How To Guy

Get to Know the vCenter Server Appliance

VMware will soon be discontinuing the vSphere Client for Windows application, formerly known as the VMware Infrastructure Client (VI Client). It's likely to occur with the next major vSphere release. When that happens, the vSphere Web Client will be the only vSphere administration option. Even now, many of the major new features in vSphere 5.1 can't be used from the traditional Windows-based vSphere client.

To use the vSphere Web Client, you can do a direct install. But a better alternative is to install the vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) and replace your vCenter for Windows Server. Doing so comes with the following benefits:

  • No need to pay for a Windows OS license for vCenter Server
  • No need to upgrade the Windows OS or maintain third-party tools on the server running vCenter
  • Super-fast deployment, because there's no Windows OS or vCenter application to install
  • It's the vCenter of the future! (So learn it now!)

Honestly, using the vCSA is the fastest and easiest way to get up and running with the vSphere Web Client and start testing new features available in the latest vSphere edition.

To deploy the vCSA, download it from the same VMware.com page where you download ESXi and other vSphere components. It's offered in both an OVA and OVF file format (with a few other critical pieces you must download). Because it's contained in a single file, I recommend you download the 2GB OVA file.

In production, use the vSphere Client connected to an ESXi host and click on the Deploy OVF Template option under File to deploy the vCSA OVA virtual appliance. For testing in a lab environment, however, you can deploy the vCSA in VMware Fusion or Workstation.

During the deployment of the vCSA, you'll be asked a few questions such as the IP address configuration, virtual disk provisioning type and more.

Once deployed, if you open the vCSA text-based console, you'll need to take four steps to get the vCSA up and running. First, and most important, is that you open your Web browser to the IP address of the vCSA server, with ":5480" at the end.

Once inside the Web-based configuration of the vCSA, log in with the default username of "root" and password "vmware." From there, you'll answer some questions related to accepting the license agreement, initializing the database and starting the services.

Finally, to run the vSphere Web Client and connect it to the vCSA, point your browser to the IP address of the vCSA (you should make a DNS alias) and add port number ":9943" on the end.

After logging in, you should be rewarded with the vSphere Web Client, something you want to practice using immediately.

About the Author

David Davis is a well-known virtualization and cloud computing expert, author, speaker, and analyst. David’s library of popular video training courses can be found at Pluralsight.com. To contact David about his speaking schedule and his latest project, go to VirtualizationSoftware.com.

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