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Installing vCenter

After checking to ensure the database is up and running and your backup rotations and recovery plans are properly configured, you are almost ready to begin the vCenter installation. Installing vCenter requires a domain account with local administrator privileges. If you are installing vCenter on a Windows 2008 R2 host, you have some decisions to make: Should you keep the firewall enabled, and what ports do you need to have open if you do? It is a best practice to keep the firewall active although it increases the complexity of the deployment. By keeping it on, however, you are dramatically reducing the attack vector or vulnerability of the service. This, of course, is both a judgment call and consideration of your internal security policy toward native Windows firewalls. In some organizations, the default is to turn off the firewalls. If you do want to keep the firewall on, you should be aware of which ports are opened during the installation of the vCenter Server. You can open these ports in advance, or during the installation, they are opened by default.

Table 3.2 provides a list of the ports.

Table 3.2. Port Descriptions




vCenter Server requires port 80 for direct HTTP connections. Port 80 redirects requests to HTTPS port 443. This redirection is useful if you accidentally use http://server instead of https://server/.

Note: Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) also use port 80.


This port must be open on the local and all remote instances of vCenter Server. This is the LDAP port number for the Directory Services for the vCenter Server group. The vCenter Server system needs to bind to port 389, even if you are not joining this vCenter Server instance to a Linked Mode group. If another service is running on this port, it might be preferable to remove that service or change its port to a different port. You can run the LDAP service on any port from 1025 through 65535.

If this instance is serving as the Microsoft Windows Active Directory, change the port number from 389 to an available port from 1025 through 65535.


This is the default port that the vCenter Server system uses to listen for connections from the vSphere Client. To enable the vCenter Server system to receive data from the vSphere Client, open port 443 in the firewall.

The vCenter Server system also uses port 443 to monitor data transfer from SDK clients.

If you use another port number for HTTPS, you must use ip-address:port when you log in to the vCenter Server system.


For vCenter Server Linked Mode, this is the SSL port of the local instance. If another service is running on this port, it might be preferable to remove that service or change its port to a different port. You can run the SSL service on any port from 1025 through 65535.


This is the default port that the vCenter Server system uses to send data to managed hosts. Managed hosts also send a regular heartbeat over UDP port 902 to the vCenter Server system. This port must not be blocked by firewalls between the server and the hosts or between hosts.

Port 902 must not be blocked between the vSphere Client and the hosts. The vSphere Client uses this port to display virtual machine consoles.


Web Services HTTP. This port is used for the VMware VirtualCenter Management Web Services.


Web Services HTTPS. This port is used for the VMware VirtualCenter Management Web Services.


Web Service change service notification port.


vCenter Inventory Service HTTPS.


vCenter Inventory Service Service Management.


vCenter Inventory Service Linked Mode Communication.3

After reviewing the port requirements, you are ready to begin installing vCenter. Ensure you have the latest version of the vCenter 5 software downloaded and follow these steps:

  1. Launch the installer. You will notice that several services and features can be installed from the Installation Utility, which we discuss later. To install vCenter, select the vCenter Server option and click Install.
  2. Select the language from the drop-down; vCenter ships with language support.
  3. When the installation wizard appears, click Next.
  4. After reviewing the end-user patent agreement, click Next.
  5. Agree to the license terms and click Next.
  6. Enter your user name, organization, and license key in the fields provided and click Next.
  7. You have the option of installing a Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express instance or using a supporting database. Because vCenter is a true 64-bit operating system, it requires a 64-bit DSN. If you have not created one, you are prompted to do so. Click Next to start the creation of the DSN or select it from the drop-down list and proceed to step 15. Figure 3.25 assumes you need to create the DSN.

    Figure 3.25

    Figure 3.25. Select the database.

  8. Provide a name for the vCenter DSN, provide a description, and then select the SQL instance you are connecting to (see Figure 3.26).

    Figure 3.26

    Figure 3.26. Specify SQL Server information.

  9. Click With Integrated Windows Authentication, as shown in Figure 3.27. Integrated Windows security is more secure than SQL Server authentication, so you should use it. Click Next.

    Figure 3.27

    Figure 3.27. Select With Integrated Windows Authentication.

  10. Ensure you are connecting to the vCenter Server, as shown in Figure 3.28, and click Next.

    Figure 3.28

    Figure 3.28. Change the default database.

  11. Click Finish.
  12. Click Test the Data Source...
  13. When the installation completes successfully, as shown in Figure 3.29, click OK.

    Figure 3.29

    Figure 3.29. Check your database connectivity.

  14. When you see your DSN in the highlighted area, as shown in Figure 3.30, select it and click Next.

    Figure 3.30

    Figure 3.30. Select your DSN.

  15. Click Next.
  16. Accept the default location and click Next.
  17. You have the option of installing vCenter in linked mode so that you can view all vCenter information from a single management tool. It is common for the vCenter Server being deployed for the VDI environment to be the second vCenter Server deployed. If you install it in standalone mode and then want to update it to linked mode, you can be rerunning the installer. If this is the case, install the server in linked mode; otherwise, select Create a Standalone VMware vCenter Server Instance, as shown in Figure 3.31, and click Next.

    Figure 3.31

    Figure 3.31. Select the standalone option unless this is the second vCenter Server.

  18. vCenter Server Web services is provided by Tomcat. In this screen, shown in Figure 3.32, you are asked to tune the maximum memory pools for Java based on the expected size of the environment. Although this screen was introduced in vCenter 4.1, the capability to tune Tomcat has been available for a while through the Configure Tomcat utility that is provided. Select the maximum memory configuration based on the expected size and click Next.

    Figure 3.32

    Figure 3.32. Select the appropriate inventory size to configure the Tomcat memory setting.

  19. You have the option of increasing the number of ephemeral ports, as shown in Figure 3.33. An ephemeral port is a short-lived endpoint created by the Windows Server when a program makes a user port connection. Because virtual desktop environments can scale into the thousands of virtual desktop instances, it is typical that you adjust the ephemeral ports on both VMware View Servers and vCenter Servers. Click Install to begin the installation.

    Figure 3.33

    Figure 3.33. Increase the ephemeral ports for large View environments (thousands of instances) if needed and install vCenter.

  20. Ensure the installation completes properly (see Figure 3.34) and click Finish.

    Figure 3.34

    Figure 3.34. Finalize the installation.

When the installation is complete, you need to install the vSphere client to connect to the environment. The vSphere client is a Windows-based client that allows you to connect to vCenter and the ESXi hosts in your environment. The difference in connecting to ESXi versus vCenter is that ESXi uses the local root login credentials, whereas the vCenter Server uses Windows login credentials. To get access to the vCenter Server you just installed, complete the following steps:

  1. Launch the vCenter installer.
  2. Select the vSphere Client and click Install.
  3. Select the language for the installation and click OK.
  4. Click Next on the welcome screen.
  5. Click Next on the user patent agreement.
  6. Agree to the license terms and click Next.
  7. Click Install on the ready to install screen.
  8. Click Finish when the installation completes.
  9. Open the vSphere client in Programs\VMware\vSphere Client.
  10. Enter the name of the vCenter Server and the Windows username and password and click Login.

To summarize the process, the high-level installation steps shown in Figure 3.35 are necessary to complete the installation.

Figure 3.35

Figure 3.35. Installation steps.

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