Objective 4.2 – Perform vCenter Server Upgrades (Windows)

Continuing Objective 4, here is Objective 4.2 – Perform vCenter Server Upgrades (Windows).  I have included update material for the VCSA as whilst it isn’t listed in the blueprint, I am assuming that this is in error.  As always this article is linked to from the main VCP6.5-DCV Blueprint.

 

Happy Revision

Simon

 

Objective 4.2 – Perform vCenter Server Upgrades (Windows)

 

Compare the methods of upgrading vCenter Server

Upgrade Process of the vCenter Server Appliance and Platform Services Controller Appliance

You can upgrade the vCenter Server Appliance from version 5.5 or 6.0 to version 6.5. You can upgrade the Platform Services Controller appliance from version 6.0 to version 6.5.

When you run the GUI or CLI upgrade, the process includes:

  • Deploying a new appliance of version 6.5 with temporary network configuration

If you are upgrading a vCenter Server Appliance, you must select a deployment size for the new appliance that is suitable for your vSphere environment size. You must also select a storage size for the new appliance that is suitable for the vCenter Server Appliance database. If the source vCenter Server Appliance uses an external database,

  • Exporting the services and configuration data from the source appliance of version 5.5.x or 6.0.x. that you want to upgrade

You must select the data types that you want to transfer to the new appliance.

If you are upgrading a vCenter Server Appliance that uses an external Update Manager instance, you must ensure that the Migration Assistant is running on the Update Manager machine, which facilitates the export of the Update Manager configuration and database.

  • Transferring the exported data to the newly deployed appliance

Non-ephemeral distributed virtual port groups are not migrated. After the upgrade, you can manually connect the new appliance to a non-ephemeral distributed virtual port group.

If the source vCenter Server Appliance uses an external database, the database is migrated to the embedded PostgreSQL database of the new appliance.

If you are upgrading a vCenter Server Appliance that uses a Update Manager instance, the Update Manager instance is migrated to the embedded VMware vSphere Update Manager Extension of the new upgraded appliance.

  • Powering off the source appliance. The new upgraded appliance assumes the network configuration of the source appliance.

If your current appliance version is earlier than 5.5, you must upgrade to 5.5 or 6.0 before upgrading to version 6.5.

vCenter Server for Windows Upgrade Process

Upgrade options for vCenter Server on Windows depend on your existing deployment type and version.

You can upgrade the following deployments:

  • vCenter Server 5.5 with an embedded vCenter Single Sign-On on Windows
  • vCenter Server 6.0 with an embedded Platform Services Controller instance on Windows
  • vCenter Single Sign-On 5.5 on Windows
  • Platform Services Controller 6.0 on Windows
  • vCenter Server 5.5 on Windows
  • vCenter Server 6.0 on Windows

You cannot change your deployment type during upgrade.

Upgrading vCenter Server 5.5 on Windows

You can upgrade a vCenter Server for Windows instance with an embedded or external vCenter Single Sign-On to a vCenter Server Appliance instance with an embedded Platform Services Controller.

When you upgrade a vCenter Server instance with an embedded vCenter Single Sign-On on Windows, you upgrade the entire deployment at the same time.

Upgrade tasks:

  • Download and Mount the vCenter Server Appliance Installer
  • Assemble the Required Information for Upgrading vCenter Server on Windows.
  • Upgrade a vCenter Server 5.5 Installation with an Embedded vCenter Single Sign-On or Upgrade vCenter Single Sign-On 5.5 on Windows.

Upgrading vCenter Server 6.0 on Windows

You upgrade a vCenter Server instance with an embedded Platform Services Controller in one step. When you upgrade a vCenter Server with an external Platform Services Controller on Windows, you upgrade the instance in two steps.

  • First you upgrade the Platform Services Controller instance to version 6.5.
  • Next you upgrade the vCenter Server instance to version 6.5.

Upgrade Order

When upgrading multiple instances of vCenter Server, upgrade order matters: you upgrade all Platform Services Controller instances before upgrading vCenter Server instances.

