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Upgrade to vSphere 5.5 – Part 5 – Upgrading hosts with Update Manager and vCenter Server 5.5

czwartek, Grudzień 19th, 2013

1. Introduction
2. Upgrading a stand-alone host
3. Upgrading vCenter Server with Simple Install
4. Upgrading vCenter Server components manualy
5. Upgrading hosts with Update Manager and vCenter Server 5.5
6. Upgrading virtual machines

Upgrading ESXi host with Update Manager is pretty straight forward and easy too. Mind that you can make use of the Orchestrated Upgrade and upgrade the whole cluster with a few clicks while vSphere will take care about VM migration, upgrades, reboots order, etc. In the example below I upgrade one host only. Before you start the procedure make sure your vCenter Server and Upgrade Manager are already upgraded to version 5.5 and Update Manager plugin for vCenter Server enabled.

The first thing you need to do is to download ESXi 5.5 iso. You may want to grab a customized iso from your vendor to be sure al drivers are included. Connect to vCenter Server, select Update Manager and click on Admin View:

Select ESXi images tab. In the right, click on Import ESXi Image… and browse to search for the iso:

When the image is uploaded

create a new baseline and click Finish.

Go back to the Compliance View and right-click under attached Baselinse and select Attach… Choose your new baseline and it will get attached to the host.

Still in the Compliance View, in the right click on Scan…

In the Confirm Scan window uncheck Patches and Extensions and check Upgrades.

Wait for the scan to finish. The host will show as non compiliant:

Make sure your new baseline is selected and click on Remediate. Accept the license agreement, choose your options regarding third-party software removal during the upgrade and host maintenance options. During the upgrade the host will reboot.

VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 – Data Center Administration – PASSED!

piątek, Grudzień 13th, 2013

After two weeks of waiting for my exam results I am proud to say I have passed the exam. Next one on the list is VCAP – DCD. The exam was surprisingly easy but I run out of time and I didn’t manage to finish everything.

This are the resources I used to prepare myself for the exam:

1. Exam blueprint

2. Study guides – I used several ones, mostly;

Professional VMware’s An UnOfficial VCAP-DCA 5 Study Guide

Paul Grevink’s Adventures in a Virtual World VCAP5-DCA Diaries

3. Pluralsight’s courses:

VMware vSphere Troubleshooting series by  David Davis
VMware vSphere Optimize & Scale by Jason Nash

4. VMware training and documentation:

VMware vSphere: Troubleshooting Workshop [V5.1]

VMware Hands-On Labs

VMware vSphere 5 documentation

5. Books

VMware vSphere 5.1 Clustering Deepdive by Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman

VCAP5-DCA Official Cert Guide: VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 – Data Center Administration by Steve Baca and John Davis – when I read it, only some parts of it were available as rough cuts. Publication scheduled for April 2014

Upgrade to vSphere 5.5 – Part 4 – Upgrading vCenter Server components manualy

poniedziałek, Grudzień 9th, 2013

1. Introduction
2. Upgrading a stand-alone host
3. Upgrading vCenter Server with Simple Install
4. Upgrading vCenter Server components manualy
5. Upgrading hosts with Update Manager and vCenter Server 5.5
6. Upgrading virtual machines

Ok, so what about the custom upgrade? In opposite to Simple Install you can upgrade components separately if they are installed on different machines or if you simply want to have better control over the upgrade process. Upgrade to vCenter Server 5.5 must be done in a particular order, and keep in mind this is important. Mind that if you select vCenter Server in the Installer, it lists prerequisites:

If you’re upgrading from vCenter Server 4.x, you should install them first. When I upgraded from 5.1 I thought that I would be required to upgrade SSO and vCenter Inventory Service first to be able to upgrade vCenter Server itself and I was right – I tried vCenter Server upgrade without satifying the requirements and I got an error after a few initial installation wizard screens when trying to login to Lookup Service saying that SSO should be newer.

In VMware KB: Upgrading to vCenter Server 5.5 best practices article I did not find any reference to this behavior during the upgrade. This is required during the installation so I guess it should be the same for the upgrade. For the sake of clarity I tried the following combinations:

SSO 5.1, Inventory Service 5.1, vCenter Server 5.1 -> upgrade of vCenter Server to 5.5 will not run (as shown above)
SSO 5.1, Inventory Service 5.1, vCenter Server 5.1 -> upgrade of Inventory Service to 5.5 will not run (same problem, newer SSO version required)
SSO 5.1, Inventory Service 5.1, vCenter Server 5.1 -> upgrade of SSO to 5.5 completes successfuly
SSO 5.5, Inventory Service 5.1, vCenter Server 5.1 -> upgrade of vCenter Server to 5.5 will not run with the following error:
SSO 5.5, Inventory Service 5.1, vCenter Server 5.1 -> upgrade of SSO Inventory Service completes successfuly
SSO 5.5, Inventory Service 5.5, vCenter Server 5.1 -> upgrade of vCenter Server to 5.5 completes successfuly

So as during the installation, during the custom upgrade the only correct order is SSO 5.1 -> Inventory Service 5.1 -> vCenter Server 5.1 and let’s keep with that.

