vCenter Server allows you to centrally manage hosts from either a physical or virtual Windows machine, and enables the use of advanced features such as vSphere Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS), vSphere High Availability (HA), vSphere vMotion, vSphere Storage vMotion, and vSphere Auto Deploy.

See vCenter Server Prerequisites. Gather the information that is required to complete the installation wizard. See Required Information for Installing vCenter Server.

vCenter Server requires the Microsoft .NET 3.5 SP1 Framework. If your system does not have it installed, the vCenter Server installer installs it. The .NET 3.5 SP1 installation might require Internet connectivity to download more files.


In the software installer directory, double-click the autorun.exe file to start the installer.


Select vCenter Server™.


Follow the prompts in the installation wizard to choose the installer language, agree to the end user patent and license agreements, enter your user name, organization name, and license key.

If you omit the license key, vCenter Server will be in evaluation mode, which allows you to use the full feature set for a 60-day evaluation period. After installation, you can enter the license key to convert vCenter Server to licensed mode.


Choose the type of database that you want to use.

To use the bundled database, click Install a Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express instance (for small-scale deployments).

This database is suitable for deployments of up to 5 hosts and 50 virtual machines.

To use an existing database, click Use an existing supported database and select your database from the list of available DSNs. Enter the user name and password for the DSN.

If your database uses Windows NT authentication, the user name and password fields are disabled.


A dialog box might appear warning you that the DSN points to an older version of a repository that must be upgraded. If you click Yes, the installer upgrades the database schema, making the database irreversibly incompatible with previous VirtualCenter versions. See the vSphere Upgrade documentation.


Set the login information for vCenter Server.

If you are using a nonbundled database, enter the administrator name and password that you use when you log in to the system on which you are installing vCenter Server.

If you are using the bundled SQL Server database, select Use SYSTEM Account.

You need the user name and password entered here to log in to vCenter Server after you have installed it.

The Fully Qualified Domain Name field displays the FQDN of the system that you are installing vCenter Server on. The vCenter Server installer checks that the FQDN is resolvable. If not, a warning message is displayed when you click Next. Change the entry to a resolvable FQDN. You must enter the FQDN, not the IP address.


Either accept the default destination folders or click Change to select another location.

The installation path cannot contain any of the following characters: non-ASCII characters, commas (,), periods (.), exclamation points (!), pound signs (#), at signs (@), or percentage signs (%).


To install the vCenter Server on a drive other than C:, verify that there is enough space in the C: drive to install the Microsoft Windows Installer .msi file. If you do not have enough space, your vCenter Server installation might fail.


Select Create a standalone VMware vCenter Server instance or Join Group.

Join a Linked Mode group to enable the vSphere Client to view, search, and manage data across multiple vCenter Server systems. See Creating vCenter Server Linked Mode Groups.


This option does not appear if you are upgrading the VirtualCenter or vCenter Server database schema. You can join a Linked Mode group after the installation is complete.


If you join a group, enter the fully qualified domain name and LDAP port number of any remote vCenter Server system.

In some cases, you can enter the IP address instead of the fully qualified domain name. To ensure connectivity, use the fully qualified domain name. For IPv6, unless both the local and the remote machine are in IPv6 mode, enter the fully qualified domain name of the remote machine instead of the IPv6 address. If the local machine has an IPv4 address and the remote machine has an IPv6 address, the local machine must support IPv4 and IPv6 mixed mode. The domain name server must be able to resolve both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses if your environment has both addressing types in a single Linked Mode group.


Enter the port numbers that you want to use or accept the default port numbers.

See Required Ports for vCenter Server.


Select the size of your vCenter Server inventory to allocate memory for several Java services that are used by vCenter Server.

This setting determines the maximum JVM heap settings for VMware VirtualCenter Management Webservices (Tomcat), Inventory Service, and Profile-Driven Storage Service. You can adjust this setting after installation if the number of hosts in your environment changes. See the recommendations in the vCenter Server Hardware Requirements topic in System Requirements.


(Optional) In the Ready to Install the Program window, select Select to bump up the ephemeral port value.

This option increases the number of available ephemeral ports. If your vCenter Server manages hosts on which you will power on more than 2000 virtual machines simultaneously, this option prevents the pool of available ephemeral ports from being exhausted.


Click Install.

Installation might take several minutes. Multiple progress bars appear during the installation of the selected components.


Click Finish.

After you install vCenter Server, you can display the vCenter Server welcome page by typing the IP address of the vCenter Server machine or by typing localhost from a browser installed on the vCenter Server machine. From the welcome page, you can download the vSphere Client, or log in to the vSphere Web Client, after the vSphere Web Client is installed and the vCenter Server is registered. You can also access vSphere documentation.

See After You Install vCenter Server.