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vCenter 5.1 U3 - physical server or virtual machine?

Posted on 2014-02-12
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Last Modified: 2014-02-12
Hi Experts,

I'm adding a new vCenter server (5.1 U3) and I'm hesitating whether to install it on a physical server or on a virtual machine.

My main concern with installing it as a virtual machine is - how will I connect to vCenter if both ESX hosts are down?
Yes, we have only two hosts and every now and then the whole server room needs to be shut down.

It's not an issue when I have vCenter on a physical server - I can power it up manually and start ESX hosts from there.
How will I do it when vCenter is on virtual machine and all the hosts are down? I know you can connect to ESX hosts via HTTP(s) skipping vCenter, but in my experience with ESX 4.0 this option was sometimes patchy in our environment.

That's probably very easy, but I wanted to run the options through you.

Let me know what you think.
Thanks!
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Question by:itorana
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Assisted Solution

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 333 total points
ID: 39854821
VMware now recommends you install vCenter Server for Windows, on a virtual server!

But physical is still supported.

vCenter Server is just a management server, it does not have to be up, to start your ESXi hosts.

We do the following....

1. Start ESXi host A
2. Start ESXi host B
3. Connect to the Host - hosting vCenter Server, connected to the host directly using vSphere Client, and Start vCenter Server, once started, shutdown vSphere Client.
4. Connect to vSphere vCenter Server.

Advantages.

It's virtual, easily backup, easy restore, and will move around the cluster, if you have DRS, vMotion, and will restart if you have VMware HA,
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Expert Comment

by:bluedan
ID: 39854822
Deploy vCenter as virtual machine has many advantages vs physical machine. It might be an other option for you to think about it.  I would recommend deploy vCenter as virtual machine. Below are some good info.

Running vCenter Server in a virtual machine
http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=10087

vCenter: Physical or Virtual?
http://michael.requeny.com/2011/07/01/vcenter-physical-virtual-high-availability-clustered/

Hope above info helps.
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Author Comment

by:itorana
ID: 39854830
Hi bluedan, Andrew,

Thank you for quick replies and all the links!

I've noticed that VMware recommends VM and I saw comparisons of physical vs virtual deployments. I'm all for virtual except for one thing that I didn't find answer to:

how will I connect to vCenter if all ESX hosts are down?
(yes, I know that ESX should automatically start up guest OSes when it comes back online, so I may not have to connect to vCenter to power up guest OSes)
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LVL 118
ID: 39854837
If all the Hosts are DOWN, you CANNOT connect to vCenter!

You will need to start your Hosts first before you can start vCenter Server!

but if all your hosts are down, how does vCenter on a physical server help you?

vCenter server does not start your hosts!
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Author Comment

by:itorana
ID: 39854849
Hi Andrew,

That was very quick :)
Sorry, I might have been unclear.

I can manually power up ESX server and then use vCenter (physical) to power up individual guests on the ESX.

Now, with vCenter as a VM - how would I power up guest OSes on ESX when the OS with vCenter itself is down?

Does it make more sense?
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LVL 118

Assisted Solution

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 333 total points
ID: 39854858
Connect Directly to the ESXi servers using the vSphere Client, the same client you use to connect to vCenter Server!

see my EE Article, Step by Step Tutorial Instructions with Screenshots

Part 2: HOW TO: Connect to the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1) using the vSphere Client


if you want to power-up all your VMs there you can, but we do the following:-

Just power-Up vCenter Server FIRST!!!!!!

I listed the procedure we use in http:#a39854821  !!!
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Accepted Solution

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bluedan earned 167 total points
ID: 39854997
Key benefit of running vCenter as VM is that the vCenter will be protected by VMware features like HA, vmotion ...etc.  

If only one ESXi host goes down, and you have HA enabled, the vCenter will be auto brought up on to other ESXi host within few minutes.  

If vCenter server is a phyical server, and it goes down. It might take hours or day depends on the hardware issue to bring the vCenter back up.

Hope above info helps.
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Author Comment

by:itorana
ID: 39855007
OK, that's all very clear guys - thanks a lot, going with VM!
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