VMworld 2015: Managing vSphere 6.0 Deployments & Upgrades, Part 1 #INF4944

Dilpreet & Mohan did a great job laying out the install and upgrade paths to reach vCenter 6.0, whether in Appliance or Windows mode. As I mentioned yesterday, the VMware team is encouraging customers to choose the Appliance (VCSA) moving forward due to increased performance, decreased complexity, and overall conformity. You gain much and lose nothing…except:

vSphere Update Manager (VUM), which will be integrated into VCSA in a 2016 release (Yay!). Presumably this will be vSphere 6.1 as that would put vSphere 6.0 a year old and this landmark milestone is too big (in my opinion) for a mere “Update 2”.

Dilpreet was kind to explain that the update which brings VUM integration will pull the VUM configuration & data from existing VUM (Windows) servers and into the VCSA component. This is great to hear as I was unclear about this walking away from the “Part 2” session yesterday.

Please check out the notes below and remember to pay attention to the order of your upgrades. Reference the KBs mentioned so you’re on a supported model & path.

Live Notes & Commentary


  • Installing & upgrading vCenter Server and its lifecycle
  • Product walkthroughs for VCSA install & vCenter upgrade
  • Deployment models & considerations for vCenter Server & PSC

vCenter Deployment & Upgrade Focus

  • Goal: Deliver an enhanced customer experience for deploying and upgrading vCenter environments

vCenter 6.0 Enhancements

  • Windows & Appliance have same scale & metrics, including Linked Mode

Enhanced Linked Mode

  • Supported in vSphere 6.0
  • Replication technology is now native (vs Microsoft ADAM)
  • Support replication of policies & tags

vCenter 6.0 Deployment & Upgrade

vCenter Server 6 Components

  • Consolidated to two components
    • vCenter Server Node
    • Platform Services Controller
  • Single sign-on evolved into PSC
  • All other components consolidated into vCenter Server

Deployment Models

Platform Services Controller

  • SSO
  • Licensing
  • Certificate Authority
  • Cert Store
  • Service Registrations
  • Other services in future

Two Key Deployment Models

  1. Embedded: VC & PSC deployed and managed together
  2. External PSC: VCs talking to separate PSC
    • Enhanced Linked Mode
    • PSC HA

Supported Platforms

  • Linux vs Windows


vCenter Server Install

  • Similar interface for both Windows & Appliance
  • One installer with two deployment types (embedded or external)
  • All input validated up front–nothing to worry about during install
  • Custom paths/ports supported in both types
  • Scripted install using JSON config file for interactive or silent install

vCenter Server Appliance Install

  • New guided install
  • Choose deployment type
  • All input validated up-front*
  • Pre-check functionality
  • * Ensure DNS & NTP records and servers are setup/ready first
  • Scripted install using JSON config file also supported

Best Practices

  • Sizing:
    • Appliance has small, medium, large options
    • Windows requires proper resourcing in VM creation
  • Windows OS & DB compatibility
  • Use FQDN
  • VCSA install target
    • vSphere 6.0 only supports ESXi (5.x – 6.0) as deployment target
    • vSphere 6.0 U1 supports both vCenter & ESXi as deployment target
  • Time synchronization
  • Network
    • VCSA: forward & reverse lookups need to work from install desktop
    • VDS Portgroup must be ephemeral when using ESXi (pre-U1)
    • Ensure routing & network connectivity between VC/PSC

<Demo of VCSA Install with External PSC>

  • Oracle as external database option is being deprecated

vSphere Upgrade

  1. SSO / PSC
  2. vCenter
  3. ESXi
  4. Virtual Machines
  5. VMFS / VDS
  • Order is important: KB 2109760
  • Check plug-in compatibility

VCSA Upgrade

  • Migration-based upgrade
    • Exports data from old VCSA to new VCSA
    • Migration includes embedded DB or connection to old DB
    • REverting to old appliance is simple
  • Requires temporary IP & resources for additional VM

Windows Upgrade

  • In-place upgrade
    • Upgrades the system directly
    • Non-recoverable (need to recover from backup)

See video recording or vmware.com documentation for legacy upgrades from 5.0 and 5.1

vCenter 5.5

  • Upgrade SSO to PSC
  • Upgrade vCenter

Upgrade Linked Mode vCenter

  • Remove vCenter instance from linked mode group
  • Install PSC node
  • Upgrade vCenter instances and point to new PSC node
  • Remember linked mode requires same SSO domain

Upgrade Best Practices

  • Sizing: requires more CPU/mem/disk
  • Windows OS & DB compatibility
  • VCSA Oracle DB deprecation
  • Backup DB & VM prior to upgrade
  • Stick to recommended topologies: KB 2108548
  • Proper DNS & routing
  • Time synchronization, use NTP
  • Migrating to new Windows OS?
    1. Upgrade to 6.0 on existing host OS, backup 6.0 database, install new 6.0 on new host OS, restore VCDB on new install
    2. Backup 5.5, install 5.5 on new host OS, restore on new host OS, upgrade to 6.0
  • Issue if you use compatibility mode on SQL Server
  • Database password causing install failure (see picture below)
  • DSN compatibility
  • Clean up left-over vSphere 5.x components from splitting out servers in the past


<Demo of vCenter Upgrade>

VCSA 6.0 U1

  • Supports repointing of PSC from embedded to externalIMG_4437
  • VCSA Management UI (https://<vcsa>:5480)
  • PSC Management UI (https://<psc>/psc)

Additional Resources:


VMworld 2015 | Thursday | Managing vSphere 6.0 Deployments & Upgrades, Part 1 (INF4944)

Dilpreet Bindra, VMware | Mohan Potheri, VMware

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