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. It should be noted that vCenter 6.7 is the final release where Windows modules will be available, see here for more information. All future releases will only be available in VCSA form, if you have not already started planning migration to VCSA see vCenter Server Appliance 6.7 Install Guide and Migrating Windows vCenter Server to VCSA 6.7. This post gives a walk through on a clean installation of vCenter Server 6.7 on Windows Server 2016.
- 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 PostgreSQL database can be used.
- If an external database is used it 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.
- 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 permissions review the Database Permission Requirements.
- 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 6.7 compatibility.
- Any hosts you want to add to vCenter 6.7 should be running version 6.0 or above, 5.5 and earlier will not work and do not have a direct upgrade path to 6.7.
- To check version compatibility with other VMware products see the Product Interoperability Matrix.
- The points above are especially important since at the time of writing vSphere 6.7 is new enough that other VMware and third party products may not have released compatible versions. Verify before installing vSphere 6.7 and review the Release Notes and Important information before upgrading to vSphere 6.7 KB.
- As noted above the Windows modules will not be included for future versions, therefore the recommended installation method for vCenter 6.7 is the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA).
- When implementing a new vSphere 6.7 environment you should plan your topology in accordance with the VMware vCenter Server and Platform Services Controller Deployment Types.
- A series of videos covering vCenter Server and Platform Services Architecture can be found here. If you require further assistance with vCenter planning see also the vSphere Topology and Upgrade Planning Tool here,
- Most deployments will include the vCenter Server and PSC on one server, following the embedded deployment model, which I will use in this guide.
- Greenfield deployments of vSphere 6.7 can take advantage of Embedded PSC with Enhanced Linked Mode, providing native vCenter Server HA support, and removal of SSO site boundaries.
- A Windows based vCenter Server can be installed on either a physical or virtual machine. 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.
- There are a number of Intel and AMD CPUs no longer supported with vSphere 6.7, review the Release Notes for a full list of unsupported processors.
- It may be necessary to temporarily stop any third party software which could interfere with the installer, such as anti-virus scanner.
- 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.
- Verify that the local machine policy allows assigning Log on as a batch job rights to new local users.
- All vSphere components should be configured to use the same NTP server.
- FQDN resolution should be in place when deploying vCenter Server.
- A list of Required Ports for vCenter Server and PSC can be found here.
- The configuration maximums for vSphere 6.7 can be found here.
- In vSphere 6.7 TLS 1.2 is enabled by default. TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 are disabled by default, review the Release Notes for more information.
Create Data Source
Before beginning if you intend to use vCenter Server with an external SQL database you must configure a 64-bit ODBC data source for external databases. You may also need to install the Microsoft ODBC Driver for SQL Server. 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.
Download the VMware vCenter Server and Modules for Windows ISO from VMware downloads: v6.7.0.
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 6.7 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 either leaves as the default vsphere.local or create a new SSO domain name, (not the same as your Active Directory name). Configure a password for the SSO administrator account and a vCenter specific site name, click Next. Note: vCenter 6.7 is the last release where a SSO site name will need to be provided.
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 Launch vSphere Client (HTML5) or Launch vSphere Web Client (FLEX). As the web client will be depreciated in future versions, and the HTML5 client is now nearly at full feature parity, we will use the HTML5 vSphere client.
You must apply a new vCenter license key within 60 days. 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. Log in to the vSphere Web Client using the SSO administrator login. From the Menu drop-down click Administration,
Under Licensing select Licenses. First we need to add a new license key, click Add New Licenses. Enter the new license key for vCenter Server, click Next. If applicable assign a name to the licence, click Next. Click Finish to add the license key.
Switch to Assets, the vCenter Server is listed in evaluation mode. Highlight the vCenter and click Assign License. Select the license key and click Ok.
If you have an Active Directory domain then vCenter can use this as an identity source. First ensure the vCenter is joined to the domain; from the Menu drop-down click Administration. Under Single Sign On click Configuration. Select the Active Directory Domain tab and verify the vCenter is domain joined. Change to the Identity Sources tab and click Add Identity Source. Fill in the Active Directory details for your domain and click Ok.
You can now add permissions to vCenter objects such as datacenters, clusters, folders, individual virtual machines, etc. for Active Directory users and groups. To learn more about vSphere permissions click here.
To start adding ESXi hosts to vCenter click the Menu drop-down and select Hosts and Clusters. Right click the vCenter and select New Datacenter, give the datacenter a name and click Ok. Right click the datacenter and select Add Host. Follow the onscreen wizard to add a host. Creating clusters and configuring vCenter is beyond the scope of this post, for assistance follow the documentation links at the top of the page.