What is vCenter on virtual machine?

vCenter Server is the centralized management application for VMware vSphere environments. It allows administrators to manage multiple ESXi hosts and virtual machines (VMs) from a single interface.

What is vCenter on virtual machine?

Overview of vCenter Server

vCenter Server provides a unified view of the entire vSphere infrastructure and enables IT admins to:

  • Centrally manage ESXi hosts and VMs
  • Automate provisioning and configuration of VMs
  • Optimize resource utilization using features like vMotion and Storage vMotion
  • Ensure high availability and business continuity
  • Manage user permissions and authentication
  • Integrate with other management tools through open APIs

Some key capabilities offered by vCenter Server include:

  • Centralized inventory – Discovery, visualization and management of compute, storage and networking resources from a single tool.
  • VM provisioning – Template-based, automated provisioning of new VMs.
  • Patch management – Centralized patching, upgrading and management of VMware Tools.
  • VM monitoring – Health, resource usage statistics and alerts for VMs and hosts.
  • High availability – Automated failover and restart of VMs.
  • vMotion & Storage vMotion – Live migration of running VMs between hosts and storage locations.
  • Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) – Intelligent, automated load balancing and resource allocation for hosts and VMs.
  • Backups & replication – Integration with backup products for protection of VMs.

Why Use vCenter Server?

Here are some of the key benefits of using vCenter Server:

Simplified administration

  • Single tool to administrate entire vSphere environment.
  • Consistent look and feel for monitoring, troubleshooting and operations.

Increased efficiency

  • Automation frees up administrator time.
  • Features like DRS and vMotion optimize resource utilization.

Business continuity

  • High availability and fault tolerance provide non-disruptive failover.
  • Backup integration protects against data loss.

Insight into operations

  • Detailed visibility into health, performance and capacity usage.
  • Analytics and reports for better decision making.

Scalability

  • Centrally manage very large environments with thousands of hosts and VMs.
  • Scale up without disruption to operations.

Extensibility

  • Integrate with third party tools through open APIs.
  • Build custom solutions tailored to your needs.

So in summary, vCenter Server is all about enabling administrators to efficiently operate enterprise-scale VMware environments through automation, analytics and control – improving agility and continuity of operations.

vCenter Server Architecture

vCenter Server utilizes a client-server architecture, with the following components:

vCenter Server

This is the centralized management server and the core which integrates all components. It provides the backend services, data persistence, authentication, search and management functionality.

Platform Services Controller (PSC)

The PSC manages infrastructure services like Single Sign-On, licensing, certificate management and serves as the authentication broker and database for vCenter Server.

Web Client

This is the frontend from where administrators interact with and manage the environments. It is accessible via a web browser.

Command Line Interfaces (CLIs)

In addition to the web client, admins can interact with vCenter server using APIs or CLIs like PowerCLI.

Database

An external database is utilized by vCenter Server and PSC to store and organize configuration data, statistics as well as infrastructure workflows. This is typically Microsoft SQL Server or an Oracle Database.

ESXi Hosts

The hypervisors which run virtual machines. These are managed by and communicate information to the vCenter Server.

vCenter Server Mode

vCenter Server supports two operating modes depending on the scale of operations:

vCenter Server Standalone

Suited for smaller deployments, the management components all run on a single virtual appliance or physical server. Easy setup but lacks scalability and resilience of larger vSphere implementations.

vCenter HA with External PSC

Enterprise-level deployments utilize External Platform Services Controller (PSC), allowing the management stack to be separated. Provides flexibility and protects availability through redundancy.

Key Features and Tools of vCenter

In addition to centralized management, automation and analytics, vCenter Sever provides several capabilities via specialized tools and components:

vSphere Client

This thick client helps administrators configure infrastructure, monitor performance, troubleshoot issues and run virtual machines. Available as both a desktop application as well as a web client.

vSphere Web Client SDK

Allows developers to utilize vCenter APIs to build custom plugins and extensions for management automation.

vCenter Server Profile

Provides configuration compliance monitoring and automation between vCenter Server instances via a policy-based approach.

Content Library

Enables administrators to securely store and manage VM templates, ISO images, OVF templates and scripts in a centralized catalog which can be synced across many vCenter Servers.

vSphere Update Manager

Allows patching and upgrading of ESXi hosts, virtual appliances and virtual machine hardware/tools through automated rollouts. Enables compliance reporting as well.

vSphere Lifecycle Manager

Provides interoperability across multiple VMware platforms allowing customers to migrate/upgrade platforms such as vCenter 5.5 to latest versions.

vCenter High Availability

Native high availability solution which monitors the vCenter services and restarts them in case any of them fail unexpectedly. Ensures control plane availability.

vSphere Trust Authority

Provides security services for the vSphere SSO such as certificate replacement for workflow automation, key management services and certificate lifecycle management.

vCenter Server – Use Cases

Some typical use cases where vCenter Server delivers value:

Rack and stack operations – Quickly roll out standardized VM templates to speed provisioning across a data center.

Hybrid cloud management – Seamlessly operate and migrate workloads across on-prem and public cloud.

