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Installing ESXi/ESX 4.1 and vCenter Server 4.1 best practices (1022101)

Purpose

This article provides a quick reference to the information needed for a trouble-free installation or upgrade of ESX/ESXi 4.1 and vCenter Server 4.1.

Note: 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 4.1 documentation

Resolution

vCenter Server

To ensure a trouble-free installation of vCenter Server:
  1. Make sure your hardware and operating system requirements are compliant. The vCenter Server 4.1 system can be a physical or a virtual machine. If you are installing vCenter Server 4.1 in a virtual machine, see Running vCenter Server in a virtual machine (10087).

    Note: For more information, see ESX and vCenter Server Installation Guide and vSphere Compatibility Matrix. vCenter Server 4.1 requires a 64-bit DSN to function properly.

    • Processor – Intel or AMD x86 processor with two or more logical cores, each with a speed of 2GHz.
    • Memory – 3GB RAM. RAM requirements may be higher if your database runs on the same machine. VMware VirtualCenter Management WebServices requires 128MB to 1.5GB of memory which is allocated at startup.
    • Disk storage – 2GB. Disk requirements may be higher if your database runs on the same machine.
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express disk requirements. The bundled database requires up to 2GB free disk space to decompress the installation archive.
    • Networking – 1Gbit recommended.

      Note: 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.
       
  2. Ensure that your database requirements and patch levels are compliant. For more information, see the vSphere Compatibility Matrix and vCenter Server Database Patch and Configuration Requirements. To use an existing database, you need to provide a 64-bit system DSN that points to the vCenter Server database. You also need to ensure that you have created a full backup of your database before proceeding.  In addition VMware Update Manager 4.1 is still a 32-bit application, and requires a 32-bit DSN to be created.

    Note
    :
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 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. 

  3. Download and fill out the vCenter Server Installation Worksheet.

    Note: For more information about the fields in this form, see Required Data for Installing vCenter Server in the ESX and vCenter Server Installation Guide.
     
  4. The vCenter Server install wizard gives you the option to use the Windows system account or a user-specified account for the purpose of running vCenter Server. A user-specified account enables the use of Windows authentication for SQL Server.

    If you choose this option:
    • The user-specified account must be an Administrator on the local machine and act as part of the operating system and log in as a service rights.
    • You must specify the account name as DomainName\Username in the vCenter Server install wizard.
    • You must configure the SQL Server database to allow the domain account access to SQL Server.
       
  5. Make sure your operating system meets these requirements:

    Note: vCenter Server 4.1 does not support 32-bit host operating systems. For more information, see the Operating System Compatibility for vSphere Client, vCenter Server, and VMware vCenter Update Manager section of the vSphere Compatibility Matrix.
     
    • Windows XP Pro SP2 (SP2 required, 64-bit)
    • Windows Server 2003 (SP1 required, 64-bit)
    • Windows Server 2008 (64-bit)
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 (64-bit)
       
  6. vCenter Server 4.1 installs these components as a part of the installation:

    Note: For more information, see the  ESX and vCenter Server Installation Guide.

    • Apache Tomcat (64-bit)
    • Java Runtime Environment JRE (64-bit)
    • Active Directory Application Management (ADAM)
    • Visual C++ 2005 Runtime Redistributable
    • .NET 3.0 SP1 or above (optional based on DB selection)
       
  7. These items are recommended or necessary for a successful installation:
    • You must have the installation DVD or download the installation ISO image.
    • Your hardware must meet the minimum hardware requirements. For more information, see vCenter Server and vSphere Client Hardware Requirements.
    • Ensure you have the required ports open. For more information, see vCenter Server 4.1 network port requirements (1022256).
    • If the machine on which you are installing vCenter Server has a previous version of vCenter installed, you may want to upgrade instead of performing a fresh installation of vCenter Server.
    • Make sure that the system you use for your vCenter Server installation belongs to a domain rather than a workgroup.
    • Ensure the system on which you are installing vCenter Server is not an Active Directory domain controller.
    • It is critical that you have reliable DNS and Time services.
    • During the installation, the connection between the machine and the domain controller must be working.
    • There must be no Network Address Translation (NAT) between the vCenter Server system and the hosts it manages.
    • The DNS name of the machine must match the actual computer name.
    • Log into the system using an account with local administrator rights. If joining another vCenter Server in Linked Mode, the account must be a local Administrator on both systems, can interact as part of
    • The operating system, and has rights to log on as a service.
    • The computer name cannot be more than 15 characters.
    • 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) DNS registration that resolves properly from all managed ESX hosts.
       
