VMware vSphere 7.x Study Guide for VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization certification. This article covers Section 1 - Architectures and Technologies. Objective 1.1 – Identify the pre-requisites and components for a vSphere implementation.
This article is part of the VMware vSphere 7.x - VCP-DCV Study Guide. Check out this page first for an introduction, disclaimer, and updates on the guide. The page also includes a collection of articles matching each objective of the official VCP-DCV.
Identify the pre-requisites and components for a vSphere implementation
Section one is basically a theory-based study, and the goal is to ensure you understand how different VMware technologies and solutions integrate together within the core vSphere platform. Therefore, objective 1.1, the first one, is extensive, I consider all these concepts and topics critical to understanding the vSphere’s essentials.
In this objective, you need to identify core and optional vSpehre components—also, some of the VMware key add-on products. Here, ESXi and vCenter Server requirements are a must-know for the exam. It is also important studying the most common vSphere editions and licenses.
This section is extensive, I consider all these concepts and topics critical to understanding the vSphere’s essentials.
These are the topics that will help you to identify the pre-requisites and components for a vSphere implementation.
1. vSphere Components
VMware vSphere is VMware's virtualization platform, transforming data centers into aggregated computing infrastructures that include CPU, storage, and networking resources. vSphere manages these infrastructures as a unified operating environment and provides you with the tools to administer the data centers that participate in that environment.
1.1 Core vSphere Components
The two core components of vSphere are ESXi and vCenter Server.
- ESXi (host) is the hypervisor that makes it possible to run virtual machines. Each virtual machine has a set of configuration and disk files that perform all the functions of a physical machine.
- You run the virtual machines through ESXi, install operating systems, run applications, and configure the virtual machines. Configuration includes identifying the virtual machine's resources, such as storage devices.
- The server provides bootstrapping, management, and other services that manage your virtual machines.
- vCenter Server provides a single point of control to the data center. It provides essential data center services such as access control, performance monitoring, and configuration.
- It unifies the resources from the individual computing servers to be shared among virtual machines in the entire data center.
- It manages the assignment of virtual machines to the ESXi hosts and the allocation of resources to the virtual machines within a given computing server. These assignments are based on the policies that the system administrator sets.
Other key elements of vSphere are the vSphere Client and Virtual Machines (VM).
There are two VMware Clients, the Host and Web client. The VMware Host Client is different from the vSphere Web Client. You use the vSphere Web Client to connect to vCenter Server and manage multiple ESXi hosts, whereas you use the VMware Host Client to manage a single ESXi host.
- The VMware Host Client is an HTML5-based client used to connect to and manage single ESXi hosts. You can use the VMware Host Client to perform administrative and basic troubleshooting tasks and advanced administrative tasks on your target ESXi host.
- The vSphere Client is part of the vCenter Server (both appliance and Windows) and is configured to work out of the box. You can access this client by this URL: https://<FQDN-or-IP-Address-of-VC>/ui.
- A Virtual Machine (VM) is a compute resource that uses software instead of a physical computer to run programs and deploy apps.
- One or more virtual "guest" machines run on a physical "host" machine.
- Each virtual machine runs its own operating system and functions separately from the other VMs, even when they are all running on the same host.
Below is an overview diagram of VMware vSphere illustrating the relationship among ESXi hosts, vCenter Server, virtual machines, and vSphere Client.
1.2 Optional vCenter Server Components and Features
Optional vCenter Server components are packaged and installed with the base product but might require a separate license. These components are key for the exam.
VMware vSphere Replication is a hypervisor-based, asynchronous replication solution for vSphere virtual machines. It is fully integrated with VMware vCenter Server and the vSphere Web Client.
VMware vSphere vMotion
Enables you to move running virtual machines from one ESXi host to another ESXi host without service interruption. It requires licensing on both the source and target host.
vSphere Storage vMotion
Allows you to move a running virtual machine's disks and configuration files from one datastore to another without service interruption. It requires licensing on the virtual machine's host.
VMware vSphere High Availability
Enables a cluster with High Availability. If a host fails, all virtual machines running on the host are quickly restarted on different hosts in the same cluster.
VMware vSphere Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS)
Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) improves vSphere workload management by grouping VMware ESXi hosts into resource clusters to segregate the computing needs of different business units.
