vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 – A Fresh Install

The VMware vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) is a security hardened SUSE Enterprise 11 operating system baked with the vCenter server function. With vSphere 6.0 the appliance now has the same mins/max as the Windows installed version. This makes it very appealing to move over to the appliance!

vCenter 6 Appliance vs Windows

Before You Start:

  • Pick a host and ensure it has a standard switch with a vmnic uplink. Because Distributed Switches is a vCenter function it wants to perform the upgrade on a standard switch.
  • The installation media is a .ISO instead of a .OVA. You will need to burn it to a disc, extract it, or mount it.
  • If you want to upgrade your environment instead of fresh deployment, check out my posts Upgrading Windows based vCenter 5.x to 6 and vCenter Server Appliance Upgrade from 5.x to 6.0


PluralSight has amazing video courses on VMware vSphere. If you haven’t checked out PluralSight it’s an amazing service! Highly recommended!


The VCSA is no longer a .OVA but instead a .ISO image so burn/extract/mount it on your computer. First we need to install the VMware Client Integration 6.0 Plugin. In the vcsa folder there is the executable named VMware-ClientIntegrationPlugin-6.0.0.exe.  The installation is simple, once installed proceed to the next step:

Install the VMware Client Integration Plugin 6

Now the plugin is installed, open the vcsa-setup.html in the root of the ISO. This will launch the vCSA installer splash screen:

1 vCSA Upgrade - Mount the ISO

Click Install:

1 vCenter Server Application - Splash Screen

Accept the EULA and click Next:

2 vCSA Install - License Agreement

Enter the FQDN or IP address and root credentials of the ESXi host for the VCSA to be deployed on. Click Next:

VCSA 6 - Connect to ESXi host

Enter the name that you want to call your appliance and set a root account password. Click Next:

4 vCSA Install - Name the appliance

For a small environment/lab, you will want to stay with the embedded platform services controller. If you are in a large environment that has multiple vCenters you may want to separate vCenter from the platform services controller. If you want to read more about separating them read about it in the VMware vCenter Server 6.0 Deployment Guide. Click Next:

5 vCSA Install - Platform Services Controller

If you have a SSO domain already enter the information below. Otherwise create a new SSO domain. Click Next:

Note: Do not use the same Active Directory domain name as your SSO domain. You will have major issues!

6 vCSA Install - Set SSO information

Here you can pick how much resources your vCSA will get.

Tiny: 2 vCPU , 8 GB memory , 120 GB disk space

Small: 4 vCPU , 16 GB memory , 150 GB disk space

Medium: 8 vCPU , 24 GB memory , 300 GB disk space

Large: 16 vCPU , 32 GB memory , 450 GB disk space

Pick your appliance size and click Next:

7 vCSA Install - Appliance Size

Pick a datastore to deploy the appliance to, click Next:

8 vCSA Install - Select Datastore

The vCSA supports using a external Oracle database. I want to continue using the embedded Postgres database. Click Next:

9 vCSA Install - Configure Database

Select the standard switch network you want to use, enter the IP address, FQDN, subnet mask, gateway, and DNS server. Check the box if you want to enable SSH (you can enable this later if you don’t check it now).  Click Next:

10-1 vCSA Install - Network Settings 10-2 vCSA Install - Network Settings

Look over the summary page. If everything looks correct click Finish:

11 vCSA Install - Ready to Complete

Once the VM is created you can monitor the console while it works. Nothing really happened but was neat comparing the console progress bar with the installation.

12 vCSA Install - Can monitor progression

And it’s finished! Click Close:

13 vCSA Install - Installation Complete

VCSA is ready for configuration!

Configuring the VCSA to use Active Directory:

Below is how to configure the VCSA to use Active Directory users and groups. First access the VCSA web client via https://FQDN or IP ADDRESS/vsphere-client/

Log in using the administrator SSO domain you configured above and password.

1 VCSA 6 - Login

On the home page click System Configuration

2 VCSA 6 - System Configuration

Click Nodes -> Your Node Name ( -> Manage -> Active Directory -> Join

3 VCSA 6 - Join to Active Directory

Enter your domain name and a user name/password that has at least SystemConfiguration.Administrators domain permissions

(More information about this step can be found here in the vSphere 6.0 Documentation:

4 VCSA 6 - Join AD Creds

Once you click OK and do not see an error, reboot your VCSA. It will not give you a success message.

