February 10th, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

Scenario: You try to install the VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) or Platform Services Controller but receive an error during the installation. After correcting the problem during installation you attempt to re-install the appliance but receive the following error message:

Virtual Machine Already Exists

Virtual Machine Already Exists

As of the release candidate of vSphere 6.0, the vCenter Server Appliance installation wizard does not clean up deployed virtual machines after failed deployments. Virtual Machines deployed are still present on the selected ESXi hosts inventory. Log into the ESXi host, power off, and delete the virtual machine from the failed deployment.

vcsa-failed-deployment-vms-not-delete

If you attempt to redploy the virtual machine with a different name (appliance and host name) using the same IP address you receive the following error message:

Encountered an internal error. see /var/log/firstboot/vmafd-firstboot.py_6399_stderr.log

Because the virtual machine was deployed and powered on, there is a duplicate IP address on the network.

Error during deployment of vCenter Server Appliance or Platform Services Controller following error

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February 9th, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

Generally, installing virtual appliances has been pretty straight forward – import an OVA and enter the necessary details in the deployment wizard, or access the virtual appliances management interface (such as those typically on port 5480 from VMware). However, as of the Release Candidate for VMware vSphere 6.0, the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) installation takes a much different approach than what you’ve been used to.

A few vCenter Server Appliance prerequisites

First, it should be noted that you can only install the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) from Windows. I was first turned onto the VCSA because I was at an all OSX/Linux shop so it made sense to use something we were accustomed to using already. For now, you’ll need a Windows box to at least get the appliance deployed;  then you can punt (please note also this is based on Release Candidate (RC) code and could change in the final release).

You CAN deploy the VCSA 6.0 to both ESXi 5.5 or 6.0 host. If you currently have a 5.5 environment you can deploy the VCSA without upgrading your hosts, but if you did not take  the plunge into 5.5 you’ll have to bring at least one host online running 5.5. or 6.0.

Finally, before getting started, you MUST create DNS records before running the installer. I was struggling with the new installer because I’ve just been used to doing my DNS records after I deployed the VCSA, but before running the setup through the management interface. However with a little help from Emad Younis (@Emad_Younis) I was able to point me in the right direction. With 6.0 all of the configuration is done from the initial setup wizard. When it’s finished installing, vCenter is ready to run.

The installation wizard will NOT give you an error if this does not exist, instead it will fail during the installation!

As you can see here I have my forward and reverse DNS records ready to go on .9

vwmare-vcsa-dns

Installing the vCenter Server Appliance

As with the older versions of the VCSA, it all starts with a download; however in this case you will be downloading an ISO image. Once the ISO image is downloaded either mount the ISO on your Windows box or extract the ISOs into a folder (as seen here).

vmware-vcsa-iso-extracted

Now that you have access to the files, drill down into the vcsa folder, there you will find the VMware-ClientIntegrationPlugin-6.0.0. Install this application on your Windows box (double click, Next, Accept/Next, Next, Install, Finish). Once the plugin finishes installing, back up one folder level and open the index file. As you can see here I am on Windows Server 2012, thus at least IE10 however opening the index in IE10 gives me a warning that I need to upgrade to at least IE10 or 11, so yea I’m going with Chrome. As with any plugin, you must enable it in Chrome. Click on the puzzle piece with the red x, then click Always allow and refresh the page and click the Allow button.

vmware-vcsa-chrome-enable-plugin

You should now see the vCenter icon along with a large Install button, click on it. You will get a UI very similar to what you would get deploying a virtual appliance.

vmware-vcsa-6 -installer

1.  After carefully reading the license agreement, printing it for your records, and having it signed by an attorney, click the I accept… check box and click Next.

2.  Now you can chose to deploy to your target server. Specify your ESXi host (5.5 or above!), username and password – now click Next.

If you are using self signed/untrusted certificates click Yes when prompted.

3.  The next step is to name your appliance. In my case, like I have created in DNS, my appliance name will be vxprt-vc02.vxprt.local. Click Next

4.  On the deployment type you can chose to install an embedded Platform Services Controller (which includes Single Sign-On in vSphere 6.0), just the the PSC, or just vCenter. You can have multiple Platform Services Controllers, and they can be different types. For example you could do a stand-alone PSC and have an embedded one with the VCSA. When the installer says “embedded” it really just means the components will be installed on the same virtual appliance as vCenter. I’ll be doing embedded here. Click Next

5.  Chose whether you have an existing SSO domain or you will be creating a new one. I will do this install as a greenfield type deployment, so select Configure Single Sign-On. Now enter the administrator password, and domain. To stay consistent with what I know about SSO, I’ll enter vsphere.local here. Click Next.

