We’re often asked about best practices when moving to a virtualized environment with VMcom backup and recovery appliance. We’ve put together a three-part guide which boils everything down to make it easier.
For this blog series, we will assume you have one or more physical or virtual servers and would like to turn them into a fully-featured VMware vSphere platform. It is a three-stage process. In this second stage you’ll set up vCenter and make your first vSphere cluster.
Stage 2: Centralised Management
Estimated time to complete: 120 minutes
5. Download and Deploy vCenter Server Appliance
You now have one or more physical servers capable of running a virtualized workload. But it’s not practical to manage each server separately. You would have no way of moving virtual machines from one host to another, and if a host shuts down, all the virtual machines on it shut down too.
You need a management interface from which you can pool your hosts into a cluster. With VMware, this interface is called a vCenter Server and typically comes in the form of a virtual appliance, which is a pre-configured virtual machine. Rather than installing a piece of software on a server, you can simply deploy the appliance to one of your ESXi hosts.
Download the most recent version of vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) from https://my.vmware.com. The version of VCSA should match the version of your ESXi hypervisor.
VCSA installer is packed in an ISO format. The ISO actually contains executable installers for the most popular operating systems – Windows, OS X and Linux. Please note – the computer you are working on needs to be able to reach your ESXi host via the network. You can verify this using the ping command.
Mount the downloaded ISO in your operating system, navigate to vcsa-ui-installerand select your platform (Windows in our case). Run the installer binary and click Install.
The installation is a two-stage process. The first stage involves deploying the VCSA virtual machine on one of your ESXi hosts. Go ahead and accept VMware’s EULA. On the Select deployment type screen, stick with the default Embedded Platform Services Controller option.
Next, you need to tell the installer on which ESXi server you wish to deploy the VCSA. Use the server’s hostname or IP address and the root credentials you obtained in chapters 3 and 4.
If the connection is successful, you’ll see a Certificate Warning. As it is perfectly ok to use self-signed certificates on ESXi hosts, accept the warning by clicking Next.
In the next step, create a name for the VCSA virtual machine and set its root password.
As for the deployment size, if your environment is not going to have more than 10 ESXi hosts, stick with Tiny. Even the lowest setting is slightly exaggerated for most deployments. This arrangement ensures smooth operations and allows for future growth.
The same applies to the storage size. Unless your cluster’s going to be really big, stick with Default and enable Thin Disk Mode in the next step. Even though the VCSA’s virtual disk can grow to up to 300 GB, the size after installation will be around 32 GB.
On the next screen, you’ll set the networking for VCSA. For small installations, it’s recommended to place VCSA on the same network on which your ESXi hosts reside. This ensures fast connectivity with no firewall restrictions. If you haven’t configured any VLANs, this is also what you end up with when deploying the appliance on a freshly installed host.
Again, setting a hostname is recommended but not mandatory and I’m going to skip this step for this example.
That’s it for the first stage of the process. Click Nextand Finishto deploy and start your VCSA. In my case, the deployment process took about 10 minutes using a 10 Gb network and SATA drive
On the confirmation screen, note the last line of the info message. It tells you the IP address the appliance obtained using DHCP, which is handy in case you need to terminate the process now and continue it later.
Click continue to proceed to stage 2.
6. Configuring vCenter Server Appliance
Initiate the setup with time synchronization settings. For a single host or testing deployment, it’s ok to synchronize the time with the ESXi host the VCSA resides on.
For multi-host deployments, make sure you set up at least two NTP servers with the correct time on your VCSA and also for all of your ESXi hosts. Having the correct time is essential for debugging any events that happen in your cluster. And since your virtual machines can inherit the time from the ESXi hosts, it is absolutely vital in production.
Next, create a Single Sign-On domain name. It’s perfectly ok to stick to the default vsphere.local. Make sure the domain name is not the same as your Active Directory domain if you have one. The SSO service allows you to have a single login and password across multiple vCenters or other VMware products.
Create a password for the administratoruser and remember it!
Lastly, you can choose whether to take part in the VMware Customer Experience Improvementprogram. This basically means sharing some technical information with VMware in order to help them understand how their products are actually used.
Click nextand finishto finish stage 2. The process will now start VCSA services and again will take about 10 minutes to complete.
At the bottom of the confirmation screen, notice the URL of your VCSA web interface. If you didn’t set a DNS hostname for your VCSA, there is a chance it won’t work. In that case, use https://vcsa-ip-address-from-chapter-fiveinstead. You may now close the installer.
7. Creating a vSphere Cluster
Now that you have all the components, it’s time to pool your resources into a cluster. Using your web browser, navigate to your VCSA installation. Once again, you’ll be warned about a self-signed certificate. This is normal so proceed without any worries.
VMware still hasn’t fully abandoned the old-fashioned Flex client and you’ll be welcomed with the choice of a web client. I highly recommend the HTML5 client as it’s the future-proof option.
Log in using firstname.lastname@example.org the password created during the SSO configuration in step 6.
As the first step after login, create a Virtual Datacenter. It’s a logical unit in the vSphere hierarchy, which typically corresponds to a real-world datacenter. Right-click your vCenter server in the left pane and select New Datacenter…Choose a name and click OK.
Hostsand Clusters sit unders the datacenters in the hierarchy. A cluster is a group of pooled hosts, among which you can migrate live virtual machines, perform group configurations, etc. We’re going to create just that. Right-click your datacenter and select New Cluster…Again, choose a name and enable DRS for automatic distribution of your virtual machines across the cluster.
Lastly, add your ESXi hosts to the cluster. Right-click the cluster name in the left pane and select Add Hosts…You’ll be prompted for the IP addresses and root credentials from points 3 and 4. When finished, click Next, approve the host certificates and click Finish.
And you’re done. If one of your hosts end up in maintenance mode, right-click the hosts again in the left pane and select Maintenance Mode -> Exit. Go to our blog to learn more abut Vmware