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VMware Workstation is a Type 2 hypervisor that runs as an application on top of your existing workstation or laptop. So it allows you to use your existing hardware without dedicating resources to run your lab environment. In addition, deploying the vCenter Server OVA appliance in VMware Workstation is easy and works well for installation.
Preparing the installation
After you download the vCenter Server 8 ISO media, you can open it in Windows by mounting the media. There is currently a known issue in deploying the OVA file contained in the ISO directly to VMware Workstation. Hence, we will first need to make a change to avoid an error message.
First, extract the vCSA 8 ISO into a folder. We will then use the OVF tool to create an OVF file from the OVA file. This step allows us to make a necessary change for the vCSA 8 installation.
Navigate to the extracted vcsa folder. There, you will find the vCenter Server deployment OVA file. Using the included ovftool (in this folder), we need to convert the OVA file to an OVF. You can do that with the following command:
ovftool .\<vcsa ova file name> <vcsa ovf file name>
Next, delete the file with the .mf extension, which is the manifest file (this prevents an error since the file will not match the manifest after we modify it). Your folder should look like this:
Edit the vCSA OVF file. Find the following section by searching for guestinfo.cis.upgrade.import.directory. Change userConfigurable="false" to "true".
Import the OVF file to a VM
We will use the OVF file in VMware Workstation to deploy the vCenter Server 8 appliance. In VMware Workstation, click File > Open. Choose the file you created with the OVF tool.
When you open the OVF appliance file, you will be presented with the Import Virtual Machine wizard to configure the values needed for the appliance import. First, accept the EULA.
Next, configure a name for the appliance and set the storage path for the new virtual machine.
Select your deployment size for the new vCenter Server deployment.
On the Properties screen, we are interested in the Networking Configuration, SSO Configuration, System Configuration, and Networking Properties. On the Networking Configuration screen, we configure how we want the IP address to be configured for vCenter.
On the SSO Configuration screen, you will want to set your SSO password. Set your root password on the System Configuration screen.
Finally, you can set the networking properties, including the domain name and the domain search path. Then, click the Import button.
After a few minutes, you should see your appliance boot and get to the console screen, which displays the web address for the VAMI admin interface.
Configure the appliance using the VAMI
After navigating to the VAMI address and logging in with the root account, you should see the screen below. Here, we choose Setup since we are setting up a new appliance.
Since we have already completed Phase 1 using the OVF import, we are ready to begin Phase 2. Click Next on the first screen.
On the vCenter Server Configuration screen, verify your network settings. In addition, you can set your time synchronization settings and SSH access configuration.
Next, configure the SSO domain and password.
Next, decide whether you want to join the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP). Finally, we are ready to complete the Phase 2 configuration. Click Finish.
You will see a warning that the installation cannot be interrupted at this point. I like to take a snapshot of the appliance here, since it will allow easily rolling back in case something goes wrong. Phase 2 installation begins.
After a few minutes, the installation finishes, and the appliance automatically refreshes the page to display the login screen for the VAMI interface. At this point, you should be good to browse to the URL of your vCenter Server appliance without the ":5480" and log in to the vCenter Server 8 vSphere Client.
The vCenter Server installation in VMware Workstation is a bit tedious due to the current need to convert the OVA to OVF and modify the OVF file. However, without the modification, the installation will fail with an error during the appliance's configuration in phase 2.
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Once the change is made, and you use the OVF file, both phases of the installation process work fine. Since installing vCenter Server in VMware Workstation isn't supported for production environments, this deployment should only be for lab purposes.