Monday 12 February 2018

Licensing a vmWare vCenter Server

I’m not particularly fond of managing vmWare products. First of all, their product names confuse the heck out of me. The hypervisor ESXi Server is called vSphere and the server to manage vSpheres is vCenter. Second, they have five ways of managing them (possibly more, i’ve lost count by now)

  • Hard core: ssh straight into the esxi server
  • Weird core: use PowerShell from my laptop (which i haven’t dared install, since it’s a Mac)
  • The native client, which isn’t available on a Mac
  • The HTML5 UI, which is missing some features (but won’t tell which)
  • The Flash UI – yes, Flash! – which has more features than the HTML5 UI but requires Flash.

To install a license on the vCenter Server, you will need to use the Flash UI. But you don’t need to install Flash, thank you Google, because you can use the Chrome browser.

Open the Chrome browser settings (⌘,) and enter Flash in the filter box. Your UI will probably say Ask first , which you should click on. If it isn’t on Ask first, set it to Ask first. You can disable Flash later and then find this article once you need it again. Now Add the URL to your vCenter server in the Allow section. This may or may not do you any good, if the certificate for your vCenter server is valid or not. But at least do it as a reminder for yourself why you’ve enabled Flash.

Now go to the web UI of your vCenter server. It’s there on (or wherever you installed it). Start the Web Client (Flash) and log in. If your certificate isn’t pki compliant (which is a fancy way of saying you’ve been out-confused by vmWare’s certificate maze), a small warning will flash (ha!) by at the right edge of your address bar, asking whether you want to allow Flash to run on this site. Click (quick!) to allow – even though you allowed it in the settings. Yeah, i know.

Once inside the flashy UI, hover over the button with a house and a hamburger menu (🏠≡) and select Administration. Then click Licensing > Licenses (This is why you need the Flash UI; Licensing is not available on the HTML UI, at least not today).

Click the Licenses tab, then the little green + sign. This will start an assistant where you can enter one or more license keys, give them snappy names (like ESXi vSphere License and vCenter Server License since they come as different license keys).

Once done, click the Assets tab. Your vcenter server should be on the list of assets. Click the line with it but don’t click any blue text if there is any (or click the Back button on the Navigation panel – not the browser Back button – if you did). Click the leftmost icon, which has an incomprehensible picture of an ID card with a white arrow on a blue dot on it. The mouse-over hover help text says Assign license, which is exactly what you want to do. Select the snappily named vCenter Server License (as snappily named in the paragraph above). Click OK.

Exhale. You’re done.