In our last episode, we delved into setting up ESXI on a bare metal server. We covered the entire installation and setup process, and if you missed it, be sure to check it out.

Today, we're shifting gears to focus on installing vCenter on our ESXI host, but before we dive into the technical details, I want to address something that puzzled me when I first started exploring VMware— the seemingly complex naming scheme. Terms like vSphere, ESXI, vCenter, and vSphere client can be a bit overwhelming, especially for beginners. So, let's take a moment to demystify these terms, primarily focusing on their relevance to virtualization.

vSphere: This is the overall suite of virtualization products from VMware, including ESXi, vCenter Server, and additional components. Use fro the entire VMware virtualization solution.

ESXi: ESXi, or VMware ESXi, is a bare-metal hypervisor and virtualization platform developed by VMware Inc. A hypervisor is a type 1 hypervisor, meaning it runs directly on the bare metal hardware of a server without the need for an underlying operating system.

vCenter: vCenter Server Appliance is a centralized management platform that allows you to manage multiple ESXi hosts and virtual machines from a single location.

  • VMware vSphere Client: is a graphical user interface (GUI) that you can use to log in to vCenter Server and manage your vSphere inventory. Тhe vSphere Client is automatically installed as part of the vCenter Server appliance deployment. This can be installed on a ESXi host or vCenter Server instance.

I hope this clarification helps, especially for those grappling with the initial confusion around VMware terminology. Now, let's shift our focus to the vCenter installation process. 

The vCenter installation unfolds in two stages. In the first stage, we deploy the vCenter server onto the ESXi host. Once this initial deployment is complete, we transition to stage two, where the installation process extends to include essential services and additional components required for functionality.

Stage 1: Deploying vCenter Server

  • To initiate the installation, mount the ISO on your computer, go to vcsa-ui-installer\win32, and click on "installer.exe."
  • While the vCenter Installer offers various actions such as upgrade, migrate, and restore, for our current task of a clean/new install, click on "Install" to initiate the process.
  • Read the provides info about the installation process click Next and accept the license agreement and click Next. 
Read the provides info about the installation process click Next and accept the license agreement and click Next.
  • Provide the IP address of the ESXi host or vCenter server for the vCenter Server deployment. Enter the HTTP port, along with the username and password. Take note of the username and password as you'll require them later in the process. After entering the required information, proceed by clicking "Next" and acknowledge any certificate warnings by accepting them.
  • Configure the VM settings for the deployment of the vCenter server according to your requirements and click "Next" 
vCenter server1
  • Choose the appropriate deployment size to ensure optimal performance, resource allocation, and management capabilities. The vCenter deployment size refers to the scale and capacity of the vCenter Server deployment, tailored to the specific needs and scale of your virtualized environment.
deployment size
  • A list of accessible existing storage locations will be displayed. Review the options and select the preferred storage location for the installation of the vCenter Server. Check the "Enable Thin Disk Mode" option. This setting allows efficient utilization of storage by dynamically allocating space as needed, ensuring that the vCenter Server VM utilizes only the necessary space and grows in tandem with the requirements of your virtual machine.
storage locations
  • Set up the network settings for the vCenter Server. Verify that the server can communicate with your DNS server if you're utilizing a Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN). Review and confirm all other settings, then proceed by clicking "Next."
  • One important consideration is that if you specify an FQDN and designate a DNS server, the installer will attempt to connect to that DNS server and search for the specified FQDN. If the FQDN is not found in the DNS server or is not associated with the IP address provided for your vCenter server, the installation will fail. Therefore, if you have a DNS server in your environment and you're pointing the installer to it, ensure that there is an A record set up in your DNS server corresponding to the desired FQDN for your vCenter server.
  • Another crucial aspect to bear in mind is that the DNS server specified in the installer should match the DNS server configured for your ESXi host. I encountered an issue when the DNS server on my ESXi host differed from the one I specified in the installation, leading to installation failures.
network settings
  • A summary detailing all the configurations you've selected will be presented. Carefully review the information to ensure accuracy, and once confirmed, click "Finish" to proceed with the installation.
summary detailing
  • If everything proceeds without any issues, you should be able to observe the "VMware vCenter Server" VM set up on your ESXi host. We are now prepared to progress to stage 2.
VMware vCenter Server

Stage 2: Deploying vCenter Server

  • In stage two, it essentially informs us that this is the continuation of stage one, indicated by the check mark confirming completion of stage one. Since we have the check mark in stage one, everything is in order. We can proceed with the next stage by clicking "Next."
  • The vCenter server requires a time server. You have the option to either deactivate this requirement, set it to look at your ESXi host, or direct it to a specific NTP server. 
  • To proceed, you must either create a new SSO domain or join an existing one. If you don't already have an SSO domain, you can either stick with the default or choose to create a new one.
  • Next, the system will inquire about sharing your information. I'll choose not to do so, but if you prefer, you can check the box and click "Next" to continue. Subsequently, a summary will be presented. Review it carefully and click "Finish" to complete the process.
  • Clicking "Finish" will prompt a confirmation dialog asking if you want to initiate the installation. Click "OK." It's important to note that once the installation begins, there's no way to interrupt it unless it encounters a failure or successfully completes. Once started, it runs to completion. Confirm by clicking "OK." 
  • Upon completion, the installation is essentially finished. The system will provide information, indicating that you can visit the specified FQDN to access your vCenter portal.
  • You should now be able to log into the "vSphere Client." Please refer to the video for instructions on how to add your ESXi host to your vCenter Server.

Final Thoughts

That concludes the setup process. Our infrastructure is shaping up with ESXi hosts and vCenter service in place. Next, we'll dive into building and exploring things. Stay geeking, see you in the next one. Peace.

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About the author

Paul Koroma

Hey there, I'm Paul—a relentless seeker of knowledge and an IT enthusiast on a quest for personal growth. Soccer and IT have always ignited a fire within me, igniting my drive to create Koroma Tech. It's not just my own journey; it's an opportunity to uplift others as I forge my path in this ever-evolving field. Challenges excite me—they're the fuel for my growth. Every day presents a new hurdle, but it's a challenge I've learned to embrace wholeheartedly.