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) step 5 - configure SSO

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) step 5 – configure SSO

6.  Select the appliance size that supports your environment, including the new “tiny” deployment for up to 20 hosts. Click Next

7.  Select the datastore you will to install to, and whether to THIN PROVISION the vmdk (no VMware, I’m not calling it “Thin Disk Mode” – THIN PROVISION!). Click Next

8.  If you’re an Oracle shop, you have a choice on step 8, otherwise just click Next.

9.  Chose a network (this will be based on the host you deployed to), and how to assign IP information including the host name – This MUST match DNS. I’ll select static as that is what I would want to do for this type of server. Finally enter the NTP server and click next (I’ve also enabled SSH so I can connect directly to the virtual machine.

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) installation - Network Settings

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) installation – Network Settings

10.  Review the settings you’ve enter, make sure your IP information and host name are all correct and click Finish. The installation of vCenter and the VCSA will start. You’ll even see it installing packages, that’s right this is a ground up build, not just a bunch of packages pre-installed on a virtual machine!

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) installation process

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) installation process

Once the installation is complete, you can connect to https://fqdn/vsphere-client (no more 9443! One less question on the VCP6 I guess :) ).

vmware-vcsa-6-installation-completeLog in as the [email protected] you configured during the installation.

vmware-vcsa-6-vsphere-web-client

So far on the release candidate I’ve had trouble deploying to a port group on a VDS (it gives errors almost immediately) even though it appears as a valid port group on the network settings page. It would be nice if VMware added more validation on the various steps to ensure there will be no errors during the installation. If you do run into an error, you need to re-run the installation wizard.

Installing the VMware vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 VCSA

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February 9th, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

During the installation of of the VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) 6.0 or the Platform Services Controller (PSC) Appliance 6.0, you receive the following message:

Firstboot script execution Error.

And/or

The supplied System Name [name] is not valid

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) and Platform Services Controller (PSC) error during installation – supplied system name is not valid

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) and Platform Services Controller (PSC) error during installation - supplied system name is not valid

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) and Platform Services Controller (PSC) error during installation – supplied system name is not valid

Additionally, logs found at %USERPROFILE%AppDataRoamingVMwarevSpherevcsasessionssession_####logs do not provide additional details, only

2015-02-06 22:41:09.330738 Progress Controller: [VCSA ERROR] – First Boot error

This problem is likely due to incorrect DNS configuration, either in the DNS server IP address provided during the VCSA or PSC installation or there is no matching DNS record.

Verify that both forward and reverse DNS lookup zones exist and re-run the installation, validating that DNS is working. Below is an example of running nslookup FQDN. The first when the record doesn’t exist, the 2nd after it has been added. Ensure you resolve the expected IP address from NSLOOKUP and re-run the installer.

dns

 

Error: Supplied System Name is not valid during vCenter Server Appliance 6 installation

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November 10th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

All right – ESXi hosts built, datastores created (on at least 1 ESXi hosts) so lets import the vCenter Virtual Appliance.  The VCSA should be a bit lighter weight for our home lab that vCenter on Windows + SQL.  Before getting started, make sure you have download the VCSA from VMware and placed it in a location accessible to the vSphere Client.

  • Launch the vSphere Client and connect to one of the ESXi hosts you added the local datastores to, in my case vxprt-esxi01
  • Click on File >> Deploy OVF Template
  • Browse to the location of the VCSA you downloaded from VMware and click Next, then Next again
  • Name the VCSA, I’ll keep to my naming conventions so vxprt-vc01 and click Next
  • Select the storage you wish to place the VM on and click Next
  • Select Thin Provision and click Next
  • Here you could click finish, I am not as I also want to demonstrate importing the OVF using PowerCLI so I have clicked Cancel
Deploy VCSA OVF via the vSphere Client

Deploy VCSA OVF via the vSphere Client

If you are not interested in deploying via PowerCLI, go ahead and click finish, the OVF will be imported.  The rest of the setup for the VCSA is something I have written about in the past, Installing the vCenter Server Appliance 5.5 which is also one of the more popular pages people find my site on from Google.  Have a read over those steps and we will pickup the rest of the setup in part 11.  For those interested, stay tuned for how to import the OVF via PowerCLI next.

