You might have noticed already that the new vCenter Appliance (VCSA) 6.0 is only being distributed as an .ISO. While I do wish an OVA/OVF would have been available too, the new installer is pretty sweet.
When you mount this .ISO, you get a web page interface that cleanly and clearly walks you through deploying directly to an ESXi host. In my opinion this is a pretty good user experience, which is something that has been lacking at the install time of these products for quite a while. (Side note – check out the VIO installer too. It’s slick as well.)
I do think there are a few isolated use cases for directly using an OVA or OVF however. A vCD (or other hosted environment) is a good example, when you do not have access to the underlying hosts. Or if you encounter some issues in your browser, perhaps due to draconian IT security measures. All is not lost! The OVA is actually hiding in the ISO, you just have to find it.
Disclaimer: This is not recommended or supported by VMware. There are a lot of user input checks that go into the new installer, so use it when you deploy your VC for real. This should only be used for testing/sandboxing/may blow up in your face. There I said it, so don’t yell at me when you break something!
The ISO itself will look like this on disk:
When you mount it, the directory structure looks like:
In the “vcsa” directory, you will find a file with no extention like this:
This is the actual .OVA Copy it somewhere local so it’s writable and add the .OVA extension.
Now extract it. Did not know you can just use an unzip utility to extract an OVA? Well now you do.
Aaaaaand here are your familiar files!
Now I will warn you, you
could will have a bad day if you directly try to use this .ovf with vCD. It seemed to work fine for me in vCenter, but vCD does not understand a lot of the new options and fields in the format of this file. The outcome is it’s really difficult to deploy anything other than an embedded node (PSC+VC). If you want to deploy JUST the PSC or VC services you have to do quite a bit of editing. Luckily I asked around before I spent time on this and I found the VMware HOL Wizard Doug Baer (@dobaer) had already pulled his hair out getting it to work. So behold! Customized .OVF files for either PSC or VC nodes!
I warn you, your results may/will vary with these so the usual disclaimers about NOT using this in production and NOT calling support and expecting help apply.
You can find the contents of these files on a Github repo of mine here, and again all credit to Doug for these:
There you have it. Go get some vSphere 6 vCenter appliance action on.