  8. Configure your database prior to the vCenter Server install, unless you are using default Microsoft 2005 Express.

    Note: Schema creation scripts mentioned in the documentation for both Microsoft SQL and Oracle are optional and intended for experienced Database Administrators. The vCenter Server installer performs the schema creation automatically if one does not already exist.
    • Microsoft SQL Database:
      • As the Database Administrator, use a script to create a local or remote Microsoft SQL Server Database. Optionally, the database can be created as it was in vCenter 2.5 by using SQL Server Management Studio.
      • Configure a SQL Server ODBC Connection. When you install the vCenter Server system, you can establish a connection with a SQL Server database.
      • Configure Microsoft SQL Server TCP/IP for JDBC. If the Microsoft SQL Server database has TCP/IP disabled and the dynamic ports are not set, the JDBC connection remains closed. This causes the vCenter Server statistics to malfunction.
         
    • Oracle Database:
      • As the Database Administrator, use a script to create a local or remote Oracle database.
      • Configure an Oracle Database User. If you plan to use an Oracle database when you install vCenter Server, you must configure the database user.
      • Configure an Oracle Connection for Local Access or Configure an Oracle Connection for Remote Access depending on where the database is located.
      • Connect to an Oracle Database locally.
         
    • DB2 Database:
      • Configure an IBM DB2 Database User and Group. If you plan to use an IBM DB2 database when you install vCenter Server, you must configure the database user and group.
      • Use a Script to Create a DB2 Database. When you use a DB2 database with vCenter Server, the database must have certain buffer pools, table spaces, and privileges.
      • Use a Script to Create the DB2 Database Schema. This script, in conjunction with the script that creates the DB2 database, enables you to have tighter control over the parameters of your database.
      • Configure a Connection to a Local Database on Windows. You can configure a DB2 database for vCenter Server either locally on the same Windows machine as vCenter Server or remotely on a network-connected host.
      • Configure a Connection to a Remote Database on Linux, Unix or Windows. You can configure a DB2 database for vCenter Server either locally on the same Windows machine as vCenter Server or remotely on a network-connected Windows, Linux, or Unix host.
         
  9. VMware recommends using a separate database for vCenter Server and vCenter Update Manager.
  10. Run the vCenter Server installer using the vCenter Server Installation Worksheet filled out in step 3. 

Update Manager

You can run the Update Manager on any system that meets the minimum hardware requirements. Minimum hardware requirements for Update Manager vary depending on how the Update Manager is deployed. If the database is installed on the same machine as Update Manager, requirements for memory size and processor speed are higher. To ensure acceptable performance, make sure that you meet the minimum requirements.

  • The minimum hardware requirements are as follows:
    • Processor – Intel or AMD x86 processor with two or more logical cores, each with a speed of  2GHz.
    • Network – 10/100 Mbps. (For best performance, use a Gigabit connection between Update Manager and the ESX/ESXi)
    • Memory – 2GB RAM if Update Manager and vCenter Server are on different machines.
    • Memory – 4GB RAM if Update Manager and vCenter Server are on the same machine.

      Note: Update Manager uses a SQL Server or Oracle database. You should use a dedicated database for Update Manager and not share it with the database used with vCenter Server, and should back up the database periodically.  Best practice is to have the database on the same computer as Update Manager or on a computer in the local network.  Depending on the size of your deployment, Update Manager requires a minimum amount of free space per month for database usage. For more information about space requirements, see the VMware vCenter Update Manager Sizing Estimator.

  • Update Manager works only with these operating systems:
    • Windows XP Pro SP2 (SP2 required, 64-bit)
    • Windows Server 2003 (SP1 required, 64-bit)
    • Windows Server 2008 (64-bit)
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 (64-bit)

      Note: The Update Manager plug-in requires the vSphere Client, and works with the same operating systems as the vSphere Client.

      IMPORTANT: You can only install Update Manager 4.1 on a 64-bit machine.

