VMware vCenter: Deploy on Windows 2012 R2 and SQL Cluster

Welcome to a new series of articles I will be dedicating to VMware and in particular to installing, configuring and managing VMware vSphere environments. Ideally an easy to follow guide about vSphere deployments to explore about functionalities and learn more about managing our Virtual Data Centers in our testing and production environments. So first things first we start off by installing VMware vCenter.

In this instance I will be using an “Embedded Deployment” of VMware vCenter where essentially the two major components the “Platform Service Controller” and the “vCenter Server” are sitting on the same Host. This is indicated for small environments and up to 100 VMs are supported which is perfect for my home lab. For larger environments it is possible to decouple these two components allowing for a more resilient deployment of the vCenter infrastructure. I’m planning on dedicating a different post on this very topic.  For now one Host with one single vCenter server is what we need to start building our virtual data center.

Before proceeding with the vCenter setup it is important to review and satisfy the following prerequisites:

  • Host with at least 2 CPUs and 8GB RAM (valid on both Virtual or Physical Hosts)
  • If using a dedicated Service Account to run vCenter make sure it has the “LogOn as Service” permission granted
  • If using an external Database as repository (in our case we point to a SQL FCI Cluster with AAG ) create a System DSN
  • Manually create a Database for vCenter to host the necessary information

Log on as a Service

During the installation of VMware vCenter the wizard will offer the option to either use the logged in user (local Windows user) running the installation or specify an alternative one. With a local user we cannot point to an external database which is in our case SQL. The local user can only connect to the built-in Database based on Postgres. For our purpose since we are pointing to an external Database instead of using the built-in Database we can specify an intended Service Account for the purpose and we need to make sure this particular user has the “LogOn as a Service” permission granted in the User Rights Assignments on the local Host. The quickest way would be to issue the following command:

“GPedit.msc”

then navigate to Computer Configuration > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Local Policies > User Rights Assignments > Log on as a service and add the intended Service Account

Log on as a service

SQL 2012 Native Client 64Bit

At this point another prerequisites to satisfy is the creation of a System DSN that will help vCenter connecting with the SQL Server and locate the right Database. In my case I have a SQL 2014 Cluster which does not include the SQL Native Client component. What we can do is to install the equivalent one for the previous version SQL 2012 on the Host where the vCenter Server will be installed. It’s a small msi that can be downloaded directly from here under the section Microsoft® SQL Server® 2012 Native Client. The general link is the one below:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=29065&tduid=(d7791ebfe39409d0fd4881f89fde0083)(266696)(1503186)(34691X927548Xaaf70adfca7eae4a9c1604b543449d12)()

The installation is pretty easy and quick as per screenshots below

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As an extra step now let’s create a Database for vCenter in the intended SQL instance. I have just called mine “VMware_vCenter”

System DSN

At this point we are ready to satisfy our System DSN requirement by creating the connection string. Let’s navigate to the Control Panel > Administrative Tools > ODBC Data Source 64-Bit and click on System DSN and finally Add..

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Let’s take advantage of the SQL Server Native client 11.0 installation..

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In my case I’m just calling this ODBC connection string “vCenter”. In the Server field specify the full SQL Server instance name where the intended Database for vCenter is located

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Change the default Database to connect to. In my example I did create a Database called “VMware_vCenter”

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Verify settings and test connection just to make sure the networking side of things is working as expected

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vCenter Setup

Installing VMware vCenter will be a breeze. Let’s mount the ISO and click on the autorun and follow the wizard

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By default this should the FQDN name of the Host where vCenter is going to be installed. Make sure to DNS forward/reverse queries are working. A quick way of checking this would be issuing the following command:

“nslookup -nosearch -nodefname your_vCenter_Server_FQDN”

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At this point in time we are not using IPv6 so we can ignore this message

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Specify the intended Service Account to run the vCenter with the “LogOn as a Service” permission granted

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We can now select the ODBC connection string created beforehand in the System DSN

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And now a final review of the ports will be used by vCenter. I did change mine for HTTPS to 8443

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I prefer to use a separate drive for the application installation

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Final settings review

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And here we are with the vSphere Web Client console

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Michele Domanico

Passionate about Virtualization, Storage, Data Availability and Software Defined Data Center technologies. The aim of Domalab.com is sharing with the Community the knowledge and experience gained with customers, industry leaders and like minded peers. Always open to constructive feedback and new challenges.

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