Part 1: Bootstrap vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 on vSAN 6.6:

I have recently installed vSphere 6.5 and vSAN 6.6 in our lab, I have got 4 vSAN Hybrid ready nodes ,  which I will use to setup a vSAN cluster.

Most interesting thing with the 6.5 vSphere release apart from the HTML client and other enhancements  is the ability to bootstrap VCSA on a target host by creating a vSAN datastore. With earlier version we used to deploy the VCSA on a temporary data store and later storage vMotioed to the vSAN datastore.

“Jase McCarty” has written a cool blog on the same, you can refer to the below link for details:

Bootstrap the VCSA onto vSAN 6.6

However, I will try to cover the deployment in more details including all the screenshot which can help people deploying vSAN 6.6 for the first time. So let’s get started.

I have installed ESXi 6. 5 on all 4 nodes. It’s time to install the vCenter to configure the vSAN Cluster.

Mount the VCSA installer and run the installer.exe file:1

Wizard is similar to previous VCSA 6.x install until we reach the “Install – Stage 1: Deploy PSC” page:11.png


I am deploying the External PSC appliance, however the process is similar for Embedded PSC as well.1

The Screenshot is self-explanatory, I am deploying the vCenter appliance on ESXi host “” .


Select yes for the certificate warning.



This is where we will be creating a vSAN datastore locally on the host and install VCSA. Note that during bootstrapping, you don’t need to have vSAN Network configured on all the nodes. At this moment vSAN Datastore is local to the host, I will cover in another blog post how to expand the vSAN Datastore by claiming the disk from other nodes in the cluster.




Provided you are using a vSAN compatible controller and Drives, ESXi will detect the flash and HDD resources in the server. In case ESXi is not detecting Flash or HDD, you can manually tag local storage resources as SSD or HDD in this step. For checking the vSAN compatibility, refer to the link below:

VMware Compatibility Guide



Enter the required networking details for the PSC, make sure to configure the DNS host name resolution (forward and reverse) of PSC before deployment .


Finish and wait, the deployment took less than 5 minutes




Looking at the host client, I can now see a new “vSAN datastore” and PSC getting deployed on newly created vSAN Datastore.


Once done, we need to configure the appliance size and SSO in stage 2, refer to the below screenshots:




Here you can either join the PSC to an existing SSO (if exists) to run a linked mode configuration or if it is a new deployment select the “create new SSO domain”.



That’s it for PSC deployment, now we need to run the same installer, this time we will install the vCenter server.






Select the vSAN datastore created during the PSC installation.


Enter the network configuration for the vCenter server:




Finish and wait, you can actually see the VCSA deployment progress by login in to the target host.






With this now we need to configure the SSO for the vCenter server to complete the deployment.



That’s it for this post , I have covered the expansion of vSAN datastore by claiming storage resources from rest of the hosts in below post :

Expending vSAN 6.6 Datastore after initial VCSA bootstrap

vCenter Server Enhancements in vSphere 6

vCenter Server Enhancements in vSphere 6


With the release of vSphere 6, there are few significant changes in vCentre server architecture and the way it will be deployed. As far as I can see I think that the deployment has been simplified compared to the previous versions.

There are two ways for the vCentre server deployment:

  • Embedded
  • External


As you can see below, in the embedded configuration vCenter server and Platform Service controller are installed on the same physical/virtual machine.

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The approach of embedded vCenter server configuration comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Let me cover the advantages first.

  • The biggest advantage is the connection between vCenter Server and the Platform Services Controller is not over the network, therefore vCenter Server is not prone to outages because of connectivity and name resolution issues between vCenter Server and the Platform Services Controller
  • In case you are doing a windows based vCentre server installation, you will need fewer Windows licenses
  • No need of a load balancer to distribute the load across Platform Services Controller
  • You will have to manage fewer virtual machines or physical servers


  • There is a Platform Services Controller for each product which might be more than required. This consumes more resources.
  • The model is not scalable and is suited for the small scale environment.


In external configuration, vCenter server and Platform Service controller are installed on different physical/virtual machine.8-3-2015 2-48-35 PM

Installing vCenter Server with an external Platform Services Controller has the following advantages:

  • Less resources consumed by the combined services in the Platform Services Controllers enables a reduced footprint and reduced maintenance.
  • Your environment can consist of more vCenter Server instance.

Installing vCenter Server with an external Platform Services Controller has the following disadvantages:

  • The connection between vCenter Server and Platform Services Controller is over the network and is prone to connectivity and name resolution issues.
  • If you install vCenter Server on Windows virtual machines or physical servers, you need more Microsoft Windows licenses
  • You must manage more virtual machines or physical servers.

With the new release, PSC (Platform service controller) is responsible for the following vCenter services:

  • VMware vCenter Single Sign-On
  • VMware Certificate Authority (CA)
  • License service
  • Lookup service
  • VMware Directory Services

The vCenter server will take care of reminder of the services, which are:

  • vCenter Server
  • vSphere Web Client
  • Inventory Service
  • VMware vSphere Auto Deplo
  • VMware vSphere ESXi Dump Collector
  • vSphere Syslog Collector on Windows and vSphere Syslog Service for the VMware vCenter Server Appliance

We can also install multiple instances of PSC for high availability, in this scenario the Platform Service Controller replicates information such as licenses, roles and permissions, and tags with other Platform Service Controllers  , this allows for a single pane of glass of the environment with Enhanced Linked mode.