VMware vSphere Storage DRS
Allows you to manage multiple datastores as a single resource, called a datastore cluster. A datastore cluster is an aggregation of various datastores into a single logical, load-balanced pool.
VMware vSphere Fault Tolerance
vSphere Fault Tolerance provides continuous availability for virtual machines by creating and maintaining a Secondary VM identical to the Primary VM.
File-Based Backup and Restore of vCenter
vCenter Server supports a file-based backup and restore mechanism that helps you to recover your environment after failures.
A feature that minimizes VM downtime by proactively detecting hardware failures and placing the host in Quarantine Mode or Maintenance Mode.
Distributed Power Management (DPM)
DPM allows a DRS cluster to reduce its power consumption by powering hosts on and off based on cluster resource utilization.
Content libraries are container objects for VM and vApp templates and other types of files, such as ISO images, text files, and so on
The Host Profiles feature creates a profile that encapsulates the host configuration and helps to manage the host configuration, especially in environments where an administrator manages multiple hosts or clusters in vCenter Server.
1.3 Key Add-on Products
VMware vSAN is a distributed layer of software that runs natively as a part of the ESXi hypervisor. vSAN aggregates local or direct-attached capacity devices of a host cluster and creates a single storage pool shared across all hosts in the vSAN cluster.
VMware NSX is a network virtualization and security platform that enables the virtual cloud network, a software-defined approach to networking that extends across data centers, clouds, and application frameworks.
VMware Horizon is a modern platform for running and delivering virtual desktops and apps across the hybrid cloud. This means desktop and app management can be simplified, automated, and made more secure for administrators. For users, it provides a consistent experience across devices and locations.
VMware vRealize Suite
VMware vRealize Suite is a cloud management solution. It integrates VMware vRealize Cloud Management products that provide automation, operations, log analytics, and lifecycle management on-premises.
VMware vCloud Suite
VMware vCloud Suite is an enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure and management solution. It combines vRealize Suite with vSphere.
2. ESXi Requirements
Before installing ESXi, we need to ensure that the host meets the minimum hardware configurations supported by ESXi 7.0.
Study Recommendation: ESXi Host Maximums
2.1 Hardware and System Resources
To install or upgrade ESXi, your hardware and system resources must meet the following requirements:
- A supported server platform.
- ESXi 7.0 requires a host with at least two CPU cores.
- ESXi 7.0 supports a broad range of multi-core of 64-bit x86 processors.
- ESXi 7.0 requires the NX/XD bit to be enabled for the CPU in the BIOS.
- ESXi 7.0 requires a minimum of 4 GB of physical RAM.
- Provide at least 8 GB of RAM to run virtual machines in typical production environments.
- Support 64-bit virtual machines, support for hardware virtualization (Intel VT-x or AMD RVI) must be enabled on x64 CPUs.
- One or more Gigabit or faster Ethernet controllers.
- ESXi 7.0 requires a boot disk of at least 32 GB of persistent storage such as HDD, SSD, or NVMe.
- Use USB, SD, and non-USB flash media devices only for ESXi boot bank partitions. A boot device must not be shared between ESXi hosts.
- SCSI disk or a local, non-network, RAID LUN with unpartitioned space for the virtual machines.
- For Serial ATA (SATA), a disk connected through supported SAS controllers or supported on-board SATA controllers is required.
- SATA disks are considered remote, not local. These disks are not used as a scratch partition by default because they are seen as remote.
2.2 ESXi Booting Requirements
- vSphere 7.0 supports booting ESXi hosts from the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). With UEFI, you can boot systems from hard drives, CD-ROM drives, or USB media.
- vSphere Auto Deploy supports network booting and provisioning of ESXi hosts with UEFI.
- ESXi can boot from a disk larger than 2 TB if the system firmware and the firmware on any add-in card you are using support it.
2.3 Storage Requirements for ESXi 7.0 Installation or Upgrade
- For the best performance of an ESXi 7.0 installation, use a persistent storage device with a minimum of 32 GB for boot devices.
- Upgrading to ESXi 7.0 requires a boot device that is a minimum of 4 GB.
- When booting from a local disk, SAN, or iSCSI LUN, at least a 32 GB disk is required to create system storage volumes, including a boot partition, boot banks, and a VMFS-L based ESX-OSData volume.
