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Installing vCenter Server 5.1 best practices (2021202)

Purpose

This article provides information for installing VMware vCenter Server 5.1.

Notes:
  • This is a not a comprehensive guide. For more information, see the vSphere 5.1 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 Installation and Setup Guide and review the vSphere 5.1 Release Notes for known issues or special installation notes.

Resolution



vCenter Single Sign-On

In vSphere versions prior to vSphere 5.1, vCenter Server was installed in a single operation that also installed the Inventory Service on the same host machine. The Inventory Service was installed automatically and silently.

For small vSphere deployments, vCenter Server 5.1 provides a vCenter Server Simple Install option that installs vCenter Single Sign-On, Inventory Service, and vCenter Server on the same host or virtual machine.

Alternatively, to customize the location and setup of each component, you can install the components separately by selecting the individual installation options, in this order: vCenter Single Sign-On, Inventory Service, and vCenter Server. Each component can be installed in a different host or virtual machine.

For the first installation of vCenter Server with vCenter Single Sign-On, you must install Single Sign-On Server, Inventory Service, and vCenter Server in the vSphere environment. In subsequent installations of vCenter Server in your environment, you do not need to install Single Sign-On. One Single Sign-On server can serve your entire vSphere environment. After you install vCenter Single Sign-On once, you can connect all new vCenter Server instances to the same authentication server. However, you must install an Inventory Service instance for each vCenter Server instance. For more detailed information, see:
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 Guide and Upgrading vCenter Server 5.1 best practices (2021193) for more information.

vCenter Single Sign-On, Inventory Service, and vCenter Server hardware requirements

You can install vCenter Single Sign-On, Inventory Service, and vCenter Server on the same host machine (as with vCenter Simple Install) or on different machines. Minimum Hardware Requirements for vCenter Single Sign-On, Running on a Separate Host Machine from vCenter Server and Minimum Hardware Requirements for vCenter Inventory Service, Running on a Separate Host Machine from vCenter Server list the hardware requirements for Single Sign-On and Inventory Service, running on separate host machines. If you install vCenter Single Sign-On, vCenter Inventory Service, and vCenter Server on the same host machine, the Single Sign-On and Inventory Service memory and disk storage requirements are in addition to the requirements for vCenter Server. For more information, see Minimum hardware requirements for vCenter Server.

The vCenter Server system is a physical machine or virtual machine with access to a supported database. The vCenter Server system must meet specific requirements. The vCenter Server machine must meet the hardware requirements.

Minimum hardware requirements for vCenter Single Sign-On, when running on a separate host machine from vCenter Server

vCenter SSO hardwareRequirement
ProcessorIntel or AMD x64 processor with two or more logical cores, each with a speed of 2 GHz.
Memory3 GB. Memory requirements might be higher if the vCenter Single Sign-On database runs on the same host machine. If vCenter Single Sign-On runs on the same host machine as vCenter Server, see Minimum hardware requirements for vCenter Server.
Disk storage2 GB. Disk requirements may be higher if the vCenter Single Sign-On database runs on the same host machine.
Network speed1 Gbps

Minimum hardware requirements for vCenter Inventory Service, when running on a separate host machine from vCenter Server

vCenter Inventory Service hardwareRequirement
ProcessorIntel or AMD x64 processor with two or more logical cores, each with a speed of 2 GHz.
Memory3 GB. If vCenter Inventory Service runs on the same host machine as vCenter Server, see Minimum Hardware Requirements for vCenter Server.
Disk storageAt least 60 GB for medium- to large-sized inventories (more than 100 hosts or 1000 virtual machines).
Network speed1 Gbps

Minimum hardware requirements for vCenter Server

vCenter Server hardwareRequirement
CPUTwo 64-bit CPUs or one 64-bit dual-core processor.
Processor2.0 GHz or faster Intel 64 or AMD 64 processor. The Itanium (IA64) processor is not supported.

