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HOW TO: Install and Configure VMware vSphere vCenter Server 5.5 for Windows

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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
MVE^2, Expert of the Year 2017-2011, Scribe 2016-2012, Author of the Year 2017-6,2013-2012 VMware vExpert 2018-2011 27 years of experience.
In this tutorial article, I will show you how to install and configure the VMware vSphere vCenter Server for Windows on an ESXi 5.5 Host Server.

VMware vSphere vCenter Server is a management server, and does not affect the running of virtual machines on the host. It can be safely installed on an ESXi host server without affecting running production virtual machines. However, I would recommend the use of the VMware vSphere vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) 5.5 over vCenter Server for Windows if you intend to use more than 3 ESXi host servers. The issue is that the SQL Express database included with vCenter Server for Windows is limited to a maximum database size of 10GB. As the tables can grow very quickly beyond 10GB in just a few months with the amount of information which is stored in the Events and Tasks tables, you're going to need more space than that.The VMware vSphere vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) 5.5/6.0 can now scale to 1000 ESXi hosts, and 10,000 VMs, solving that issue.  

Here, I'll be using Microsoft Windows Server 2012 as the operating system of choice to support the VMware vSphere vCenter Server for Windows. I also recommend the use of a virtual server to support vCenter Server for Windows.
 
I have written the following article on how to install this operating system for your convenience:
 
Please note:
 
Additional resources:
I have written some EE articles here on installing and configuring the VMware vSphere vCenter Server Appliance that you may want to refer to as you make these configurations:
 
Please follow the steps below to install and configure the VMware vSphere vCenter Server for Windows on an ESXi 5.5 Host Server:

1. Installing VMware vSphere vCenter Server for Windows
  • After inserting the DVDROM or mounting the ISO image in the server, autorun will start.
  • You will need at least 2 vCPU and 4GB RAM memory for the server and to make sure that Microsoft .NET 3.5 is installed.
  • Give yourself at least 2 hours to complete the installation.
 
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  • We are going to start a "Simple installation", which installs all the components required for vCenter Server for Windows. A simple install installs vCenter Single Sign-On (SSO), vSphere Web Client, vCenter Inventory Service, and vCenter Server on the same virtual machine. It also installs and configures the SQL Express database.
  • Click Install.

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  • At the "Welcome to the vCenter Single Sign-On Setup" dialogue box, click Next to continue.

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  • At the End-User License Agreement, Tick the "I accept the terms of in the License Agreement" and Click Next to Continue.

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  • This server is not domain joined and does not have a FQDN, so we will bind SSO to the IP Address of the server. If you have a FQDN for your server (highly recommended!), I recommend you use the FQDN.
  • Click Next to continue.

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  • Confirm the check list, and click Next to continue with the installation of SSO.

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  • Enter a password for the vCenter Single-Sign-On Information Administrator@vsphere.local account. This account is like the super-user for SSO, so make sure you do not forget it as it cannot be reset.
  • Click next to continue.

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  • Warning: it requires a very complex password, so write it down somewhere so that you don't forget it.

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  • I recommend you use the Site name: Default-First-Site.
  • Click Next to continue.

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  • Accept the default HTTPS: port.
  • Click Next to continue.

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  • Click Next to install vCenter Single Sign-On.
 
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  • Check the installation options and click Install.
 
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  • The installation of SSO will begin.
 
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  • Sometimes you'll end up with this:
 
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  • If so, select No for the installation to continue.
 
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  • The VMware vSphere Web Client installation will start automatically.

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  • Select Yes to accept the SSL SHA fingerprint for the SSO service.

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  • The VMware vCenter Inventory Service installation will start automatically.

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  • The VMware vCenter Server installation will start automatically.
 
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    • Enter your License Key for vCenter Server. If you do not enter a license key, vCenter Server will be installed in evaluation mode which takes 60 days.
    • Click Next to continue.

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    • Accept the default SQL Server 2008 Express instance.
    • Click Next to continue.

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    • Select the default, if appropriate for your organisation.
    • Click Next to continue.

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    • Select the default port numbers.
    • Click Next to continue.

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    • Select the inventory size for your vCenter Server. We will select a small Inventory (less than 100 hosts and 1000 virtual machines for this installation). 
    • Click Next to continue.

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    • If you want to take part in the "Customer Experience Improvement Program", tick the "enable data collection box".
    • Click Install to continue.

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    • Accept the SSL SHA1 fingerprint for the SSO Lookup Service. The vCenter Server installation will start, first by installling SQL Express server.

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    • Following the image above, the SQL Server express installation is complete and the final vCenter Server server installation continues.

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    • The vCenter Server installation is now complete.
    • Click Finish.
     
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    2. Testing the VMware vCenter Server 5.5 for Windows
    • Using the vSphere Client or a Web Browser, you can check and connect to your vCenter Server (use the Administrator@vsphere.local account and password to login first time). The address for your web browser is https://<IP Address>:9443/vsphere-client/
     
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    Congratulations you have successfully Installed and Configured VMware vSphere vCenter Server 5.5 for Windows

    Basic VMware Articles Series: 
    During this series of articles VMware released VMware vSphere 5.5 and VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.5. These articles are also applicable to VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.0 and 5.5. For consistency, I have used VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.1 throughout this series.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
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    Thank you for reading my article, please leave valuable feedback. If you liked my VMware article and would like to see more Articles from me, please click the Yes button near the: Was this article helpful? at the bottom of this article just below and to the right of this information. Thank You. Do not forget if you have a question about this article or another VMware, Virtualisation, Windows Server 2012 question, why not post a Question for Me and the other Experts Exchange Experts in the VMware, Virtualisation, Windows 2008, Windows 2012 Zones. I look forward to hearing from you. - Andy :- twitter @einsteinagogo
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