How to Deploy the vCenter 6.5 Server Appliance

In VMware vSphere 6.5, the VCSA deployment has changed from a "Single" monolithic stage where a user provides all of the information up front and the installer goes and deploys the VCSA OVA and then applies the configurations. For example, If you had a DNS entry or wanted to change the IP Address before applying the actual application configurations, it would not be possible and you would have to re-deploy which was not an ideal user experience.

In VMware vSphere 6.5, the new UI installer still allow you to perform a "Single" monolithic stage but it is now broken down into two distinct stages as shown below with their respective screenshots:

STAGE-1 Initial OVA deployment which includes basic networking

STAGE-2 Applying VCSA specific personality configuration

The UI translates the user input into specific OVF properties which are then passed into the VCSA guest for configuration. This means that if you wish to deploy VCSA 6.5 running Fusion or Workstation, you will have two options to select from. You either deploy VCSA and complete both Stage 1 and 2 or just Stage 1 only. If you select the latter option, to complete the actual deployment, you will need to open a web browser to the VAMI UI (https://[VCSA-IP]:5480) and finish configuring the VCSA using the "Setup vCenter Server Appliance" option as shown in the screenshot below.

If you want to quickly get the VCSA 6.5 up and running, then choosing Option 1 (Stage 1 & 2 Config) is the way to go. If you want to explore new VCSA UI Installer, then you can start with Option 2 (Stage 1 Config) and this way you can step through Stage 2 using the native UI installer.

In the below steps I am going to deploy VCSA 6.5 using either VMware Fusion or Workstation, whatever suits your environment.

  1. Download the VCSA 6.5 ISO from VMware Website and extract it
  2. Import the VCSA OVA which will be located in vcsa/VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance- using either VMware Fusion or Workstation (you can either double click or just go to File->Open) but make sure you do NOT power it on after deployment. (this is very important)
  3. Locate the directory in which the VCSA was deployed to and open up the VMX file and append one of the following options (make sure to change the IP information and passwords based on your environment):

OPTION-1 (Stage 1 & 2 Configuration):

guestinfo.cis.deployment.node.type = "embedded" = "ipv4" = "static" = "" = "" = "24" = "" = ""
guestinfo.cis.appliance.root.passwd = "VMware1!"
guestinfo.cis.appliance.ssh.enabled = "True"
guestinfo.cis.deployment.autoconfig = "True"
guestinfo.cis.appliance.ntp.servers = ""
guestinfo.cis.vmdir.password = "VMware1!" = "virtuallyGhetto"
guestinfo.cis.vmdir.domain-name = "vsphere.local"
guestinfo.cis.ceip_enabled = "False"

OPTION-2 (Stage 1 Only Configuration):

guestinfo.cis.deployment.node.type = "embedded" = "ipv4" = "static" = "" = "" = "24" = "" = ""
guestinfo.cis.appliance.root.passwd = "VMware1!"
guestinfo.cis.appliance.ssh.enabled = "True"
guestinfo.cis.deployment.autoconfig = "False"
guestinfo.cis.ceip_enabled = "False"

Once you have saved your changes, go ahead and power on the VCSA. At this point, the guestinfo properties that you just added will be read in by VMware Tools as the VCSA is booting up and the configuration will begin. Depending on the speed of your hardware, this can potentially take up to 15min+ as I have observed it.

If you wish to check the progress of the deployment, you can open a browser to https://[VC-IP]:5480 and you should see some progress or you can periodically connect to the Hostname/IP Address and once it is done, you should be taken to the vCenter Server's main landing page.

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