VSPHERE 6 – vCenter Upgrade

By | 2016-03-27

I had the opportunity last week to take part in a VMware sponsored Social Lab on VSAN 6.1 (HOL 1608). These are essentially instructor led Hand on Labs, with an appointed SME from VMware present to give some back ground material on the subject matter, as well as answer any questions during the lab. I haven’t had much time lately to dedicate to the many HOLs that I intended to take following VMworld 2015, so jumped at the opportunity to attend this as I have been meaning to look more closely at VSAN.

The event was awesome, and certainly wetted my appetite to start playing with VSAN in the home lab. Which lead to the immediate need to address my long put off upgrade to vSphere 6.0….

I have been on 5.5U2 in the home lab since forever. The main driver behind this is that my day job uses 5.5 in production, therefore having the lab at the same version has made sense for experimentation purposes. I have been itching to move the lab to 6.0 since day 1 of GA, and with my new desire to bang the hell out of VSAN in this environment (as well as the cross vCenter NSX capabilities), I can wait no more. J

I have numerous components at this stage in my labs, all of which represent a tangle of dependencies to contend with during this upgrade. Let’s see what breaks.

LAB ENVIRONMENT

I am going to be upgrading all components in my home lab to the latest build numbers associated with vSphere 6.0u1. This is going to include the following products:

PRODUCT Current Version Current Build Future Version Future Build
vCenter Server 5.5u2d

2442329

6.0u1b

3343019

Update Manager 5.5u2d

2061929

6.0u1

2945804

ESXi 5.5u2

2638301

6.0 Express Patch 5

3568940

vRealize Orchestrator Appliance 5.5.3.2

2945833

7.0

3310032

vSphere Replication Appliance 5.8.0.2

2613527

6.1

3051487

NSX 6.2.0

2986609

6.2.0

2986609

The only piece not being upgraded here is NSX, because this is already at the latest version 6.2 in my lab.

VMware has an update sequence matrix for 6.0 currently at https://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2109760 . I intend to do a separate blog for each of the items above, roughly in the order listed at this link.

First up is of course vCenter.

VCENTER 6.0 UPGRADE

As is the case before any upgrade, be sure to first backup the vCenter database and snapshot/backup the vCenter system in case things go south. Once this is taken care of we are clear to proceed.

Download the ISO from my.vmware.com, and extract it to a folder that is accessible by the vCenter system. Run the autorun installer as administrator, and select “Install” for vCenter Server for Windows to begin the upgrade.

The first part of the upgrade analyzes the current environment, and determines whether you are upgrading from a simple install (SSO, Inventory Service, Web Client, and vCenter Server all on same system) or an advanced install (components spread out across different systems). Depending on the current environment, the installer will make a determination for you on how the new Platform Services Controller will be laid out. In a nutshell, a 5.x simple install equates to the 6.0 installer putting an embedded PSC on the same system as vCenter, where as if your pre 6.0 environment has SSO on a different machine, the 6.0 installer assumes the PSC should be external.

There are some repercussions to not having an external PSC that will rear its head when we look at setting up the vastly improved Enhanced Link Mode in a later post, but for now the installer is going to shove an embedded PSC down my throat since I am indeed coming from a 5.5 simple install.

Move through the licensing nonsense.

Enter existing administrator credentials.

VMware seems to be going with PostgreSQL in all of their appliances and embedded solutions now, and vSphere 6.0 is no different. The installer warns that it will be migrating data from the embedded SQL Express into a new Postgres installation.

Confirm network ports.

The official installation documentation for hard space requirements is here:

The installer does a pre-check for available space and will warn if there isn’t enough. If the pre-check passes, we are asked to confirm directory target information. I have decided to store both the data for the vSphere application, as well as the scratch space for the database migration, on my E: drive as I have plenty of space here.

Confirm settings and the upgrade begins.

After verifying the install packages on the media, the process first exports all the current 5.5 data to the scratch space.

Previous version components are then removed. This process took a while on my lab environment, around 30 minutes.

The installation of all the new components will then take place. There are a lot of new components in 6.0! Although the Platform Services Controller and vCenter Server are two very distinct areas of the vSphere 6.0 installation, for an embedded installation the installer does not break out the components belonging to these two separate product areas during installation. All components get laid down in this one installation step.

Once the components are installed, the installer will begin starting the various services.

Once components are installed and started successfully (about 40 minutes on my setup for this stage to complete), the next step is for the installer to import all of the exported 5.5 data into the new PostgreSQL database. Services are shut back down to accommodate this process.

Add on components should all be brought forward into the new installation. I was very happy to see my Orchestrator workflows being incorporated into the new version!

The process warns us to update settings related to Auto Deploy. If using auto deploy, be sure perform the configuration changes indicated.

Finally, the installer will remove backup files and complete! The entire process for me took about 80 minutes. Of course this is a lab environment with a very small population of guests/hosts under management, but still not a bad upgrade time.