- The ESX-OSData volume takes on the role of the legacy /scratch partition, locker partition for VMware Tools, and core dump destination.
Other options for the best performance of an ESXi 7.0 installation are the following:
- A local disk of 138 GB or larger for optimal support of ESX-OSData. The disk contains the boot partition, ESX-OSData volume, and a VMFS datastore.
- A device that supports a minimum of 128 terabytes written (TBW).
- A device that delivers at least 100 MB/s of sequential write speed.
- To provide resiliency in case of device failure, a RAID 1 mirrored device is recommended.
3. vCenter Server Requirements
You can deploy the vCenter Server appliance on an ESXi host 6.5 or later, or on a vCenter Server instance 6.5 or later. Your system must also meet specific software and hardware requirements.
Note: When you use Fully Qualified Domain Names, verify that the client machine from which you are deploying the appliance and the network on which you are deploying the appliance use the same DNS server.
Study Recommendation: vCenter Server (Limits)
3.1 Hardware Requirements
When you deploy the vCenter Server appliance, you can select to deploy an appliance suitable for the size of your vSphere environment. The option that you choose determines the number of CPUs and the amount of memory for the appliance.
If you deploy vCenter to a host, verify the host is not in lockdown or maintenance mode. Nor part of a fully automated DRS cluster.
The hardware requirements for a vCenter Server appliance depend on the size of your vSphere inventory.
3.2 Storage Requirements
The storage requirements are different for each vSphere environment size and depend on your database size requirements.
3.3 Software Requirements
The VMware vCenter Server appliance can be deployed on ESXi 6.5 hosts or later, or on vCenter Server instances 6.5 or later.
You can deploy the vCenter Server Appliance using the GUI or CLI installer. You run the installer from a network client machine that you use to connect to the target server and deploy the appliance on the server. You can connect directly to an ESXi 6.5 host on which to deploy the appliance. You can also connect to a vCenter Server 6.5 instance to deploy the appliance on an ESXi host or DRS cluster that resides in the vCenter Server inventory.
3.4 Other Requirements
Required Ports for vCenter Server
The vCenter Server system must be able to send data to every managed host and receive data from the vSphere Client. To enable migration and provisioning activities between managed hosts, the source and destination hosts must be able to receive data from each other through predetermined TCP and UDP ports.
DNS Requirements for the vCenter Server Appliance
When you deploy the vCenter Server appliance, similar to any network server, you can assign a fixed IP address and an FQDN that is resolvable by a DNS server so that clients can reliably access the service.
vSphere Client Software Requirements
Use of the vSphere Client requires a supported web browser.
Read more: vCenter Server Installation and Setup
4. vSphere Editions and Licenses
VMware offers several packaging options designed to meet customers' specific requirements for scalability, size of the environment, and use cases.
4.1 vSphere Main Editions
Customers can choose from two editions: VMware vSphere Standard Edition and vSphere Enterprise Plus. A support and subscription (SnS) contract is required for every edition purchased.
- vSphere Standard provides an entry-level solution for essential server consolidation to slash hardware costs while accelerating application deployment.
- vSphere Enterprise Plus offers the full range of vSphere features for transforming data centers into dramatically simplified cloud infrastructures and running modern applications with the next generation of flexible, reliable IT services.
4.2 vSphere Licencing
When planning for a vSphere environment, you should prepare to procure at least three line items: a vCenter Server license, a vSphere license, and support for the environment.
- vSphere 7 is licensed on a per-processor basis and applies to select editions: vSphere Standard, vSphere Enterprise Plus, vSphere Acceleration Kits, vSphere Essential Kits, and vSphere Scale Out.
- Each server's physical processor (CPU) needs to have at least one processor license key assigned to run vSphere.
- Each per-processor license will cover CPUs with up to 32 physical cores. If the CPU has more than 32 cores, additional CPU licenses are required.
- There are no restrictions on the number of virtual machines (VMs) that can run on each properly licensed vSphere 7 processor.
The topic reviewed in this article is part of the VMware vSphere 7.x Exam (2V0-21.20), which leads to the VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization 2021 certification.
Section 1 - Architectures and Technologies.
Objective 1.1 – Identify the pre-requisites and components for a vSphere implementation.