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HomeVirtualizationVMwareDeploy VMware vCenter (VCSA) in Workstation

Deploy VMware vCenter (VCSA) in Workstation

What

When planning a VMware home lab, you’ll face some decisions regarding the configuration to use based on the resources and internal infrastructure you have. One key part of these decisions is how to deploy VMware vCenter (VCSA) in Workstation.

To deploy VCSA in a home lab, you have two options: Deploy the VM appliance directly in VMware Workstation; or deploy a double-nested VM using Workstations and a virtual ESXi host. In this blog post, I use the first option, and I’ll show how to deploy VMware VCSA 6.7 U2 in VMware Workstation.

Needless to say that the idea to carry on the VCSA deployment directly in VMware Workstation is for a home lab, testing, and self-education. In a production environment, you should deploy VMware vCenter (VCSA) in the (usually physical) ESXi hypervisor.

In previous VMware Workstation versions, you needed to hack one of the VCSA installation files in order to proceed with the deployment and set up. This "hack" is no longer a need in VMware Workstation 15 and newer versions; now, you can import the VCSA (.ofv or .ova) file directly into Workstation as you do for any other VM.

How

As you might already know, the network configuration is fundamental when you are deploying a VCSA, since it is susceptible to the use of DNS and FQDN. In a home lab, your network and other testing infrastructure play an essential role in this decision.

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For instance, if you don’t have a DNS server, I’ll recommend using DHCP as a deployment option. This option is just for testing purposes due to the recommendation is to use a static IP address. If you don’t set an FQDN, you won’t be able to change the IP address in the future, if it's needed. Now, if you have a DNS service running, better using a static IP address and a proper FQDN.

Note: The latest version of vSphere, 6.7 U3, will allow changing the FQDN. See resources.

Note: I am using Bridged Network (VMnet0) from the Workstation Network editor for this specific configuration.

Note: The above recommendations are based on my current home lab and network configuration. Options widely vary based on your configuration and decisions.

To import a VMware vCenter Server Appliance follow the steps below:

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@workstation

  1. Go to File / Open…
  2. Search the for VCSA .ovf file. This file is inside <VCSA folder location>/ vcsa. Open the .ovf file.
Deploy VMware VCSA 6.7 in Workstation 15
  1. The Import Virtual Machine wizard will show up. Accept the license and click Next.
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation
  1. Name the VCSA, change the storage path if desired and click Next.
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation
  1. Since the deployment is for a home lab, select the first option, Tiny vCenter Server with Embedded PSC, and click Next.
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation
  1. On Properties, is where we need to decide what network mode options to use, DHCP or Static.

DHCP Option

  1. From Networking Configuration, type:
    • Host Network IP Address Family: ipv4
    • Host Network Mode: dhcp
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation
  1. The next step is not required (immediately), but I prefer to do it here. From System Configuration input the root password of this VCSA. Other options are not necessary at the moment; click Next.
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation
  1. The appliance will be imported into the Workstation library.
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation
  1. You need to wait for a while until the VCSA is fully deployed before procced. From the VCSA tab, pay attention that the FQDN and IP address shows “https” instead “http”; and that is similar to the image below. You will get an IP address based on your home network configuration and the VMnet0 settings.
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation
  1. From your web browser, type the IP address of your new deployed VCSA and 5480 port. In my case, https://192.168.0.103:5480. Click Advanced and then Proceed to -<P address> (unsafe).
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation
  1. Click on Set Up to start stage 2, the installation.
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation
  1. Login with the root password, and proceed with the installation, leave everything as default.
  2. On SSO configuration add vsphere.local as SSO domain name and create a password. Continue with the installation.
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation
  1. Review the settings and click Finish.
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation
  1. The appliance set up will start. If you get an error on this step, it is usually a network issue. If you pass the 2%, you are good. The installation is going to take about 10 min, depending on your PC.
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation
  1. After the installation is completed, close the windows. Do not click on “https://photon-machine:443” since it is not going to work.
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation
  1. Access the VCSA via a web browser using the IP address assigned by DHCP. Launch the vSphere client using HTML5.
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation
  1. Input SSO credentials and log in.
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation
  1. You can now access the vCenter Server Appliance directly from VMware Workstation.
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation

Static IP Option

Steps are similar to the DHCP option. The import thing here is first to add the VCSA into the DNS records.

  1. Go to your Active Directory server and from the DNS manager add a new host, the VCSA.
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation
  1. From Networking Configuration, type:
  • Host Network IP Address Family: ipv4
  • Host Network Mode: static
  • Host Network IP Address: <your static IP address>
  • Host Network Prefix: 24 <or the desired>
  • Host Network Default Gateway: <your home network DG>
  • Host Network DNS Servers: <the IP address of your active directory, and a secondary DNS if you want>
  • Host Network Identity: <blank>

Follow the below image as a reference:

19.58 Image19
  1. If you want, also add the root password from the System Configuration option.
  2. When available, access the VCSA using the static IP address configured and 5480 port. In my case, https://192.168.0.155:5480. Click Advanced and then Proceed to <P address> (unsafe).
  3. Follow the same steps as the DHCP option.
  4. On the Appliance Configuration option, change the system name to match the DNS record created in the Active Directory. In my case: vcsa.home.lab. Leave all other configurations as default. Click Next and complete the installation.
Deploy VMware VCSA in Workstation
  1. With this option, you will be able to change the IP address of the appliance if needed and also accessing the client using the FQDN. Eg. https://vcsa.home.lab:5480

Resources

https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-Workstation-Pro/15.0/com.vmware.ws.using.doc/GUID-8AADBDF8-7369-45CB-95E5-CF210B0A03C9.html
https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2019/08/changing-your-vcenter-servers-fqdn.html
Juan Mulford
Juan Mulford
I have been active in IT for over fourteen years now. I am a solutions architect, working with storage, virtualization, and VDI solutions. For the past ten years, I have been living and working in Taiwan.