VMware Workstation Home Lab Setup Part 9 – Importing VCSA via vSphere Client

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April 1st, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

The vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) is a hardened appliance providing a stream lined deployment option for installing vCenter.  As of vSphere 5.5, the VCSA supports up to 100 hosts or 3000 VMs with the built in PostgreSQL database.  With an external Oracle database, you can support 1000 hosts or 10000 VMs (via vSphere 5.5 Configuration Maximums, Section 7) however there are some key design considerations when deciding on using the VCSA versus installing vCenter on Windows.

Licensing

While the VCSA is deployed as a Linux based appliance, vCenter still needs to be licensed.  If you are deploying multiple instances of the VCSA, multiple vCenter licenses will be required.  Additional licensing may be required for other supporting infrastructure such as monitoring and backups.

Data Center Sizing

As previously mentioned, the VCSA supports up to 100 hosts or 3000 VMs with the built in PostgreSQL database.  Plan for appropriate growth based on business requirements to ensure you will not grow beyond the maximum supported configuration.  Additionally, you may chose to license and install multiple instances of vCenter to stay within the supported configuration maximums or for hard separation of resources (for example QA VCSA and DEV VCSA).

Some overhead should be left to support unplanned growth.

VMware Update Manager (VUM)

VMware Update Manager (VUM) is a Windows 64-bit only application used to install updates to to the vSphere environment.  Since the VCSA is a Linux based operating system, VUM could not be installed on the same machine as vCenter (though its generally recommended to separate these anyways).  VUM also requires either Microsoft SQL or Oracle, it cannot use share the built in PostgreSQL database in the VCSA.  Separate Windows and SQL or Oracle licensing, backup and monitoring software needs to be considered to support VUM.

Linked Mode

Linked Mode allows you to join multiple, separate vCenter instances together to allow for management of each vCenter.  Linked Mode is not supported when using the VCSA.

Supporting Tools

There are some common tools provided from VMware that will not work on the VCSA which include PowerCLI and vCLI.  You can install PowerCLI and vCLI on a separate Windows based computer.  Additionally, you could install the vSphere Management Appliance (vMA) to provide vCLI functionality.  vCenter Orchestrator which can install with vCenter on Windows is not bundled with the VCSA.  vCenter Orchestrator can be installed on a separate Windows based computer or by downloading the vCO appliance which, similar to the VCSA, is a hardened Linux based appliance.  Considerations must be made for these additional servers such as operating system, backup and/or monitoring licenses and support procedures.

Operating System Support

Many organizations rely on Microsoft Windows and as such, the skills of the internal support group may focus on Windows skill sets.  The VCSA is a hardened Linux based appliance, some additional training may be required for your support staff to troubleshoot common issues such as networking, routing or application issues.

Networking

The VCSA only supports IPv4.  Organizations who have deployed IPv6 only will not be able to use the VCSA.

Database Support

As of vSphere 5.5 Update 1, the VCSA supports only the built in PostgreSQL database, or an external Oracle database.  There is currently no support for Microsoft SQL Server or MySQL.  Organizations who do not have expertise in PostgreSQL or Oracle need to determine if they are capable of learning and supporting one of these two platforms.  Additionally, Oracle will add additional license costs to this deployment scenario.

Backup Support

Backup software should be evaluated to ensure it supports backup and recovery of virtual machines directly to ESXi hosts without an operational vCenter.  If the backup software currently in use requires vCenter, you may have difficulty recovering the VCSA should there be any problems which prevents vCenter from running.  Additionally, a processes should be implemented to backup and restore the supporting database platform, either PostgreSQL or Oracle.  The built in PostgreSQL database provides the normal tools to perform and schedule database dumps.  Test backup and recovery of the database to a test instance of the VCSA to ensure you can recover.

Monitoring

Some monitoring tools require an agent be installed in the guest operating system.  Ensure that current monitoring tools will support the VCSA, either through an agent or monitoring via vCenter or SSH.

Summary

While the VCSA has been much improved in 5.5, organizations must understand these considerations before choosing to use the vCenter Server Appliance versus installing vCenter on Windows.

 

 

Design considerations for deploying the vCenter Server Appliance #VCSA

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