To reboot right click your node name and click Reboot

5 VCSA 6 - Reboot

Once reboot log back into the web client. On the left menu click Administration. Now in Active Directory you should see your domain showing up with the Leave button enabled.

7 VCSA 6 - Successfully joined to domain

Now the VCSA is talking to the domain we need to configure it as a Identity Source. Click Home then on the left menu click Administration

6 VCSA 6 - Administration Menu

Click Configuration -> Identity Sources -> then the green + sign

8 VCSA 6 - SSO IdentitySource

Since we are configured the VCSA for Active Directory use the first option Active Directory (Integrated Windows Authentication)

Enter your domain name

Select Use Machine Account then click Ok

(More information about this step can be found here in the vSphere 6.0 Documentation:

9 VCSA 6 - Add Identity Source

Select your domain in the list and click Set as Default Domain

10 VCSA 6 - Set as Default Domain

(Default) will show up beside your domain. If your domain isn’t selected as the default I have had issues with the “Use Windows Session Credentials” option.

11 VCSA 6 - New default domain

Now that we have the Identity Source configured we are ready to assign permissions to a domain user.

On the left menu click Global Permissions -> Manage -> click the green + sign

12 VCSA 6 - Global Permissions

Click the Add button

13 VCSA 6 - Global Permissions - Add

Change the drop down menu to your domain, you can search or browse for users and groups, select them then click Add. Once finished click Ok

14 VCSA 6 - Global Permissions - Select Users and Groups

On the drop down menu select which role you want to assign the users/groups. Click Ok when finished.

15 VCSA 6 - Global Permissions - Finish

You now have a fresh install of the VCSA and configured it to use Active Directory users and groups for permissions.

If you did not deploy the latest version check out my post on Upgrading to Update 2!

Additional Resources:

VMware vCenter Server 6.0 Deployment Guide:

Unable to kill DCUI – ESXi 5.1

One of our ESXi 5.1 hosts entered a disconnected state with reason unknown. When I logged into the console of the server and checked the network settings everything checked out. Then I went into the ESXi shell to see what the network interfaces looked like and here laid the problem… the management vmkernel interface was not enabled.

esxcli network ip interface list

1 ESXi Shell - Interface List

If you need to see what IP address is assign to each vmk, run this command:

esxcli network ip interface ipv4 get

ESXi Shell - Get Interface

Okay, no big deal…. that is a easy fix! But when I tried to enable it I received a “Unable to kill DCUI” error.

esxcli network ip interface set -e true -i vmk0

2 ESXi Shell - Enabled Interface - failed

I could not find any information about this error anywhere. With this production ESXi host disconnected and roughly 40 virtual machines still running on this server I admitted defeat and opened a support case with VMware.

The VMware Support Engineer referenced internal KB article 2052878 with the fix below:

First we need to find the processor ID of the DCUI.

ps | grep -i DCUI

3 ESXi Shell - Find DCUI process ID

Note: The number to the right of the Unable to kill DCUI error is NOT the PID. Use the command above

Now kill that PID, it will not return anything if successful.

kill -9 PID

4 ESXi Shell - kill the dcui pid

This should now let you enable the vmk interface

esxcli network ip interface set -e true -i vmk0

5 ESXi Shell - Enable interface sucess

Perform a interface list and that disabled vmk should be enabled. Check to see if your host is pingable again.

esxcli network ip interface list

6 ESXi Shell - Interface List with vmk0 enabled

If anyone else received this error, please comment with your scenario and results!

VMware vSphere 6.0 available for download!!

The wait is over!!! VMware vSphere 6, vSOM 6, vCloud Suite 6, SRM 6, and VSAN 6 are available for your downloading pleasure!! VMware has a notice message referencing KB2110293 with some scenario upgrade paths to get you started:

VMware Warning - KB 2110293

HP already has their customized ESXi 6 image available, however at the time of posting this Dell hasn’t released their version.

Watch for vSphere 6.0 documentation coming up right here in 🙂

Additional Reading:

– What’s New in VMware vSphere 6.0?

VMware Announced vSphere 6!!!

VMUG Advantage Subscription – VMware License Keys for your Lab

New to this years 2015 VMUG Advantage subscription is an addition called EVALExperience . It gives subscribers 365 day license keys for the majority of VMware products. It is perfect for running these solutions in your home lab without a 90 day trial period. EVALExperience is on top of the discounts you receive as a VMUG Advantage member. Current pricing is $200 a year. Check it out!

