vSphere is a sophisticated product with multiple components to install and set up. To ensure a successful vSphere deployment, understand the sequence of tasks required.


This overview does not apply to the vCenter Server Appliance. To deploy the vCenter Server Appliance, see Download and Deploy the VMware vCenter Server Appliance.

The following illustration shows the order of installation for vCenter Server components.

Installing vSphere includes the following tasks:

  1. Read the vSphere release notes.

  2. Verify that your system meets vSphere hardware and software requirements. See System Requirements.

  3. Install vCenter Server.

    1. Set up the vCenter Server database. See Preparing vCenter Server Databases.


      For small installations (up to 5 hosts and 50 virtual machines), you can use the bundled Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express database, which you can choose to have the vCenter Server installer create during the vCenter Server installation.

    2. Review the topics in Before You Install vCenter Server.

    3. Use the topic Required Information for Installing or Upgrading vCenter Single Sign-On, Inventory Service, vCenter Server, and the vSphere Web Client to create a worksheet with the information you need for installation.

    4. Install vCenter Single Sign-On, the vSphere Web Client, Inventory Service, vCenter Server, and other vCenter Server support tools as appropriate. Connect to vCenter Server from the vSphere Web Client. See Installing vCenter Server and After You Install vCenter Server.

    5. Create a Linked Mode Group or join vCenter Server to a Linked Mode Group. See Creating vCenter Server Linked Mode Groups.

  4. Install ESXi.

    1. Review the topics in Before You Install ESXi.

    2. Determine the ESXi installation option to use. See Options for Installing ESXi.

    3. Determine where you will locate and boot the ESXi installer. See Media Options for Booting the ESXi Installer. If you are PXE-booting the installer, verify that your network PXE infrastructure is properly set up. See PXE Booting the ESXi Installer.

    4. Use the topic Required Information for ESXi Installation to create a worksheet with the information you will need when you install ESXi.

    5. Install ESXi, using the installation option you chose:

  5. Configure ESXi boot and network settings, the direct console, and other settings. See Setting Up ESXi and After You Install and Set Up ESXi.

  6. Consider setting up a syslog server for remote logging, to ensure sufficient disk storage for log files. Setting up logging on a remote host is especially important for hosts with limited local storage. Optionally, you can install the vSphere Syslog Collector to collect logs from all hosts. See Providing Sufficient Space for System Logging, Configure Syslog on ESXi Hosts, and Install or Upgrade vSphere Syslog Collector.