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VMware plans to deprecate vCenter Server for Windows with the next numbered release (not update release) of vSphere.  The next version of vSphere will be the terminal release for which vCenter Server for Windows will be available.

Why Is VMware deprecating vCenter Server for Windows?

VMware is consistently striving to simplify data center administration and lifecycle management for IT.  One way to achieve this goal is by simplifying the deployment of vCenter Server, the centralized management platform for vSphere environments.

The vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) was first introduced with the release of vSphere 5.0 and has since evolved to become the definitive deployment model for vCenter Server.  For a while now, VMware has been publicizing the benefits of the appliance deployment model over its Windows counterpart. With vSphere 6.5 and subsequently vSphere 6.5 Update 1, the VCSA has become the fundamental building block of a vSphere environment.

VCSA-exclusive capabilities such as file-based backup and restore, unified update and patching, native vCenter High Availability, and a significant performance advantage mean that the VCSA has become the platform of choice for vCenter Server.  Additionally, due to the integrated nature of appliance packaging, VMware is able to both better optimize and innovate vCenter Server at an accelerated pace.  Finally, with the VCSA, VMware can provide support for the entire vCenter Server stack including the vCenter Server application, the underlying operating system (Photon OS), and the database (vPostgres). By doing so, VMware can ensure that customers can focus on what matters most while having a single source for updates, security patches, and support.  The VCSA model is simply a better model for vCenter Server deployment and lifecycle management.

Now is as good of a time as ever to move to vSphere 6.5.  The 6.5 versions of vSphere and VCSA have now been production tested for over 9 months.  Customers have had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the VCSA and expressed how much better it is compared to its counterpart, vCenter Server for Windows.  Customers like Brandon Lovelace of Santa Barbara City College state that “the vCenter Server Appliance really simplifies management and updates”.   Nilan Shakya of CenturyLink says that “VCSA has allowed CenturyLink Cloud to simplify and automate the provisioning and maintenance of [their] VMware based public cloud offering.  The deployment, patching, and upgrading of 130 globally distributed vCenters would be a management nightmare without VCSA.”

Packaging applications as appliances simplifies deployment and operations, letting customers focus more on workloads and applications rather than the infrastructure. Maintenance tasks and downtime are minimized because there are no longer dependencies on monthly patch cycles with a general-purpose operating system. Customers who have not yet migrated to the VCSA should start planning their migrations as soon as possible as the next numbered release of vSphere will be the terminal release for vCenter Server for Windows.   vCenter Server for Windows will not be available after the next release.

Help with the migration

We post this blog now to give customers a fair warning and ample time to prepare for the eventual vCenter Server for Windows deprecation. This also gives customers a chance to express their concerns both online and at VMworld.  At VMworld, customers will have many opportunities to learn more about the VCSA in various breakout sessions, labs, and of course by speaking with the experts in the Solutions Exchange.  There is also a migration tool to help with the migration from vCenter Server for Windows to the VCSA during your next upgrade cycle. Note that even after deprecation, the standard support policies will apply.

We would like your feedback on any issues blocking you from migrating to the vCenter Server Appliance. Please take some time and fill out the following survey to help us understand any concerns or issues you may have with the vCenter Server Appliance.

Some key sessions at VMworld 2017 are listed below:

Migrate to the vCenter Server Appliance You Should
Technical – Intermediate [US: SER2958BU | EU: SER2958BE]
This session will cover the available options for migrating from a VMware vCenter Server for Windows to VMware vCenter Server Appliance.

What’s New in vCenter
Technical – Intermediate [US: SER2779BU | EU: SER2779BE]
Join to us to learn about the exciting new features in VMware vCenter. We’ll discuss and demo enhancements to vCenter Server Appliance, vCenter availability options, and streamlined deployment and update capabilities. 

Monitoring and Managing vCenter Server Appliance
Technical – Introductory [US: SER3145GU | EU: SER3145GE]
Group Discussion VMware vCenter Server Appliance is a preconfigured virtual appliance with operating system, database, and the vCenter Server application bundled together.

Meet the vCenter Server Experts Panel
Technical – Intermediate [US Only: SER1440PU]
Panel Discussion Curious about the deepest, darkest secrets of VMware vCenter Server? Attend this panel discussion with vCenter experts and engage in an open Q&A with some candid stories of the vCenter Server evolution.

Customers Share VMware vCenter War Stories
Technical – Intermediate [US Only: SER1756PU]
Panel Discussion In this panel session (moderated by a product manager) is to exchange enterprise customers will share “war stories” about VMware vCenter performance (Boeing is confirmed, and others are pending).

Additional Resources