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Installing vCenter Server 5.5 best practices (2052334)

Purpose

This article provides information on the best practices for installing vCenter Server 5.5.

Notes:
  • This is a not a comprehensive guide. For more information, see the vSphere 5.5 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 information about your installation, see the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide and review the vSphere 5.5 Release Notes for known issues or special installation notes.

Resolution




vSphere 5.1 introduced the vCenter Single Sign-On (SSO) component as part of the vCenter Server management infrastructure. This change affects vCenter Server installation. Authentication by vCenter Single Sign-On makes the VMware cloud infrastructure platform more secure by allowing the vSphere software components to communicate with each other through a secure token exchange mechanism.

For more information about Single Sign-On deployment modes, see the vCenter Single Sign-On Deployment Modes section in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

During the first installation of vCenter Server, you must install all components. In subsequent installations in the same environment, or if you add services, you do not have to install SSO. One SSO server can serve your entire vSphere environment. After installing SSO once, you can connect all new vCenter Server instances to the same SSO service. You must install an Inventory Service instance for each vCenter Server instance.

  • Simple Install: The Simple Install option installs vCenter Single Sign-On, the vSphere Web Client, vCenter Inventory Service, and vCenter Server on the same host or virtual machine. Simple Install is appropriate for most deployments.

    For guidance on the Simple install, see Methods of Installing vCenter Server 5.5 (2053142).
  • Custom Install: If you want to customize the location and setup of each component, you can install the components separately by performing a custom install and selecting the individual installation options in this order:
  1. vCenter Single Sign-On
  2. vSphere Web Client
  3. vCenter Inventory Service
  4. vCenter Server
You can install each component on a different host or virtual machine.

If you decide on installing multiple vCenter Server systems, you can point to the same vCenter Single Sign-On service for each vCenter Server.

For more information, see Methods of Installing vCenter Server 5.5 (2053142).
  • Installing in Multiple Locations: Unlike vCenter Single Sign-On 5.1, the SSO service included in vSphere 5.5 synchronizes authentication data across locations.
If you install vCenter Server systems in multiple locations, you can install a SSO server in each location. When you install the second and subsequent instances of SSO, you can point it to the first SSO instance during installation. The two instances synchronize their VMware Directory Service instances. Changes to one instance are propagated to the other instance.

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

Note: 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.

Minimum hardware requirements for Simple Install deployment of vCenter Single Sign-On, the vSphere Web Client, vCenter Inventory Service, and vCenter Server

Host Hardware for Simple Install Deployment
Minimum Requirement
Processor
Intel or AMD x64 processor with two or more logical cores, each with a speed of 2 GHz.
Memory
12 GB.

Memory requirements are higher if the vCenter Server 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 change this setting after the installation if the number of hosts in your environment changes. For more information, see the recommendations in JVM Heap settings for vCenter Server.
Disk storage
40-60 GB of free disk space is required after the installation, depending on the size of your inventory. You should provide more space to allow for future growth of your inventory.

Disk storage requirements are higher if the vCenter Server 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. Ensure the disk space allotted to the log folder is sufficient for this increase.
Network speed 1 Gbps


You can install vCenter Single Sign-On, vCenter Inventory Service, and vCenter Server on the same host machine (as with Simple Install) or on different machines. For more information, see:

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

vCenter Single Sign-On Hardware

Requirement

Processor Intel or AMD x64 processor with two or more logical cores, each with a speed of 2 GHz.
Memory
3 GB. If SSO runs on the same host machine as vCenter Server, see Minimum hardware requirements for Simple Install deployment of vCenter Single Sign-On, the vSphere Web Client, vCenter Inventory Service, and vCenter Server or Minimum hardware requirements for vCenter Server.
Disk storage
2 GB.
Network speed
1 Gbps
 

  Minimum hardware requirements for vCenter Inventory Service, Running on a Separate Host Machine from vCenter Server

vCenter Inventory Service Hardware
Requirement
Processor
Intel or AMD x64 processor with two or more logical cores, each with a speed of 2 GHz.
Memory
3 GB. If vCenter Inventory Service runs on the same host machine as vCenter Server, see:
Disk storage
If vCenter Inventory Service runs on the same host machine as vCenter Server, these requirements are in addition to the disk space required for vCenter Server and any other applications running on the vCenter Server host machine.