Concurrent upgrades of Platform Services Controller instances are not supported. When upgrading multiple instances of vCenter Server that share the same vCenter Single Sign-On or Platform Services Controller, you can upgrade the vCenter Server instances concurrently after first upgrading the vCenter Single Sign-On or Platform Services Controller.

Mixed Platform Upgrades

When upgrading vCenter Server instances on Windows in a mixed platform environment with a Platform Services Controller 6.0 appliance, you upgrade the Platform Services Controller appliance to version 6.5 before upgrading the vCenter Server instances.

When upgrading vCenter Server Appliance instances in a mixed platform environment with a Platform Services Controller instance on Windows, you upgrade the Platform Services Controllerinstance before upgrading the vCenter Server Appliance instances to version 6.5.

Backup vCenter Server database, configuration and certificate datastore

Before you do any changes in production environment you always have to have a roll back option or a backup, same goes true to your virtual datacenter , here are some guidance for backup before you upgrade

  •  Backup vCenter database
  •  Backup all external services server (if you dont use embedded configuration)
  •  In case of vCSA backup the appliance

Back these up in accordance with backup and DB vendor notes.

The vCenter Server Appliance supports a file-based backup and restore mechanism that helps you to recover your environment after failures.

In vSphere 6.5, you can use the vCenter Server Appliance Management Interface to create a file-based backup of the vCenter Server Appliance and Platform Services Controller appliance. After you create the backup, you can restore it by using the GUI installer of the appliance.

You use the vCenter Server Appliance Management Interface to perform a file-based backup of the vCenter Server core configuration, inventory, and historical data of your choice. The backed-up data is streamed over FTP, FTPS, HTTP, HTTPS, or SCP to a remote system. The backup is not stored on the vCenter Server Appliance.

You can perform a file-based restore only for a vCenter Server Appliance that you have previously backed up by using the vCenter Server Appliance Management Interface. You can perform such restore operation by using the GUI installer of the vCenter Server Appliance. The process consists of deploying a new vCenter Server Appliance and copying the data from the file-based backup to the new appliance.

You can also perform a restore operation by deploying a new vCenter Server Appliance and using the vCenter Server Appliance management interface to copy the data from the file-based backup to the new appliance.

When you backup or restore a vCenter Server environment, take into account these considerations and limitation.

Protocols

The following considerations apply to file-based backup and restore protocols:

  • FTP and HTTP are not secure protocols
  • Backup servers must support minimum of 10 simultaneous connections for each vCenter Server Appliance
  • You must have write permissions for upload and read permissions for download
  • Only explicit mode is supported for FTPS
  • If you use HTTP or HTTPS, you must enable WebDAV on the backup Web server
  • You can use only FTP, FTPS, HTTP, or HTTPS to transmit data through an HTTP proxy server
  • You can use IPv4 and IPv6 URLs in file-based backup and restore of a vCenter Server Appliance. Mixed mode of IP versions between the backup server and the vCenter Server Appliance is unsupported.

Configuration

After a restore, the following configurations revert to the state when the backup was taken.

  • Virtual machine resource settings
  • Resource pool hierarchy and setting
  • Cluster-host membership
  • DRS configuration and rules

Storage DRS

If the configuration changes, the following might change after a restore.

  • Datastore Cluster configuration
  • Datastore Cluster membership
  • Datastore I/O Resource Management (Storage I/O Control) settings
  • Datastore-Datacenter membership
  • Host-Datastore membership

Distributed Power Management

If you put a host into standby mode after a backup, the vCenter Server might force the host to exit standby mode when you restore to the backup.

Distributed Virtual Switch

If you use a distributed virtual switch, you are advised to export separately the distributed virtual switch configuration before you restore to a backup. You can import the configuration after the restore. If you omit this consideration, you may lose the changes made to a distributed virtual switch after the backup.

Content Libraries

If you delete libraries or items after a backup, you cannot access or use these libraries or items after the restore. You can only delete such libraries or items. A warning message notifies you that there are missing files or folders in the storage backup.

If you create new items or item files after the backup, the Content Library Service has no record of the new items or files after the restore operation. A warning notifies you that extra folders or files were found on the storage backup.

