vCenter Server provides a centralized platform for management, operation, resource provisioning, and performance evaluation of virtual machines and hosts.

When you install vCenter Server with an embedded Platform Services Controller, or deploy the vCenter Server Appliance with an embedded Platform Services Controller, vCenter Server, the vCenter Server components, and the services included in the Platform Services Controller are deployed on the same system.

When you install vCenter Server with an external Platform Services Controller, or deploy the vCenter Server Appliance with an external Platform Services Controller, vCenter Server and the vCenter Server components are deployed on one system, and the services included in the Platform Services Controller are deployed on another system.

The following components are included in the vCenter Server and vCenter Server Appliance installations:

  • The VMware Platform Services Controller group of infrastructure services contains vCenter Single Sign-On, License service, Lookup Service, and VMware Certificate Authority.

  • The vCenter Server group of services contains vCenter Server, vSphere Web Client, Inventory Service, vSphere Auto Deploy, vSphere ESXi Dump Collector, VMware vSphere Syslog Collector on Windows and VMware Sphere Syslog Service for the vCenter Server Appliance.

Services Installed with VMware Platform Services Controller

vCenter Single Sign-On

The vCenter Single Sign-On authentication service provides secure authentication services to the vSphere software components. By using vCenter Single Sign-On, the vSphere components communicate with each other through a secure token exchange mechanism, instead of requiring each component to authenticate a user separately with a directory service like Active Directory. vCenter Single Sign-On constructs an internal security domain (for example, vsphere.local) where the vSphere solutions and components are registered during the installation or upgrade process, providing an infrastructure resource. vCenter Single Sign-On can authenticate users from its own internal users and groups, or it can connect to trusted external directory services such as Microsoft Active Directory. Authenticated users can then be assigned registered solution-based permissions or roles within a vSphere environment.

vCenter Single Sign-On is available and required with vCenter Server 5.1.x and later.

vSphere License Service

The vSphere License service provides common license inventory and management capabilities to all vCenter Server systems that are connected to a Platform Services Controller or multiple linked Platform Services Controllers.

VMware Certificate Authority

VMware Certificate Authority (VMCA) provisions each ESXi host with a signed certificate that has VMCA as the root certificate authority, by default. Provisioning occurs when the ESXi host is added to vCenter Server explicitly or as part of the ESXi host installation process. All ESXi certificates are stored locally on the host.

Services Installed with vCenter Server

These additional components are installed silently when you install vCenter Server. The components cannot be installed separately as they do not have their own installers.

vCenter Inventory Service

Inventory Service stores vCenter Server configuration and inventory data, enabling you to search and access inventory objects across vCenter Server instances.

PostgreSQL

A bundled version of the VMware distribution of PostgreSQL database for vSphere and vCloud Hybrid Services.

vSphere Web Client

The vSphere Web Client lets you connect to vCenter Server instances by using a Web browser, so that you can manage your vSphere infrastructure.

vSphere ESXi Dump Collector

The vCenter Server support tool. You can configure ESXi to save the VMkernel memory to a network server, rather than to a disk, when the system encounters a critical failure. The vSphere ESXi Dump Collector collects such memory dumps over the network.

VMware vSphere Syslog Collector

The vCenter Server on Windows support tool that enables network logging and combining of logs from multiple hosts. You can use the vSphere Syslog Collector to direct ESXi system logs to a server on the network, rather than to a local disk. The recommended maximum number of supported hosts to collect logs from is 30. For information about configuring vSphere Syslog Collector, see http://kb.vmware.com/kb/2021652.

VMware Syslog Service

The vCenter Server Appliance support tool that provides a unified architecture for system logging, network logging and collecting logs from hosts. You can use the VMware Syslog Service to direct ESXi system logs to a server on the network, rather than to a local disk. The recommended maximum number of supported hosts to collect logs from is 30. For information about configuring VMware Syslog Service, see vCenter Server Appliance Configuration.

vSphere Auto Deploy

The vCenter Server support tool that can provision hundreds of physical hosts with ESXi software. You can specify the image to deploy and the hosts to provision with the image. Optionally, you can specify host profiles to apply to the hosts, and a vCenter Server location (folder or cluster) for each host.