Disk storage requirements for Inventory Service depend on inventory size and the amount of activity in the virtual machines in the inventory. At typical activity rates, Inventory Service uses 6 GB - 12 GB of disk space for 15,000 virtual machines distributed among 1,000 hosts.

A high rate of activity (more than 20 percent of your virtual machines changing per hour) results in write-ahead logs (WAL) being written to disk to handle updates, instead of in-line writes into existing disk usage. This high rate of activity is often associated with Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) use cases.

Guidelines for required disk space:
  • Small inventory, low activity rate: 5 GB
  • Small inventory, high activity rate: 15 GB
  • Large inventory, low activity rate: 15 GB
  • Large inventory, high activity rate: 40 GB-60 GB

Note: A small inventory is 1-100 hosts or 1-1000 virtual machines and a large inventory is more than 400 hosts or 4000 virtual machines.

For more information, see Minimum hardware requirements for vCenter Server.

Network speed 1 Gbps
 
If you install vCenter Single Sign-On, vCenter Inventory Service, and vCenter Server on the same host machine, ensure that you meet the additional vCenter Single Sign-On and Inventory Service memory and disk storage requirements mentioned in this table:

Minimum hardware requirements for vCenter Server

vCenter Server Hardware
Requirement
CPU Two 64-bit CPUs or one 64-bit dual-core processor.
Processor 2.0 GHz or faster Intel 64 or AMD 64 processor. The Itanium (IA64) processor is not supported. Processor requirements might be higher if the database runs on the same machine.
Memory The 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), 12 GB of RAM are required.
Memory requirements are 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 change this setting after installation if the number of hosts in your environment changes. For more information, see the recommendations in JVM Heap Settings for vCenter Server.
 
Disk storage
The amount of disk storage needed for the vCenter Server installation depends on your vCenter Server configuration.

Disk storage requirements are higher if the vCenter Server 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. Ensure the disk space allotted to the log folder is sufficient for this increase.

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express disk Up 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 speed 1 Gbps
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.

  JVM Heap settings for vCenter Server

vCenter Server Inventory
VMware VirtualCenter Management Webservices (tc Server)
Inventory Service
Profile-Driven Storage Service
Small inventory (1-100 hosts or 1-1000 virtual machines) 512 MB
3 GB
1 GB
Medium inventory (100-400 hosts or 1000-4000 virtual machines) 512 MB
6 GB
2 GB
Large inventory (More than 400 hosts or 4000 virtual machines) 1024 MB
12 GB
4 GB

vCenter Server system recommendations for performance based on deployment size

The number of hosts and powered-on virtual machines in your environment affects performance. This section provides the 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 hyperthreaded 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.

Medium deployment of up to 50 hosts and 500 powered-on virtual machines

Product Cores Memory Disk
vCenter Server 2 4 GB 5 GB


Large deployment of up to 300 hosts and 3,000 powered-on virtual machines

Product Cores Memory Disk
vCenter Server 4 8 GB 10 GB


Extra-large deployment of up to 1,000 hosts and 10,000 powered-on virtual machines

Product Cores Memory Disk
vCenter Server 8 16 GB 10 GB

Hardware requirements for the vSphere Web Client server component

vSphere Web Client Server Hardware Requirement
Memory
At least 3 GB. of which 2 GB is for the Java heap and 1 GB for
  • The resident code
  • The stack for Java threads
  • Global/bss segments for the Java process
CPU 2.00 GHz processor with at least 2 or more cores
Disk Storage At least 2 GB free disk space
Networking Gigabit connection recommended

Note: The vSphere Web Client has two components: A Java server and an Adobe Flex client application running in a browser.