Here are the products you get keys for:

Here is what the portal looks like, this is where you download media and keys:

VMUG Advantage - Product Portal



  • 6/8/2015: Updated product list above.

Additional Reading:

Not able to see the SD Card on HP Gen 9 during ESXi 5.5 Installation

When trying to install HP ESXi 5.5 customized image on a HP Gen 9 BL460 blade server I was not able to see the SD card to install on. After trying a few things I found that switching the USB 3.0 mode to Auto instead of the defaulted On allowed ESXi installation to see the SD card. The internal card reader goes over the USB bus so this appears to be a bug and hopefully HP will have a update soon to fix it. Below is what I did to get through this issue:

ESXi 5.5U2 Installation – If your not seeing the SD card, go ahead and reboot:

ESXi Install - Not seeing SD card

Hit F9 on the boot screen to enter System Utilities:

HP Gen 9 Boot Post

Hit Enter on the System Configuration:

HP Gen 9 - F9 Menu 1

Hit Enter on the BIOS/Platform Configuration:

HP Gen 9 - F9 Menu 2

Hit Enter on System Options:

HP Gen 9 - F9 Menu 3

Hit Enter on USB Options:

HP Gen 9 - F9 Menu 4

On USB 3.0 Mode, change the default value of Enabled to Auto. Now hit F10 to save and reboot.

HP Gen 9 - F9 Menu 5

Now on ESXi installer screen you should see the SD card:

ESXi Install - SD Card Ready for Installation

Disable ‘SSH for the host has been enabled’ message in vSphere 5

I always forget where to turn off the SSH for the host has been enabled warning message so i’m posting it here for safe keeping. 🙂

SSH Warning

To turn this message off click on the host, go to the Configuration tab, then click on Advanced Settings.

Host Configuration - Advanced Settings

Scroll down to the UserVars section. The last field is called UserVars.SupressShellWarning, change the value from a 0 to a 1. The message will now be gone!

Advanced Settings


Citrix PVS – Use VMware Workstation to Upgrade VMTools

If you are running Citrix PVS in a VMware vSphere environment you know what a headache it is to update VMtools on your image. Citrix uses the Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) format for its vDisk and sadly VMware doesn’t like VHD’s. Instead of using Citrix XenConvert or StarWind V2V Converter, VMware Workstation should make this process much easier for you! VMware Workstation started supporting the VHD format with version 10 and makes upgrading VMtools a pretty simple task.

VMtools Out of Date


I will be using VMware Workstation 11 and will show you how to open your PVS VHD image and update tools without the need to reverse image it.

Citrix VHD Preparation:

First you need to merge your vDisk versions to a single base. In the Provisioning Service Console under vDisk Pool, right click the name of your vDisk and click Versions.

1 Citrix Provisioning Services Console - Versions

Click the newest version of your vDisk and click Merge.

2 Merge vDisk Versions

You want to create a new Merged Base and make this Maintenance so not to interfere with your current environment. Click Ok.

3 Merge Options

This can take quite a while if you haven’t made a merged base in a while. Once complete you will have a new merged base version. Click Done.

4 Merged Base

Now browse to your Citrix vDisk directory and copy the VHD file created above to your desktop, this will be the file we work with in VMware Workstation.

5 CItrix VHD Merged Base File

VMware Workstation:

It is time to create our Workstation VM. Open VMware Workstation and click Create a New Virtual Machine:

6 VMware Workstation - Create a New Virtual Machine

Click on the Custom option and click Next:

7 Workstation - Custom Option

Leave the hardware compatibility, click Next:

8 New VM HW Compatibility

Select the I will install the operating system later. Click Next:

9 New VM Guest OS Installation

Select which OS your Citrix PVS image is. In my case it’s Windows Server 2008 R2. Click Next:

Workstation - Pick your OS


Name your VM and select the location the files will go. Click Next:

10 VM Location

Leave firmware type on BIOS. Click Next:

11 Firmware Type

Give the VM a CPU or two. Click Next:

12 CPU Count

Give the VM some memory. Click Next:

13 Memory Count

I would recommend use network address translation (NAT). This will basically piggy back off your workstations NIC. Quickest and easiest option to get your VM network connectivity if needed. Click Next:

14 Network Type

Leave the selection on default of LSI Logic SAS. Click Next:

