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I am considering pruchasing Vsphere solely for the HA feature, however, in order to do this, I will also need vCenter Server.

I am not keen on purchasing a copy of Windows especially for this and have seen the vSphere server OVF which is available for download.

I have evaluated it and it appears to run well for the past week, however, it requires 80GB of hard drive space and 4GB of memory.

This infrastructure is never going to have hundreds of servers. At the most, it will be 5 servers - and if possible, I would like vCenter to run on the same HA infrastructure so I don't have to worry about it.

I was just wondering if:

  1. Is vCentre server OVF just for evaluation or is it a fully supported setup?
  2. Are there any turning guides for it?
  3. Can I run it on the same infrastructure that I want to make HA?
  4. Is this a good idea, or can you offer any advice / is it possible to go HA without vCentre server?
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From experiance I have issues with the OVF version, when speking with Vmware Support they advised that the only soloution was to install the Windows version. Since then that server has had 192 Days up time. Compared to the usal week or so. – t1nt1n Jul 23 '12 at 14:28
Are you implying Server 2008R2 running vCenter is unstable? – SpacemanSpiff Jul 23 '12 at 14:33
No, The Server2008R2 install is solid as a rock. Its the linux version that was a problem. – t1nt1n Jul 23 '12 at 14:34
When you say the infrastructure will be at most 5 servers, do you mean 5 host servers, or 5 virtual machines running on a smaller number of hosts? It's an important distinction? – dunxd Jul 23 '12 at 14:52
5 host servers for sure. – SpacemanSpiff Jul 23 '12 at 18:19

The Linux-based vCenter appliance works. It's a supported setup. You can run it as a VM virtualized within your cluster. Is it optimal? Meh. Is it used widely? Not in my experience...

There are also limitations surrounding the use of the appliance.

  • No Update Manager (which can be useful)
  • Embedded database, DB2, only supports 5 hosts and 50 VMs (you'd need an external Oracle instance to scale beyond that)
  • Oracle is the only supported external database

I tend to think in terms of long-term stability and mindshare for support purposes. Most people run vCenter on Windows. As a result, guides, tuning recommendations and engineering knowledge are biased towards the Windows version.

Given the environment you're describing (hundreds of VM's, 5 hosts), you're probably planning to pay a lot for VMWare licensing, so the cost of a Windows server license shouldn't be the issue. I'd wager that the expertise and support options for your proposed VM infrastructure would point to using Windows over the Linux vCenter.

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Sorry - I said that this is never going to have hundreds - it will only ever have 5 servers at the most... If however I have to get a Windows license, I may as well also look at Hyper-V... I just wanted to try and keep things simple! – wil Jul 23 '12 at 14:38
hahahaha - just give the OVF a go, it's ok, not brilliant but it's pretty much a v1.0 product, it'll get better, and it's free, just give it a go and decide for yourself before you go to HV. – Chopper3 Jul 23 '12 at 14:46

To add to ewwhite's answer, vCenter is only required to get an HA cluster set up. HA works independently of vSphere, meaning you can run the appliance in the same cluster as a supported solution. Keep in mind the vCenter appliance versions come out later than the normal vCenter on Windows product. As of writing, The vCenter 5.01 appliance is not out yet, but 5.0 is available.

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