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Installing vCenter Server 5.0 best practices (2003790)

Purpose

This article provides information for installing vCenter Server 5.0.
 
Notes:
  • This is a not a comprehensive guide. For more information, see thevSphere 5.0 documentation. The documentation contains definitive information. If there is a discrepancy between the documentation and this article, assume that the documentation is correct.
  • Because each environment is different, many installation decisions require knowledge and understanding beyond the scope of this article. For more detailed information about your installation, see the vSphere 5.0 documentation and the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

Resolution

Note: If the machine on which you are installing vCenter Server already has vCenter Server installed, you might want to upgrade instead of performing a fresh installation of vCenter Server. To keep your existing vCenter Server configuration, see the vSphere Upgrade documentation and Upgrading vCenter Server 5.0 best practices (2003866) for more information.

Minimum hardware requirements

Ensure you meet the minimum hardware requirements and that your hardware and operating system requirements are compliant. The vCenter Server 5.0 system can be a physical or a virtual machine. If you are installing vCenter Server 5.0 in a virtual machine, see Running vCenter Server in a virtual machine (10087) for more information.

Note: For more information, see
ESX and vCenter Server Installation Guide and vSphere Compatibility Matrixes. vCenter Server 5.0 requires a 64-bit data source name (DSN) to connect to its database.

This table outlines the minimum hardware requirements:
 
Hardware
Requirement
Processor Intel or AMD x86 processor with two or more logical cores, each with a speed of at least 2GHz. The Intel Itanium (IA64) processor is not supported. Processor requirements might be higher if the database runs on the same machine.
Memory 4GB RAM. RAM requirements may be higher if your database runs on the same machine. VMware VirtualCenter Management WebServices requires 512Mb to 4.4GB of additional memory. The maximum Webservices JVM memory can be specified during the installation depending on the inventory size.
Disk storage 4GB. Disk requirements may be higher if the vCenter Server database runs on the same machine.In vCenter Server 5.0, the default size for vCenter Server logs is 450MB, which is larger than in vCenter Server 4.x. Make sure the disk space allotted to the log folder is sufficient for this increase.
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express disk requirements Up to 2GB free disk space to decompress the installation archive. Approximately 1.5GB of these files are deleted after the installation is complete.
Networking 1Gbit connection recommended.

These are the requirements to install vCenter Server on a custom drive:
  • 1GB on the custom drive for vCenter Server
  • 1.13GB on the C:\ drive for Microsoft.NET 3.0 SP1, Microsoft ADAM, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express (Optional) and Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable
  • 375MB for the custom drive %temp% variable
  • Included Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express requires at least 2GB of free disk space for the database.

Recommended hardware configurations 

This table outlines the recommended hardware configurations for a medium deployment of up to 50 hosts and 500 powered on virtual machines:
 
Product
Cores
Memory
Disk
vCenter Server
2
4GB
5GB
vSphere Client
1
200MB
1.5GB
 
This table outlines the recommended hardware configurations for a large deployment of up to 300 hosts and 3,000 powered on virtual machines:
 
Product
Cores
Memory
Disk
vCenter Server
4
8GB
10GB
vSphere Client
1
500MB
1.5GB
 
This table outlines the recommended hardware configurations for an extra-large deployment of up to 1000 hosts and 10,000 powered on virtual machines:
 
Product
Cores
Memory
Disk
vCenter Server
8
16GB
10GB
vSphere Client
2
500MB
1.5GB
 

Operating system requirements 

vCenter Server 5.0 requires a 64-bit operating system and cannot be installed on a 32-bit operating system. When performing an install you must ensure that your operating system is 64-bit capable. For more information on what operating systems are supported, see the Operating System Compatibility for vSphere Client, vCenter Server, and VMware vCenter Update Manager in the vSphere Compatibility Matrixes.
 
 
Pre-installation software requirements
 
vCenter Server requires Microsoft .NET 3.5 SP1 Framework. If it is not installed on your system, the vCenter Server installer installs it for you.

Note: The Microsoft .NET 3.5 SP1 installation might require Internet connectivity to download and update files during the installation procedure.

Microsoft Protected Storage Service must be enabled prior to installation.

If you plan to use the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express database that is bundled with vCenter Server 5.0, Microsoft Windows Installer version 4.5 (MSI 4.5) is required to be installed on your system. You can download MSI 4.5 from the Microsoft Web site. You can also install MSI 4.5 directly from the vCenter Server 5.0 CD/DVD-ROM.

