5 Replies Latest reply on Sep 17, 2018 8:40 AM by daphnissov

    Questions about Update Process of 9 ESXI and two vCenter 6.0 to 6.7

    NiklasGEU Lurker

      Hello everyone,

       

      ***If this is for some reason, not the correct place/forum to start such a thread, I would be glad if you could point me somewhere where this fits in better***

       

      I am working now for about a year in my company and I am responsable for a our virtualization environment which was created by my predecessor. I am currently thinking about updating everything to 6.7 and may need some opinions on that. Before asking questions I want to share some information about the environment:

       

      We currently have two Clusters consisting of 1 vCenter Server Appliance running on a host of the cluster and 3 ESXI-Hosts in each cluster. Everything is on Version 6.0.0. Additionally we have 3 stand-alone ESXIs on Version 6.5.0. But as they are standalone, I am not that concerned about updating them.

       

      All in all our environment looks sime kind of like this:

       

       

      All of the ESXIs have local storage attached to a RAID Controller and Running in RAID 10. In fact, here is an image of the Hardware used:

       

       

      From me research this hardware is actually not supported by VMWare, at least I did not find everything on https://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php?deviceCategory=io&details=1&partner=221&releases=369,408,367,338,276,275,274,273&page=1&display_interval=10&sortColumn=Partner&sortOrder=Asc. CPU seems fine, RAID Controller is definitely not supported by VMWare. I was not able to find a list of supported Mainboards, RAM and HDDs. Whats not on the image is the SSD which holds the ESXI OS.

       

      Regarding network access, each Host has 4 1GB NICs, 3 of them are in our development network and 1 is in a management network which consists of a RIS/WDS-Server to get some images. I am currently not sure if the 3 NICs are some kind of teamed/trunked, the config says "Load Balancing by Port-ID"?:

       

       

       

      Besides the Hardware and ESXI Versions there are the two vCenter Server Appliances and one Platform Service Controller running as VMs on the Hosts. I think the two vCSAs are running in "Link Mode" as I can see them both when loggin into the webinterface of one of them:

       

       

      Also, what is probably notable, we have a Single-Sign-On running using our company domain.

       

      Now, what I would like to do is:

       

      • First, update the first vCenter to 6.7. As I read on https://www.vladan.fr/upgrading-vcsa-6-5-to-6-7/ this can be done by just installing a new 6.7 vCSA and during the wizard it will copy the config.
        • My questions here are if I need to need something special as I have these two vCSAs in "Link mode" and if I still need the PSC afterwards (I think I read somewhere that it is not needed anymore in 6.7)
      • After that I want to update the second one
      • If that is succesfull, I want to upgrade one ESXI host after another. As we are cheap and dont have vMotion, I have to shut down the VMs for that.
        • My question here is if it would be better to try to install 6.7 ontop of 6.0 or, my currently prefered Idea, to install 6.7 to a fresh SSD and switching them out?
        • I know that I have to integrate the driver for our RAID-Controller into the ESXI Image. I have that done once before with 6.5 and assume that it will work similar with 6.7. But are there any other things that I probably have to think about?
      • If the update process is done, I would like to think about some minor stuff like the NIC Teaming/Trunking and if it is good as it is or if I can enhance it.
        • Any suggestions here?
        • Also I would be glad for some other suggestions of "nice to have" features I should configure

       

      Some minor information I want to mention: All of our Hosts are some kind of a Lab-Environment for our Development, so there is no VM that has to run 24/7 or which is production critical. I can shutdown any VM and the worst thing that happens is that 1 or 2 devs are complaining that they cant test their code. Also I have only about 10% of my worktime availiable for tasks regarding the virtualization environment. I know it could be in a better state but I was busy getting warm with my job first.

       

      If there are any questions or suggestions I am will try to answer them asap. Also I can provide any more information anyone needs (as long as they are not confidential).

       

      So far, thanks in advance,

       

      Niklas

        • 1. Re: Questions about Update Process of 9 ESXI and two vCenter 6.0 to 6.7
          daphnissov Guru
          vExpertCommunity Warriors

          Ok, first, thank you for creating a post with enough information to provide some helpful guidance (including screenshots). This is the correct way you ask for help.

           

          Next, my main concern with you doing much of anything here in the way of upgrading is that you have a whole list of things that aren't supported. I know you said this was a dev environment, but it's still "production" in that it is a business-reliant environment, correct? I understand this is a "cheap" environment, but with the aforementioned statement being true, it's never a good idea to create a roll-your-own vSphere environment upon which a business relies, even if in part. So, that said, I have a big problem with trying to upgrade something that you probably lucked out in getting to work in the first place. You're treading on dangerous grounds here if you proceed.

           

          But, to answer some direct questions:

           

          • First, update the first vCenter to 6.7. As I read on https://www.vladan.fr/upgrading-vcsa-6-5-to-6-7/ this can be done by just installing a new 6.7 vCSA and during the wizard it will copy the config.
            • My questions here are if I need to need something special as I have these two vCSAs in "Link mode" and if I still need the PSC afterwards (I think I read somewhere that it is not needed anymore in 6.7)
          • After that I want to update the second one

          You need to upgrade all the external PSCs first, followed by vCenters.

           

          If that is succesfull, I want to upgrade one ESXI host after another. As we are cheap and dont have vMotion, I have to shut down the VMs for that.

