VMware vCenter Server pools ESXi host resources to provide a rich feature set delivering high availability and fault tolerance to virtual machines. The vCenter Server is a centralised management application and can be deployed as a virtual appliance or Windows machine. This post gives a walk through on a clean installation of vCenter Server 6.5 on Windows Server 2016. vCenter 6.5: Download | Release Notes | What’s New | Upgrading to vCenter Server 6.5 Update 1.
vSphere 6.5 reaches end of life on November 15th 2021. Additionally vSphere 6.7 is the final version that allows for a Windows vCenter Server installation. From vSphere 7.0 both the Windows vCenter and the FLEX (flash) client are depreciated. Consider building a new vSphere 7.0 environment: How to Install vSphere 7.0 – vCenter Server Appliance
- The operating system should be 64 bit and Windows Server 2008 SP2 or above.
- For environments with up to 20 hosts and 200 VMs the bundled internal Postgres database can be used.
- An external database should be Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 or above, or Oracle 11g or 12c. You can review a full list of compatible versions at the Database Interoperability Matrix.
- You must check compatibility of any third party products and plugins that might be used for backups, anti-virus, monitoring, etc. as these may need upgrading for vSphere 6.5 compatibility.
- Any hosts you plan on connecting to vCenter 6.5 should be running version 5.5 or above.
- To check version compatibility with other VMware products see the Product Interoperability Matrix.
- From vSphere 6 onwards the Platform Services Controller (PSC) was introduced to the vSphere architecture. The PSC contains infrastructure services such as Single Sign On, Certificate Authority, licensing, etc. The PSC is deployed internally with vCenter Server or as an external component.
- You can read more about the PSC in this kb.
- When implementing a new vSphere 6.5 environment you should plan your topology in accordance with the VMware vCenter Server and PSC Deployment Types. Larger environments may require an external PSC.
- For more information on deploying an external PSC see the Deploying an External PSC post.
- Most deployments will include the vCenter Server and PSC in one appliance, following the embedded deployment model, which I will use in this guide.
- Windows vCenter Server with embedded PSC requires the following hardware resources:
- Tiny (up to 10 hosts, 100 VMs) – 2 CPUs, 10 GB RAM.
- Small (up to 100 hosts, 1000 VMs) – 4 CPUs, 16 GB RAM.
- Medium (up to 400 hosts, 4000 VMs) – 8 CPUs, 24 GB RAM.
- Large (up to 1000 hosts, 10,000 VMs) – 16 CPUs, 32 GB RAM.
- X-Large (up to 2000 hosts, 35,000 VMs) – 24 CPUs, 48 GB RAM – new to v6.5.
- Where the PSC is deployed on a separate machine this requires 2 CPUs, 4 GB RAM.
- Environments with ESXi host(s) with more than 512 LUNs and 2048 paths should be sized large or x-large.
- The Windows vCenter Server requires the following free disk space for installation: (the first 2 may not necessarily be the system drive depending on installation location) Program Files 6 GB, Program Data 8 GB, System folder 3 GB. The PSC machine requires; Program Files 1 GB, Program Data 2 GB, System folder 1 GB.
- A Windows based vCenter Server can be installed on either a physical or virtual machine.
- It may be necessary to temporarily stop any third party software which could interfere with the installer, such as anti-virus scanner (see post vCenter 6 Upgrade Internal Error).
- If the vCenter Server services are running as a user other than the Local System account then the user must be a member of the administrators group and have the following permissions; log on as a service, act as part of the operating system (if a domain user).
- The account used for external database authentication requires Oracle DBA role, or SQL sysadmin server role, or db_owner fixed database role. For a full list of explicit DB permissions see the Database Permission Requirements document.
- All vSphere components should be configured to use an NTP server.
- FQDN resolution should be in place when deploying vCenter Server.
- Review the list of Required Ports for vCenter Server and PSC.
- Official resources – vSphere 6.5 Documentation Centre, vSphere 6.5 Release Notes.
- Read the Important information before upgrading to vSphere 6.5 KB.
Create Data Source
Before beginning if you intend to use vCenter Server with an external SQL database be sure to install the SQL Server Native Client v10 or v11.
You must also configure a 64-bit ODBC data source for external databases. ODBC Data Source Administrator can be accessed via Control Panel > Administrative Tools. Click System DNS, Add and input the details for the external database, test the data source before continuing. If you are using the internal Postgres database then the System DSN is added automatically during installation.
Mount the ISO and right click autorun.exe, select Run as administrator. The VMware vCenter Installer will open. Ensure vCenter Server for Windows is selected and click Install.
The vCenter Server 6.5 Installer will open in a separate window, click Next.
Accept the end user license agreement and click Next.
In this guide we will be using an embedded deployment model. If you are using an external deployment model the PSC component must be installed first before the vCenter. Select the deployment type and click Next. If the Windows server does not have sufficient resources allocated the installer will error at this stage.
Enter the FQDN in the System Name field and click Next.
Create a new Single Sign-On domain, or join the vCenter to an existing SSO domain. If you are creating a new SSO domain give this a meaningful name, (not the same as your Active Directory name) the default is vsphere.local. Configure a password for the SSO administrator account and a vCenter specific site name, click Next.
Select whether to run vCenter services as the local system account or enter details of a service account and click Next. Ensure the account running vCenter services has been granted permissions as per the other considerations section of this guide.
Select an embedded Postgre database or point the installer to the DSN for an external database, click Next.
Accept the default port configuration and click Next.
Select the directory to install vCenter services and click Next.
Tick or untick the VMware Customer Experience Improvement Program as appropriate and click Next.
Check the configuration on the review page and click Install to begin the installation process.
Once the installation has completed click Finish.
Connect to the vCenter post install using the IP or FQDN of the vCenter. Access vSphere by clicking either the vSphere Web Client (Flash) or the vSphere Client (HTML5). Connect to the vSphere Web Client to manage your system, the thick client (Windows) is no longer supported.
Log in to the vSphere Web Client using the SSO administrator login. Verify the installed version is correct under the Summary tab when selecting the vCenter, you can also go to Help > About.
You must apply a new vCenter license key within 60 days. From the Hosts and Clusters view select the vCenter Server. Click Actions and Assign License. Select a license or use the green plus button to add a new license and click Ok.
You can obtain a 60 day trial license for vCenter Server here. If you have purchased vCenter Server then log into your licensing portal here. If the license key does not appear then check with your VMware account manager.
If you have an Active Directory domain then vCenter can use this as a source for permissions and sign on credentials. First join the vCenter to the domain; from the home page click System Configuration, Nodes, and select the vCenter server. In the Active Directory section of the Manage tab click Join, input your AD details and click Ok. Reboot the appliance either right clicking the vCenter server under Nodes and selecting Reboot.
When the vCenter server comes back online we can add AD as an identity source; from the home page click Administration, under Single Sign-On select Configuration. Ensure the Identity Sources tab is open and click the green plus symbol to add a source. Fill in the Active Directory details for your domain and click Ok.
You can now add permissions to vCenter objects such as datacentres, clusters, folders, individual virtual machines, etc. for Active Directory users and groups by selecting the object and clicking Permissions under the Manage tab. To learn more about how vSphere permissions work review the vSphere permissions documentation section.