What about the VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) version 5.1?

I get a lot of questions from customers if the could use the VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) in there production environments as replacement for the standard vCenter Server. With the standard vCenter Server is based on Microsoft Windows. you know for sure that all the other vSphere products are supported and integrate. But what about vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) 5.1?

The vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) 5.1 is a 64-bit SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 OVF appliance.  The appliance is installed default with 2 vCPUs, 8 GB memory and consumes between approximate 5 GB and 80 GB of disk space.  This is the configuration for a small inventory (up to 100 hosts and 1000 VMs). If the environment is larger you need to scale up the appliance hardware configuration.

After the deployment the initial configuration can be done by using the wizard.

On the VCSA appliance the following components are preinstalled:

  • vCenter Single Sign On (SSO)
  • Inventory Service
  • vSphere Web Client
  • vSphere Auto Deploy Server
  • Syslog Collector
  • ESXi Dump Collector

During the web based configuration the following  database options can be selected:

  • The embedded database is a vPostgres database that has support for 5 hosts and 50 Virtual Machines. This is what the installation guide says about the vPostgres:

IMPORTANT   The embedded database is not configured to manage an inventory that contains more than 5 hosts
and 50 virtual machines. If you use the embedded database with the vCenter Server Appliance, exceeding
these limits can cause numerous problems, including causing vCenter Server to stop responding

  • As external database the VCSA support Oracle only! Using  the Oracle database has support for 1000 hosts and 10.000 Virtual Machines.

The installation and configuration is very easily. Within a couple minutes the VCSA is up and running.

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Pros:

  • Very easy and quick to install and configure
  • No Windows license needed
  • Easy to install an update and upgrade
  • Quick recovery of the vCenter appliance  

Cons:

  • The embedded vPostgres database has support for 5 hosts and 50 VM’s.
  • As external database only Oracle is supported.
  • No Linked mode support (requires ADAM (AD LDS)
  • No SQL Server as backend database support
  • VMware Update Manager can’t be installed in the VCSA, additional Windows based VM or physical server needed.
  • vCenter Heartbeat is not supported
  • VMware View is not supported
  • Not all 3e party plugins will work

Conclusion:

The embedded database has limited support so it only usable in small SMB and test environments on the moment. For the external database only Oracle is supported. VMware Update Manager is not preinstalled, so you need an extra Windows Server for installing VMware Update Manager.  When these and above issues are fixed in further versions, it’s a great and easy way to set up an vCenter Server environment without using Windows!

Want to learn some great new features in vSphere 5.1 quickly?

Want to learn some of the new features available in  vSphere 5.1? On YouTube VMware TV has released some videos that highlight the new features of vSphere 5.1 in a couple of minutes. The following videos are available when writing this blog post: 

Implementing vSphere Data Protection (VDP) tips

vSphere Data Protection (VDP) is replacing VMware Data Recovery (vDR). VDP is a more robust product based on the EMC Avamar product.

Here are some VDP implementing tips:

  • Each vCenter server can support up to 10 VDP appiances
  • Each VDP appliance supports up to 100 VMs
  • VDP stores deduplicated data on the   0.5,1 or 2 TB datastores.
  • It is not possible to use CIFS or NFS shares directly from the VDP appliance.
  • VDP comes in 3 different OVA sizes 0,5TB, 1TB and 2TB.  Amount of disk space needed:
OVA Size (TB)Disk Space Required (GB)
0,5850
11600 (1,57 TB)
23100 (3,02 TB)
  • It is not possible to expand the VDP destination datastore
  • VDP is managed by the vSphere Web client
  • At least one vCenter 5.1 server is required 
  • VDP is included in vSphere 5.1 Essentials Plus and higher
  • To configure the VDP appliance use the following URL: https://ip appliance:8543/vdp-configure/
  • The default username is root and the password is changeme
  • For the VDP vCenter registration use formats as in the screenshot:

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  • After the VDP is configured the following URL can be used to do some configuration and maintenance:  https://<ip address of VDP appliance>:8543/vdp-configure/

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  • VDP supports up to 8 simultaneously backups of 8 VMs

More information on VDP can be found here: