sizing. The larger the deployment size the more resources will be dedicated to vCenter. For most lab deployments “tiny” will be sufficient but I prefer to deploy “small” especially if i have the resources available. This allows me to use VMWare Horizon or Linked Clones to deploy mass amounts of workstation instances.

Select your preferred datastore. vCenter will be your main interface for all things VMWare. The faster the storage the better.

I personally do not enable “Thin Disk Mode” as I have had bad experiences with it. If you want to enable it you can. It should not impact performance.

Its time to define the network settings vCenter will use. Your settings will differ from mine.  Its important that you have both PTR and A records for your vCenter Server defined. vCenter will use the DNS hostname during redirects for the web interface.

The installer will ask you to review all the settings before installation. Once you click finish, there is no turning back. You will need to delete the VM and redeploy to fix any mistakes.

The installer will take about 20 minutes to compete. Now would be a great time to create those DNS records or browse your favorite subreddit. I personally like r/homelab or r/sysadmin.

Stay tuned for part 2 where we finalize the configuration! You can find it here.

 

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