Exploring vCenter Server

You access vCenter Server via the vSphere Client, which you installed previously. The vSphere Client is installed either through the home page of an ESX/ESXi host or through the home page of a vCenter Server instance. When you launch the vSphere Client, you are prompted to enter the IP address or name of the server to which you will connect, along with security credentials. vCenter Server 4.0 supports pass-through authentication, enabled by the check box Use Windows Session Credentials. When this check box is selected, the username and password are grayed out, and authentication to the vCenter Server is handled using the currently logged-on account.

The first time that you connect to a vCenter Server instance, you receive a Security Warning dialog box. This security warning is the result of the fact that the vSphere Client uses HTTP over Secure Sockets Layer (HTTPS) to connect to vCenter Server while the vCenter Server is using a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate from an "untrusted" source.

To correct this error, you have the following two options:

• You can select the box Install This Certificate And Do Not Display Any Security Warnings For server.domain.com. This option installs the SSL certificate locally so that the system running the vSphere Client will no longer consider it to be an untrusted certificate.

• You can install your own SSL certificate from a trusted certification authority on the vCenter Server.

After the vSphere Client connects to vCenter Server, you will notice a Getting Started tab that facilitates the construction of a new datacenter. The starting point for the vCenter Server inventory is the vCenter Server itself, while the building block of the vCenter Server inventory is called a datacenter.

Clicking the Create A Datacenter link allows you to create a datacenter. The Getting Started Wizard would then prompt you to add an ESX/ESXi host to vCenter Server, but before you do that, you should acquaint yourself with the vSphere Client interface when it's connected to vCenter Server.

The vCenter Server Home Screen

So far, you've seen only the Hosts And Clusters view of inventory. This is where you manage ESX/ESXi hosts, VMware DRS/HA clusters, and virtual machines. To see the rest of what vCenter Server has to offer, click the Home button on the navigation bar

The home screen lists all the various features that vCenter Server has to offer in managing ESX/ESXi hosts and virtual machines:

• Under Inventory, vCenter Server offers several views, including Hosts And Clusters, VMs And Templates, Datastores, and Networking.

• Under Administration, vCenter Server has screens for managing roles, viewing and managing current sessions, licensing, viewing system logs, managing vCenter Server settings, and viewing the status of the vCenter Server services.

• Under Management, there are areas for scheduled tasks, events, maps, host profiles, and customization specifications.

From the home screen, you can click any of the icons shown there to navigate to that area. But vCenter Server and the vSphere Client also have another way to navigate quickly and easily, and that's called the navigation bar.

The Navigation Bar

Across the top of the vSphere Client, just below the menu bar, is the navigation bar. The navigation bar shows you exactly where you are in the various screens that vCenter Server provides. If you click any portion of the navigation bar, a drop-down menu appears. The options that appear illustrate a key point about the vSphere Client and vCenter Server: the menu options and tabs that appear within the application are context sensitive, meaning they change depending upon what object is selected or active. You'll learn more about this topic throughout the chapter.

Of course, you can also use the menu bar, where the View menu will be the primary method whereby you would switch between the various screens that are available to you. The vSphere Client also provides numerous keyboard shortcuts, making it even easier to flip quickly from one area to another with very little effort.

Now you're ready to get started creating and managing the vCenter Server inventory.