Understanding Changes to vCenter Server in vSphere 6.0

July 2, 2016   //   Virtualization,

The latest version of VMware’s virtualization platform, vSphere 6.0, has been available for almost a year now and many companies are in the process of evaluating the upgrade from prior versions.  One of the first steps in any vSphere version change is to upgrade the central management component known as vCenter Server.  It is important to be aware of the significant changes to the architecture of vCenter which I will touch on in this post.

Architecture Overview

Previous versions of vCenter required multiple component installs including the vCenter Inventory Service, Single Sign-on, vSphere Web Client and the vCenter Server itself.  This has now been simplified to two components: the vCenter Server and the new addition of the Platform Services Controller (PSC).  There is still the option of installing both of these components on either a Windows Server OS or to deploy as a Linux-based virtual appliance.  The virtual appliance now has the same scalability as the Windows Server install and will support up to 1,000 hosts and 10,000 powered-on Virtual Machines. Both the Windows and Virtual Appliance support the bundled PostgreSQL database or external Oracle database.  Only the Windows install will support an external Microsoft SQL database.

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Platform Service Controller

Being a brand new component to vSphere, I see the most questions and confusion around the PSC.  This component is used as a central location for Single Sign-On, licensing, and certificate management services that can be shared across multiple vCenter Servers.  If you have a small deployment or single instance of vCenter Server, it is likely that you can just choose the Embedded Platform Services Controller option for deployment, which installs the PSC on the same Windows Server or virtual appliance as the vCenter.  This contrasts against the External Platform Service Controller deployment which runs the PSC as an independent server or virtual appliance and allows multiple vCenters to share its services.  One benefit of the External deployment method is that it can automatically configure connected vCenter Servers in Linked Mode for a unified management experience.

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vSphere Web Client

VMware is in the process of phasing out the legacy Windows vSphere client that is used for managing vCenter and moving to a more universally accessible Web client.  Large improvements to performance have been made to the vSphere Web Client in vSphere 6.0 to make the web interface more responsive and user friendly.  The argument over whether the desktop client or web client is superior is still hotly debated in the VMware community, but many of the new features and functionality of vSphere 6 are only available in the web client and the transition is worth it since this will be the path forward in future releases.

VMware vSphere 6.0 brings many new exciting features and changes to your datacenter.  Contact SWC to get help with planning and implementing your upgrade path to the latest VMware technologies.