Access to vSphere components is regulated by authentication and authorization. vCenter Single Sign-On is responsible for authentication, verifying whether a user is allowed to log in or not. But once a user is logged in, authorization must also be granted to allow them to view or manipulate vSphere objects.
There are various authorization methods supported by vSphere, which are detailed in the resource “Understanding Authorization in vSphere”. In this article, we will focus on the vCenter Server’s permission model and the management tasks involved.
vCenter Server provides precise control over authorization through the use of permissions and roles. When assigning permission to an object within the vCenter Server object hierarchy, you specify the user or group and the privileges they have on that object. Privileges are defined through roles, which are collections of privileges.
Only the administrator user for the vCenter Single Sign-On domain is authorized to access the vCenter Server system at first. The default domain is “vsphere.local” and the default administrator is “firstname.lastname@example.org“. However, during the installation of vSphere, the default domain can be altered.
The administrator user can proceed as follows:
- Add an identity source in which users and groups are defined to vCenter Single Sign-On. See the vSphere Authentication documentation.
- Give privileges to a user or group by selecting an object such as a virtual machine or a vCenter Server system and assigning a role on that object for the user or group.
Creating Users and Groups
The first step in managing users and permissions in vSphere is to create user accounts. This can be done through the vSphere Client or the vSphere Web Client. Administrators can create local user accounts or connect to an external directory service such as Active Directory. Once the user accounts have been created, they can be organized into groups to simplify the management of permissions.
Once the users and groups have been created, the next step is to assign permissions. Permissions in vSphere determine what actions a user or group can perform within the virtual environment. This can include actions such as creating virtual machines, managing network configurations, or monitoring performance. Permissions can be assigned at different levels, including the vCenter Server, individual ESXi hosts, and virtual machines.
Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)
vSphere uses Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) to manage permissions. RBAC enables administrators to assign predefined roles to users and groups, which determine the permissions they have within the virtual environment. For example, a user with the “Virtual Machine User” role would be able to perform actions such as power on/off virtual machines and connect to the console, but would not be able to perform administrative tasks such as creating virtual networks.
In addition to RBAC, vSphere also provides the ability to manage privileges. Privileges are specific actions that a user or group is allowed to perform within the virtual environment. For example, a user with the “Datastore.File Management” privilege would be able to manage files within a datastore.
vSphere also provides the ability to delegate administration. This allows administrators to grant specific permissions to other users, enabling them to perform certain tasks within the virtual environment. Delegated administrators can have access to a specific subset of vCenter Server objects, such as a particular datacenter or cluster.
Managing users and permissions in vSphere requires a solid understanding of RBAC, privileges, and delegation. Properly managing these components can help ensure that your virtual environment is secure and that administrators can perform the tasks they need to effectively manage it.
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