  • Update Manager has specific database requirements:

    NoteUpdate Manager can handle small-scale environments using the bundled SQL Server 2005 Express. For environments with more than 5 hosts and 50 virtual machines, create either an Oracle or a SQL Server database for Update Manager. For large scale environments, set up the Update Manager database on a different computer other than the Update Manager server and the vCenter Server database.
    • SQL Server 2005
    • SQL Server 2008
    • Oracle 10g
    • Oracle 11g

      Note: Update Manager 4.1 is compatible only with vCenter Server 4.1. Although multiple versions of the Update Manager Client plug-in might coexist on the same computer, the Update Manager Client plug-in of version 4.1 can be installed and enabled only on vSphere Client 4.1. For more information about the Update Manager compatibility with VirtualCenter Server, vCenter Server, VI Client, and vSphere Client, see the vSphere Compatibility Matrixes.

  • Required data privileges to the database:

    N
    ote: Before you install or upgrade Update Manager, you must create a database and grant a specific list of permissions to the database user. To run Update Manager you can use a set of minimum privileges.
    • Oracle Database Support

      Either assign the DBA role, or grant this set of privileges to the Update Manager Oracle database user:
      • connect
      • execute on dbms_lock
      • create view
      • create procedure
      • create table
      • create sequence
      • create any sequence
      • create any table
      • create type
      • unlimited tablespace 

    • Microsoft SQL server Database Support
      • Make sure that the database user has either a sysadmin server role or the db_owner fixed database role on the Update Manager database and the MSDB database. Although the db_owner role is required for the upgrade, SQL jobs are not created as part of the Update Manager installation or upgrade.

  • Database privileges needed for using Update Manager:
    • Oracle 

      The minimum required privileges of the Oracle database user are:
      • create session
      • create any table
      • drop any table  

    • Microsoft SQL Server 

      The database user must have either a sysadmin server role or the db_owner fixed database role on the Update Manager database and the MSDB database.

      Note: You can install or upgrade the Update Manager server on 64-bit operating systems. Even though Update Manager runs on 64-bit operating systems, it is a 32-bit application and requires a 32-bit DSN. The requirement for a 32-bit DSN applies to all supported databases. By default, any DSN created on a 64-bit system is a 64-bit DSN.

  • Install the ODBC drivers.
    • For Microsoft SQL Server database servers, install the 64-bit database ODBC drivers on your  Microsoft Windows system. When you install the 64-bit drivers, the 32-bit drivers are installed automatically.
    • For Oracle database servers, install the 32-bit database ODBC drivers on your Microsoft Windows system.
    • Run the 32-bit ODBC Administrator application, located at [WindowsDir]\SysWOW64\odbcad32.exe.
    • Use the application to create your DSN.  You will now have a DSN that is compatible with the Update Manager server. When the Update Manager installer prompts you for a DSN, you should select the 32-bit DSN.

      Note: The Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express database package is installed and configured when you select Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express as your database during the VMware vCenter Update Manager installation or upgrade. No additional configuration is required.   

ESX/ESXi

To ensure a trouble free installation of ESX/ESXi:
  1. Make sure your hardware is compliant on the Hardware Compatibility Guide. This includes:
    • System compatibility
    • I/O compatibility (Network and HBA cards)
    • Storage compatibility
    • Backup software compatibility
       
  2. VMware ESX/ESXi 4.1 only installs and runs on servers with 64-bit x86 CPUs. 32-bit systems are no longer supported.
  3. Make sure Intel VT is enabled in the host's BIOS.
  4. If you are installing ESX/ESXi on the local disks and if a fibre attached SAN is connected to the ESX/ESXi host, detach the fibre before proceeding with the installation. If you do not disconnect the fibre, you may inadvertently choose an HBA Adapter as the primary boot partition, which may result in the loss of data on the LUNs attached to the HBA Adapter.

    Note: Do not disable HBA cards in the BIOS.
     
  5. The /, swap, and all the optional partitions are stored on a virtual disk called esxconsole-<UUID>.vmdk. Set a size minimum of 8GB for this virtual disk.

    Note: For /var/log, VMware recommends a separate partition to prevent unexpected disk space constraints due to extensive logging.

Note: For more information, see ESX and vCenter Server Installation Guide.

Additional Information

Tags

install-esx  install-vcenter  install-esxi

See Also

Update History

09/16/2010 - Created an additional best practices for Update Manager. 08/05/2010 - Additional information for fibre attached SANs and VMware Update Manager. 07/12/2012 - Added information about installing vCenter Server as a dedicated application.

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