Recommended topology for 2 ESXi hosts with vCenter?

Sorry for the basic question, but I thought an answer for this would be readily available in VMWare docs, but it’s not, or at least not apparent.

I’m creating a new setup with 2 ESXi hosts with vMotion. I have ESXi 6.7 installed on the 2 servers, and the next step I was going to install vCenter. In the past, I have always preferred installing vCenter in a separate physical host (on an Intel NUC, for example) so that if any of the 2 ESXi hosts go down, I still have access to vCenter. But now looking at the new VCSA system, it seems they only give the option of installing vCenter on one of the ESXi host? How is this a resilient system? What if that ESXi host goes down.. how would I access vCenter and manage my entire setup?


Or is my understanding not correct? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

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  1. Hi, if you already have this 3rd physical NUC box, I would recommend installing ESXi on that, putting a vSAN witness appliance on it and then setting up a 2 node vSAN with the other 2 physical hosts. This will give you the shared storage you need for putting vCenter on your production cluster.

    The vCenter VCSA install wizard actually gives you the option of setting up vSAN during the install so there’s no chicken/egg scenario.

    Haven’t got a link to a guide I’m afraid but must be pretty well documented online. Sorry, should mention, for vSAN you’ll need at least one SSD per system and really all the hardware should be on the HCL but not sure if this just a lab or production?

  2. Your vCenter Server (vCSA) should be on shared storage. If the host it resides on goes down, browse to storage on the remaining host, find the vCenter folder and add the vCenter to inventory on that host.

  3. vMotion is fast with shared storage, when you’re only moving the in-memory running image of the VM between hosts. Without shared storage, you have to move the vdisks and associated files of the VM before you can move it to its new hosts. Way, way slower.

    Maybe consider getting a NAS for storage? You can use both nfs and iSCSI with one.

  4. Set up shared storage somewhere. If not for all your VMs, then for vCenter, but I think you’re going to want to put all your VMs on it.

    If you’re a Windows person, set up nfs on a PC somewhere. Should be easy to do. If you’d prefer, you can set up iSCSI, but that tends to be a bit more complex to get started with.

  5. Hi I’m a newb at vmware and am a bit confused if someone could clarify… Vcenter is just an appliance to manage the vms on he esxi hosts right? If it goes down … Other than vmotion and easy management of vms, what harm is there?

  6. > How is this a resilient system? What if that ESXi host goes down.. how would I access vCenter and manage my entire setup?

    Assuming that you have HA, it would be restarted on the remaining host. It’s a best practice to put your vCenter on ESXi so you can take advantage of HA, vMotion, etc. Or let me put it another way…say you put vCenter on your NUC or some other physical host and that physical host goes down? How are you going to access vCenter and manage your setup?

  7. Doesnt vCentre have HA? If you only have 2 hosts, how many guests you got? Pretty rare for both to go down, from experience. Host HA and DRS should cover you for at least one host going down.

  8. You don’t need shared storage if this is a lab. I have two (2) ESXi hosts running under vCenter with no issues. Yes, having vCenter on one physical host is a single point-of-failure, but you are correct in asking how it’s resilient…’cuz my setup is NOT! It’s also a homelab.

    First, if the server with vCenter went down, the other server continues to work. Distributed switches are configured in vCenter but live on the hypervisor, so those keep working.

    I’ve never had a physical server go down, but I’ve screwed things up to where I had to entirely reinstall vCenter. It’s just my lab, so that’s no big deal. In production, you would need to follow the other recommendations I’ve seen on this sub thus far regarding shared storage.

    EDIT: I’m not quite sure why this got downvoted, cuz FYI: The info I provided is SPOT ON for a lab.

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