          • My question here is if it would be better to try to install 6.7 ontop of 6.0 or, my currently prefered Idea, to install 6.7 to a fresh SSD and switching them out?
          • I know that I have to integrate the driver for our RAID-Controller into the ESXI Image. I have that done once before with 6.5 and assume that it will work similar with 6.7. But are there any other things that I probably have to think about?

          See my introductory paragraph for this one. I would strongly recommend against this one until you have hardware that is officially supported on the HCL.

           

          If the update process is done, I would like to think about some minor stuff like the NIC Teaming/Trunking and if it is good as it is or if I can enhance it.

          • Any suggestions here?

          What you actually have is a form of NIC teaming and trunking. Route based on port ID allows all VMs that share that port group to be balanced between those physical NICs in that VM01 may be put on vmnic1 and VM02 may be put on vmnic2. There's nothing else you need to do here. It also allows for failover so if vmnic1 fails, whatever VM vNICs utilize that vmnic will be moved to other available vmnics.

           

          I hope this helps you.

          • 2. Re: Questions about Update Process of 9 ESXI and two vCenter 6.0 to 6.7
            NiklasGEU Lurker

            First, thanks for your answer, it helps a lot. Now about your advice in detail:

             

            You need to upgrade all the external PSCs first, followed by vCenters.

             

            Ok, good to know. I will get some more knowledge about a PSC.

             

            What you actually have is a form of NIC teaming and trunking. Route based on port ID allows all VMs that share that port group to be balanced between those physical NICs in that VM01 may be put on vmnic1 and VM02 may be put on vmnic2. There's nothing else you need to do here. It also allows for failover so if vmnic1 fails, whatever VM vNICs utilize that vmnic will be moved to other available vmnics.

            Ok, sounds good. Then I will not touch this,

             

            I know you said this was a dev environment, but it's still "production" in that it is a business-reliant environment, correct?

            Well, yes it is.

            See my introductory paragraph for this one. I would strongly recommend against this one until you have hardware that is officially supported on the HCL.

            Hm... first, I highly doubt that I will get certified hardware in a reasonable time. Most likely, the next point in time where I can raise this question to my superiors is when the current hardware is outdated, probably in a year or two. But, from what I have discovered so far, may only choice is to switch out the whole server, right? As I havent found a list of supported Mainboards, RAM and HDDs in the HCL? Or am I looking the wrong way?

             

            I still would like to upgrade now to have some control over it and to not be forced to do an update when it gets urgent. At least I want to get rid of the VCSA 6.0, as the webinterface is awefull in that particular version.

            • 3. Re: Questions about Update Process of 9 ESXI and two vCenter 6.0 to 6.7
              daphnissov Guru
              Community WarriorsvExpert

              But, from what I have discovered so far, may only choice is to switch out the whole server, right?

              Not necessarily. There are barebones kits available from Supermicro which are fully supported and into which you could place most (if not all) of your components. Keep in mind swapping the mainboard will require a reinstallation of ESXi. And, no, before you ask, there is no "backup-and-restore" of ESXi in this case although the settings can be backed up.

               

              I still would like to upgrade now to have some control over it and to not be forced to do an update when it gets urgent. At least I want to get rid of the VCSA 6.0, as the webinterface is awefull in that particular version.

              You're free to attempt what you want, although you're really rolling the dice. Upgrading vCenter is no problem and you could easily go to 6.5 for that. But upgrading your hosts is a big gamble. In all honesty, you're pretty lucky that given how unsupported you are (with multiple parts) everything works and appears to be stable. Most are not that lucky, and you might remind management of these facts when they complain. If everything is running on ESXi 6.0, I really wouldn't risk a major upgrade where it may no longer work or be totally unstable because those are real possibilities.

              • 4. Re: Questions about Update Process of 9 ESXI and two vCenter 6.0 to 6.7
                NiklasGEU Lurker

                Not necessarily. There are barebones kits available from Supermicro

                Good to know, I will have a look for that.

                 

                If everything is running on ESXi 6.0, I really wouldn't risk a major upgrade where it may no longer work or be totally unstable because those are real possibilities.

                As my main annoyance is the VCSA Webinterface, I will plan to only upgrade this (and the PSC of course). I am actually not a "Dont change a running system" guy and wanted to get on track with my versions... but I get your point.

                 

                EDIT: I just realized: As already said in the original post, some of these Servers are already running 6.5 (the ones not running under the vCenter). Probably I will then consider getting the other ones to  at least 6.5  IF they have the exact same hardware. But as already I will first just upgrade the VCSA.

                 

                Last question; do you see any reason to not go to vCenter 6.7 (as you suggested 6.5)?

                • 5. Re: Questions about Update Process of 9 ESXI and two vCenter 6.0 to 6.7
                  daphnissov Guru
                  Community WarriorsvExpert

                  I am actually not a "Dont change a running system" guy and wanted to get on track with my versions... but I get your point.

                  To be clear, I'm not that type of guy either UNLESS you're already in an unsupported posture (which you guys definitely are). That's why I said "rolling the dice" because you're gambling that a further, newer edition will run exactly like it does now which is by no means certain.

                   

                  Last question; do you see any reason to not go to vCenter 6.7 (as you suggested 6.5)?

                  The only reason I wouldn't personally advise going to vCenter 6.7 right now is because Update 1 isn't available and, historically, it takes until about U1 for things in a given major release to stabilize where I feel comfortable deploying it into production.