How To Run VMware vCenter Server Appliance in Workstation

A new option in vSphere 5 is to deploy vCenter as a virtual appliance. Although not a 100% replacement of the traditional Windows vCenter install it is very useful for test environments because it is very easy to deploy. The download is in ovf format. When I wanted to try it in VMware Workstation 7 I could not import the ovf appliance with “The OVF descriptor file could not be parsed” error. The reason for that is an incompatibility of the OVF format in VMware Workstation with the one in vSphere. To solve it download the VMware OVF Tool from http://communities.vmware.com/community/vmtn/server/vsphere/automationtools/ovf, install it and convert the vCenter Server Appliance ovf with the following command:

"c:\Program Files\VMware\VMware OVF Tool\ovftool.exe" VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance-5.0.0.3324-472350_OVF10.ovf VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance.vmx
Opening OVF source: VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance-5.0.0.3324-472350_OVF10.ovf
Warning: No manifest file
Opening VMX target: VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance.vmx
Writing VMX file: VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance.vmx
Disk Transfer Completed

Completed successfully

The created vmx file can be now opened and run in VMware Workstation. Do not forget to dial down the memory requirements (8 GB by default) to something more reasonable. The default credentials to the appliance are login: root, password: vmware.

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9 thoughts on “How To Run VMware vCenter Server Appliance in Workstation

  1. Hi Tom,

    Thank you for your post. I’m trying to get started for VCP, so I really need vCenter. I have converted the ovf to vmx and It’s working under workstation, i can login from browser, i’ve made all the configs but the connection from vSphere client it’s not working.

    Network is configured, database is embedded, service is running, i can ping the vCSA but I’m unable to login from vSphere Client. I get a message error, “vSphere Client could not connect to “IP”. An unknown connection error occurred. (The Request failed because of a connection failure. (Unable to connect to the remote server))”.

    Any ideas? I really have to make this working because i’m limited to only a single PC, so i have to run vCenter and at least 2 ESXi host inside workstation for learning purposes.

    Catalin

    1. This usually happens when you allocate too small amount of RAM for vCenter server. Same happened to me – I could access the web interface, but could not connect via vSphere client until I increased the RAM for vCenter Server appliance.

    1. The biggest difference is that the appliance is running linux OS, so no Microsoft licensing needed. In terms of features you it does not support linked mode, vCenter Hearbeat, MS SQL, external DB2 and View Composer. You also cannot run Update Manager in the appliance as it must be installed separately on Windows OS.

  2. Hi. I followed the instructions.. but I am experiencing the below error..

    C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware OVF Tool>
    C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware OVF Tool>ovftool.exe VMware-vCenter-Server-Applia
    nce-5.0.0.3324-472350_OVF10.ovf VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance.vmx
    Opening OVF source: VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance-5.0.0.3324-472350_OVF10.ovf
    Warning: No manifest file
    Opening VMX target: VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance.vmx
    Error: Failed to create disk: .\VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance-disk1.vmdk. Reas
    on: Insufficient permission to access file
    Completed with errors..

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