I have always used, and loved the vSphere Client for ESXi host management. Unfortunately, in recent years, vmWare, in their infinite wisdom, have opted to disable new features of ESXi hosts when using the vSphere Client, forcing us to use the purely web-based vCenter Server. The server comes in two flavors

  • The “plain” vCenter Server, it is installed on top of an existing installation of Linux or Windows
  • The vCenter Server Appliance, which runs on SUSE Linux and is installed by automatic deployment via a web browser and the VMWare Client Integration Plugin.

For the purposes of this article, we will be discussing implementing vCenter Server using the vCenter Server Appliance.

1 - CI Install

First, mount the iso using your preferred method, if you are using Windows Server 2012 or Windows 10, mounting should be integrated into the OS, if using an older OS, you can try magicIso. Open the drive where you have mounted the ISO and navigate into the vcsa directory, and install the VMWare Client Integration Plugin.

2 - VCIP Approval

When installation is complete, navigate up one directory to the root directory of the ISO, and open vcsa-setup.html. This will launch a web browser. it’s important to note that if you are using a server based environment, such as Windows Server 2012, depending on your local security policies you may need to add an exception to allow the browser to open the vmware-csd:// link, this is outside of the scope of this article, but should be extremely easy for an admin. Grant approval for launching of the VMWare Client Integration Plugin by clicking allow on the popup. You should now see the installer!

3 - Install Screen

Accept the EULA and hit next.

4 - Accept EULA

Next, we will connect to our target server, this will be the ESXi host where we will be deploying vCenter Server. If you are unsure what to enter here, this should be the same information you use to login to your ESXi server using the vSphere Client, and the username is most likely root. You will likely receive a certificate warning, accept and continue by pressing the “Yes” button.

5 - Connect to ESXi Host

Next, we will set up the Virtual Machine. Here, I have named the VM “vCenter Server App”, but you can name it according to your own preferences. The username will default to root, as this version of vCenter Server runs on top of SUSE Linux. Set a password and press the next button.

6 - VM Setup

Now, we will select our Platform Services Controller type, for this article, we will be using the embedded PSC, but you may use an external source per your preferences.

7 - PSC Selection

Next, let’s setup Single Sign On, this is important for centralizing your logins with additional VMWare services, and Active Directory, and is required for vCenter Server 6. It is important to keep the note at the bottom of the window in mind, and DO NOT make your SSO domain the same as your Active Directory domain. If you do, you will either need to take extensive measures to correct the install, or you will need to simply reinstall.

8 - Single Sign On Setup

Now, select your appliance size, this number is basically the number of VM’s/Host’s you plan on monitoring with vCenter. For me, this is a home lab, so I will select Tiny.

9 - Select Appliance Size

Next, select the datastore where you would like the vCenter Server Appliance to be located. I’ve also selected thin provisioning, but you can obviously set this area to whatever your preferences are depending on your environment.

10 - Select Your Datastore

Now, select your database type, most of you will not be using an Oracle DB server, but if you are, select it here. Otherwise, select “Use an embedded database vPostgres” and click next.

11 - Database Configuration

OK, almost done. Now let’s configure the network settings. A few things to keep in mind here.

  • If you are planning on using a FQDN instead of IP address in the “System Name” section, which is recommended, make sure that the FQDN resolves properly to the IP address you have set for your vCenter Server, if it does not, the installation will fail
  • In the “Configure Time Sync” section, if you are syncing with an NTP server as opposed to the ESXi host, be sure the server is live and accessible from the ESXi host that will contain the vCenter Server App.

Everything else is pretty standard here.

12 - Network Settings

After quite a while, you will be presented with a success message. If you are not, open up the vSphere Client, connect to the host and see what is happening inside of the vCenter Server VM by opening the console. The install can take a bit, once completed, you can open a web browser and connect to the vCenter Server at the IP address you set during installation, in this case, Your login here is tied to the SSO domain you setup during installation, in this example the login is administrator@vcsa.xxxxxx.sso.

13 - vCenter Server Login Screen

That’s it! You should be logged in and presented with the vCenter Server home menu. Create a datacenter, add a host, and start enjoying the new capabilities of vCenter Server 6!

14 - vCenter Server Home Menu

This should answer most of your questions about how to install vCenter Server Appliance 6. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

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