The vCenter Server Appliance has come a long way from it’s first iteration way back with vSphere 5.0. A moment of silence for the VCSA 5.0 with embedded DB2 database.
With the vSphere 6.5 release, the vCenter Server Appliance not only gains 100% parity with it’s Windows counterpart, but actually now exceeds it with some exclusive features.
You can interpret the fact that the VCSA is now getting exclusive features however you want to.
Please don’t ask me “Is the Windows vCenter going away?” – because I honestly don’t know the answer.
Native UI Installer
The Client Integration Plugin is dead! There is no longer any Browser plugin needed to deploy/upgrade/migrate/restore a vCenter Server Appliance 6.5. A native installer application is shipped that has no browser dependancy and can run on Windows, macOS and Linux.
As with all previous releases of the vCenter Server Appliance, the upgrade is a migration to a new vCenter Server Appliance. Meaning, we stand up a new instance of a vCenter Server Appliance for vSphere.Next, export the data from out vSphere.Previous version and import it into your new Appliance.
Embedded vPostgres Database
Previous versions of the vCenter Server Appliance already ran vPostgres. With vSphere 6.5, vPostgres is the only option and there is no option to use an external Oracle database. When performing an upgrade to vCenter Server Appliance 6.5, the external vCenter Server Database information will be exported and imported into vPostgres.
Embedded Update Manager
Update Manager has been ported to Photon OS and is embedded into the vCenter Server Appliance 6.5. Windows vCenter Server 6.5 still has the option of using a separate VUM server but the vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 can only use it’s embedded version.
Whether your migrating from Windows or doing an upgrade of an existing VCSA, your Update Manager information will be preserved and imported into the embedded Update Manager on your vCenter Server Appliance 6.5.
Embedded vSphere Authentication Proxy
The vSphere Authentication Proxy has been re-written for vSphere 6.5 and now also exists on the vCenter Server Appliance for the first time. Even the Windows version doesn’t require IIS. With the vSphere Authentication Proxy and Update Manager finally running on the VCSA, that rings the final two bells on the dependancy on Windows for the complete vCenter Server services.
vCenter High Availability
The biggest exclusive feature to the vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 is the introduction of vCenter High Availability (VCHA). By forming a three-node cluster your vCenter Server services can be provided with high availability, natively for the first time. VCHA can be enabled on a vCenter Server with Embedded or External PSC.
I’ll go into a lot more detail on VCHA in a later post, which you can now read here.
Out of the box, the vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 has a new backup/restore feature that allows you to perform a file based backup of your vCenter/PSC 6.5 instance. This basically backs up everything except for the OS and application binaries. All your configurations, UUIDs, Networking, SSL Certificates, Databases, Historical Performance Data, is backed up.
Restoring from this backup is always a restore to a new Appliance.
Windows to Appliance Migration
vSphere 6.0 U2m brought the ability to migration from a Windows 5.5 instance to an Appliance 6.0 instance. There is no change with the vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 except added support for migrating to 6.5.
You can now migrate from either Windows 5.5 or Windows 6.0 to Appliance 6.5.
Check out my earlier posts on migrations as most if not all of the information there will still hold true.
The vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 also runs on VMware’s own Photon OS. Previous vCenter Server Appliance versions ran on SLES. This means VMware now owns the entire vCenter Server stack from OS to Database to Application.
Just remember, Photon OS is still just Linux. From a user, administrator and support perspective you should see no difference.
And, no, vCenter Server is not running in a container.