Installing the vCenter Server Appliance 5.5.0b

I’ve been using the vCenter Server Appliance, AKA VCSA, in testing for several months now and ready to start using it for every day use.  These are the installation steps to get a fresh vCenter Server Appliance installed using the embedded PostgreSQL database and Active Directory for SSO.

Quick tip before you start, if you have hosts with different CPUs and will need to enable EVC, setup your VCSA on the host with the lower CPU, this might have to save you from doing some VCSA trickery later to enable EVC.

  • Download via your my.vmware.com account, if you are not licensed you can register and download an evaluation here.
  • Create DNS records for your ESXi hosts and for your vCenter appliance
  • Create a service account for for the SSO service to access Active Directory/LDAP and document the password
  • Import the OVA you downloaded to an ESXi host using the C# client
    • Click File >> Deploy OVF Template
    • Select the OVA file and click Next
    • Review the template details and click Next
    • Name the VM, typically I match this to the DNS entry, for example vc01 or corp-vc01 for example and click Next
    • Select the datastore you wish to deploy to and click Next
    • Chose the disk format, either Thick Provision Lazy Zeroed, Thick Provision Eager Zeroed or Thin Provision
    • Click Finish
    • When the deployment finishes, click Close
  • At this point, you may want to check the resource configuration for the VM.  By default it deploys with 2 vCPU and 8GB of RAM
  • Click on the newly created virtual machine and click the Power on virutal machine link then click on the console tab to watch the VM boot
  • By default, the VCSA will boot with DHCP enabled so you can log into a web configuration page to setup the VM.

  • Navigate to the URL shown in your console, for example https://192.168.1.50:5480
  • Log in with the default username and password of root / vmware, check the box to Accept license agreement and click Next
  • Here is a point I consider a bit lazy, you are prompted to cancel the setup wizard to set the IP address and hostname, not sure why this wasn't included as part of the wizard but click Cancel
  • Click on the Network tab and then click Address sub-tab
    • In the pull down menu for IPv4 Address Type select Static
    • Fill in the host name field with the name you setup in DNS in the second step.
    • Fill in the IPv4 Address and Netmask fields with the appropriate values
    • Click Save Settings
  • At this point you will lose access to the web page your originally navigated to since you changed the IP address.  Reconnect to https://new.ip.add.ress:5480 or https://f.q.d.n:5480 and log back in with root / vmware
  • Click on the Admin tab
    • Enter vmware for the current password and a new password you wish to use and document the password
    • In the Email for expiration warning enter your email address so you will be notified of the root password expiration (the VCSA will use the SMTP settings we configure once vCenter is setup)
    • Click Submit
    • Typically I like to log out and back in with the new password to make sure its working as expected
  • Once logged back in, you should be on the vCenter Server tab and Summary sub-tab
  • In the Utilities table, click the Launch button next to Setup wizard

I will proceed here as if this is a new vCenter and SSO installation, using the embedded PostgreSQL database with a working Active Directory / LDAP

  • Select the Set custom configuration radio button and click Next
  • On the Database Settings page, keep embedded and click Next
  • On the SSO Settings page:
    • Keep embedded for SSO deployment type
    • Enter a password for the administrator@vsphere.local account, document and click Next
  • On the Active Directory Settings page click the Active Directory Enabled check box, enter the domain and the service account you created previously.

  • At this point it will test your AD credentials and proceed if they were validated
  • On the review configuration page click Start

The configuration will start and notify you when certain components finish.  The SSO configuration was by far the longest but using these steps all configured as expected.  When you click close, you will return to the Summary sub-tab and see that all services you just configured are running.  You should now be able to log into https://f.q.d.n:9443 with the administrator@vsphere.local account and password configured during the setup wizard to configure Active Directory permissions.

A few final steps you should take is to verify the Java settings per this post from Gabrie van Zanten to ensure you have access to the remove console via the Web Client and make sure you have either disabled or setup SMTP to notify you about password expiration.

Summary

The first couple of times I deployed the VCSA I ran into odd errors and performance problems, however 5.5.0b deployed without a problem and performance out of the box is fantastic.  The VCSA is something I am likely to use for many deployments.