Basic vSphere 6 Lab Setup

Hi there,

I need to build out a vSphere 6 lab for a few different reasons including preparing for some test(s) to help my certification along.  You saw here the adventures when I upgraded my home lab – back in March I think.  And you saw the adventure when I carved off a couple of hosts from my cluster to do this with?  So I figured I would document this setup out.  I have had vSphere 6 around for a while and have learned a little about how it should be done so we will cover off things like suggested best practices as I go.


We will have a two host cluster, with Virtual Center (vC), VMware Update Manager (VUM), and Platform Services Controller (PSC) inside of it.  We will have external syslog, NTP, and AD.

The hosts have some local storage, and there is shared storage available when they are working.  They are configured with 5.5 currently as I just stole them from a 5.5 cluster.  It is acceptable to install the 6.0 VCVA to 5.1 or later.

Things to get ready

  • docs, bits (ESXi & vC), release notes.
  • So Windows based vC or appliance?  Appliance of course!!! So download as appropriate.
  • BTW, I am doing this with vCenter 6.0.0b
  • FQDN – vC appliance, and IP, and should be defined before we start.
  • FQDN – PSC, and IP, and should be defined before we start.  Yes, even though we are in a small environment we are doing an external PSC.
  • FQDN – ESXi host 1, and IP and should be defined before we start. Important note: they should NOT be in maintenance mode.
  • FQDN – ESXi host 2, and IP and should be defined before we start. Important note: they should NOT be in maintenance mode.
  • Credentials for the ESXi hosts.
  • We will need to know our syslog destination, and our NTP info.
  • We will need to have credentials that we can use to connect vC to our AD infrastructure.
  • We will need to have a Windows VM – in the domain – to handle our VUM and it will use the embedded DB – which is still SQL Express – I think.
  • We will need a Windows desktop of some sort to work from.

With the bits local, we are ready to start!

PSC –  Install and Basic Configuration

  • We start on a Windows desktop.  I am using my admin desktop that is actually supplied by View.  We need to mount the VCSA ISO on that desktop.
  • Once the VCSA ISO is mounted on my desktop, I change to the VCSA folder.
  • I see a file by the name of VMware-ClientIntegrationPlugin-6.0.0.exe and that is what I need to install first.  I do Run as Admin on it.
  • Once the plugin is installed successfully, return to the root of the ISO image.
  • Look for and start the vcsa-setup.html file.  You will likely see something like the screenshot below.


  • Make sure you select the check-box and Launch.  It did not work for me.  So I restarted the browser.  BTW, this is a Chrome screen, and Firefox will look similar and you should respond the same way.  I removed the Client Integration Plug-in 5.5 that I was already having trouble with and it did not help.  So no joy.  But I tried with Firefox, got the screen above (FF version of it), answered it as above, and restarted FF and I saw the nice screen.


  • We start with the Install button.  Did you ever think how much trouble we get hit with that starts with such a simple step?


  • We accept – after reading and digesting the EULA and hit Next.


  • We are now prompted for the host name and credentials so we can install the VCSA to it.  I have local storage for this, and I hope that 517 GB is enough (easy, it certainly did)!
  • I get a timeout when it validates my info.  I can in fact ping successfully my host by FQDN or IP.  The host only has a Standard Switch.  So a little curious.  I try with IP rather then FQDN and I still get a Connection timed out.  I think I will restart this process.  Turns out that was the trick.


  • We are prompted to trust an untrusted SSL certificate.  Which I do.


  • Now we name the PSC appliance.  And it is important to use a good password.  I love the little tool tip method of sharing useful info.
  • In our next screen we get to choose our deployment type.


  • Important to note I am using the choice I think is a best practice.  I have chosen to have an external PSC even though initially I will have only one vCenter.  In 6.0 this was a best practice since you could not change your deployment type after install so if you did embedded you could not change that if you found you needed a second vC or PSC.  This is NOT true in vSphere 6.0 Update 1 but I think it is still a good idea.
  • So we will first do this process for the PSC, and second for the vC.


  • We are going to use a new SSO domain as I plan on decommissioning my 5.5 SSO domain when I decommission those hosts.  Plus, the real reason is I do not want to use vsphere.local any more.
  • I like the warning and how obvious it is that the SSO domain name must be different then the AD domain name.  And I think different then your DNS domain name.


  • You see a very brief validate message then it provides the screen you see about.  I like how it provides footprint info.


  • This host has only one datastore so this is an easy decision.  Curious that it says Thin Provisioning true when it is on VMFS and Enable Thin is not enabled.


  • Now we deal with network information.  I consider it a best practice to use the same NTP hosts that my AD is pointed at, and my ESXi hosts are pointed at.
  • After the network info is done you get a summary screen.


  • BTW, if after you do Finish you get a failure about not contacting VI then it may mean your host you are pushing out to is in maintenance mode.  Yes, really an obscure message.  I figured that out in the ovftool tool log – which I found in c:\users\my_name\App Data\Local\VMware\CIS\vcsaInstaller\Sessions\SessionX\Logs – where session X was the latest.


  • Only takes about 5 minutes to complete.  I like how you see things scroll by so you know what is going on.


  • So we have our PSC now installed and running.  Time for the VCSA but  I will be using the same machine as I have only one desktop to use.  Not really sure what the message about use a different machine is about in the screenshot above.

VCSA – Install and Basic Configuration

  • If you are continuing on from above you will see the screen below.