Setting up the vCenter Server database

vCenter Server and Update Manager require databases to store and organize server data. VMware recommends using separate databases for vCenter Server and Update Manager. For small deployments, a separate database for Update Manager might not be necessary, but is recommended.

Each vCenter Server instance must have its own database. vCenter Server instances cannot share the same database schema. Multiple vCenter Server databases can reside on the same database server, or they can be separated across multiple database servers. For Oracle databases, which have the concept of schema objects, you can run multiple vCenter Server instances in a single database server if you have a different schema owner for each vCenter Server instance. You can also use a dedicated Oracle database server for each vCenter Server instance.
 
You do not need to install a new database server for the vCenter Server installation to work. During vCenter Server installation, you can point the vCenter Server system to any existing supported database. vCenter Server supports IBM DB2, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server databases. Update Manager supports Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server databases. In addition, vCenter Server databases require a UTF code set.
 
For information about supported database server versions, see the vSphere Compatibility Matrixes.
 
Note: If you have a vCenter Server database that you want to preserve, do not perform a fresh installation of vCenter Server. For more information see Upgrading to vCenter Server 5.0 (2003866). To use an existing database, you need to provide a 64-bit system DSN which points to the vCenter Server database.
 
After you choose a database type, make sure you understand the configuration and patch requirements for the database. See vSphere Compatibility Matrixes and vCenter Server Database Patch and Configuration Requirements for the most up to date list of database versions supported with vCenter Server and the required database permissions needed.
 
Notes:
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express is intended for use with small deployments of up to 5 hosts and/or 50 virtual machines.
  • IBM DB2 database is only supported for vCenter Server. There is no support for Update Manager or any plug-in that requires a database.
  • A 64-bit DSN must be created that points to a database that is setup with minimum requirements.

Creating a 64bit DSN for vCenter Server

The vCenter Server system must have a 64-bit DSN. This requirement applies to all supported databases.

Note: Update Manager still requires the use of a 32-bit DSN. For more information on creating the DSN, see Minimum requirements for installing Update Manager 5.0 (2005084)
 
To create a 64-bit DSN for vCenter Server:
  1. Select Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Data Sources (ODBC).
  2. Use the application to create a system DSN and choose the appropriate driver according to the requirements by the database vendor.

    Note: For example, if you have a Microsoft SQL database, create the system DSN for the SQL Native Client driver.

  3. Test the connectivity.

Configuring vCenter Server to communicate with a local database

If you want to install vCenter Server and the database on the same system, the machine on which you install or upgrade to vCenter Server must have a computer name that is 15 characters or less.

If your database is located on the same machine on which vCenter Server will be installed, and you have recently changed the name of this machine to comply with the name-length requirement, make sure the vCenter Server DSN is configured to communicate with the new name of the machine.

Changing the vCenter Server computer name impacts database communication if the database server is on the same computer with vCenter Server. If you changed the machine name, verify that communication remains intact.

The name change has no effect on communication with remote databases. You can skip this procedure if your database is remote.

Note: The name-length limitation applies to the vCenter Server system. The DSN and remote database systems can have names with more than 15 characters.

Check with your database administrator or the database vendor to make sure all components of the database are working after you rename the server.

When configuring vCenter Server to communicate with a local database, make sure that:
  • The database server is running
  • The vCenter Server computer name is updated in the domain name service (DNS)

    To test the connection, ping the computer name. For example, if the computer name is host-1.company.com, run this command in a Windows command prompt:

    ping host-1.company.com

    If you can ping the computer name, the name is updated in DNS.

Bundled Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express Database Package

The bundled Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express database package is installed and configured when you select the bundled database during vCenter Server installation or upgrade.

To install the bundled Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express database, Microsoft Windows Installer version 4.5 (MSI 4.5) is required on your system. You can download MSI 4.5 from Microsoft. You can also install MSI 4.5 directly from the vCenter Server autorun.exe installer.

Environmental Prerequisites

Before installing vCenter Server, ensure that you:
  • Verify that you have the installation DVD or download the vCenter Server installer. For more information, see Download the vCenter Server Installer in the ESX and vCenter Server Installation Guide.

  • Verify that the required ports are open. For more information, see Required Ports for vCenter Server (2005105).

  • Verify that your database meets the database requirements. For more information, see vCenter Server Database Patch and Configuration Requirements and Preparing vCenter Server Databases in the ESX and vCenter Server Installation Guide.

  • Gather the information that the vCenter Server installation wizard requires. For more information, see Required Information for Installing vCenter Server in the ESX and vCenter Server Installation Guide.   