Hardware requirements for VMware vCenter Server Appliance`

VMware vCenter Server Appliance Hardware
Requirement
Disk storage on the host machine
The vCenter Server Appliance requires at least 70 GB of disk space, and is limited to a maximum size of 125 GB. The vCenter Server Appliance can be deployed with thin-provisioned virtual disks that can grow to the maximum size of 125 GB. If the host machine does not have enough free disk space to accommodate the growth of the vCenter Server Appliance virtual disks, vCenter Server might cease operation, and you are not be able to manage your vSphere environment.
Memory in the VMware vCenter Server Appliance
  • Very small inventory (10 or fewer hosts, 100 or fewer virtual machines): at least 8 GB.
  • Small inventory (10-100 hosts or 100-1000 virtual machines): at least 16 GB.
  • Medium inventory (100-400 hosts or 1000-4000 virtual machines): at least 24 GB.
  • Large inventory (More than 400 hosts or 4000 virtual machines): at least 32 GB.

JVM Heap Settings for VMware vCenter Server Appliance

vCenter Server Appliance Inventory

VMware VirtualCenter Management Webservices (tc Server)

Inventory Service

Profile-Driven Storage Service

Small inventory (1-100 hosts or 1-1000 virtual machines)

512 MB

3 GB

1 GB

Medium inventory (100-400 hosts or 1000-4000 virtual machines)

512 MB

6 GB

2 GB

Large inventory (More than 400 hosts or 4000 virtual machines)

1024 MB

12 GB

4 GB

   vCenter Server software requirements

  • 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.
  • vCenter Server 5.5 removes support for Windows Server 2003 as a host operating system. For more information, see the VMware Compatibility Guide.
  • vCenter Server 5.5 removes support for Windows Server 2008 SP1 as a host operating system. Upgrade Windows Server 2008 SP1 hosts to SP2 before upgrading vCenter Server to version 5.5. For more information, see the VMware Compatibility Guide and the Microsoft Software Lifecycle Policy.

    Note: The preceding link was correct as of November 20, 2013. If you find the link is broken, provide feedback and a VMware employee will update the link.
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.

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

Prerequisites for installing vCenter Single Sign-On, Inventory Service, and vCenter Server

Before installing vCenter Single Sign-On, Inventory Service, and vCenter Server, review the prerequisites.

Prerequisites for understanding and preparing for the installation process

  • vCenter Server versions 5.1 and later require vCenter Single Sign-On and Inventory Service. You must install these components in this order: vCenter Single Sign-On, the vSphere Web Client, Inventory Service, and vCenter Server.
  • Review the release notes for known issues or special installation notes. For more information, see the VMware vSphere 5.5 Release Notes.

  • Gather the information that the vCenter Single Sign-On, Inventory Service , and vCenter Server installation wizards require. For more information, see the Required Information for Installing or Upgrading vCenter Single Sign-On, Inventory Service, vCenter Server, and the vSphere Web Client section in the vSphere Upgrade Guide.

  • Decide whether the vCenter Server instance is a standalone instance or in a Linked Mode group. For more information, see the Creating vCenter Server Linked Mode Groups section in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

  • Download the vCenter Server installer from the VMware Web site.

System Prerequisites

  • Verify that your system meets the requirements listed in:
  • Ensure that the required ports are open. For relation information, see Required ports for vCenter Server 5.5 (2051575).

    Note: TCP ports 902 and 903 must be open inbound and outbound between the vSphere Client machine and the ESXi/ESX host where the virtual machine is hosted, to allow virtual machine console connections to establish from the vSphere Client to the virtual machine. You must also ensure 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 the Synchronizing Clocks on the vSphere Network section in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

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

  • 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 non-ASCII characters, commas (,), periods (.), exclamation points (!), pound signs (#), at signs (@), or percentage signs (%).

  • Verify that the system on which you are installing vCenter Server is not an Active Directory domain controller.

  • On each system that is running vCenter Server, verify 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

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

  • 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. Your machine must be connected to a domain if you want to add Active Directory identity sources after the installation. To determine whether the system belongs to a workgroup or a domain, right-click My Computer. Click Properties and click the Computer Name tab. The Computer Name tab displays either a Workgroup label or a Domain label.

