If you find yourself in a situation where nobody knows what the administrator password is for the vCenter Server Appliance, this guide should help you get back in control.
The problem: no password vault manager
The solution: in 10 steps we can take back control.
First you need to figure out on which ESXi host the VCSA VM is running. You will need permissions (power on, power off, console and snapshot) on that ESXi host.
Step 1: Log in to that ESXi host and guest power off the VCSA VM
Step 2: Just for rollback sake, create a snapshot
Step 3: Open the console and power on the VCSA VM. Hit “e” when you see the Photon OS bootscreen
Step 4: Go to the end of the line starting with “linux “/”$photon_linux…” append that line with:
Make sure to leave a space between “consoleblank=0” and “rw”
Once done, hit F10
Step 5: The VCSA VM will boot and you will be prompted with a shell. Create a new root password:
Enter your new root password twice.
You will reset the firstname.lastname@example.org password later on. When you have set a new password enter:
The VCSA will now reboot.
Step 6: If needed enable SSH. Somehow I needed to enter the root password twice, I’m pretty sure I entered the password correct the first time.
Step 7: Open Putty (or any other SSH client) and SSH into the VCSA with the newly created root password. Now we can reset the email@example.com password.
When logged in:
A new password is generated for the administrator account. You can use this password to log in to the vCenter Server Appliance.
Step 8: Get access to the VCSA by copy pasting the new administrator password from the previous screen
Step 9: Time to clean up and remove the snapshot:
Right click VCSA VM -> Snapshots -> Manage Snapshot -> delete -> done
Step 10: Create a new firstname.lastname@example.org password:
Menu -> Administration -> Users And Groups -> Set: Domain to vsphere.local -> “3 dots” left of Administrator -> Edit -> set new password -> Save
Bonus tip: there are plenty of password vaulting apps, make sure to use one.
This is tested with VCSA 6.7 with an embedded PSC. This should work with previous VCSA versions and external PSC as well. But I haven’t tested other setups. If you have, please let me know the outcome below.
Thanks for reading!