VMworld 2013: vSphere 5.5 Upgrade Part 1

NOTE: I’ve started my vSphere 5.5 Install series. This is a complete How-To guide for installing, configuring, and securing your vCenter 5.5 installation. Check it out here. The information in this post has been incorporated into that series.  

Twitter: #VSVC5690. This session covered the recommended vCenter 4.x and 5.x to 5.5 upgrade paths. They quickly touched on a few new vCenter 5.5 features, such as a completely re-written SSO service, and simplified install architecture. There are supported and direct upgrade paths from vCenter 4.x through 5.1. You will be very glad to know that vCenter 5.5 does not add any new components, it’s just new and improved.

vSphere 5.5 Upgrade Overview

  • Five steps: vCenter, VUM, ESXi, VMs, VMFS
  • Review: Documentation Center, Compatibility Guide, Intero Matrix
  • Prior to 5.1: vCenter Server, vCenter Database server, and vSphere web client – Simple, life before vSphere 5.1
  • vCenter Server has SSL certificates, ADAM database – The vCenter server is not stateless
  • Web client – Third party products
  • vCenter 5.1 adds Single Sign on and Inventory Service
  • No new components added to vCenter 5.5

Upgrade Matrix

  • In-place supports vCenter 4.x, 5.0.x, 5.1.x
  • VMware does NOT support directly migrating an existing 5.x earlier vCenter Server to a new machine during the upgrade process
  • vCenter Server 5.5 can manage 4.x and 5.x hosts

System Requirements

  • Simple install – 2 vCPUs, 12GB RAM, 100GB disk
  • Strongly recommend installing ALL vCenter components on a single VM – Simplified model
  • Recommended for 400 hosts and 4000 VMs: 4 vCPU, 24GB RAM, 200GB disk
  • vCenter OS Support: Removes WS2003, only supports Windows Server 2008 SP2 and later (including WS2012)

New Install Vs. In Place Upgrade

  • New Install Pros: Clean start, reconfigure architecture, new hardware
  • New Install Cons: Loss of historical data, rebuild environment, settings manually created, time involved
  • VMware recommends a fresh install, but sometimes its not just possible
  • In Place Upgrade Pros: Most common, all settings maintained, slipstreamed process, historical data maintained
  • In Place Upgrade Cons: Carry over of old/unused data, possible performance
  • vCenter 5.5 appliance does NOT support IPv6, Linked Mode, vCenter Heartbeat, but can be a good option
  • vCenter appliance may support SQL server in the future, when Microsoft released from tech-preview the SUSE Linux ODBC connector

Installation – Then and Now

  • New Install splash screen – Simple Install is now strongly, strongly preferred
  • Simple Install should only be used for the first vCenter only
  • 5.5 Install order changed: Single Sign-On, vSphere WebClient, Inventory Service, vCenter
  • vSphere Web client is installed right after SSO to aid in troubleshooting
  • Custom install: Needed if you want to customize install location, distribute the components, or advanced config like SSO

Design Recommendations

  • Use simpler installer
  • Installs/Upgrades core components with single VMs
  • Multi-site vCenters: Single SSO domain (vsphere.local); Multi-master SSO replication
  • Each site is independent, does NOT provide a single pane of glass view
  • SSO automated replication – SSO users and groups, SSO policies, identity sources
  • Site awareness
  • Linked Mode – Maintains single pane of glass, replicates licenses, permissions and roles
  • Availability: Use vSphere HA and vCenter heartbeat

Multi-vCenter Design Recommendations (6 or more vCenters)

  • Centralized SSO authentication, same physical location
  • Single centralized vSphere web client
  • Availability (required) – vSphere HA, vCenter heartbeat, network load balancer
  • VM #1: SSO Server, Web Client; VM 2 – 6: vCenter 5.5, Inventory service

vCenter Linked Mode

  • vCenter Server linked mode groups – Does not support different versions of vCenter
  • DNS and network time are absolutely critical
  • All vCenter servers need to be a part of the same SSO domain

Host Agent Pre-Upgrade Checker

  • Perform checks include: Host is reachable, disk space is sufficient, network is functioning, file system intact, required patches installed
  • Aim is to prevent hosts going disconnected after host

vCenter Appliance

  • No migration from Windows vCenter to VCSA
  • Same license as Windows vCenter
  • Linux, no Windows
  • All in one, self contained

Update Manager

  • Can upgrade to 5.5 from 4.x and 5.x
  • Upgrades cannot change installation or download path
  • Scheduled tasks for scan and remediation are maintained
  • Patch baselines are removed
  • Use update manager utility to replace 512-bit key with 2048 key
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