Second – validate hardware, firmware, and drivers of ESXi hosts.
Third – validate compatibility of partner products deployed in the environment.
Snapshot vCenter Before
I personally like taking a snapshot of the vCenter VM. I do this after a clean shutdown.
Prerequisites Updates patch the current vCenter appliance (vCSA). An upgrade replaces the existing appliance, so a few extra items will be needed: – Validate adequate storage space is available. – Current vCSA VM will need to be renamed in the inventory, else the new vCSA VM will need a temp name. – Temp IP address will be needed briefly for the new appliance being deployed (assuming Static temp IP being used).
Upgrade The vCenter
Mount the ISO to a jump server Locate and launch the installer.exe.
You’ll be presented with several available options. In this example I am upgrading an existing vCSA, so that’s the option I’ll select.
Enter the details for the existing vCenter Server Appliance. Hit CONNECT TO SOURCE.
This will open up a new wizard which will require environment specific connection details. You can either target a specif host to deploy the new vCenter Server Appliance to, or you can use the vCenter. Sometimes DNS may get in your way and the deployment will fail. Try again using IP addresses instead.
Here you have the option to select a new deployment size based on your needs and future expected growth.
Here you can elect to use a TEMP static IP address or DHCP for the new vCenter Server Appliance being deployed. This will enable it to coexist with the current vCSA while the data and settings are copied over. After a successful deployment, the current vCSA will be shutdown, and the newly deployed appliance will assume the olds address. Make sure you select the appropriate network. This trips more people up than one would think.
Review your settings, and if everything looks good click FINISH.
This may take a while depending on the size of your environment, but the new appliance will now be deployed. Eventually the wizard will prompt to CONTINUE.
System checks will now run to ensure proper configuration and communication.
My lab threw a couple cautions, but nothing was a show stopper, and I was able to continue the upgrade.
This is where the data will be copied from the existing vCenter Appliance. Pick what needs to be copied over and click NEXT.
Review the config and click FINISH if everything is satisfactory.
IF everything was successful, the new vCenter Server 7.0U1 appliance should now be in command, and the original will be powered off. Next steps will be to import your new license keys for 7, and get the new vCenter licensed. In the next post I’ll walk through the steps of upgrading ESXi to 7 using the newly rebranded Lifecycle Manager that replaced VUM.
Blog date: September 01, 2020 Completed on vSphere version: 6.7
Today my customer needed to change the root password for roughly 36 hosts across two data centers. These are two data centers that were recently built as part of my residency with them, and they have already seen the benefits of using host profiles. Today I was able to show them one more.
VMware has a KB68079 that details the process should the root password become unknown on a host. Well the same process can be applied and used to update the password on all hosts with that host profile attached. At the time of writing this article, all hosts are compliant with the current host profile, and there are no outstanding issues.
In the vSphere client, go to ‘Policies and Profiles’ and select ‘Host Profiles’ in the left column, click and select the desired host profile on the right.
Edit the desired host profile.
In the search field, type root and hit enter.
Select root in the left column.
In the right column, change the field below ‘Password’ to Fixed password Configuration.
Now you are prompted with password fields and can update the root password.
Click Save once the new password has been entered.
Now you can remediate the hosts against the updated host profile, and the root account will get updated on each host. – Out of an abundance of caution, it is always good to spot check a handful of hosts to validate the new password.
I had my customer go back and edit the host profile once more and change the ‘Password’ field back to: Leave password unchanged for the default account. Click save, and then remediate the cluster again. The new password will stay.
Before I connected with the customer today, they had already researched how to update the root password on all hosts with a script, but this method is simple, automated and built into vSphere.
The Convergence Tool basically takes the external PSC and embeds it into the vCenter appliance like so:
For this customer, I had three vCSA’s and three PSC’s that I needed to converge. Most of the blogs that I found didn’t cover PSC’s that were joined to a domain, environments with multiple vCenters, or with multiple PSC’s, so I thought I would write this up in a blog.