Business continuity – Ensure mission-critical applications have redundancy and quick failover.

Optimizing TCO – Rightsizing, automation and analytics to reduce operational overhead.

Consolidation – Migrate multiple apps from siloed servers into a shared resource pool improving utilization.

IT automation – Integrate lifecycle management operations through extensions and APIs.

Compliance – Maintain configuration standards and meet corporate or regulatory policies.

Multi-site deployments – Consistent visibility and control across distributed locations and branches.

Comparing vCenter Server Offerings

vCenter Server platform is available in three editions suitable for various business needs:

Edition Description Use Cases
Standard For small environments, includes core vSphere management capabilities Basic server consolidation & management
Advanced Adds automation, backup capabilities and app monitoring Production infrastructure management
Enterprise Plus Includes complete set of data center operations & resilience features Business critical applications, hybrid cloud

Additionally VMware also offers vCenter Server in the cloud on VMware Cloud Foundation for simple hybrid cloud deployments.

Conclusion

vCenter Server provides centralized visibility, automation and control for VMware vSphere environments across on-prem data centers and hybrid/multi-cloud. It helps IT teams improve efficiency, business continuity and optimize resource utilization.

By utilizing capabilities like centralized inventory and configuration management, VM provisioning and orchestration, vMotion and DRS, high availability and more – vCenter Server unlocks the complete potential of virtualization for the Software Defined Data Center.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are 20 common questions on vCenter Server to help understand it better:

Q1. What is vCenter Server?
A1. vCenter Server is VMware’s management software for virtual environments. It enables centralized visibility, automation & control of vSphere infrastructure including ESXi hosts, VMs, storage etc.

Q2. What are the benefits of vCenter Server?
A2. Benefits include simplified management, increased efficiency via automation, business continuity capabilities, insights into operations & scalability to very large multi-site enterprises.

Q3. What components make up vCenter Server architecture?
A3. Key components are – the vCenter Server appliance, external Platform Services Controller (PSC), vSphere Client, ESXi hosts, an external database and tools like vSphere CLI.

Q4. How is vCenter Server licensed?
A4. vCenter Server comes in Standard, Advanced and Enterprise Plus editions suitable for various business needs. It is licensed per instance basis.

Q5. Does vCenter Server support high availability?
A5. Yes, native vCenter HA provides automated failover & restart capabilities for the management components. External PSC setup also improves resilience.

Q6. Can vCenter Server manage public cloud environments?
A6. Yes, through VMware hybrid cloud capabilities – the same vCenter tools can manage, migrate & operate workloads across on-prem vSphere and public clouds like AWS.

Q7. What hardware is required to run vCenter Server?
A7. The vCenter Server appliance has flexible hardware configuration options with up to 10 host servers and 4000 VMs in largest setup.

Q8. What IT automation capabilities does vCenter provide?
A8. Capabilities like vMotion, DRS, Update manager help IT teams automate provisioning, load balancing, patching/upgrades and other workflows.

Q9. What size environments is vCenter suitable for?
A9. From small labs to large multi-site enterprises with 1000s of hosts – via Standard or Enterprise editions and multi vCenter capabilities.

Q10. Can I manage hypervisors other than vSphere with vCenter?
A10. No, currently vCenter supports management of VMware hypervisors including ESXi and other vSphere components only.

Q11. Does vCenter Server require Windows for deployment?
A11. No, vCenter Server appliance runs on Linux OS while Platform Services Controller requires Windows Server or external vCenter PSC appliance.

Q12. How does vCenter integrate with third party tools?
A12. REST APIs, CLI integration and vCenter extensions/plug-ins enable integration with DevOps pipelines, ITSM tools, monitoring etc.

Q13. Does vCenter Server require external database?
A13. Yes, by default vCenter utilizes an external DB2 database for data storage and inventory management to ensure availability.

Q14. What role does the Platform Services Controller play?
A14. PSC manages infrastructure services like licensing, SSO and serves as an authentication broker & database for vCenter Server.

Q15. What IT infrastructure can I manage with vCenter platform?
A15. vCenter Server can centrally manage VMware hypervisors (ESXi hosts), virtual machines, associated storage & networking, vSAN converges infrastructure.

Q16. What are the different operating modes for vCenter Server deployment?
A16. Standalone mode on single server for smaller setups vs external PSC + vCenter HA mode for enterprise-level redundancy and scalability.

Q17. Can vCenter Server restrict user permissions?
A17. Yes, through roles and privileges vCenter administrators can define fine grained access control to map to organizational policies.

Q18. Which browsers can access vCenter Server web client?
A18. The vCenter supports latest versions of Firefox, Chrome, Edge and Safari browsers for web/HTML5 client access.

Q19. Does vCenter Server integrate with NSX networking?
A19. Yes, VMware NSX network virtualization platform is integrated with vCenter for end-to-end visibility and control over virtual networks.

Q20. Which applications can run on VMs managed through vCenter?
A20. vCenter can manage VMs running wide variety of OSes like Windows, Linux, appliances etc and applications from legacy to cloud-native.

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