VCP 4 Prep Objective 4.3 – Configure vCenter Server

Objective 4.3 – Configure vCenter Server

Identify the vCenter Server managed ESX Hosts and Virtual Machine maximums

The latest configuration maximums can be found here

Join ESX/ESXi Hosts to vCenter Server

When joining an ESX/ESXi host to vCenter ensure you have the a fully resolvable DNS name and the root username and password.

To join the ESX/ESXi host to vCenter; connect to vCenter via the vSphere client.

UI: Administration > Hosts and Clusters > Right click datacenter | cluster | folder > Add host > Host: FQDN e.g. server.domain.local > Username: root > Password: [root’s password] > Next > You may be prompted to accept the server RSA key > Next > Assign a licence or select evaluation > Next > Import host resource pools (if applicable) > Next > Finish.

Configure Guest OS Customization

In order to use the guest customisation features of vCenter you need the sysprep files to be added to specific directories on the vCenter server.

Windows Server 2003: c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware Virtual Center\Sysprep\[1.1|2k|svr2003|2003-64|xp|xp-64]\

Windows Server 2008: c:\programdata\VMware\VMware Virtual Center\Sysprep\[1.1|2k|svr2003|2003-64|xp|xp-64]\

From a cloned or templated virtual machine you can customise the guest operating system from either a existing or new customisation template. To deploy a virtual machine from a template go to: Inventory > VMs and Templates > Right click template > deploy virtual machine from this template > follow the wizard (the guest customisation step is where you specify an existing customisation template or create a new template).

Use datacenters and folders to organise the environment

Every vCenter needs at least one datacenter; the datacenter object allows the creation of folders, clusters, hosts, networks, datastores and virtual machines, without the datacenter object only folders can be created.

Datacenters are a logical boundary i.e. datacenters do not share virtual machines, networking or storage but you can deploy a virtual machine template across these boundaries.

The folder object is used to organise the inventory i.e. separating customers or placing all web servers in one place.

Configure/Use Scheduled Tasks

To create a scheduled task go to: Management > Scheduled tasks.

Right click > New Scheduled Task…

Select the task type from the drop down list…

  • Change virtual machine power state
  • Clone a virtual machine
  • Deploy a virtual machine
  • Migrate a virtual machine
  • Create a virtual machine
  • Snapshot a virtual machine
  • Add a host
  • Change resource pool or virtual machine reservations, limits and shares
  • Check host profile compliance

For more customised task scheduling consider PowerCli and the Windows Task Scheduler.

Configure Use Resource Maps

Resource maps are useful for documentation or just to verify resource relationships at the vCenter, datacenter, cluster, host and virtual machine levels. The resource maps are very much host or virtual machine centric i.e. they highlight the resource centred around one of those particular objects.

The thumbnails below show map relationships selection, map relationship and vMotion maps. (because I can’t get wordpress to use the onclick event of the ‘<a>’ tag the images open their own window but do not size correctly).

Map relationships Map as per adjacent selection vMotion Map

To save a map select file > export > export maps.

Use Storage Reports/Storage Maps

Storage views allow you to view storage reports and maps; the reports allow you to drill down into particular storage types, protocols etc. e.g. NFS remote host and path, SCSI paths, datastores and their respective multipathing status and maps allow you to view storage relationships from a datacenter, cluster, host and virtual machine level.

Storage view reports can be exported to excel, csv, xml and html by right clicking the report and selecting export list.

Storage view maps can be exported to a visio compatible format or popular image type e.g. jpeg.

Example storage map below:
Storage Map

View/Manage Events

The events section shows you what events are occurring at the vCenter, datacenter, cluster, host, datastore, virtual network or virtual machine level.

You can filter the events section using the search facility; the search can be refined using description, type, date time, task, target and user.

Events can be exported in the following formats: txt, csv, xml and html by selecting file > export > export events. The event export can be filtered using event severity, time and number of events.

Configure vCenter Server settings

The following vCenter settings are configurable:

  • Licensing: mandatory configuration unless you are evaluating the product; the licensing configuration also allows you to specify ESX/ESXi host licensing as well as vCenter. NOTE: vSphere is licenced per processor whereas vCenter is licenced per instance.
  • Statistics: configure vCenter data retention of statistics and evaluate database sizing requirements.
  • Runtime settings: configure vCenter FQDN and IP addressing.
  • Active Directory: configure active directory timeouts and query limits.
  • Mail: configure mail server and mail sending account.
  • SNMP: configure SNMP receivers i.e. some form of SNMP compatible software running on a computer somewhere; port and community string is also configurable.
  • Port: HTTP port vSphere client and web access listens on.
  • Timeout settings: client timeouts for normal and long operations.
  • Logging options: vCenter logging verbosity.
  • Database: maximum number of connections to the vCenter database.
  • Database retention policy: configure how long tasks are kept for; the default is indefinitely.
  • SSL settings: by default vCenter will verify the validity of each hosts certificate.
  • Advanced settings: settings and attributes to further customise vCenter.

Licensing and mail are the most common settings configured.

Configure vSphere Client settings

The client settings which are the most commonly configured are:

  • Showing the getting started tab; the client setting allows you to hide this permantly.
  • Showing the advanced performance graphs by default instead of the overview.
  • Hiding virtual machine from the inventory view; this is generally selected when the inventory contains a large number of hosts, clusters, etc. Virtual machines can still be viewed via each virtual machines respective host or Inventory > VMs and templates.

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