vSphere HomeLab – Step-by-Step Guide – vCenter Appliance 5.5 Installation

The second update to the vSphere Home lab series is finally here. This part 2 goes through the installation and configuration of the vCenter Appliance 5.5. Look out for part 3 in the series which will be on the installation of two ESXi 5.5 hosts for the lab. As always if you have any questions, drop me an e-mail or a comment.


VMware vCenter Server is a centralized management application for your vSphere environment. vCenter Server lets you manage multiple ESXi Hosts and Virtual Machines centrally. vCenter Server (dependent on licensing) unlocks a range of enterprise features for scalability, availability and management e.g. vMotion, High Availability, Fault Tolerance, Update Manager, Distributed Resource Manager, Storage Clusters etc. In this guide we will look at the steps for a successful vCenter 5.5 installation.


  1. Download the vCenter appliance 5.5 .from VMware
  2. Import .ova into VMware Workstation or VMware Fusion
  3. Configure – Hostname, IP Address, Gateway, DNS on Virtual Appliance
  4. Access – vCenter appliance 5.5 configuration page using google chrome
  5. Configure – vCenter appliance using the First Time Set-up Wizard
  6. Test Installation – Access vCenter using the C# Windows vSphere Client
  7. Test Installation – Access vCenter using the vSphere Web Client
  8. Test Installation – Access vCenter Single Sign On (SSO) using the vSphere Web Client

Link to the vSphere 5.5 Home Lab Page - Click Here

Direct Link to Part 2 of the series mentioned here - Click Here

vSphere HomeLab – Step-by-Step Guide – Installation of Active Directory & DNS on Windows Server 2012

I have uploaded here the first part in the vSphere 5.5 Home Lab series. Part 1 is a step-by-step guide on the installation of Active Directory & DNS on Windows Server 2012. Look out for the next one in the series which will be on the vCenter 5.5 Appliance (VCVA).


The first requirement for a home lab is a fully functioning Active Directory / DNS set-up. For your home lab this guide goes through the installation steps for a successful AD and DNS installation. After the installation, we go through the process of adding DNS “A” records for various parts of your lab.


  1. Configure – Hostname & Static IP Address
  2. Setup ADDS Role (Active Directory Domain Service)
  3. Promote to Domain Controller
  4. Configure – Add DNS “A” records for your LAB

Link to the vSphere 5.5 Home Lab Page - Click Here

Direct Link to Part 1 of the series mentioned here – Click Here

Network ports diagram for vSphere 5.x (2054806)

A fantastic resource directly from VMware which maps out the network ports to look out for across the VMware vSphere platform.

I like the way it maps out all of the firewall ports visually, a nice easy read for planning designs. Below are the download links, and an excel version.

  • View and download full diagram from here.
  • View and download the Ms excel list version of the ports from here.

networkPorts-2054806           networkPorts-2054806-xls

Source - KB Article 2054806

Another great vSphere firewall diagram can also be found hosted at vreference.com

Difference between OVA and OVF formats

What is the difference between the two OVF and OVA export/download formats? Like me in the past, you may have asked yourself the same.

OVF standards were formed and submitted to the DMTF in 2007, an industry working group comprising 17 industry-leading technology companies. Both the OVF and the OVA formats are cross platform open standards for packaging and distributing virtual machines.

Both the OVF and OVA formats typically comprise of four files;

  1. The descriptor file (.ovf) – An  XML file which describes the packaged virtual machine. The file also has metadata included such as the name, hardware requirements, references to the other files in the package and descriptions.
  2. Virtual Machine Disk Files (.vmdk) – VMware products utilise a variant of the VMDK format that is designed for distribution and compressed.
  3. A Manifest File (.mf) – Used for integrity and contains the SHA1 digest of all files in the package (except for the .mf). This file is optional and not required.
  4. A Certificate File (.cert) – You may also have a .cert file with the .mf file for authenticity to allow the package author to be verified. This file is optional and not required.

The key difference between OVF and OVA formats is the end presentation;

  • OVF – Collection of items in a single folder that can be downloaded and are visible separately i.e 4 files.
  • OVA – A single file with all of the necessary information encapsulated inside of it. Stored in the archive (.tar) file format.

The real benefit of an OVA over the OVF is the ease of portability and sharing, both use the same amount of disk space. I prefer the single download OVA!

Configure Static IP on vCenter Virtual Appliance 5.5 via command line

One of the most common issues encountered with home labs is that the vCenter Appliance does not obtain an IP to access the quick start. This is usually because there is no DHCP server to pull an IP from, probably because your network is ring fenced for your Lab. The error message “No Networking Detected” is displayed. Looks familiar right..

Lets go through the steps preceding this and look at how to deploy the vCenter Virtual Appliance 5.5 (VCVA);

via VMware Workstation (most Home Lab Configs)

  1. Open VMware Workstation
  2. Click “File” > “Open”
  3. Browse to the downloaded OVA or OVF for the appliance
  4. Type a name for the imported virtual machine e.g vCenter
  5. Give a location for the storage location i.e My Documents > LabVMs
  6. Finish and let the import complete

via vClient connected to ESXi

  1. Login to your esxi host with vSphere Client
  2. Click “File – Deploy OVF Template”
  3. Browse to the downloaded OVA or OVF file for the appliance
  4. Type a name for the imported virtual machine e.g vCenter
  5. Select the data store you want to store it on, with default on the disk settings
  6. Provide networking details, or leave blank and configure later
  7. Finish the wizard and let the import complete

This is the “No Networking Detected” error you will get if you do not have a static IP configured on import, or if you import with all the defaults and the network is ring fenced without a DHCP server. Of course the other reason could be that the interface is facing the wrong network.. but we will assume that not to be the case here.

No Networking Detected

To fix this issue login to the vCenter Virtual Appliance 5.5 console (default username – root / password – vmware)  and type > hit enter;


vami_config_net script

At this point go ahead and run through options > 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 (if applicable) and use option one to save the config once done. Just a tip to have num lock on when you type the number inputs, and type exit at the command line to get back to the original vCenter Appliance blue screen. This script will allow you to configure, or even re-configure, the IP of the vCenter interface without logging into the management web page of the appliance.

Of course once you have done that check the config and run through initial set-up on the appliance management page at:- https://IP address or DNS name:5480

To start using your new vCenter access the Web Client at:- https://IP address or DNS name:9443/vsphere-client/

Hopefully this should get you through the situations where you have a vCenter Appliance deployed, but for some reason it did not pick up a DHCP IP for initial access and config!