Upgrading vCenter Server Appliance to 6.0 update 1

So now that VMware have released their latest updates, I thought it would be a good time to upgrade my demo environment. Whilst I’ve carried out numerous upgrades/patches on previous releases of the vCSA, I’ve not yet carried one out for the vCSA 6.0.

BTW, I’ve previously documented my vCSA upgrades, so pop along to these posts if you want more info:
Upgrading vCenter Server Appliance to 5.5
Upgrading to vCenter Server 5.5.0a
Installing/Upgrading vCenter Server Appliance 6.0

One of the first things you will notice with the vCSA 6.0 is the lack of the Virtual Appliance Management Interface (VAMI) page – all configuration is now carried out via the Web Client! (Although this has been re-introduced with update 1, see further down this post).

For previous versions of the vCSA there were 2 upgrade/update processes:

  1. In-place update – If it was a minor update or patch (so staying within a major release, eg. 5.5 -> 5.5a), then this could be deployed via the VAMI under the upgrade tab.
  2. Migration update – If it was a major update (so moving from one major release to another, eg. 5.1 -> 5.5), then you would deploy the new vCSA and migrate the data from your old one.

In order to update or patch the vCSA 6.0 you will need to use the appliancesh command-line interface. There is a command called ‘software-packages’ which is used to update/patch the software on the VCSA.

One of the new features with vSphere 6.0 Update 1 is the ability to do an in-place update for major releases – accomplished by mounting the update ISO to your existing vCSA and performing the upgrade using the ‘software-packages’ command. This is a handy new feature that reduces the need to copy data between your old and new appliance which occurs with the migration update – obviously helping to reduce the overall downtime!
(Note: a vCSA 5.x to vCSA 6.0U1 upgrade still requires the migration approach as the vCSA has been re-architected!).

Another new feature is the reintroduction of the VAMI page (https:// <vCSA_FQDN> :5480), and the best thing about it is that VMware have now completely re-written it using HTML5…. Yay! =)
TBH, most of the features available on the VAMI page can be accessed by using the appliancesh CLI.
As part of the re-introduction of the VAMI page, you will be able to update the vCSA directly from the Update tab and configure it to point to VMware’s online repository to pull down the latest patch/update.

Anyways, I digress….. here are the instructions on how you go about upgrading the vCSA 6.0 to 6.0 update 1 (Remember, take a backup or snapshot your vCSA prior to upgrading!)

  1. If you have an external PSC, then the process is the same as upgrading the vCSA. However, upgrade your PSC first as that provides the authentication to your vCSA. Once the PSC has been upgraded, the vCSA can be next.
  2. Download the Upgrade ISO from the My VMware Portal. Select VC and 6.0.0 as the product. – the version of the ISO you want to download is the one labelled FP (Full Patch), rather than then one labelled TP (Third Party)
    vcsa1
  3. Mount the ISO to your vCSA using Web Client or vSphere Client (Don’t worry about the mounted ISO as during the installation process it will unmount the ISO after staging the install and before it shuts down the vCenter services).
  4. Log in to your vCSA either via SSH (using a program like Putty) or via the console from the client.
    Note: Be aware that if you log in via the client, you may lose connection when the installer stops the vCSA services (to continue re-log in via the client onto the host the vCSA resides on). You may have to enable SSH from within the vCSA DCUI:
    vcsa2
  5. Run the following command to stage and install the upgrade from the ISO:
    Software-packages install –iso –acceptEulas
    vcsa3
  6. Once the upgrade is completed, reboot the vCSA using the following command:
    Shutdown reboot –r “vCSA upgrade”
    (Note: In order to use the reboot command, a reason is required)
    vcsa4
  7. To check your vCSA has been upgraded, either open the console to the vCSA or access the new VAMI page using the root account:
    vcsa5 vcsa6

The whole upgrade process took me about 15mins to complete….. it’s quite a pain-free process (assuming you don’t run into any issues). =)

New VMware Fling – HTML5 Embedded Host Client for ESXi

The clever bods at VMware labs have just released another new Fling… and this one’s a damn awesome Fling!

https://labs.vmware.com/flings/esxi-embedded-host-client

What it allows you to do (after installing the VIB) is to open up a browser to your ESXi host and gain access to a simple client allowing you to manage your freshly installed ESXi host (for example if you haven’t yet deployed vCenter Server or don’t have access to the C# client). The look and feel of it is very similar to the current Web client…. very simple to navigate and access the features/functions.