Processor requirements may be higher if the database runs on the same machine.
MemoryThe amount of memory needed depends on your vCenter Server configuration.
  • If vCenter Server is installed on a different host machine than vCenter Single Sign-On and vCenter Inventory Service, 4 GB of RAM are required.
  • If vCenter Server, vCenter Single Sign-On, and vCenter Inventory Service are installed on the same host machine (as with vCenter Simple Install), 10 GB of RAM are required.
Memory requirements may be higher if the vCenter Server database or vCenter Single Sign-On database runs on the same machine as vCenter Server.

vCenter Server includes several Java services: VMware VirtualCenter Management Webservices (tc Server), Inventory Service, and Profile-Driven Storage Service. When you install vCenter Server, you select the size of your vCenter Server inventory to allocate memory for these services. The inventory size determines the maximum JVM heap settings for the services. You can adjust this setting after installation if the number of hosts in your environment changes. See the recommendations in JVM heap settings for vCenter Server.
Disk storageThe amount of disk storage needed depends on your vCenter Server configuration.
  • If vCenter Server is installed on a different host machine than vCenter Single Sign-On and vCenter Inventory Service, 4 GB are required.
  • If vCenter Server, vCenter Single Sign-On, and vCenter Inventory Service are installed on the same host machine (as with vCenter Simple Install), at least 40-60 GB of free disk space are required after installation, depending on the size of your inventory. 100 GB are recommended to allow for future growth of your inventory.
Disk storage requirements are higher if the vCenter Server database or vCenter Single Sign-On database runs on the same machine as vCenter Server, depending on the size of those databases.

In vCenter Server 5.x, the default size for vCenter Server logs is 450 MB 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 storageUp to 2 GB free disk space to decompress the installation archive. Approximately 1.5 GB of these files are deleted after the installation is complete.
Network speed1 Gbps

JVM heap settings for vCenter Server

vCenter Server InventoryVMware VirtualCenter Management Webservices (tc Server)Inventory ServiceProfile-Driven Storage Service
Small inventory (1-100 hosts or 1-1000 virtual machines)1 GB3 GB512 MB
Medium inventory (100-400 hosts or 1000-4000 virtual machines)2 GB6 GB1 GB
Large inventory (More than 400 hosts or 4000 virtual machines)3 GB12 GB2 GB

Note: Installing vCenter Server on a network drive or USB flash drive is not supported.

For the hardware requirements of your database, see your database documentation. The database requirements are in addition to the vCenter Server requirements if the database and vCenter Server run on the same machine.

vCenter Server and vSphere Client system recommendations for performance based on deployment size

The number of hosts and powered-on virtual machines in your environment affects performance. Use these system requirements as minimum guidelines for reasonable performance. For increased performance, you can configure systems in your environment with values greater than those listed here.

Processing requirements are listed in terms of hardware CPU cores. Only physical cores are counted. In hyper-threaded systems, logical CPUs do not count as separate cores.

Important: The recommended disk sizes assume default log levels. If you configure more detailed log levels, more disk space is required.

This table outlines the recommended hardware configurations for a medium deployment of up to 50 hosts and 500 powered-on virtual machines:

ProductCoresMemoryDisk
vCenter Server24 GB5 GB
vSphere Client11 GB1.5 GB

This table outlines the recommended hardware configurations for a large deployment of up to 300 hosts and 3,000 powered-on virtual machines:

ProductCoresMemoryDisk
vCenter Server48 GB10 GB
vSphere Client11 GB1.5 GB

This table outlines the recommended hardware configurations for an extra-large deployment of up to 1000 hosts and 10,000 powered-on virtual machines:

ProductCoresMemoryDisk
vCenter Server816 GB10 GB
vSphere Client21 GB1.5 GB

Minimum hardware requirements and recommendations for the vSphere Client

HardwareRequirements and recommendations
CPU1 CPU
Processor500 MHz or faster Intel or AMD processor (1 GHz recommended)
Memory500 MB (1 GB recommended)
Disk storage1.5 GB free disk space for a complete installation, which includes the following components:
  • Microsoft .NET 2.0 SP2
  • Microsoft .NET 3.0 SP2
  • Microsoft .NET 3.5 SP1
  • Microsoft Visual J#

    Remove any previously installed versions of Microsoft Visual J# on the system where you are installing the vSphere Client.

  • vSphere Client
If you do not have any of these components already installed, you must have 400 MB free on the drive that has the %temp% directory.

If you have all of the components already installed, 300 MB of free space is required on the drive that has the %temp% directory, and 450 MB is required for vSphere Client.
NetworkingGigabit connection recommended

vSphere Web Client hardware requirements

HardwareRequirement
MemoryAt least 2 GB: 1 GB for the Java heap, and 1 GB for:
  • The resident code
  • The stack for Java threads
  • Global/bss segments for the Java process
CPU2.00 GHz processor with 4 cores
Disk storageAt least 2 GB free disk space
NetworkingGigabit connection recommended

These browsers are supported for version 5.1 of the vSphere Web Client:
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 7, 8, and 9
  • Mozilla Firefox 3.6 and later
  • Google Chrome 14 and later
The vSphere Web Client requires the Adobe Flash Player version 10.1.0 or later to be installed with the appropriate plug-in for your browser.