Enhanced Linked Mode:

Linked mode using Microsoft ADS/ADAM replaced with Enhanced Linked mode. Platform Service Controller’s now replicate all information required for Linked mode.

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  • Enhanced Linked mode is now enabled by default in an environment
  • vCenter Appliance now supported with Enhanced Linked mode
  • Mixing Windows and Appliance platforms supported

VMware Certificate Authority (CA)

  • VMware CA is a solution to this complexity as it now acts as the Root certificate authority for vSphere to which all certificates are generated
  • Allows for enhanced security as all certificates for components are signed and valid
  • Root certificate can be replaced with one from a corporate CA to integrate vSphere into an existing infrastructure

VMware Endpoint Certificate Store

  • Certificate store on each Platform Services Controller or vCenter host that stores all certificates for components on the server

Individual certificate no longer required for each component

  • In previous releases each component (vCenter Service, Inventory Service, and so on) required a unique certificate
  • In vSphere 6.0 all communication is directed through the Reverse Proxy Endpoint, therefore, only a single certificate per server is required

vCenter for Windows and vCenter Appliance support the same scalability numbers and features:8-3-2015 3-15-50 PM

Virtual SAN 6.0 Hardware Requirements

Off lately i have seen a number of people asking for Prerequisite for setting up VSAN cluster from the hardware perspective. Although this information is available in the VSAN 6.0 design and sizing guide , i thought of writing a short and crisp article.

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– Minimum of 3 hosts in a cluster configuration
– All 3 hosts must contribute storage
– Recommended that hosts are configured with similar hardware
– Hosts: Scales up to 64 nodes
– Disks: Locally-attached disks
– Hybrid: Magnetic disks and flash devices
– All-Flash: Flash devices only

– SAS/SATA/PCI-e SSD {At least one of each}
– SAS/NL-SAS/SATA HDD{At least one of each}
– 1 Gb/10 Gb NIC
– SAS/SATA controllers (RAID controllers must work in “pass-through” or RAID0” mode)
– 4 GB to 8 GB USB, SD Cards
1 GB Ethernet or
10 GB Ethernet (preferred) (required for all-flash)
“Witness” component (only metadata) acts as tie-breaker during availability decisions

Any server which is on VMware Compatibility Guide(VMware Compatibility Guide > Virtual SAN  ) can be used to setup the VSAN Cluster.

VSAN Cluster can be set in either Hybrid configuration or in all flash configuration .

VSAN Hybrid configuration:

– In Virtual SAN hybrid, all read and write operations always go directly to the Flash tier
– Flash-based devices serve two purposes in Virtual SAN hybrid architecture
– Non-volatile write buffer (30%) {Writes are acknowledged when they enter prepare stage on the flash-based devices}

– Read cache (70%) {Cache hits reduce read latency}
– Cache miss – retrieves data from the magnetic devices

VSAN All Flash configuration:

– In Virtual SAN all-flash, read and write operations always go directly to the Flash devices
– Flash-based devices serve two purposes in Virtual SAN all-flash
– Cache tier (write buffer) { it is recommended to use High endurance flash devices in cache tier}
– Capacity tier {Low endurance flash devices}

Magnetic Disks (HDD)

– SAS/NL-SAS/SATA HDDs supported
– 7200 RPM for capacity
– 10,000 RPM balance between capacity and performance
– 15,000 RPM for additional performance

– NL SAS will provide higher HDD controller queue depth at same drive rotational speed and similar price point
NL SAS recommended if choosing between SATA and NL SAS

Storage Controllers:

– SAS/SATA storage controllers
– Pass-through or “RAID0” mode supported
– Performance using pass-through mode is controller dependent
– Check with your vendor for PCI-e device performance behind a RAID-controller
– Replacing devices for upgrade of failure purposes might require host downtime
– Support for hot-plug devices
– Storage controller queue depth matters
– Higher storage controller queue depth will increase performance
– Minimum queue support of 256
– Validate number of drives supported for each controller


1 Gb / 10 Gb supported for hybrid architecture
– 10 Gb shared with NetIOC for QoS is recommended for most environments
–  If 1 GB, recommend dedicated links for Virtual SAN
10 Gb supported only for all-flash architecture
– 10 Gb shared with NIOC for QoS will support most environments
Jumbo frames will provide nominal performance increase
– Enable for greenfield deployments
– Enable in large deployments to reduce CPU overhead
Virtual SAN supports both VMware vSphere standard switch and VMware vSphere Distributed Switch™ products
– NetIOC requires VDS
Network bandwidth performance has more impact on host evacuation and rebuild times than on workload performance

Firewall Ports:

Virtual SAN Vendor Provider (VSANVP)
– Inbound and outbound – TCP 8080

Virtual SAN Clustering Service (CMMDS)
– Inbound and outbound UDP 12345 – 23451

Virtual SAN Transport (RDT)
– Inbound and outbound – TCP 2233

Hope this post was useful . more info here:

Click to access VSAN_Design_and_Sizing_Guide.pdf