ESXiHostClientFlingScreenShotLargest

The client is still in the development phase, and as such does not open up all the features possible, the VMware engineers have only implemented a hand full of the most important features:

  • VM operations (Power on, off, reset, suspend, etc).
  • Creating a new VM, from scratch or from OVF/OVA (limited OVA support)
  • Configuring NTP on a host
  • Displaying summaries, events, tasks and notifications/alerts
  • Providing a console to VMs
  • Configuring host networking
  • Configuring host advanced settings
  • Configuring host services

Only issue is it’s a VIB which means you need to copy it across to your ESXi host (using a SCP tool like WinSCP).
Then once copied over you need to install the VIB into the kernel (esxcli software vib install -v /tmp/esxui.vib)

Hopefully the next version will be a fully packaged installer that asks for the IP address of your ESXi host and goes off and deploys the VIB automatically!

The best thing about it – it’s HTML5 and JavaScript….. no Flash!!!! =)

Go off, have a try and then offer your feedback or post up any issues you encounter! Hopefully it’ll get rolled into vSphere ESXi in the future! =)

VMware vSphere ESXi and vCenter Server 6.0.0b Released

So the first minor release for vSphere ESXi 6.0 is out alongside the second minor release for vCenter Server 6.0.

https://www.vmware.com/support/vsphere6/doc/vsphere-vcenter-server-600b-release-notes.html
https://www.vmware.com/support/vsphere6/doc/vsphere-esxi-600b-release-notes.html

Looking through the release notes, I don’t think I’ve experienced any of those bugs that have been fixed – which is a good indication of a stable software release….. I’m guessing that the public beta of vSphere 6 actually ironed out a lot of bugs!

As always, read through the release notes prior to upgrading. =)

Installing/Upgrading vCenter Server Appliance 6.0

I’ve been itching to deploy vSphere 6.0 GA for weeks now (since it was launched last month – wanted to replace my vSphere 6.0 Beta environment) but due to work commitments I’ve had to put this pet-project on the back-burner….. really hate when vendors release new toys at the end of quarter as it means I can’t get to play with it for a month or so!! >_<”

Installing and upgrading the vCSA 6.0 is significantly different than previous releases, it no longer gets distributed as an OVA which means you don’t use the OVF import in vSphere Client that we’re all so used to doing! Instead, vCSA 6.0 gets distributed as an ISO image – which is a bit weird for an appliance!

Hmm…. “So how do I deploy it?” is the most obvious question that most end-users will ask…. Well, you pretty much have to mount the ISO image onto your workstation/laptop/desktop/VM and then run the installation from the mounted drive…..

You may think that it’s a bit of a pain, but the installation process is quite simple and the wizard is very intuitive!

But why would VMware do away with the OVA package?!?
Well if I was to make an educated guess then this could be because they want to phase out the vSphere C# Client, and if you aren’t able to client onto your newly created host then how do you deploy an OVA?
For example, in a freshly installed ESXi host there’s no easy way to manage it without either a vSphere Client or a vCenter Server – at present you can’t open a web-client to the host in order to manage it (see below screenshot of the ESXi hosts’ landing page), so it makes sense to do away with the OVA deployment method and design it so you can mount the installation package for deployment of the vCSA without having to import the OVA via the soon-to-be-retired (maybe) vSphere client!
vcsa01

Now there’s two ways you can install vCSA 6.0 – Guided or Scripted. For ease of deployment, I’m going to discuss the Guided approach using the installation wizard. The Scripted approach is aimed at people who wish to automate the deployment of (several) vCSAs.