The completion screen gives some information relating to some post installation tasks, including re-applying license keys and cleaning up the migration folder.

Cool. 6.0 continues the move towards exclusive use of the Web Client, with VUM functionality finally added. The installer is inviting us to log in at this time to the Web Client, so let’s go ahead and test the new installation and begin seeing which add on components are broken.

First thing to do is install the new client integration plugin. This plugin is necessary for advanced web client functionality such as guest console access, datastore file access, as well as windows client pass through authentication.

Once installed, re-launch your browser of choice. Be sure to select “Launch Application” when asked. I tested the 6.0 plugin on Chrome version 48 and had no issues.

WHAT’S BUSTED?

I have already visited the product compatibility matrix located at https://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/sim/interop_matrix.php, and have the expectation that out of my product matrix below, everything in RED should be broken at this point until I upgrade that specific component in this lab environment:

PRODUCT Current Version Current Build Future Version Future Build
vCenter Server 5.5u2d

2442329

6.0u1b

3343019

Update Manager 5.5u2d

2061929

6.0u1

2945804

ESXi 5.5u2

2638301

6.0 Express Patch 5

3568940

vRealize Orchestrator Appliance 5.5.3.2

2945833

7.0

3310032

vSphere Replication Appliance 5.8.0.2

2613527

6.1

3051487

NSX 6.2.0

2986609

6.2.0

2986609

A quick check shows that indeed my ESXi 5.5 hosts as well as all NSX 6.2 components are fully manageable from within the upgraded vCenter system.

While ESXi compatibility was fully expected, I was pleased to see that the NSX components required absolutely nothing to be done following the upgrade. No refreshes or restarts of NSX Manager needed – all my components were fully accessible in the web client on the first login post upgrade.

Update Manager, vRealize Orchestrator, and vSphere Replication are all not working post upgrade and are going to need to be upgraded next.

I will cover the upgrade of these components in follow up posts, however VUM is an easy target and is part of the vCenter installation media, so let’s go ahead and quickly address this one right now.

UPDATE MANAGER

Update Manager is indeed missing from where it should be located on the new Web Client, in the monitoring section.

This is an easy fix and is included on the vCenter media that we used for our upgrade, so let’s quickly get this addressed. Extract and run the installer ISO on the system currently running your VUM installation, and launch the VUM installer.

The process will detect the existing install, and prompt for upgrade.

Accept the License Agreement and begin the upgrade.

Advance through the wizard.

The upgrade will pre-populate the settings for vCenter authentication. Re-add the credentials.

Confirm ODBC information and advance the wizard.

One final check that we indeed want to upgrade our DB.

Confirm network ports and the listening IP address the service should bind to.

Start the installation.

The installer will ask to stop VUM if the old 5.5 service is still running. It will then unregister the VUM plugin, upgrade the product, and re-register with vCenter. The process should run without issue.

Once complete we can log back in to our Web Client and should see VUM working. Yay! A working VUM will definitely be necessary for us to upgrade ESXi in a future post.

VSPHERE CLIENT

Even though the Web Client has improved by leaps and bound with this release, I still find myself working day to day with at least a couple instances of the .NET client open on my extended screens in conjunction with the Web Client. Certain actions still feel so much more efficient to me on the phat client.

You can upgrade the .NET client from the installation media as well.


They seem to have removed the upgrade/install exe from the splash page of the vCenter itself at http://vcenter-ip:80. Regardless, it still makes sense to have this tool available on any workstation that will be used for day to day maintenance of the environment, so I highly recommend this gets installed wherever needed.

Be sure to also re-download and install the 6.0 VUM plugin after getting the client connected back to vCenter.

CONCLUSION

My lab has been LONG overdue for the vSphere 6.0 upgrade, and I am glad to finally start getting my components upgraded. The placement of the Platform Services Controller is a major design component of any production deployment, and we only glossed over the importance of this. Some of the more interesting things that can be done in 6.0 (NSX Universal Objects, Cross vCenter vMotion) require Enhanced Linked Mode, which in turn requires leveraging an externally shared PSC between sites.

I will be revisiting the PSC in detail in a follow up post where I will be breaking out the PSC in order to set up Enhanced Link Mode.

However, before I move onto the PSC re-design, I will need to get the remaining components (ESXi, Orchestrator, Replication) upgraded as well so that my lab is full 6.0. The two most exciting features of 6.0 to me are vSAN 6.1 and the cross site functionality of NSX 6.2, and both of these will require hypervisors at version 6.0.

Up next will be the vSphere Replication upgrade. Can’t wait.

3 thoughts on “VSPHERE 6 – vCenter Upgrade

  1. Pingback: VSPHERE 6 – vSphere Replication Upgrade | Mistwire

  2. Pingback: VSPHERE 6 – vSphere Replication Upgrade | Mistwire

  3. Pingback: VSPHERE 6 – vSphere Replication Upgrade | vAddicted

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