For more information, see Minimum requirements for installing the vSphere and vSphere Web 5.x Client (2005083).

vCenter Server software requirements

Make sure that your operating system supports vCenter Server. vCenter Server requires a 64-bit operating system, and a 64-bit system DSN is required for vCenter Server to connect to its database. For a list of supported operating systems, see the VMware Compatibility Guide.

VMware recommends that vCenter Server be installed on a system that is dedicated to managing your virtual infrastructure environment. Third-party and other applications on the same system may utilize the same shared system resources, impacting performance and support.

Note: The VMware vCenter Server Appliance can be deployed only on hosts that are running ESXi/ESX 4.x or later.

Pre-installation software requirements

vCenter Server requires the Microsoft .NET 3.5 SP1 Framework. If it is not installed on your system, the vCenter Server installer installs it. The .NET 3.5 SP1 installation might require Internet connectivity to download more files.

Note: If your vCenter Server host machine uses a non-English operating system, install both the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 and Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Language Pack through Windows Update. Windows Update automatically selects the correct localized version for your operating system. The .NET Framework installed through the vCenter Server installer includes only the English version.

If you plan to use the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express database that is bundled with vCenter Server, Microsoft Windows Installer version 4.5 (MSI 4.5) is required 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 autorun.exe installer.

Setting up the vCenter Server and vCenter Single Sign-On database

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. For information about supported database server versions, see the VMware Product Interoperability Matrix.

After you choose a supported database type, make sure you understand any special configuration requirements. See vCenter Server Database Configuration Notes in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.
  • Ensure that your vCenter Server database meets the database requirements. For more information, see vCenter Server Database Configuration Notes and Preparing vCenter Server Databases in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

  • You must create a vCenter Single Sign-On database unless you plan to install the bundled database.For information about vCenter Single Sign-On supported database versions, see the VMware Product Interoperability Matrix.

  • If you are using an existing database for vCenter Single Sign-On:

    • You have the option of specifying a database user (RSA_USER) and database administrator (RSA_DBA) to use for Single Sign-On database installation and setup. For more information, see Required vCenter Single Sign-On Database Users in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

      • If you choose this option, create these users before you run the installer. For a list of required permissions, see Required vCenter Single Sign-On Database Users in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

      • If you do not choose this option, the installer creates these users for you using the credentials of a database administrator you specify during the installation process. Verify that the database user you specify has the required permissions. For more information, see Permissions Required by vCenter Single Sign-On for Database Administrators in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

    • Ensure that the table spaces are named RSA_DATA and RSA_INDEX. Any other table space names cause the vCenter Single Sign-On installation to fail. These table spaces are case sensitive and should be uppercase. The error below may be reported if lowercase is used:

      Error 29119, Required Tablespaces missing during the installation of vCenter Single Sign On.

    • Ensure that table space is created for the database, run the script:

      rsaIMSLite<DBName>SetupTablespaces.sql

      The script is included in the vCenter Server installer download package (vCenter_Server_Installation_directory\Single Sign On\DBScripts\SSOServer\Schema\your_existing_database). You can run this script prior to the installation, or during the installation, when you are prompted by the installer. You can leave the installer to run the script, and resume the installer after you run the script.

    • If you do not choose this option, the installer creates these users for you using the credentials of a database administrator you specify during the installation process. Verify that the database user you specify has the required permissions. For more information, see Permissions Required by vCenter Single Sign-On for Database Administrators in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.
Notes:
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express is intended for use with small deployments of up to 5 hosts and/or 50 virtual machines.
  • The 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 set up with minimum requirements.
  • vCenter Server databases require a UTF code set.
  • 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 the vSphere Upgrade Guide.

Synchronizing clocks on the vSphere network

Before you install vCenter Single Sign-On, install the vSphere Web Client, or deploy the vCenter Server appliance, make sure all machines on the vSphere network have their clocks synchronized.

If the clocks on vCenter Server network machines are not synchronized, SSL certificates, which are time-sensitive, might not be recognized as valid in communications between network machines. Unsynchronized clocks can result in authentication problems, which can cause the vSphere Web Client installation to fail or prevent the vCenter Server Appliance vpxd service from starting.