So before we get started, there are certain pre-requisites which must be completed prior to deploying the vCSA (in addition to what is listed in the documentation)

  1. Ensure that the hostname being assigned to the vCSA is in DNS, ideally both forward and reverse lookup. This will help with the installation process (I won’t go into the reasoning or what happens as several people have already posted online to mention the installation could fail if no DNS entry can be found).
  2. Ensure you install the Client Integration Plug-in before running the installation – the installer will not run without it installed! (This is both for fresh installs and upgrades!)
    vcsa02
  3. Do not input more than 1 DNS server (even though the installer prompts that you can). This will cause the installer to fail – as pointed out in the Release Notes.
  4. Ensure you enter the network settings correctly, as there is no pre-check function available and any errors will lead to firstboot errors – again, as pointed out in the Release Notes!
    Especially watch out for VLAN configuration errors, ensure the vCSA is on the correct VLAN and it’s routable to the machine you’re deploying from (as well as the ESXi host itself).

Right, now you’re ready to mount the ISO on your deployment device (my case – my Win 7 laptop) and start the installation process! In my case I’m using MagicDisc to mount the ISO.

First up, install the Client Integration Plug-In which is found in vcsa directory.
vcsa05 vcsa06

Next launch the setup via the vcsa-setup.html file:
vcsa04

This will open up a webpage which will prompt you to allow the client integration plug-in to run, the screens below are for Chrome (left) and IE (right):
vcsa07 vcsa08

Next hit the Install button:
vcsa09

Accept the EULA and enter the ESXi host information where you are going to deploy the vCSA, accept any certification warnings:
vcsa10 vcsa11

Enter the FQDN for the appliance and the new root password.
vcsa12

Next choose the deployment type. In my case I want to deploy the embedded PSC. I won’t go into the technicalities of what the PSC is, and the different deployment scenarios – if you wish to learn more than head along to Derek Seaman’s site which explains the PSC in more detail!
vcsa13vcsa14

Next enter the SSO password and domain details.
vcsa15

Select the appliance size based on your virtual environment (number of hosts and VMs)
vcsa16

Select the datastore you wish to deploy the appliance on
vcsa17

Choose whether to use the internal vPostgres DB or an external Oracle DB
vcsa18

Input the network configuration details, ensuring the FQDN is resolvable in DNS. Pay attention to the NTP server, especially if deploying/connecting to another PSC – if they’re out of sync, it could cause installation issues!
vcsa19

Review the configurations and click Finish to start the installation.
vcsa20

Once complete, the installation wizard will give you the details to connect to the web client, the URL will be https://fqdn/vsphere-client (no more port number required at the end of the url!!). Remember, if you’ve changed the SSO domain earlier, then the login user will be administrator@SSO-Domain
vcsa21 vcsa22

Now that the vCSA has been deployed, there is a new way of joining it to an Active Directory Domain, which will help you configure the Identity Sources for SSO. Log into the web client and then on the home page select System Configuration.
vcsa29

Under System Configuration, click Nodes and then select the vCenter Server and click the Manage tab.
vcsa25

Under Advanced, select Active Directory, and click Join. Type in the Active Directory details. Note: The User name must be in User Principle Name (UPN) format – eg joebloggs@acme.com.
vcsa26

Click OK to join the vCenter Server Appliance to the Active Directory domain. Now Right-click the node you edited and select Reboot to restart the appliance so that the changes are applied.
vcsa27

Now you can add in the domain as a SSO Identity Source as you would usually do. However, you can choose Active Directory (Integrated Windows Authentication) and it should populate the domain details and pick up the information from when you joined the vCSA to the domain.
vcsa28

For more information, point your browsers to the vCenter Server 6.0 Deployment Guide.

vSphere 6.0 Launched

So Tuesday was quite an eventful day….. not only did it snow in my neck of the woods (South West London) and cause chaos to road traffic – which meant I had to walk just over a mile to the station in freezing weather as the buses weren’t going anywhere – it was also the launch event for VMware vSphere 6.0 and also EMC’s EVO:RAIL offering – VSPEX Blue.
So lets start with a blog on vSphere 6.0 (VSPEX Blue to follow)……

I had previously blogged about all the goodies that were talked about at VMworld 2014 last October and on Tuesday, Pat Gelsinger and Ben Fathi announced the eagerly awaited 6.0 to the world! If you missed the event, then you can still register to view the video recording here: http://www.vmware.com/now.html

Whilst there was no date mentioned for GA, you can probably expect it to be available by the end of Q1 2015.