If you create new libraries after the backup, the Content Library Service has no record of the new libraries after restore. The library content exists on the storage backing, but no warning is displayed. You must manually clean the new libraries.

Virtual Machine Life Cycle Operations

  • Restoring vCenter Server from a backup that was taken during in-flight relocation operations in the vCenter Server instance.

After you restore vCenter Server, the vCenter Server view of the virtual machines might be out of sync with the ESXi view of the virtual machines. This is also true if you performed the backup during in-flight operations on vCenter Server. If virtual machines disappear after you restore vCenter Server, you can refer to the following cases.

  • The missing virtual machine is located on the destination ESXi host and is registered with the destination ESXi host, but it is either an orphan or not in the vCenter Server inventory. You must manually add the virtual machine to the vCenter Server inventory.
  • The missing virtual machine is located on the destination ESXi host, but it is not registered with the destination ESXi host and it is not in the vCenter Server inventory. You must manually register the virtual machine to the ESXi host and add the virtual machine back to the vCenter Server inventory.
  • The missing virtual machine is located on the destination ESXi host, but it is not registered with the destination ESXi host. In the vCenter Server instance, the missing virtual machine is marked as orphaned. You must remove the virtual machine from the vCenter Server inventory and add it again.
  • Restoring vCenter Server from a backup that has an out-of-date linked clone virtual machine layout.

If you create a linked clone virtual machine after the backup and you restore vCenter Server from the old backup, then after the restore, the vCenter Server does not know about the new linked clone virtual machine until vCenter Server discovers the new linked clone virtual machine. If you remove all existing virtual machines before the new linked clone virtual machine is discovered, then the removal of existing virtual machines corrupts the new linked clone due to missing disks. In order to avoid this, you must wait until all linked clone virtual machines are discovered by the vCenter Server before you remove virtual machines.

  • Restoring vCenter Server from a backup that was taken during virtual machine registration.

If you are registering a virtual machine during the backup and you restore vCenter Server from the old backup, then after the restore, the virtual machine is marked as orphaned in the vCenter Server instance. You must manually add the virtual machine to the vCenter Server inventory.

vSphere High Availability

Restoring vCenter Server from a backup might cause it to rollback to older version for the vSphere HA cluster state (HostList, ClusterConfiguration, VM protection state) while the hosts in the cluster have the latest version for the cluster state. You need to make sure the vSphere HA cluster state stays the same during restore and backup operations. Otherwise, the following problems might occur.

  • If hosts are added or removed to or from the vSphere HA cluster after backup and before vCenter Server restore, virtual machines could potentially failover to hosts not being managed by the vCenter Server but are still part of the HA cluster.
  • Protection state for new virtual machines is not updated on the vSphere HA agents on the hosts that are part of the vSphere HA cluster. As a result, virtual machines are not protected or unprotected.
  • New cluster configuration state is not updated on the vSphere HA agents on the hosts that are part of the vSphere HA cluster.

vCenter High Availability

Restoring vCenter Server requires vCenter HA to be reconfigured.

Storage Policy Based Management

Restoring vCenter Server from a backup can lead to the following inconsistencies related to storage policies, storage providers, and virtual machines.

  • Registered storage providers after backup are lost.
  • Unregistered storage providers after backup re-appear and might show different provider status.
  • Changes, such as create, delete, or update, performed on storage policies after backup are lost.
  • Changes, such as create, delete, or update, performed on storage policy components after backup are lost.
  • Default policy configuration changes for datastores performed after backup are lost.
  • Changes in the storage policy association of the virtual machine and its disks, and in their policy compliance might occur.

Virtual Storage Area Network

Restoring vCenter Server from a backup might cause inconsistencies in the vSAN.

Patching

Restoring vCenter Server from a backup might result in missing security patches. You must apply them again after the restore is complete.

Perform update as prescribed

Refer to earlier information to review update options and limitations.

Upgrade vCenter Server

Refer to earlier information for vCenter upgrade options and limitations.

