VCP 4 Prep Objective 4.1 – Install vCenter Server

Objective 4.1 – Install vCenter Server

Identify hardware requirements

Processor:

Two 2Ghz x86 based processors or processor cores; if the database is installed on the same server then either the processor speed, no. of processors or processor cores will need to be increased.

Memory:

3GB RAM; again if the database is installed on the same server this will need to be increased.

Network:

Some form of Gigabit Ethernet adapter which is compatible with Windows Server 200x.

Storage:

2GB disk space for the installation; again database installed on same server will require more disk space; the actual disk space requirements will depend on the level of verboseness vCenter is configured to collect statistics. 

Understand configuration maximums

The table below lists the most common configuration maximums of vCenter.

  x86-32 x86-64 Hosts per datacenter
Hosts 200 300 100
Virtual Machines (Powered on) 2000 3000  
Virtual Machines (registered) 3000 4500  

Determine availability requirements for a vCenter server in a given situation

The availabiity requirements of vCenter will ultimately determine which method or methods you use.

vCenter Heartbeat is an application released by VMware to keep vCenter is sync with a standby vCenter and monitors the environment for outages.

VMware HA will protect against hardware failure if and only if the vCenter server is virtual. HA can only detect operating system hangs and reboot if applicable.

Microsoft Cluster services or failover clustering can be used to ensure the database is reslient to hardware failure; regular backups should also be taken to protect against database corruption. Clustering of the vCenter application is also an option though not supported because the vCenter application is not cluster-aware and the existance of the vCenter heartbeat application. In order to cluster the vCenter service you’d need to create a generic service resource for the vCenter service processes.

A vCenter clone is an option; this will require a standby server be it physical or virtual with the vCenter application installed. It would also be sensible to replicate the following:

  • SSL (%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\VMware\VMware Virtual Center\*)
  • BACKUP DATABASE [VCDB] TO DISK = N’E:\{somewhere}\vCenter.bak’ WITH COPY_ONLY,  NOFORMAT, INIT, NAME = N’vCenter_Copy_Backup’, SKIP, NOREWIND, NOUNLOAD, STATS = 10, CHECKSUM
  • Backup the ADAM instance: dsdbutil activate instance ifm create file e:\{somewhere}\ADAM\

A periodic copy job to replicate these with a restore job in an isolated environment.

Determine appropriate vCenter Server edition

The features available to each edition will determine the editon you choose. Check out: Compare / Contrast VMware vSphere edition here

Determine database size requirements

The database sizing requirements will be determined by the following:

  • retension period
  • verbosity of the statistics
  • No. of physical hosts
  • No. of virtual machines

You can you use the sizing tool within vCenter if vCenter is already installed: GUI: vSphere client > Administration > vCenter Server Settings or use the vsp_4x_db_calculator

Prepare/Configure vCenter Server database

VMware vCenter supports the following database ODBC drivers:

  • Oracle 10g Release 2
  • Oracle 11g Release 1
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 SP1 and later
  • Microsoft SQL 2005 express
  • Microsoft SQL 2008
  • IBM DB2

For the installation; the vCenter service account should be assigned db_owner privileges on the msdb and vCenter database; after the installation the db_owner privilege should be removed from the msdb (leaving public in place) and reconfigured on the vCenter database to:

  • db_Datareader
  • db_Datawriter
  • db_Executor
  • public

The db_Executor database role is a role I have created myself to assign the execute permission. This attached script will get you the effective permissions of a user for a specific database.

If the database server is local then the ODBC DSN can use Windows Authentication or SQL authentication; remote database server instances must use SQL authentication.

Install vCenter Server using downloaded installer

NOTE: If vCenter is going to be installed on a virtual machine virtualised then ensure it has resources reserved.

Before installing the application ensure you have installed a database engine and have configured a ODBC System DSN. If you’re going to run the vCenter service as a domain user then you’ll need to run the installation as the user e.g. runas /user:[domain]\[username] [path to autorun.exe].

 When the splash screen displays click vCenter Server > select your preferred language > ok > Next > Next > Accept EULA > Next > enter your details (Name and Organisation) > Next > Install Express (Not recommended in production) or select an existing database > Next > Select the ODBC DSN > Next > Next > enter the service account password > Next > Next > select vCenter type (standalone or linked) > Next > default or custom ports? > Next > Inventory size (small by default) > Next > Install.

Install additional modules

These modules can be installed on the same server as vCenter or on dedicated hosts.

vCenter Guided Consolidation

Used to discover and analyse upto 500 potential virtualisation candiates at a time. The vGC tool captures CPU, memory, disk and network trends and predicts a confidence level.  

vCenter Update Manager

Patch and update management for vSphere, vCenter, virtual appliances and virtual machines. The vUM tool requires one of the  VMware supported database engines to function.

vCenter Converter 

Physical to virtual conversion tool which can also be used to convery backup images, 3rd party images and other types of virtual machines. If you have implemented VMware consolidated backup then VMware convertor is required to restore those backups.

Determine use case for vCenter Linked Mode Groups

vCenter Linked Mode depends heavily on the Active Directory Lighweight Directory Service thus DNS resolution must be work. Linked Mode can be used in one or more domains as long as trusts are in place; other Active Directory prerequisites should also be met, such as: time skew.

Linked Mode is generally used where an administrator or administrative team have multiple datacenters and want centralised management or may be the environment has outgrown the vCenter maximums i.e. No. of hosts and virtual machines.

Scaling Maximum
Linked vCenter Server Instances 10
Hosts 1,000
Powered-on VMs 10,000
Registered VMs 15,000
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