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VMWare: vCenter vs vCenter Appliance

Physical or Appliance – Upgrading to vCenter Server 5.1

The other day we received this question from a customer via Twitter:

@VMwareCares planning to upgrade to 5.1 from 5.0 vcenter. What’s recommended physical or appliance? Ups and downs side of each?

We thought a few more of you might have the same questions so we decided we would take the opportunity to explain the differences between vCenter server and vCenter appliance and under what situation which one should be opted for, over the other.

The vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) is a preconfigured Linux-based virtual machine optimized for running vCenter Server and associated services. Versions 5.0.1 and 5.1 of the vCSA uses PostgreSQL for the embedded database instead of IBM DB2, which was used in vCenter Server Appliance 5.0 The vCSA embedded postSQL DB supports 5 hosts / 50 virtual machines, with an Oracle DB the vCSA can support 1000 hosts and 10,000 vms. If you configure your vCSA to use an external instance of Single Sign On (SSO), the external SSO instance must be hosted on another vCenter Server Appliance; it cannot be hosted on a Windows machine.

vCenter Server can be installed on a windows Guest OS and can be connected to Oracle or Microsoft SQL. SSO can be installed on the same Guest OS or can be on a different machine. It should be noted that patching of of the vCenter Appliance is not supported.

Below is a table listing more of the differences between the products.

FeaturesvCenter ServervCenter Server Appliance
Guest OSAny Supported Guest OSPreconfigured Linux-based virtual machine (64-bit SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11)
DatabaseSupported Versions SQL Server and Oracle.PostgreSQL (built-in ) can have 5 hosts and 50 Virtual Machines.Supported External Oracle database.
System Requirement2 vCPU and 4 GB RAM2 vCPU and 4 GB RAM
PlatformPhysical or virtual machineVirtual Appliance
InstallationUsing binary provided in .zip or .ISODeploying OVF
Update ManagerCan be installed on same vCenter Server or on separate Guest OS.Separate install
Single Sign On (SSO)Can be installed on same vCenter Server or separate Guest OS.Pre-installed.
NetworkingIPv6 and IPv4 SupportIPv4 Support
Linked ModeSupportedNot Supported
SRM (Site Recovery Manager)Compatible with SRMCompatible with SRM
vSphere Web ClientCan be installed on same vCenter server or separate machine.Pre-Installed.
Syslog ServerCan be installed on vCenter Server or separate server and configured using plug-in.Pre-installed and does not have plug-in.
ESXi Dump collectorCan be installed on vCenter Server or on a separate Guest OS.Pre-installed and does not have plug-in.
Multi-site SSOSupportedNot Supported. Basic SSO only.
VSA (vSphere Storage ApplianceSupportedNot Supported
VMware ViewSupportedNot Supported

This entry was posted in Management and tagged vCenter ServervCenter Server Appliance by Jasbinder Bhatti. Bookmark the permalink.