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VMware View 5 Implementation : Preparing a vCenter Installation

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vCenter supports several different types of databases. The supported databases and versions are

• IBM DB2 Express, Workgroup, and Enterprise (versions 9.5–9.7.2, both 32- and 64-bit editions)

• Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Standard, Express, Enterprise, and Datacenter Editions (versions R2, SP1 and SP2, both 32- and 64-bit editions)

• Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter Editions (versions running SP4, both 32- and 64-bit editions).

• Oracle 10g Standard, Standard ONE, and Enterprise Editions (versions 10.2.0.4, both 32- and 64-bit editions)

• Oracle 11g Standard, Enterprise Edition (Release 1 and 2, and versions 11.1.0.7.0 and 11.2.0.1)

VMware generally recommends that you use Microsoft SQL 2008 Express for smaller environments because it has a fixed limit on how large the database can grow. Although this limit used to be fixed at 4 GB, it is now fixed at 10 GB. VMware recommends that SQL Express be used in environments of no more than 5 hosts with 50 virtual machines.

The following steps assume you are deploying Microsoft SQL 2008 R2. vCenter 5 is a 64-bit operating system and so requires Windows 2008 R2. This section is by no means comprehensive, so you should check the content against your own internal SQL best practices. You can deploy vCenter as a VM or as a physical server or Linux virtual appliance.

Deploying vCenter as a VM used to be a heated topic, but doing so has now become common practice and is also a VMware best practice. What can be problematic is having vCenter as part of the environment it is managing or in the virtual cluster. This is why VMware recommends a separate management cluster in large environments. These problems can be mitigated by ensuring you have built redundancy into the vCenter Server configuration. VMware’s best practice is to run Fault Tolerance (FT), which provides a constant mirrored copy of the virtual machine so that if the primary fails, the secondary takes over with no interruption. VMware refers to this technology as virtual lockstep or vLockstep. VMware FT does have some scaling limitations, however, which may not make it ideally suited for large environments. For example, VMware FT is limited to a single vCPU, so it does not support symmetric multiprocessing (SMP). Future releases will support up to four vCPUs. If you require a multiprocessor server or intend to deploy vCenter as a physical machine, vCenter If you mirror or cluster the SQL database, you do have a few other options for protecting the vCenter server:

• You can schedule physical-to-virtual (P2V) migrations of the vCenter server. You can schedule a P2V to create a virtual hot spare in the event you have a problem with the physical vCenter server.

• You can schedule a one-time P2V which is similar to the previous method only is not reoccurring. You can convert the vCenter after it is configured and leave it as a powered-off cold standby VM.

• You can run SQL database locally within the vCenter VM and use VM FT as mentioned.

VMware actually recommends using a standalone Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 cluster with redundant SAN and LAN connections in large scalable environments. The SQL cluster should have dedicated logical unit numbers (LUNs) based storage volumes on the SAN to offload the IO from the VMware cluster versus using datastore-based VMDKs. This option also ensures that the metadata is available outside the VMware cluster if you have a failure.

To install vCenter, you need database services. In most cases, a separate database is recommended. For smaller environments, however, it is possible to use a copy of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express. vCenter Server supports IBM DB2, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server databases. Be aware that Update Manager supports only Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server databases.

The minimum hardware requirements are as defined in Table 1.

Table 1. Minimum Hardware Requirements for Installing vCenter

Image

vCenter Server 5.0 is a 64-bit application, so it requires a 64-bit Windows operating system. The following platforms are supported for vCenter Server 5.0:

1. Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Standard, Enterprise, or Datacenter SP2 (required) 64-bit

2. Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Standard, Enterprise, or Datacenter R2 SP2 (required) 64-bit

3. Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Standard, Enterprise, or Datacenter SP2 64-bit

4. Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Standard, Enterprise, or Datacenter R2 64-bit

Because Microsoft SQL Server is the most common platform selected, the following sample installation is based on vCenter Server 5.0 running on SQL Server. Before deploying your vCenter Server database instances, you should follow a few Microsoft SQL best practices. Microsoft recommends that you use separate accounts for all the SQL services. By default, the installer creates a virtual account, which is a local account on the server that a Windows user cannot use to log in to a Windows server. The default installation creates all services with a virtual account except for the SQL Server Browser, which is a local service account, and the SQL Server VSS Writer, which is a local system account. Unlike in prior releases of SQL in which you needed to assign permissions, now the setup takes care of assigning the appropriate permissions for you. However, you can still create the accounts manually, as shown in Figure 1. In most cases, the default accounts suffice; however, if you are deploying a cluster, the following need to be domain accounts:

• Database Engine Account

• SQL Server Agent

• The SQL Server Analysis Service account

Image

Figure 1. Manually creating SQL service accounts.

Figure 1 shows the manual creation of specific service accounts.

In addition, you need to install the Microsoft .NET Framework. The installation detects if you have not done so and enables the feature for you. If you are installing VMware Update Manager and vCenter Server on the same 64-bit host, keep in mind that vCenter is a true 64-bit application and requires a 64-bit Data Source Name (DSN) file, and Update Manager is a 32-bit application that requires a 32-bit DSN. To create a 32-bit data source, you need to run the 32-bit version of the tool, which you can find at C:\Windows\SysWOW64\odbcad32.exe. To locate the 64-bit data source tool, go to the Start menu, Administrative Tools, and then click Data Sources.

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