Planning the Convergence
The first thing I had to do was take note of any registered services with the SSO domain. I utilized VMware’s KB2043509 to identify these services, which I had none to worry about. VMware specifically calls out NSX and Site Recovery Manager (SRM), but since those were not in use at this customer, the only things I had to worry about were Horizon, vROps, vRLi and Zerto. Each of these services registered directly to the vCenters, so I had nothing to worry about there. If I had any services registered with the SSO domain, I’d simply need to re-register them once the convergence tool was ran. But since this didn’t apply, I can move forward with configuring the scripts for the convergence tool.
I also need to have an understanding of the replication typology of the existing SSO domain. VMware KB2127057 was an excellent resource I used to gather that information. Opening a putting session to a vCenter, and running the ‘vdcrepadmin’ command against each of the external PSCs, I was able to see the following:
I can see they already have a ring topology, which is the desired architecture. If I were to draw the SSO typology out, it would look something like:
Setting Up the JSON Templates for the Convergence Tool
The converge.json template that the convergence tool uses, can be found in the VMware VCSA ISO, that was used for the 6.7 Update 1 upgrade, under the following path: DVD Drive (#):\VMware VCSA\vcsa-converge-cli\templates\
To make my life easier, I copied the contents of the entire ISO to a folder on the root of my C drive. I then made a seperate folder on the root of C called converge, and created a folder for each of the three vCenters I’d be working with: vCenter-A, vCenter-B, vCenter-C. I made a copy of the converge.json, and placed it into each folder.
Taking a look at the converge.json for vCenter-A, the template tells you what data needs to be filled in, so pay close attention. Lines 10 – 15 needs entries for the ESXi host where the vCenter resides, or the managing vCenter appliance. Here I chose the option to used the Managing ESXi host. All I needed to do, was look in vSphere to see where the vCSA appliance VM resided on which host. While there, I also set the Cluster DRS settings to manual, to prevent the VMs from moving during the upgrade. Once I obtained the information needed, I completed that portion of the json. (I’ve redacted environment specific information).
Lines 16 – 21 need data entries for the first vCenter appliance (vCenter-A) to be converged. Here I need the FQDN for vCenter-A, for the Username, I need the firstname.lastname@example.org account, its password, and the root password of the appliance.
Lines 22 – 33 would be filled out IF the Platform Services Controller (PSC) appliance is joined to the domain. My customer was joined to the domain, so I needed to fill this section out. Otherwise you can remove this section from the JSON.
Now, because this is the first vCenter of three, in the same SSO domain, for the first convergence, I did not need this section, because the first vCenter does not have a partner yet. It will be needed however, on the second (vCenter-B) and third (vCenter-C) convergences.
Now I need to fill out a second and third converge.json file for the second and third convergence, saving each in its respective folder. For vCenter-B and vCenter-C, for the partner hostname on line 32, I used the FQDN of the first converged vCenter (vCenter-A), as that is the first partner of the SSO domain.
For vCenter-A, the first to be converged, the completed converge.json looks like this (take note of the commas, brackets and lines removed):
For the second convergence (vCenter-B), and third convergence (vCenter-C), the completed converge.json looks like this:
Now that we got the converge.json done for each of the vCenters, we can work on the decommission.json.
Here is the template VMware provides in the same directory:
Lines 11 – 15 require impute for the Managing vCenter or ESXi Host of the External PSC. Again, just like the vCenter, I used the ESXi host that the PSC is running on.
Lines 16 – 21 needs data for the Platform Services Controller that will be Decommissioned.
Lines 30 – 34 requires information for the vCenter the PSC was paired with. Again here I just used the ESXi host that the vCenter is currently running on
Lines 35 – 39 require the information for the vCenter, the PSC is paired with.
Now that we have the decommission.json filled out for the first vCenter (vCenter-A), I have to repeat the process for the second and third vCenters (vCenter-B, vCenter-C). The full decommission.json should look like
Now that both the converge.json and decommission.json have been filled out for each of my environments (3), and stored in the same directory on the root of C, I can move forward with the Convergence process.
