If you are like me, you’ve taken comfort over the years in the installation process of VMware vCenter Server being rather easy and predictable. Well, there is a new component with vSphere 5.1 that you should be aware of. The VMware vSphere Single Sign-On is now an included and required component of VMware vCenter Server starting with version 5.1.

The logic here with the vSphere Single Sign-On will work for all other vCloud components, not just vCenter Server. If you haven’t noticed, VMware have a few more products up their sleeves nowadays! The vCloud Suite includes more than just vCenter, and the Single Sign-On component is a part of that framework. The new vCenter Inventory Service is another component that is required before vCenter Server is installed.

In typical installations on Windows, the vCenter Inventory Service will use the vCenter Single Sign-On Service as part of its installation (as does vCenter Server). The Inventory Service and Single Sign-On ask minimal questions during the installation process, but are critical to the overall authentication framework of the vCenter Server installation. Figure A below shows the Single Sign-On installation process. Be sure to remember the password you’ve entered in this screen!

Figure A

The new Single Sign-On module

Like most administrators, you may still plan on using Active Directory for authentication – and that’s fine. Think of the vSphere Single Sign-On module as a way to connect the vCloud components that you have installed. Many people just use vCenter Server, and you will surely be able to continue to do that with Windows credentials from Active Directory!

If you are preparing to install vCenter 5.1 as part of your vSphere 5.1 upgrade, it is worth going through a few more upgrade test scenarios to ensure that you won’t have any surprises along the way. Remember that the Single Sign-On component is required, so you won’t be able to put it off forever.

You can find more information on the vSphere Single Sign-On feature in the VMware Pubs (documentation) site. There is also a good blog at VMware.com explaining the new feature by Justin King.

How have you managed to configure and integrate the Single Sign-On component of vSphere into your environment? Share your comments below.