Building a VMware vSphere Virtual Lab with VMware Fusion - Part 3: Deploying vCenter Server Appliance to ESXi 6.7

This is the third part in a series of tutorials on how to build a VMware vSphere Virtual Lab on a Mac with VMware Fusion. In this tutorial, we'll deploy a vCenter Server appliance to an ESXi 6.7 host in our lab.

Overview

ESXi on its own is good for when you only have one server and a handful of VMs. But if you want to use advanced features like VMotion, Storage VMotion, vSAN and more, you’ll need to use vCenter Server to manage the hosts. The vCenter UI is a lot better than the ESXi UI and it makes managing multiple hosts much easier.

Prerequisites

Since this is a series of tutorials, you should have read and followed the steps in Part 1 and Part 2 before continuing with this tutorial.

It’s important that all the previous steps are followed because deploying vCenter requires a DNS Resolver and we set that up at the end of Part 2.

If you’re just following this tutorial to learn how to deploy vCenter on ESXi, then make sure you have a DNS resolver on your network and the FQDN of the vCenter server appliance is resolvable.

After completing the steps in Part 1 and Part 2, you will be at a point where you have:

  1. Installed VMware Fusion*.
  2. Created two custom VMware Fusion networks.
  3. Created at least one ESXi VM with 10 GB of RAM and three network adapters.
  4. The first two network adapters will be connected to the vSphere network and the last one connected to the WAN network.
  5. ESXi should be installed and the management network configured with 10.1.1.11 as the IP address and 10.1.1.251 as the gateway and DNS resolver.
  6. Deployed a virtual pfSense firewall to the ESXi hosts with 10 GB of RAM.
  7. Configured the firewall DNS resolver so that hosts and the vCenter appliance can resolve the IP addresses of other hosts on the vSphere network.

Software required for this tutorial:

  • For this tutorial, you’ll need to download the VMware vCenter Server Appliance from the VMware website. The steps in this tutorial have been tested with VMware-VCSA-all-6.7.0-14836122. You can get it by purchasing the vSphere Essentials Kit* or by downloading the free trial.

Once you’ve downloaded the VCSA, mount it by double clicking the ISO file, and we’ll begin the tutorial by deploying vCenter to the first ESXi host which has 10 GB of RAM.

Step 1: Deploy the vCenter OVA

First of all. Login to the ESXi host, click Create/Register VM, select Deploy a virtual machine from an OVF or OVA file and then click Next.

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Give the virtual machine a name of vc01, then click on Click to select files or drag/drop.

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Navigate to the vcsa folder on the mounted ISO, select the vCenter .ova file and click Open.

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You should see the Click to select files or drag/drop text has been replaced with the name and version of the VMware vCenter Server Appliance. Click Next.

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Select a datastore and click Next.

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Agree to the EULA and copyright agreements by clicking the I agree button two times and then click Next.

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Selct the Management network then click Next.

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Fill out network configuration with the following details:

NameValue
Host Network IP Address Familyipv4
Host Network Modestatic
Host Network IP Address10.1.1.101
Host Network Prefix24
Host Network Default Gateway10.1.1.251
Host Network DNS Servers10.1.1.251
Host Network Identityvc01.graspingtech.com

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Assign the SSO and system password. Since this is a lab, I’ve used Pa$$w0rd (same password as ESXi hosts) for both. Also assign vc01 for the domain name and graspingtech.com (or your domain) for the domain search path then click Next.

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Review the settings are correct then click Finish to deploy the vCenter Server Appliance.

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Wait for the files to be copied to the datastore.

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Open the console for the vc01 machine and wait for it to boot. You will be presented with the photon-machine login prompt. Don’t login, just wait awhile for the appliance to load.

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After waiting patiently, you should see the Virtual Appliance UI has loaded and contains a list of URLs to manage the appliance from.

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If you navigate to the main URL for managing the vCenter appliance, it won’t work yet because we need to run the initial set up.

Step 2: Set up vCenter Server Appliance

Open the vCenter appliance set up screen by entering the FQDN of the appliance into a browser with port 5480 instead of 443. For example: https://vc01.graspingtech.com:5480

When the screen loads, click the Set up option.

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Login with the password you assigned when deploying the appliance.

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Click NEXT to proceed with Stage 2.

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The correct network settings should already be pre-populated but you might want to change SSH access to Enabled, then click NEXT.

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Assign a SSO domain name and password for the administrator account then click NEXT.

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Choose wether to join the CEIP or not then click NEXT.

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Verify settings are correct then click FINISH to configure the vCenter appliance.

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Confirm the warning by clicking OK.

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Wait for the configuration process to finish.

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Now remove the configuration port number from the address and you should see the main getting started screen.

Click on LAUNCH VSPHERE CLIENT (HTML5).

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Enter the username and password then click LOGIN.

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We should now be logged into vCenter, and we are ready to start creating a data center, cluster and add our ESXi hosts.

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Conclusion

After finishing this tutorial, we should now have three ESXi hosts running on VMware Fusion* with a pfSense firewall VM and a vCenter Server Appliance running on esxi01.

Coming next

In the next tutorial we’ll create a datacenter object to store our hosts and clusters. We’ll create a cluster and we’ll add our hosts to vCenter without having to put them into maintenance mode.

Read Next - Part 4: Adding ESXi Hosts to a Cluster in vCenter Server

Further reading

As I’m sure you’re aware, there’s only so much information that can go into a blog post, which is why you might want to check out the book titled Mastering VMware vSphere 6.7* (Marshall, Brown, Fritz, Johnson) to get a more in depth understanding of vSphere.

Written by Tony

I'm a blogger, software developer and sysadmin, with a degree in applied computing and 16+ years experience managing IT systems. Get in touch: tony@graspingtech.com

Tags: ESXi Fusion vCenter