Prerequisites and Considerations Before Starting the Convergence Process
The converge tool only supports the VCSA and PSC 6.7 Update 1. All nodes must be on 6.7 Update 1 before converting.
If you are currently running a Windows vCenter Server or PSC, you must migrate to the appliance first.
Before converting, take a backups of your VCSA(s) and PSCs in the vSphere SSO domain(VM snapshots, and DB backups).
Know all other solutions using the PSC for authentication in the environment. They will need to be re-registered after the convergence completes and before decommissioning.
A machine on a routable network which can communicate with the VCSA and PSC will be used to run the convergence and decommission process.
Set the DRS Automation Level to manual, and the Migration Threshold to conservative. There will be be issues if the VCSA being converged is moved during the process.
If VCHA is enabled, it must be disabled prior to running the convergence process.
The converge process will handle PSC HA load balancers. Make sure you point to the VIP in the JSON template if you have them.
All vSphere SSO data is migrated with the exception of local OS users.
Best to take snapshots of the vCSA and external PSC VMs before continuing. We’ve already backed up the database, but it doesn’t hurt to have snapshots as well.
Executing the Converge Tool
Now that converge.json template for each vCenter (vCenter-A, vCenter-B, vCenter-C) is filled out properly, we can now execute. We will run the convergence tool against the first vCenter (vCenter-A). Note: We can only run the converge tool against one vCSA at a time.
In powershell, we can first run the following command before proceeding with the upgrade to see what options/parameters are available with the converge tool.
Once the process successfully completes, move onto the next PSC. Repeat the process until all PSC’s have been decommissioned.
Validate the SSO Replication Topology After the Converge Process
If you’ll remember, when I setup the converge.json, I had the second vCenter (vCenter-B) and third vCenter (vCenter-C) replication partner set to the first converged vCenter (vCenter-A). My Replication topology currently looks like this:
I needed to close the loop between vCenter-B and vCenter-C. Using VMware’s KB2127057 , I used the ‘createagreement’ parameter. I opened a putty session to vCenter-B and ran the following command:
Now that the SSO replication agreement has been made between vCenter-B and vCenter-C, my replication topology looks like this:
I’m not going to lie, the hardest part of using the convergence tool, was just getting started. I’ve been through enough fires in my day to know how bad of a time I would have had if something went wrong, and I lost either the vCenter, or external PSC before the convergence successfully completed. Once I got myself beyond that mental hurdle, the process was actually quite easy and smooth.
I know I’ve left this customer’s environment in a lot better shape than I found it, and having embedded PSCs will make future vCenter upgrades a breeze. For a VMware PSO consultant, this was a huge value add for the customer.
I recently wrapped up a vSphere 6.7 U1 upgrade project, while on a VMware Professional Services (PSO) engagement, with a customer in Denver Colorado. On this project, I had to upgrade their three VMware environments from 6.5, to 6.7 Update 1. This customer also had three external Platform Services Controllers (PSC), a configuration that is now depreciated in VMware architecture.
Check the VMware Interoperability, and Compatibility Matrices
The first thing I needed to do, was to take inventory of the customer’s environment. I needed to know how many vCenters, if they had external Platform Services Controllers, how many hosts, vSphere Distributed Switch (VDS), and what the versions were.
From my investigation, this customer had three vCenters, and three external platform services controllers (PSC), all apart of the same SSO domain.
I also made note of which vCenter was paired with what external PSO. This information is critical not only for the vSphere 6.7 U1 upgrade, but also the convergence process that I will be doing in part two of this blog series.
Looking at the customer’s ESXi hosts, the majority were running the same ESXi 6.5 build, but I did find a few Nutanix clusters, and six ESXi hosts still on version 5.5.
The customer had multiple vSphere Distributed Switch (VDS) that needed to be upgraded to 6.5 before the 6.7 upgrade.
