VCP-6 Objective 4.2–Perform vCenter Server Upgrades

For this objective I used the following resources:

Objective 4.2 – Perform vCenter Server Upgrades

Knowledge

Identify Steps Required to Upgrade a vSphere Implementation

While the list of steps required to upgrade vCenter Server is pretty short (see below) there are few things to keep in mind before starting the process. First is the outline of the steps, taken from Section 1, vSphere Upgrade Process of the vSphere Upgrade documentation:

  • Read the vSphere release notes
  • Verify that your system meets vSphere hardware and software requirements
  • Verify that you have backed up your configuration
  • If your vSphere system includes VMware solutions or plug-ins, verify that they are are compatible with the vCenter Server or vCenter Server Appliance version to which you are upgarding
  • Upgrade vCenter Server

Seems pretty simple right? Smile For additional details I would also suggest taking a looking at the following VMware KB articles, both for the exam as well prior to doing a production vSphere 6 upgrade.

I would suggest reading that last one twice.

Identify Upgrade Requirements for vCenter

vCenter Server for Windows Requirements

  • Synchronize the clocks on all machines running the vCenter Server 5.x services
  • Verify that the system network name of the machine running vCenter Server 5.x services are valid, and are reachable from other machines in the network
  • Verify that the host name of the virtual machine or physical server that you are installing or upgrading vCenter Server on complies with RFC 1123 guidelines
  • If your vCenter Server service is running in a user account other than the Local System account, verify that the user account in which the vCenter Server service is running 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)
  • 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 ad the domain controller is working

vCenter Server for Windows Hardware Requirements

Resources PSC 10 Hosts/10 VMs (Tiny) 100 Hosts/1000 VMs (Small) 400 Hosts/4000 VMs (Medium) 1,000 Hosts/10,000 VMs (Large)
# of CPU’s

2

2

4

8

16

Memory

2GB

8GB

16GB

24GB

32GB

vCenter Server for Windows Software Requirements

vCenter Server for Windows Database Requirements

  • vCenter Server requires a database to store and organize server data
  • For environments with up to 20 hosts and 200 virtual machines you can use the bundled PostgresSQL database. Larger installations require a supported database
  • vCenter Server supports Oracle and MS SQL Server. Check the VMware Product Interoperability Matrixes for supported DB versions

vCenter Server Appliance Requirements

  • vCenter Server Appliance can be deployed on an ESXi host 5.0 or later
  • Before you deploy the vCenter Server Appliance, synchronize the clocks of all virtual machines on the vSphere network
  • Use Fully Qualified Domain Names

vCenter Server Appliance Hardware Requirements

Resources PSC 10 Hosts/10 VMs (Tiny) 100 Hosts/1000 VMs (Small) 400 Hosts/4000 VMs (Medium) 1,000 Hosts/10,000 VMs (Large)
# of CPU’s

2

1

4

8

16

Memory

2GB

8GB

16GB

24GB

32GB

Software Included in the vCenter Server Appliance

  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 Update 3 for VMware, 64-bit edition
  • vCenter Server 6.0 and vCenter Server 6.0 components
  • PostgresSQL (supports up to 1,000 hosts and 10,000 virtual machines)

If the environment will surpass the supported number of hosts and virtual machines (or if you would just prefer), the vCenter Server Appliance supports ONLY Oracle for external connected databases.

NOTE – For vCenter Server with an embedded Platform Services Controller (either Windows or Appliance), you must add the hardware requirements for Platform Services Controller (PSC column in the tables) to the hardware requirements for vCenter Server depending on the size of your environment.

Upgrade vCenter Server Appliance (VCA)

  • In the software installer directory, double-click vcsa-setup.html
  • Allow the Client Integration Plug-In to start and on the Home page, click Upgrade
  • In the Supported Upgrade warning message, click OK to start the vCenter Server Appliance upgrade wizard
  • Read and accept the license agreement, and click Next
  • Connect to the Target ESXi host on which you want to deploy the vCenter Server Appliance and click Next
  • (Optional) Accept the certificate warning, if any, by clicking Yes
  • Enter a name for the vCenter Server Appliance 6.0
  • On the Connect to source appliance page enter the details of the appliance that you want to upgrade
  • (Optional) Accept the warning message, if any, by click Yes
  • Set up the vCenter Single Sign-On setting fro the newly deployed appliance and click Next
  • On the Select appliance size page of the wizard, select the vCenter Server Appliance size for the vSphere inventory size and click Next
  • From the list of available Datatores, select the location where all the virtual machine configuration files and virtual disks will be stored and, optionally, enable thin provisioning by selecting Enable Thin Disk Mode
  • Select the temporary network for communication between the vCenter Server Appliance that you want to upgrade and the newly deployed vCenter Server Appliance, select the vCenter Server Appliance IP allocation method and click Next
  • (Optional) Select the Enable SSH check box to enable SSH connections to the vCenter Server Appliance
  • On the Ready to complete page, review the settings for the vCenter Server Appliance upgrade and click Finish to complete the process

Identify the Methods of Upgrading vCenter

Your current vCenter Server deployment/configuration has a direct impact on the options available to you when upgrading to vCenter Server 6.0. Below are the highlights of the options available to you:

  • vSphere 5.5 and earlier using Simple Install option: Machines will be upgraded to vCenter Server with embedded Platform Services Controller.
  • vSphere 5.5 and earlier using Custom Install option:
    • If vCenter Single Sign-On was on a different machine than vCenter Server, the upgrade will be an external deployment model. Machines running Single Sign-On will become external Platform Services Controllers. Machines running vCenter Server will become vCenter Server with external Platforms Services Controllers.
    • If vCenter Single Sign-On was on the same node as vCenter Server, the upgrade will product an embedded deployment model. Machines will be upgraded to v Center Server with embedded Platform Services Controller
    • If the custom installation included multiple replicating vCenter Single Sign-On servers, the upgrade will product an external deployment model with multiple replicating Platform Services Controller instances. Machines running Single Sign-On will become external Platform Services Controllers. Machines running vCenter Server will become vCenter Server with external Platforms Services Controllers.

The below diagrams illustrate the options listed above.

Simple_Upgrade

Simple Install Upgrade

Custom_Upgrade_1

Custom Upgrade, external Single Sign-On

Custom_Upgrade_2

Custom Upgrade, all remote components

The above diagrams provided by VMware in Section 1, vCenter Server Example Upgrade Paths in the vSphere Upgrade documentation. Review for additional upgrade topologies. Also have a look at the following VMware KB articles:

Identify/Troubleshoot vCenter Upgrade Errors

Logs, logs, and more logs. Section 12, Collecting Logs for Troubleshooting a vCenter Server Installation or Upgrade in the vSphere Upgrade documentation covers this in detail. Below is a break down of the cliff notes version

Log location for Windows Based vCenter Server

  • %PROGRAMDATA%\VMware\CIS\logs directory, usually C:\ProgramData\VMware\CIS\logs
  • %TEMP% directory, usually C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Temp

Log Collection for vCenter Server Appliance

  • Access the appliance shell
  • Enter a user name and password that the appliance recognizes
  • In the appliance shell, run the pi shell command to access the Bash shell
  • In the Bash shell, run the vc-supporrt.sh script to generate a support bundle
  • The above command will generate a .tgz file in /var/tmp
  • Export the generated support bundle to the user@x.x.x.x:/tmp folder
  • Determine which firstboot script failed
    • cat /var/log/firstboot/firstbootStatus.json

For additional log file details review the following VMware KB article:

Thanks for reading!

-Jason