Has your company bought the VMware vCenter Lab Manager software, plopped it on your desk and asked you to get it up and running by close of business? Or maybe you’ve ventured out and decided you want to implement it in your infrastructure and you company has given you the funds to do it….either way I’ve recorded my experience in installing vCenter Lab Manager here for you to reference. First off, let’s make some assumptions. You have at least one ESX host (3.5 or higher), a vCenter Server set up with an accompanying database server (both a VM or physical server, but why would they be physical, we’re dealing with virtualization, make it easier on yourself!) Microsoft SQL Server 2005 or 2008, or Oracle, whichever you choose is fine. I have 4 ESX hosts running ESX 3.5 and vCenter Server 4.0, with an accompanying Microsoft SQL Server 2005 (each a VM). I have two clusters running in my vCenter one has 1 ESX host and the other has 3 ESX hosts with about 45 VMs spread equally across the 3 hosts. This should give you an idea of what you might need to even get this install off the ground.

First off you will need to purchase the software with a valid license key, Lab Manager supports vSphere 4.0 Standard, Advanced, Enterprise and Enterprise Plus, it doesn’t work with other editions of vSphere 4.0 (note: to support the Lab Manager host spanning feature, it requires the Enterprise Plus license). The next thing you want to do is create a new VM, it is best practice not to install Lab Manager on the same server that houses your vCenter Server (or on a physical server, remember VM, make it easy, go green, etc.), with an install of Server 2003 or higher. I chose Microsoft Windows Server 2003 32-bit (required) Standard Edition (SP1 or later) for my Lab Manager VM. It is also important to note that you should be using the same host CPU across all hosts in the Lab Manager environment. Having the same CPU across all hosts improves VM mobility for Lab Manager deployment and allows Lab Manager to take advantage of the benefits provided by DRS, HA and VMotion (this also applies with hardware homogeneity).

For storage, it is recommended that you use SAN storage, with a minimum of a local SCSI drive with a supported SCSI adapter. It’s also recommended that you employ shared storage in your Lab Manager environment. There needs to be a minimum of 500MB available in the /var partition with at least 120MB in the /usr partition. Providing failover in your network configuration helps to improve the stability of your Lab Manager enviroment as well. Group NICs together to evenly distribute traffic, and allow for a failover (prepare for the worst, hope for the best). This should cover the storage and networking basics, there’s always white papers and KB articles to support further details at VMware’s site.

We’ve got the basics covered, we’re ready to start the actual installation. Here are the steps:

    1. Install the Lab Manager Server Software
    -Run the VMware-vCenter-Lab-Manager-4.0.0.exe file (this installer will run a check to ensure your VM meets the installation prerequisites).
    -Next you get a welcome screen with the standard “Accept the license agreement” statment (click ‘yes’ otherwise we can stop here and go play Bejeweled or something).
    -Select Typical or Custom installation
    -Choose your password, or just leave the default
    -Set an IP address, and enter your full qualified domain name (FQDN)
    -Choose the website for Lab Manager or use the default setting
    -Enter 443 for the SSL port number
    -Click the Install button, and then click Finish

    2. Initialize and Configure Lab Manager
    -Open a browser and enter http://. this will kick off a web initialization wizard that will guide you along
    -Select location, enter a your license key, review the information enter the following info and click Next.
    *vCenter Server IP address or hostname
    *Port number (443 is default)
    *Username and password
    *System name you are using for your Lab Manager
    *Installation ID
    -Next choose your resource pool
    -Check the boxes of which datastores you’re going to use
    -To enable host spanning do the following:
    *Select Enable Host Spanning Transport Network.
    *Select a dvSwitch
    -Create your physical network by entering a name, a description if you want, and a VLAN ID if you want (both optional), set your IP addressing modes; Static-IP Pool, DHCP or
    Static-Manual
    .

    3. Lastly, set up your administrator accounts, include your username, password and email address. When you get to your web console page, enter your username and password of the administrator
    account and click Login. Choose your Lab Manager System Name and you are good to go. For a ton of super detailed info on installation and to get info on upgrading to
    Lab Manager4.0 or uninstalling it read the Lab Manager Installation and Upgrade Guide provided by VMware.

I hope this helps, contact me for more info. I used these steps and had a smooth installation experience. Jason Boche has pointed out that VMware has released a series of Lab Manager video tutorials, check out his post on this topic. There is also a nice VMware vCenter Lab Manager User Guide that is very helpful going forward from installation.

-GStuart

Greg W Stuart
Greg is the owner and editor of vDestination.com. He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He works as a Sr. Consultant at VMware and resides in Northern Virginia, 15 minutes west of Washington DC.

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