The second thing that I needed to do was to look at the model of each ESXi host and determine if it is supported for the vSphere 6.7 U1 upgrade. I also need to validate the firmware and BIOS each host is using, to see if I need to have the customer upgrade the firmware and BIOS of the hosts. We’ll plug this information into the VMware Compatibility Guide .
From my investigation, the three ESXi hosts running ESXi 5.5 were not compatible with 6.7U1, however they were compatible with the current build of ESXi 6.5 the customer was running on their other hosts. I would need to upgrade these hosts to ESXi 6.5 before starting the vSphere 6.7 U1 upgrade.
This customer had a mix of Dell and Cisco UCS hosts, and almost all needed to have their firmware and BIOS upgraded to be compatible with ESXi 6.7 U1.
The third thing I needed to check was to see what other platforms, owned by VMware, and/or bolt on third parties, that I needed to worry about for this upgrade.
The customer is using a later version of VMware’s Horizon solution, and luckily for me, it is compatible with vSphere 6.7 U1, so no worries there.
The customer has Zerto 6.0 deployed, and unfortunately it needed to be upgraded to a compatible version.
The customer has Actifio backup solution, but that is also running a compatible version, so again no need to update it.
Lets Get those ESXi 5.5 hosts Upgraded to 6.5
I needed to schedule an outage with the customer, as they had three offsite locations, with two ESXi 5.5 hosts each. These hosts were using local storage to house and run the VMs, so even though they were in a host cluster, HA was not an option, and the VMs would need to be powered off.
Once I had the outage secured, I was able to move forward with upgrading these six hosts to ESXi 6.5.
Time to Upgrade the vSphere Distributed Switch (VDS)
For this portion of the upgrade, I only needed to upgrade the customers VDS’s to 6.5. This portion of the upgrade was fast, and I was able to do it mid day without the customer experiencing an outage. We did submit a formal maintenance request for visibility, and CYA. Total upgrade time to do all of their VDS’s was less than 15 minutes. Each switch took roughly a minute.
Upgrade the External Platform Services Controllers Before the vCenter Appliances
Now that I had all hosts to a compatible ESXi 6.5 version, I can move forward with the upgrade. I was able to do this upgrade during the day, as the customer would only lose the ability to manage their VMs using the vCenters. I made backups of the PSC and vCSA databases, and created snapshots of the VMs just in case.
I first needed to upgrade the external PSCs (3) to 6.7 U1, so I simply attached the vCSA.iso to my jump VM, and launched the .exe. I did this process one PSC at a time until they were all upgraded to 6.7 U1.
Upgrade the vCenter Appliances to 6.7 Update 1
Now that the external platform services controllers are on 6.7 U1, it is time to upgrade the vCenters. The process is the same with the exe, so I just did one vCenter at a time. Both the external PSC’s and the vCSA’s upgraded without issue, and within a couple of hours both the external PSC’s and vCSA’s had finished the vSphere 6.7 Update 1.
Upgrade Compatible ESXi Hosts to 6.7 Update 1
I really wanted to use the now embedded VMware Update Manager (VUM), but I either faced users who re-attached ISO’s to their Horizon VMs, or had administrators who were upgrading/installing VMware Tools. In one cluster I even happened to find a host that had improper networking configured compared to its peers in the cluster. Once I got all of that out of the way, I was able to schedule VUM to work its way down through each cluster, and upgrade the ESXi hosts to 6.7 Update 1. There were still some fringe cases where VUM wouldn’t work as intended, and I needed to do one host at a time.
Conclusion for the Upgrade
In the end, upgrading the customer’s three environments, vCSA, PSC and ESXi to 6.7 Update 1 took me about a couple of weeks to do alone. Not too shabby considering I finished ahead of schedule, even with all of the issues I faced. After the upgrade, the customer started having their Cisco UCS blades purple screen at random. After opening a case with GSS, that week Cisco came out with an emergency patch for the fnic driver, on the customer’s UCS blades, for the very issue they were facing. The customer was able to quickly patch the blades. Talk about good timing.
Part 2 Incoming
Part 2 of this series will focus on using the vCenter Converge Tool. Stay tuned.