  • Verify that the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of the system where you are installing vCenter Server is resolvable. To check that the FQDN is resolvable, type nslookup <vCenter_Server_fqdn> at a command line prompt. If the FQDN is resolvable, the nslookup command returns the IP and name of the domain controller machine.

  • Verify that no Network Address Translation (NAT) exists between the vCenter Server system and the hosts it will manage.

  • Verify that the computer name is no more than 15 characters.

  • Verify that the DNS name of the machine matches the actual computer name.

  • Make sure the system on which you are installing vCenter Server is not an Active Directory domain controller. Installing vCenter Server on a domain controller is not supported.

  • On each system that is running vCenter Server, make sure that the domain user account has these permissions:
    • Member of the Administrators group
    • Act as part of the operating system
    • Log on as a service

  • Consider whether the vCenter Server instance will be standalone or in a Linked Mode group. For more information, see Creating vCenter Server Linked Mode Groups in the ESX and vCenter Server Installation Guide.    
  • VMware recommends that vCenter Server be installed on a system that is dedicated to managing your virtual infrastructure environment. 3rd party and other applications on the same system may utilize the same shared system resources, impacting performance and support.
In addition, consider these points:
  • Unless you plan to install the bundled SQL Server 2008 R2 Express, create a vCenter Server database.

  • If the system that you use for your vCenter Server installation belongs to a workgroup rather than a domain, not all functionality, such as vCenter Server Linked Mode, are available to vCenter Server. If assigned to a workgroup, the vCenter Server system is not able to discover all domains and systems available on the network when using some features. To determine whether the system belongs to a workgroup or a domain, right-click My Computer.

  • During the installation, verify that the connection between the machine and the domain controller is working.

  • The NETWORK SERVICE account is required on the folder in which vCenter Server is installed and on the HKLM registry key. If you are unsure of this, contact your System Administrator.

  • Install vCenter Server, like any other network server, on a machine with a fixed IP address and well-known DNS name, so that clients can reliably access the service. Assign a static IP address and host name to the Windows server that will host the vCenter Server system. This IP address must have a valid (internal) domain name system (DNS) registration. Ensure that the ESXi host management interface has a valid DNS resolution from the vCenter Server and all vSphere Clients. Ensure that the vCenter Server has a valid DNS resolution from all ESXi hosts and all vSphere Clients. If you use DHCP instead of a static IP address for vCenter Server, make sure that the vCenter Server computer name is updated in the domain name service (DNS). Ping the computer name to test this connection. For example, if the computer name is host-1.company.com, run this command in the Windows command prompt:

    ping host-1.company.com

    If you can ping the computer name, the name is updated in DNS.

Accounts

You can use the Microsoft Windows built-in system account or a user account to run vCenter Server.
 
With a user account, you can enable Windows authentication for SQL Server, and it provides more security. The user account must be an administrator on the local machine. In the installation wizard, you specify the account name as DomainName\Username. You must configure the SQL Server database to allow the domain account access to SQL Server.

The Microsoft Windows built-in system account has more permissions and rights on the server than the vCenter Server system needs, which can contribute to security problems.

For SQL Server DSNs configured with Windows authentication, use the same user account for the VMware VirtualCenter Management Webservices service and the DSN user.

If you do not plan to use Microsoft Windows authentication for SQL Server or you are using an Oracle or DB2 database, you might still want to set up a local user account for the vCenter Server system. The only requirement is that the user account is an administrator on the local machine.

Note: If you install an instance of vCenter Server as a local system account on a local SQL Server database with Integrated Windows NT Authentication, and you add an Integrated Windows NT Authentication user to the local database server with the same default database as vCenter Server, vCenter Server might not start. See vCenter Server Fails to Start When Installed as a Local System Account on a Local SQL Server Database with Integrated Windows NT Authentication.

IPv6

If you install vCenter Server on a system that is configured to use IPv6, vCenter Server uses IPv6. When you connect to that vCenter Server system or install more modules, you must specify the server address in IPv6 format, unless you use the fully qualified domain name.

As specified in the Remote Procedure Call (RPC) standards for IPv6 addresses, you must enclose the IPv6 address in square brackets. For example: [IPv6-address].

Additional Information

Tags

install-vcenter

See Also

Update History

10/14/2011 - Added SQL 2008 R2 to the list of supported databases. 02/19/2013 - Added link to the vSphere 5.0 Installation and Setup Guide

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