Configure vCenter Server to communicate with the local database

The machine on which you install or upgrade to vCenter Server must have a computer name that is 15 characters or fewer. 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, you can 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 data source name (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.

Prerequisites:
  • Ensure the database server is running.
  • Ensure that the vCenter Server computer name is updated in the domain name service (DNS).
To test this connection, ping the computer name. 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.

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 the Microsoft Web site. You can also install MSI 4.5 directly from the vCenter Server autorun.exe installer.

For more detailed information on configuring a DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, or Oracle databases to work with vCenter Server, see Preparing vCenter Server Databases in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

vCenter Server prerequisites

Before installing vCenter Server, review Prerequisites for Installing vCenter Single Sign-On, Inventory Service, and vCenter Server in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.
  • vCenter Server 5.1 requires vCenter Single Sign-On and Inventory Service. You must install these components in this order:

    1. vCenter Single Sign-On
    2. Inventory Service
    3. vCenter Server

    For more information on how vCenter Single Sign-On affects vCenter Server installation and upgrades, see Comparing the behavior of vCenter Single Sign On with earlier versions of vCenter Server (2032135).

  • Review the release notes for known issues or special installation notes.

  • 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 vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

  • Gather the information that the vCenter Server installation wizard requires. For more information, see Required Information for Installing or Upgrading vCenter Single Sign-On, Inventory Service, and vCenter Server in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

  • Verify that you have the installation DVD or download the vCenter Server installer. For more information, see Download the vCenter Server Installer in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

System requirements

  • Verify that your system meets the requirements listed above in Hardware requirements for vCenter Server, vCenter Single Sign-On, vSphere Client, and vSphere Web Client and vCenter Server software requirements, and that the required ports are open. For more information, see Required ports for vCenter Server 5.1 (2031843).

    Note: In order for VM console connections to be successfully established from the vSphere Client to VMs, you must have the ports TCP/902 and TCP/903 open inbound and outbound between the system where the vSphere Client is running and the ESXi/ESX host where the VM is hosted. This includes ensuring that traffic on these ports can communicate across any NAT/Firewall devices that may be present in your infrastructure. 

  • Before you install or upgrade any vSphere product, synchronize the clocks of all machines on the vSphere network. For more information, see Synchronizing clocks on the vSphere network.

  • Verify that the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of the system where you will install vCenter Server is resolvable. To check that the FQDN is resolvable, run nslookup your_vCenter_Server_FQDN at the command prompt. If the FQDN is resolvable, the nslookup command returns the IP and name of the domain controller machine.

  • Verify that DNS reverse lookup returns a fully qualified domain name when queried with the IP address of the vCenter Server. When you install vCenter Server, the installation of the web server component that supports the vSphere Client fails if the installer cannot look up the fully qualified domain name of the vCenter Server from its IP address. Reverse lookup is implemented using PTR records. To create a PTR record, see the documentation for your vCenter Server host operating system.

  • Verify that the host name of the machine that you are installing vCenter Server on complies with RFC 952 guidelines.

  • The installation path of vCenter Server must be compatible with the installation requirements for Microsoft Active Directory Application Mode (ADAM/AD LDS). The installation path cannot contain any of these characters: non-ASCII characters, commas (,), periods (.), exclamation points (!), pound signs (#), at signs (@), or percentage signs (%).

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

  • If the system that you use for your vCenter Server installation belongs to a workgroup rather than a domain, not all functionality is 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 and click Properties, then click the Computer Name tab. The Computer Name tab displays either a Workgroup label or a Domain label.

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

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

  • The NETWORK SERVICE account is required on the folder in which vCenter Server is installed and on the HKLM registry.

  • Before the vCenter Server installation, in the Administrative Tools control panel of the vCenter Single Sign-On instance that you will register vCenter Server to, verify that the vCenter Single Sign-On and RSA SSPI services are started.

  • You must log in as a member of the Administrators group on the host machine, with a user name that does not contain any non-ASCII 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 vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

  • 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.

Running vCenter Server using a user account

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, which provides added security.

The user account must be an administrator on the local machine. In the installation wizard, 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 may 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. For more information, see the vCenter Server Fails to Start When Installed as a Local System Account on a Local SQL Server Database with Integrated Windows NT Authentication section of the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

Installing vCenter Server on IPv6 machines

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

See Also

Update History

03/27/2013 - Added link to article 2005083

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