Determine the upgrade compatibility of an environment

To install vCenter Server on a Windows virtual machine or physical server, your system must meet specific hardware and software requirements.

  • Synchronize the clocks of the virtual machines on which you plan to install vCenter Server and the Platform Services Controller.
  • Verify that the DNS name of the virtual machine or physical server matches the actual full computer name.
  • Verify that the host name of the virtual machine or physical server on which you are installing or upgrading vCenter Server complies with RFC 1123 guidelines.
  • Verify that the system on which you are installing vCenter Server is not an Active Directory domain controller.
  • If you plan to use a user account other than the Local System account in which to run your vCenter Server service, verify that the user account has the following permissions:
    • Member of the Administrators group
    • Log on as a service
    • Act as part of the operating system (if the user is a domain user)
  • If the system that you use for your vCenter Server installation belongs to a workgroup rather than a domain, not all functionality is available to vCenter Server. If assigned to a workgroup, the vCenter Server system is not able to discover all domains and systems available on the network when using some features. Your host machine must be connected to a domain if you want to add Active Directory identity sources after the installation.
  • Verify that the LOCAL SERVICE account has read permission on the folder in which vCenter Server is installed and on the HKLM registry.
  • Verify that the connection between the virtual machine or physical server and the domain controller is working.

You can deploy the vCenter Server Appliance or Platform Services Controller appliance on an ESXi host 5.5 or later, or on a vCenter Server instance 5.5 or later. Your system must also meet specific software and hardware requirements.

When you use Fully Qualified Domain Names, verify that the client machine from which you are deploying the appliance and the network on which you are deploying the appliance use the same DNS server.

Before you deploy the appliance, synchronize the clocks of the target server and all vCenter Server and Platform Services Controller instances on the vSphere network. Unsynchronized clocks might result in authentication problems and can cause the installation to fail or prevent the appliance services from starting. See Synchronizing Clocks on the vSphere Network.

Hardware Requirements for the vCenter Server Appliance and Platform Services Controller Appliance

When you deploy the vCenter Server Appliance, you can select to deploy an appliance that is suitable for the size of your vSphere environment. The option that you select determines the number of CPUs and the amount of memory for the appliance. The size of the Platform Services Controller appliance is the same for all environment sizes.

Storage Requirements for the vCenter Server Appliance and Platform Services Controller Appliance

When you deploy the vCenter Server Appliance or Platform Services Controller appliance, the ESXi host or DRS cluster on which you deploy the appliance must meet minimum storage requirements. The required storage depends not only on the size of the vSphere environment and the storage size, but also on the disk provisioning mode.

Software Requirements for the vCenter Server Appliance and Platform Services Controller Appliance

The VMware vCenter Server Appliance and Platform Services Controller appliance can be deployed on ESXi hosts 5.5 or later, or on vCenter Server instances 5.5 or later.

Required Ports for vCenter Server and Platform Services Controller

The vCenter Server system, both on Windows and in the appliance, must be able to send data to every managed host and receive data from the vSphere Web Client and the Platform Services Controller services. To enable migration and provisioning activities between managed hosts, the source and destination hosts must be able to receive data from each other.

DNS Requirements for the vCenter Server Appliance and Platform Services Controller Appliance

When you deploy the vCenter Server Appliance or Platform Services Controller appliance, similar to any network server, you can assign a fixed IP address and an FQDN that is resolvable by a DNS server so that clients can reliably access the service.

vSphere Web Client Software Requirements

Make sure that your browser supports the vSphere Web Client.

Determine correct order of steps to upgrade a vSphere implementation

vSphere 6.5 environment update order sequences are listed at the following link;

https://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?cmd=displayKC&docType=kc&externalId=2147289&sliceId=1&docTypeID=DT_KB_1_1&dialogID=599472819&stateId=0%200%20599490953

The general sequence for upgrade is listed below, this is just a general list, for complex environments refer to the vSphere documentation above:

  • external vCenter SSO
  • vCenter
  • vSphere Replication / VUM/vROP/ vDP
  • vCloud Connector
  • ESXi hosts
  • VMware tools.