  • Verify that the NETWORK SERVICE account has read permission on the folder in which vCenter Server is installed and on the HKLM registry.

  • Verify that the Administrator account used to run the installation has Full Control on the VMware install directory selected in the install wizard.

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

  • Before installing vCenter Server, in the Administrative Tools control panel of the SSO instance to which you plan to register vCenter Server, verify that these services are started:
    • VMware Certificate Service
    • VMware Directory service
    • VMware Identity Manager Service
    • VMware KDC service
    • tcruntime-C-ProgramData-VMware-cis-runtime-VMwareSTSService

  • 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.
  • When using the VMware vCenter Server Appliance the DNS domain of the server must be the same as Active Directory domain. This is required for both the VMware vCenter Server Appliance machine account in Active Directory and adding the Active Directory domain as an identity source

Network Prerequisites

  • Verify that the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of the system where you want to install vCenter Server is resolvable by running this command in the command prompt:

    nslookup your_vCenter_Server_fqdn

    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 Web 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 manually, see the documentation for your vCenter Server host operating system.

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

  • Install vCenter Server, similar to 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 hosts 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 Web Clients. Ensure that the vCenter Server has a valid DNS resolution from all ESXi hosts and all vSphere Web Clients. If you use DHCP instead of a static IP address for vCenter Server, ensure 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.

  • If you want to use Active Directory as an identity source, verify that it is set up correctly. The DNS of the SSO Server host machine must contain both lookup and reverse lookup entries for the domain controller of the Active Directory. For example, pinging mycompany.com should return the domain controller IP address for mycompany. Similarly, the ping -a command for that IP address should return the domain controller hostname. Avoid correcting name resolution issues by editing the hosts file. Instead, ensure that the DNS server is correctly set up. For more information about configuring Active Directory, see the Microsoft Web site.

Database Prerequisites

  • Verify that your vCenter Server database meets the database requirements. For more information, see the vCenter Server Database Configuration Notes and Preparing vCenter Server Databases section in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

  • Create a vCenter Server database, unless you plan to install the bundled database.

  • Ensure that the vCenter Server database is a supported version and is not set to compatibility mode with an unsupported version. For more information, see the VMware Product Interoperability Matrixes.

Identity sources for vCenter Server with vCenter Single Sign-On

vCenter Server 5.1 and 5.5 use SSO for authentication. For a list of supported identity sources with SSO 5.1, see the vSphere 5.1 documentation. SSO 5.5 supports these categories of user repositories as identity sources, but supports only one default identity source:

  • Active Directory versions 2003 and later

    SSO allows you to specify a single Active Directory domain as an identity source. The domain can have child domains or be a forest root domain. This is shown as Active Directory (Integrated Windows Authentication) in the vSphere Web Client.

  • Active Directory over LDAP

    SSO supports multiple Active Directory over LDAP identity sources. This identity source category is included for compatibility with the SSO service included with vSphere 5.1. This is shown as Active Directory as an LDAP Server in the vSphere Web Client.

  • OpenLDAP versions 2.4 and later

    SSO supports multiple OpenLDAP identity sources. This is shown as OpenLDAP in the vSphere Web Client.

  • Local operating system users

    Local operating system users are local to the operating system where the SSO server is running. The local operating system identity source exists only in basic SSO server deployments and is not available in deployments with multiple SSO instances. Only one local operating system identity source is allowed. This is shown as localos in the vSphere Web Client.

  • vCenter Single Sign-On system users

    Exactly one system identity source named vsphere.local is created when you install SSO. This is shown as vsphere.local in the vSphere Web Client.
For more information to identify sources, see the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.
 

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, 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 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.
 

Installing vCenter Server on IPv6 machines

vCenter Server 5.1 and 5.5 supports connection between vCenter Server and vCenter Server components by IP address only if the IP address is IPV4-compliant. To connect to vCenter Server system in an IPv6 environment you must use the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) or host name of the vCenter Server.

The best practice is to use the FQDN, which works in all cases, instead of the IP address, which can change if assigned by DHCP.

See Also

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