Monday, November 28, 2016

vSphere (and Some Other Products) Upgrade Notes

Recently, a lot of my customer are planning, doing, or have just done vSphere upgrade. Mostly due to vSphere 5.1 which already in end of general support phase per 24 August 2016. Technical guidance will still be provided for vSphere 5.1 until 24 August 2018 (For a complete important date on your product support phase, please check this VMware product lifecycle matrix.), but please note that no more security patches or bug fixes will be released for vSphere 5.1 in the future, unless stated otherwise. Other than that, during technical guidance phase, support request will only be given to low-severities issues on supported configuration only as stated in this VMware lifecycle policies. This is my personal notes on some information which can help in planning VMware environment upgrade.

  • First thing that will define to which vSphere version you can upgrade to is your hardware compatibility. You should check which vSphere version compatible with the server you have here.
  • If your environment is vSphere only, you can continue to upgrade with the guidance of VMware KB 2130664.
  • If you are currently on vSphere 5.5 and using Windows version of vCenter Server and would like to migrate to vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) 6.0, then you might want to use vCSA migration tool described here.
  • If you have more than vSphere, let's say you have Site Recovery Manager (SRM), and/or vRealize Operations Manager (vROps) - these are the two common products that my customer has other than vSphere - then you'll need to check the interoperability between those products with your targeted vCenter Server version here. First select for vCenter Server and the targeted version, then select other products you want to upgrade. In this example, I want to check which version of SRM, vSphere Replication, and vROps compatible with vCenter Server 6.0 U2.
  • One thing you need to remember if you are using SRM and leveraging Array Based Replication, then the availability of Storage Replication Adapter (SRA) will also define SRM version that you can use. Check with your storage vendor which version of SRA available for your storage array. From that, find which SRM version support that available SRA version here. Start by selecting SRM versions that you get from previous step, then select your storage array brand and type. Compare the result.
  • OK now you should already know to which version you want to upgrade each and every pieces you have, then this VMware KB 2109760 is the reference on the upgrade sequences.
  • Not mentioned in KB 2109760: If you have distributed switch, you can upgrade it after you finish ESXi upgrade with reference upgrade sequence mentioned earlier. Check the reference here.
  • Not mentioned in KB 2109760: You may upgrade SRA after finished SRM upgrade as mentioned here.
  • One caveat for SRM upgrade, do upgrade your protected site first. Upgrading the protected site first allows you to perform a disaster recovery on the recovery site if you encounter problems during the upgrade that render the protected site unusable. You may also find a situation where your SRM and vCenter are in an incompatible combination during one upgrade phase and hence makes your SRM inoperable. This is another reason that you need to complete your SRM upgrade on your protected site first, before moving to your recovery site.
  • There's also possibility that you can do direct upgrade from your current version to target version. Check your supported upgrade path here. As an example, to go to SRM 6.1.1 from SRM 5.1, should go to 5.5 then 6.0 first, cannot upgrade directly.
Some other useful VMware documentation:

That's what I have collected so far. Let me know if you want to share any caveat that you find/learn during your hands on experience upgrading vSphere or any other VMware products.

PS. You should really consider to upgrade your vROps to version 6.4 as it is really cool! 

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