  • If you don’t you can return to it by clicking on vcsa-setup.html on the ISO you attached to your desktop.  I had troubles with Chrome so use Firefox as I did above.
  • We use the Install button again.
  • We provide target server information.  I use the same host as I did above.
  • Make sure when prompted for the Set up virtual machine stage you use your vC name.


  • Our deployment type is a little different now since we have our external PSC already done.


  • We next need to connect to SSO in the form of our PSC.


  • Now we select the appliance size.  Tiny is giant for me.


  • We make the choice for datastore now and I am doing what I did above.
  • When prompted about database I use the default.  So that is vPostgress and embedded makes so much sense – and it scales way past most of us needs it.  Plus embedded database is easier to backup as well.
  • The networking screen is next and is the same as the PSC network install screen.  Again, I do suggest you use the same NTP hosts as AD and ESXi.
  • In the summary screen make sure you recognize and agree with what you see as you can easily go back now if necessary but not later.
  • The status shows what is going on nicely.  Starting with initializing and then downloading.  You actually see some RPM files installed.  Interesting stuff. The whole process doesn’t take too long – 8 to 10 minutes for me.


We now have an external PSC, and one vC configured to work with it.  So very easy to have another vC or another PSC if that is what I need.  But we need to make things useful now.


This is where we take our basic configured vC to where it needs to be. So connect to your new vSphere Web Client.  In my case, due to my desktop having some issues with the Client Integration plug-in before vSphere 6, I see that it is still having issues with the vSphere 6 plug-in.  Meaning the login screen is suggesting I download it.  So I remove anything called Client plug-in from Add Remove programs and install the one I just downloaded form the login screen – no change.  Wait, I am at the version of Chrome now (45) that means this will not work no matter what. So this means don’t bother installing the Client Integration plug-in in Chrome and use the standalone VMRC to allow you to upload files or access consoles.  See KB articles below for help.  I hope in later versions this is tidied up.

  • I like to get rid of the Getting Started pages.  I generally find them not very useful although there are exceptions – like vSphere Replication.


  • License – while you need a license to use vSphere – as it gives you an evaluation period, you will likely need to add one soon enough. You can find the applet Licensing on the Home page.  Add the license(s) and then apply them to assets.
  • Logging – I need to have my logs sent to my syslog server – which is Log Insight – so I have better tools for troubleshooting.  This is done differently in vSphere 6.  Find out how in this excellent article.
  • SMTP – after all, don’t we all want to be proactive rather then reactive and one way to that is to be alerted to things before they are problems?  You configure this the same as in past versions.


  • Active Directory – find out how here.
  • Cluster – I like to use EVC in my clusters to protect against changes in the future.  But if you will not have new servers and they are all the same you do not need to do that.  I always turn on HA and DRS (Fully Automated).
  • Networking – I like having my management network not VLANed, but often it has ended up VLANed anyway, and storage must always be on a private VLAN just like vMotion and potentially VSAN.  I like having all networks on vDS except for management – sometimes I will have a second vDS for management.  I will have an ephemeral port group for emergencies like when the lab was completely down and I have to bring up AD and vC – see this for more on that adventure.
  • Storage – time to add your storage.  Remember that using the vSphere Web Client you can add it to the cluster which takes of adding to the hosts.
  • VUM – I will add a link to an article on getting this done.  For now here is some good hints.
  • And strictly optional, but I think the Embedded Client is very handy and while only a fling I am very comfortable with it in my lab.  You can find out how to use PowerCLI to add it to all your hosts or remove it.

Useful Links

KB articles

  • KB 2108548 – Recommended Topologies for vSphere 6.0
  • KB 2110293 – Upgrading to vSphere 6
  • KB 2110294 – Backup and Restore vCenter 6 external deployment models
  • KB 2091961 – Backup and Restore the vCenter 6.0 embedded vPostgress database
  • KB 2114139  – Unable to edit virtual machine settings to connect to CD/DVD image in vSphere 6.
  • KB 2114800 – After updating Chrome to Version 42 or later, Client Integration Plug-in doesn’t work any longer.
  • KB 2091284 – Downloading and installing standalone VMware Remote Console (VMRC) in vSphere 5.x and 6.0.


A miscellaneous collection of links I have found useful.

  • Many vSphere 6.0 VCSA articles can be found here – thanks William for the great work!!
  • Syslog configuration is different in vSphere 6
  • Patching 6.0 – which will be back to the old way after you use this command line method to get to vSphere 6.0 Update 1.
  • New method of downloading support bundles – here – but I use the latest version of Support Assistant and it can do this too.  At least I know it can for vC but for PSC not exactly sure.
  • What is new for the vSphere 6 VCSA in Update 1?
  • Installing the VMware vSphere 6 VCSA
  • My vSphere 6 upgrade experience – as I kept updating this article you can see in it the tools I like such as VIN, vR Ops, Veeam, Support Assistant, and Dell OpenManage all work with vSphere 6 – I should add that none of them did at the very beginning.
  • ESXi Embedded Host Client – very cool and useful – found here.
  • If you are new to vSphere in general, you might like this online course by PluralSight.  They do good education!


We now have a running vSphere 6 lab.  I will additional articles to this article as I get them done.  Active Directory connection (done), and VUM (done) will be the next two.  Let me know if you would like additional articles connected to this article.


  • 9/11/15 – added the link to the VUM article.
  • 9/8/15 – added link to the AD article.  Added link to Brian’s article on PowerCLI install of Embedded Host client.
  • 9/8/15 – added the point about PluralSight training.
  • 9/8/15 – added the bit on the ESXi Embedded Host Client.

As always, comments and questions are welcome.


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