11 COMMENTS

  1. I am trying to install vcenter 7 at home in this way only but it get stuk in second phase of deployment (everytime it is stucking at different operations of deployment).

    Also I am have alloted 6GB of ram to this virtual machine.
    Will it possible to install vcenter in such less amount of ram?

  2. Hi Juan,
    I followed your exact instructions for DHCP to deploy VCSA 6.7.0-14070457 OVF10 templated on to VMware workstation 16 latest workstation with 5.1 GiB Memory and 2 vCPU Intel Core i5 @ 1.60GHz
    And 400 GB storage space free
    At stage 2 install after 50 minutes progressed nearly 97% installed and at 97% starting VMware Performance Charts takes so long and finally fails and then throws a first deploy error

    I observed the same when DNS is setup and static configuration is done at 97% for same version VCSA 6.7.0-14070457 OVF10 after 97% completion starting VMware Performance Charts it took so long and failed.

    Entire duration no network issue was encountered as i was monitoring entire process.

    Is there anything specific about starting VMware Performance Charts service that is causing this home lab deployment to fail?

    I have tried many times tried this and observed and is the same, progressed to 97% starting VMware Performance Charts service fails. Very frustrating.

    Any help would be really great. Thank you.

    Dinesh

  3. Hi Juan,
    You are such an inspiration and helpful to the techs out there trying to get started with vcsa.

    Sorry i was a bit impatient since it took an hour. But finally it worked and installed with DHCP option.

    But the issue now I am facing is when i clicked Launch the vSphere client using HTML5, it throws this error:

    [400] An error occurred while sending an authentication request to the vCenter Single Sign-On server –
    An error occurred when processing the metadata during vCenter Single Sign-On setup – java.net.SocketTimeoutException: Read timed out.

    Not sure if there is any certificate issue or is this error related to some sort of timeout configuration.

    Any help from you would be good? Thanks Juan.

    • Hi Dinesh,

      Thanks for your words 🙂

      Unfortunately, I haven't used VMware solutions for a while (planning to come back to this soon), so there are many things I don't recall. Also, don't remember that specific issue that you are having, my recommendation, for now, is to check with the VMware Knowledge base.

      Cheers!

  4. Hi Juan,
    I had figured out and solved this issue. The error was because i had an add blocker Chrome extension running which i had to turn off. It’s perfectly working now.

    I just have one question, with the license, after the EVAL expires for vcsa what will be the impact? Will all the ESXi hosts go into a inaccessible or disconnected state? As my evaluation is due to end in 30 days. Thanks

    • Hi Dinesh,

      This is from VMware:

      License and evaluation period expiry lead to consequences that prevent you from performing certain operations in the vSphere environment.

      For ESXi hosts, license or evaluation period expiry leads to disconnecting the hosts from vCenter Server. All powered-on virtual machines continue to work, but you cannot power on virtual machine once they are powered-off. You cannot change the current configuration of the features that are already in use. You cannot use the features that remained unused while the host was in evaluation mode.

      When the license or evaluation period of a vCenter Server system expires, all hosts disconnect from that vCenter Server system.

  5. Hi Juan,
    DHCP installation working fine, but
    The static IP config does not seem to install for some reason. It gets stuck on installing RPM so it is not even moving to start stage 2. On VMware working behind NAT static IP is set with Domain controller with AD DNS installed with appropriate forward and reverse lookup DNS records creation for vcenter.

    It's good to get the static IP installation completed as with DHCP IP is changing so next time you boot up the DHCP IP changes hence issues as the services won't start up and therefore cannot consistently log in to vCenter via SSO.

    Any help if you can provide would be great to get the static IP option working.

  6. Sharing my research success – information to those curious running behind NAT on latest VMWARE WORKSTATION 16 to those in community who wish to try in your home lab.

    Open ports on Windows Defender Firewall
    1. 443 for HTTP Secure
    2. 9443 for vSphere Client HTTPS

    This will result in VCSA 6.7 successfully deploy OVF on VMWARE WORKSTATION with NAT (vmnet8) without DNS records in place.

    Set the IP to static via Appliance shell using this command: /opt/vmware/share/vami/vami_config_net

    But if you are running this on your Laptop and in a need to shut down then next time you boot the appliance up and attempt to browse vCENTER HTML 5 login page you will encounter with this error:

    503 Service Unavailable (Failed to connect to endpoint: [N7Vmacore4Http20NamedPipeServiceSpecE:0x000055ed2fdb3820] _serverNamespace = / action = Allow _pipeName =/var/run/vmware/vpxd-webserver-pipe)

    To resolve this issue and render vCENTER HTML 5 login page you will have to run this below command and Regenerate a new VMCA Root Certificate and replace all certificates.

    During my research this source help me to solve the above 503 Service Unavailable error.
    Source: https://communities.vmware.com/t5/VMware-vCenter-Discussions/503-Service-Unavailable-Failed-to-connect-to-endpoint/td-p/483847

    /usr/lib/vmware-vmca/bin/certificate-manager

    Dinesh

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