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Installing ESX 4.0 and vCenter 4.0 best practices (1009080)

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This article provides quick reference to the information needed for a trouble free installation of vSphere ESX 4.0 and vCenter Server 4.0.

Note: Because each environment is different, many installation decisions require knowledge and understanding beyond the scope of this article, consult the vSphere 4.0 document set for more detailed information regarding your installation at


Note: Read the VMware vSphere 4.0 Release Notes for known installation issues. 

On the vCenter Server

  1. Make sure your hardware and operating system requirements are compliant:

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

    • Processor – 2 CPUs 2.0GHz or higher Intel or AMD x86 processors. Processor may be higher if the database runs on the same machine.
    • Memory – 3GB RAM. RAM requirements may be higher if your database runs on the same machine.
    • 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.

  2. Make sure your database requirements and patch levels are compliant:

    : For more information, see VMware Infrastructure Compatibility Guide and
    vCenter Server Database Patch and Configuration Requirements.

    • Microsoft SQL server Database Support:

      • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express

        Note: Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express is intended to be used for small deployments of up to 5 hosts and/or 50 virtual machines.

      • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Standard edition (SP1, SP2, SP3)
      • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Standard edition (SP2, SP3) 64bit
      • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise edition (SP1, SP2, SP3)
      • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise edition (SP2, SP3) 64bit
      • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition
      • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition 64bit
      • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition
      • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition 64bit

    • Oracle Database Support:

      • Oracle 10g Standard edition (Release 1 [])
      • Oracle 10g Enterprise edition (Release 1 [])
      • Oracle 10g Standard edition (Release 2 [])
      • Oracle 10g Enterprise edition (Release 2 [])
      • Oracle 10g Enterprise edition (Release 2 []) 64bit
      • Oracle 11g Standard edition
      • Oracle 11g Enterprise edition

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

    Note: For more information about the fields in this form, see the Required Data for Installing vCenter Server section of 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.

    The primary reason to use a user-specified account is to enable 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 login 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 system has all the software prerequisites for vCenter Server:

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

    • Make sure your operating system meets the requirements:

      Note: For more information, see the Operating System Compatibility for vSphere Client, vCenter Server, and VMware vCenter Update Manager section of the VMware Infrastructure Compatibility Guide.

      • Windows XP Pro SP2 (SP2 required)
      • Windows Server 2003, SP1 and SP2 32bit and 64bit all editions
      • Windows Server 2003, R2 and SP2 32bit and 64bit all editions
      • Windows Server 2008 32bit all editions
      • Windows Server 2008 64bit Standard and Enterprise editions

    • Make sure that the system you use for your vCenter Server installation belongs to a domain, rather than a workgroup.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.

  6. Configure your database prior to the vCenter 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.

  7. VMware recommends using a separate database for vCenter Server and vCenter Update Manager.

  8. VMware recommends that vCenter Server be installed on a system that is dedicated to managing your Virtual Infrastucture environment. Having other applications installed on the same server can take up valuable system resources, and may drastically reduce performance and supportability.

  9. Run the vCenter Server installer using the vCenter Server Installation Worksheet filled out in step 3. 

On the ESX host

  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 4.0 only installs and runs on servers with 64bit x86 CPUs. 32bit systems are no longer supported.

  3. Make sure Intel VT is enabled in the host's BIOS.

  4. If you are installing to the local disks and SAN is connected to the ESX host, detach the fiber before continuing with the installation.

    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.

Additional Information

See Also

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  • 139 Ratings