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, vSphere Auto Deploy, and vSphere ESXi Dump Collector. vCenter Server for Windows also contains the VMware vSphere Syslog Collector. The vCenter Server Appliance also contains the VMware vSphere Update Manager Extension service.
Note: Starting with vSphere 6.5, all vCenter Server services and some Platform Services Controller services run as child processes of the VMware Service Lifecycle Manager service.

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 required with vCenter Server.

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.

For information about all Platform Services Controller services and capabilities, see Platform Services Controller Administration.

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.

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 Client

The new user interface that lets you connect to vCenter Server instances by using a Web browser. The terminology, topology, and workflow are closely aligned with the same aspects and elements of the vSphere Web Client user interface.

Note: Not all functionality in the vSphere Web Client has been implemented for the vSphere Client in the vSphere 6.5 release. For an up-to-date list of unsupported functionality, see Functionality Updates for the vSphere Client Guide at
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

The vCenter Server Appliance uses the built-in Rsyslog service of the Linux OS. For information how to redirect the log files to another machine with the Appliance Management Interface, 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.
VMware vSphere Update Manager Extension
Update Manager enables centralized, automated patch and version management for VMware vSphere and offers support for VMware ESXi hosts, virtual machines, and virtual appliances. The VMware vSphere Update Manager Extension is an optional service of only the vCenter Server Appliance 6.5.