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Virtualize vCenter? Why Not?

VMware's vCenter (formerly VirtualCenter) is a critical system for most datacenters. Many early implementations had vCenter installed on a physical server, but it's not a requirement. VMware, with its own dog food on the menu, published a good technical note on what you can and should do when virtualizing vCenter.

I've run vCenter in a VM for a small number of hosts and guests, and had no issues with it. I will soon take the plunge and virtualize a larger vCenter. To that end, I want to share some planning points.

The first thing I am doing is cross-management. The fundamental guideline is that a vCenter system is not managing itself in the hypervisors and guests managed. The typical installation is that vCenter 1 manages hosts that contain vCenter 2, and vCenter 2 contains the hosts that manage vCenter 1. This is a natural separation when it comes to test and development from live production systems, but this can make the migration or graduation process a little more cumbersome. In this configuration, I am gravitating towards something like vCenter Converter or these tricks to move VMs from one environment to another.

Beyond that, the other no-brainer is to keep the vCenter database on a system separate from the VM containing vCenter. This is outlined in the technical note mentioned earlier and fits well with my approach of keeping large SQL servers with many databases on physical systems.

In discussions with VMware technical resources and customers, whether vCenter should be physical or virtual has become a religious issue. I believe that it's a matter of preference and a reflection of how well virtualization is embraced in an organization. I say go for it.

Have you virtualized a large vCenter installation? Post your comments below or tell me what you have learned in the process.

Posted by Rick Vanover on 03/12/2009 at 12:47 PM


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