There are over 650 feature improvements with vSphere 6.0, and frankly I don’t even know more than 10% of what those improvements are!!
Anyways, here are what I think are the most important improvements:

vSphere 6.0

  • Increased maximum configs:
    • 128 vCPUs and 4TB of vRAM per VM
    • 64 hosts and 8000 VMs per cluster
    • 480 CPUs and 12TB of memory per host (need to find a manufacturer who can make such a beast first!!)
  • New VM hardware version – v11
  • The long awaited Virtual Volumes (which I talked about previously in my VMworld 2014 update post here) – doing away with LUNs and filesystems and allowing VMs to write their VMDKs straight to the storage array.

vCenter Server 6.0

  • Linked Mode now supported on the vCenter Server Appliance (so no reason you can’t kiss goodbye to that Windows installation!)
  • Content Library – organising ISO images, templates, vApps, etc. in one location
  • Improved security, user administration and task/event logging.
  • Long Distance vMotion – as long as the latency isn’t greater than 100ms
  • Cross vSwitch vMotion – must be on same L2 Network (so between vSS, or between vDS or from vSS to vDS, but not supported on vDS to vSS)
  • Cross vCenter vMotion – removing the previous boundary so now you can change compute, storage, network and vCenter!
  • vMotion of MSCS VMs using pRDMs
  • multi-vCPU Fault Tolerance – currently up to 4 vCPUs per VM and 8 vCPUs in FT per host
    • FT no longer requires a shared disk, which means your secondary FT copy could be residing on a different storage array.
    • FT is integrated with the VADP APIs allowing FT VMs to be backed up (snapshot)
  • Platform Services Controller (SSO on steroids) – which contains SSO, license manager, a certificate authority service and certificate store (which makes creation and provisioning of SSL certificates a bit easier). Deployed as a separate vApp with its own native replication (to other PSCs).
  • vSphere HA Component Protection (protects VMs against mis-configurations and connectivity problems)
  • NFS 4.1 support
  • Instant Clone (Project Fargo) Capability – this enables a running VM to be cloned such that the new VM is created identical to the original, which means you can get a new, running, booted up VM in less than a second.
  • Web Client performance has been improved (yay) with faster login times! Plus there have been some usability improvements which means tasks are completed faster, performance charts actually plot properly, the VM remote console offers better console access and security.
  • The classic C# vSphere client is still with us (they haven’t quite got rid of it yet… probably because of the VUM plugin and also the only way you can access ESXi hosts) and now lets you view the new VM hardware versions (v10 and 11) but to edit you need to use the Web Client.
  • vSphere Replication enhancements allowing compression of replication traffic, faster syncing but still the same 15min RPO
    • Ability to isolate vSphere Replication traffic onto its own network
  • vSphere Data Protection now includes all of the Advanced functionalities:
    • Up to 8TB of deduped data per VDP Appliance
    • Up to 800 VMs per VDP Appliance
    • Application level backup and restore of SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint
    • Replication to other VDP Appliances and EMC Avamar
    • Data Domain support (DD Boost)

Virtual SAN 6.0
(Obviously too good to be called 2.0)

  • All flash configurations – think ‘very’ cheap all-flash array!!
  • Fault Domain – which means you can plan your deployment to include several hosts in a domain (or even a whole rack)
  • Capacity planning – “What if scenarios”
  • Support for hardware-based check-summing/encryption
  • Virtual SAN Health Services plugin
  • Direct Attached JBODs for blade servers (only those on the HCL)
  • Greater scale
    • 64 hosts per cluster
    • 200 VMs per host
    • 62TB max VMDK size
    • New on-disk format enables fast cloning and snapshotting
    • 32 VM snapshots

PHEW……..

As you can see, that’s quite a hefty list of features – and it’s not even the complete list……. Anyways, like everyone else I’m itching to get my hands on the GA so that I can deploy it within MTI’s Solution Centre!

For more info pop along to: http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/