Deploying VCSA via the CLI

I was recently deploying a series of VMware vCenter Server Appliances for a customer who wanted to migrate to that platform from their windows based vCenter 5.5 environment.  Rather than deploying all of these by hand, we figured that this was an excellent time to check out the VCSA command line install options.

The first thing that we had to do was to figure out our architecture.  In this case, it was pretty easy.  Each site was getting a vCenter appliance and a PSC appliance.  We decided that we wanted our PSC appliances to replicate with each other, so that we could use the enhanced Linked Mode functionality in vSphere 6, and so designed a ring topology to reduce the impact of a given site being offline.

The first thing that we had to do was to prepare some JSON answer files.  To do that, open your vCenter Server Appliance install ISO and browse to vcsa-cli-installer\templates\install and examine the bounty contained within.

Copy the example .JSON file(s) that most closely matches your environment (why make extra work for yourself?) and name it something meaningful, then open that bad boy up in a text editor.  Go through that config file and set it up to work in your environment.  It's a little arduous because you're probably going to need to modify almost every line, but once you do it you'll have a perfectly good answer file that you can use over and over again.  Also, you'd need to type all of that eventually anyway, so now you can front-load your efforts.

Once the JSON is created and saved, you can move forward with the actual deployment.  Most environments will likely use a vCenter with an external PSC, so if that't what you're working with, make sure to deploy the PSC first.  If you're working with a simpler environment with an internal PSC, then just go right ahead with the main appliance deployment.  Either way, deploy it from the command line like this:

.\vcsa-deploy.exe --accept-eula <path to your PSC answer json file>

After the PSC is deployed, run the command again, but this time point at the answer file for your VC appliance.

.\vcsa-deploy.exe --accept-eula <path to your VC answer json file>

After that deployment finishes, you'll have a nice clean vCenter 6 environment, ready to use.  You'll want to sign in as administrator@vsphere.local (using the password that you specified in the json) and then you can move forward with configuring things (joining the domain, etc.)!

2/16/17 Update: Jeff has put together a post with a nice description of how to set up a vCenter/PSC Ring Topology over on his blog.  Check it out for details about how we set this up!

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