15 Controller Type

Change the Disk Type to IDE for the best compatibility. Click Next:

16 Disk Type

Since we have a VHD disk to use, select Use an existing virtual disk. Note: On the Browse screen change the drop down menu to All files otherwise you won’t be able to see your VHD file. Click Next:

17 Select a Disk  19 Change type to all

Now we are ready to create our Workstation VM using the Citrix PVS VHD Disk! Click Finish:

20 VM Creation Summary

Select the VM we created and click Power on this virtual machine:

21 Power on VM

The moment of truth…. if you receive a blue screen you need to edit the virtual machine and change the disk controller type. Since we picked IDE you shouldn’t have any problems.

22 The moment of boot truth

Once booted you need to download the VMtools package that correlates to your vSphere environment.

Read about it here: VMware Operating System Specific Packages (OSPs)

Access repository here:

I am running vSphere 5.5 Update 2, so I browsed to  5.5u2, windows, and there is the VMtools ISO:

23 VMtools Download

Now lets mount that ISO and update VMtools. Right click your VM in Workstation and click Settings:

24 VM Settings to mount ISO

Click on the CD/DVD drive then select Use ISO image file. Browse for the VMtools ISO we downloaded and click Ok:

25 Mount ISO

You are now ready to upgrade tools:

26 Upgrade VMtools

Once finished go ahead and power down that VM so we can copy it back to Citrix. In your Citrix PVS VHD folder, rename the original VHD file and add -old to the end. This will serve as our backup in case you have problems with the new VHD. Copy the VHD file on your computer and put it in your Citrix PVS VHD directory.

27 Citrix PVS VHD

Now you can promote that vDisk to Production. Once your farm reboots they will be running updated VMtools!

28 VMtools Updated

Leave comments below if everything went smooth or if you had any issues!

VMware announces vSphere 6!!!

Today VMware announced vSphere 6 and will be accompanied with other releases such as vCloud Suite 6, Virtual SAN 6, and vSphere with Operations Manager. vSphere 6 has over 650 new features and innovations which makes this quite a release. There are many new amazing features to talk about so i’ll start easy with some of the key features with links for additional reading. Expect lots of vSphere 6 write ups in the near future 🙂

vSphere 6 –  New Maximums:

5.5 vs 6.0 Maximums

Few of my Favorite Features:

  • Infrastructure Controller (IC): Service that will provide the following functions:
    • Licensing
    • Certificate Store
    • Certificate Authority
    • Service Registration
    • Single Sign-On
  • Enchanted Web Client: Faster web client vs vSphere 5 (still isn’t HTML5)
  • vMotion Improvements:
    • Long Distance vMotion: Increased network latency tolerance from 10 ms to 100 ms
    • vMotion across vCenters: vMotion across data center and vCenter boundaries that vSphere 5 had.
    • vMotion across virtual switches: Basically enables the above, can vMotion across Virtual Standard Switch (vSS) and  Virtual Distributed Switches (vDSs).
  • Fault Tollerance: Now supports 4 vCPUs, up from 1 vCPU.
  • vVols (Virtual Volumes): New storage feature that allows virtual machines to interact with the storage directly without the need of VMFS LUNs.
  • Content Library: Centralized management for VM templates, virtual appliances, ISO images, and scripts. (Wooooot!!!!)
  • vCenter Appliance: Now has the same scalability numbers as the Windows installed vCenter: 1,000 hosts and 10,000 virtual machines. Also supports linked mode!! (Post coming soon on how to convert)

Additional Reading:

What’s New in VMware vSphere 6.0?

What’s New in the VMware vSphere 6 Platform\

vSphere 6 Datasheet

What’s New in VMware Virtual SAN 6.0?

What’s New in VMware vSphere with Operations Management 6.0?

StarWind Virtual SAN: A Storage Solution for your virtual environment

One important thing you need for your virtual environment is storage. If you have a single ESXi host then using local storage is just fine but if you have multiple hosts and want to use features such as vMotion, High Availability (HA) , and DRS you need shared storage. In my quest to find a storage solution I started out using my Synology DS411slim. It works fantastically but I am very limited with speed and drive size due to the 2.5″ drive limitation. With the cost very high for a new Synology unit it left me seeking an alternative solution, that is where StarWind Virtual SAN steps in. StarWind Virtual SAN presents a servers local storage as a iSCSI LUN and even performs VMware VAAI functions.

StarWind Disk

There is a free edition StarWind offers that is perfect for home labs, test and dev environments. You can download and receive your license key here:


At a minimum all you need is some local storage and a network connection as you will be presenting it out as iSCSI. Luckily I have a Dell PowerEdge R520 that will become my virtual SAN server. For better performance, you should have storage running on a RAID (5,10, etc) and multiple network connection that will be dedicated for iSCSI traffic. I have eight 300GB 10k SAS drives using RAID 5, I carved 300GB for my boot drive which left 1.6 TB for my D:\ drive.



Installation and setup of Starwind Virtual SAN is super easy. You can have it installed and presenting storage in roughly 5 minutes! The install process is pretty much straight forward but is documented below:

1 Install Welcome

Agree and click Next:

2 License Agreement

Read through the information, click Next:

3 Information

Pick your installation directory, click Next:

4 Destination

Recommend doing a full install (only 108.4 MB), click Next:

5 Select Install

Pick if you want a desktop icon, click Next:

7 Desktop Icon

Review and click Install:

8 Ready to Install

Storage Management Initiative – Specification (SMI-S) is a management standard for SANs. You can read more about it here. Go ahead and click Yes:

9 Configure SMI-S Agent

Only thing you should do is set a password. Type a password of your choosing, click Ok:

10 SMI-S Agent Config

Leave the check in the box to launch the Management Console, click Finish:

11 Install Complete

Installation is complete!

Configuration and Setup:

StarWind Management Console

It is asking you what drive and location you want to store the virtual SAN hard drive files. In my case it’s the D:\ drive. Change yours if applicable:

12 Storage Location

Welcome to the StarWind Management Console. We only have two more things to do before we have a operational virtual SAN.

1 StarWind Management Console

If you have multiple network connections you can dedicate some of them only for iSCSI traffic.

In my case I have four connection and will dedicate two NICs (well, once I plug in my second cable) :). Each of my two ESXi hosts will have their own dedicated NIC for storage traffic:

2 Network Connecctions

Back on the Management Console, click on the Configuration tab, then Network. If you are dedicating iSCSI traffic go ahead and remove the IP address of the server. Then only your iSCSI NICs will be listed. If you aren’t going this approach then ignore this step.

3 Network Configuration

Now, let’s create the disk that will be the storage of your virtual SAN. Click on Add Device, you can change the name if you want or leave the default Storage1, type in how much space to make the disk and click Next:

4 Add Device

Now click Create:

5 Create Virtual Disk

Finished! Click Close:

6 Creation Complete

We now have virtual SAN storage!!

7 Virtual SAN Completed

Configuring ESXi Host for iSCSI:

Now we can configure the host to find our virtual disk. Go to your host, Configuration tab, then Storage Adapters. If you have a iSCSI card you can use it or you can add a software iSCSI Adapter. Right click your iSCSI adapter and click Properties:

1 Host Storage Adapters

Click on Dynamic Discovery then click Add:

2 iSCSI Initiator

Enter the IP address of your StarWind Virtual SAN server then click Ok:

3 Add iSCSI Targer Server

You will see the entry, now click Close:

4 iSCSI Initiator Finish

Click on Yes for it to perform a scan:

5 Rescan iSCSI Adapter

You should now see the Starwind disk appear!!

6 Starwind iSCSI Dis

VMware – Don’t Miss Event – February 2nd

VMware announced an online event “that should not be missed” scheduled on February 2nd. There are many rumors floating around the net but I personally feel vSphere 6.0 will be announced.  Excited to see what is announced!! Register Here!

This event is so BIG that we’re offering broadcasts around the globe the entire week of February 2…and continuing the excitement throughout February. All event registrants will automatically receive access to additional content, engagement, and activities via our online event platform.

Event Times:


Date: February 2, 2015
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 PM PST / 4:00 – 5:00 PM EST

Date: February 3, 2015
Time: 9:00 – 10:00 AM GMT / 10:00 – 11:00 AM CET

ASIA PACIFIC – ASEAN, Western Australia, Hong Kong
Date: February 5, 2015
Time: 10:00 – 11:00 AM SGT

ASIA PACIFIC – Sydney, Australia
Date: February 5, 2015
Time: 10:00 – 11:00 AM AEDT

ASIA PACIFIC – Mumbai, India
Date: February 5, 2015
Time: 10:30 – 11:30 AM IST

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