During the upgrade of SSO, the Lookup Service will be installed as new. During the upgrade nothing special happes, as I noted here in fact the old version is being uninstalled and the new one installed so it seems to be actually a fresh install thus you will be required to create a new master password and give a name to the site. As per the best practices KB mentioned above, „In upgrades to vCenter Server 5.0 and earlier, which do not include a vCenter Single Sign-On (SSO) service, both the local operating system users and Active Directory users that are registered with vCenter Server continue to work with the upgraded vCenter Server.”

The rest of installation is pretty standard and does not differ much from Simple Install so I will not describe it here.

Upgrade to vSphere 5.5 – Part 3 – Upgrading vCenter Server with Simple Install

czwartek, Grudzień 5th, 2013

1. Introduction
2. Upgrading a stand-alone host
3. Upgrading vCenter Server with Simple Install
4. Upgrading vCenter Server components manualy
5. Upgrading hosts with Update Manager and vCenter Server 5.5
6. Upgrading virtual machines

If all the components of the existing vCenter Server infrastrucure are installed on the same machine, the easiest and fastest upgrade way it to select Simple Install on VMware vCenter 5.5 Installer screen. Remember that upgrading from 5.0 or 5.1 is much easier as SSO will be already installed and the upgrade of SSO will be almost seamless.

It will upgrade all necessary components of vCenter Server, starting with SSO. As you can see, I am upgrading from a version with SSO already installed (i.e. 5.1) so it says it will upgrade it.

After a few checks the upgrade process for SSO will start making usre that SSO users, groups and Lookup Services artifacts are migrated. The previous version will be uninstalled and the new one configured:

After Web Client, the next element is Inventory Service. You’ll be asked if you want to keep or overwrite your database:

And now vCenter Server itself will be upgraded:

After asking if the vCenter Server database should be upgraded

the installer will ask you a few other questions like if host agents should be updated automatically once vCenter Server upgrade is done or which account vCenter Server service should run on as well as you will be able to customized port used by vCenter Server. Finally the upgrade starts:

and the whole process completes successfully:

Once the vSphere Client is upgraded, you can check version of your vCenter Server:

That was well.. as in Simple Install – simple. Almost everything has been done automatically and we were asked only for necessary information. If you want to have much more control over the upgrade process or if your vCenter Server components are installed on different machines, check the next post in the series when I show how to upgrade them.

Upgrade to vSphere 5.5 – Part 2 – Upgrading a stand-alone host

poniedziałek, Grudzień 2nd, 2013

1. Introduction
2. Upgrading a stand-alone host
3. Upgrading vCenter Server with Simple Install
4. Upgrading vCenter Server components manualy
5. Upgrading hosts with Update Manager and vCenter Server 5.5
6. Upgrading virtual machines

Stand-alone host upgrade process is straightforward and easy:

1. Make sure your hardware is on VMware Hardware Conpatibility List.
2. Download ESXi 5.5 iso and burn it or mount it to your system.
3. Boot your server from the iso.

In the example I am upgrading from ESXi 5.1. The installed will now start loading modules and services.

You will be presented with the information about support:

and the license agreement:

The installer will find an existing VMFS partition with an existing installation for upgrade. Select it.

You will be asked wherever to upgrade ESXi or overwrite the existing installation and wherverer to preserver the existing VMFS partiotion. Select ‘Upgrade’ option:

And a final confirmation of the upgrade to be performed:

After a shrot time ESXi will upgrade to version 5.5 and will require a reboot.

After it boots, ESXi 5.1 to 5.5 upgrade is finished and the server is ready.

Upgrade to vSphere 5.5 – Part 1 – Introduction

niedziela, Grudzień 1st, 2013

1. Introduction
2. Upgrading a stand-alone host
3. Upgrading vCenter Server with Simple Install
4. Upgrading vCenter Server components manualy
5. Upgrading hosts with Update Manager and vCenter Server 5.5
6. Upgrading virtual machines

Some time ago I wrote a series of posts on upgrading to vSphere 5.1. This time I’d like to have a look on upgrade process to version 5.5. I’d like to cover vCenter Server upgrade, hosts upgrade as well as virtual machines hardware and VMtools upgrade. So, with vSphere 5.5 installation media in hand, let’s go.


First, make sure you have a look on system requirements for vCenter Server 5.x – if you’re upgrading from 5.0 or 5.1, they will be the same. Since you can upgrade vCenter Server directly from version 4.x, if that’s your case you may want to have a look on system requirements as they will differ. Secondly, when upgrading from 4.x a new component called Single Sign-On will be installed – if you have no experience with SSO I strongly recommend reading first VMware KB Methods of upgrading to vCenter Server 5.5, part called „What is vCenter Single Sign-On and how it affects vCenter Server upgrades”, my post on SSO when upgrading to 5.1 as well as other VMware resources on SSO. You may also want to read VMware KB: Upgrading to vCenter Server 5.5 best practices.

How to run 64-bit virtual machines on a ESXi server nested in VMware Workstation.

poniedziałek, Listopad 18th, 2013

When you install and run a virtualized ESXi 5.x server under VMware Worstation, you will get the following message

<HARDWARE_VIRTUALIZATION WARNING: Hardware Virtualization is not a feature of the CPU, or is not enabled in the BIOS>

and when you try to turn on a 64-bit VM on that ESXi, it will fail. However, if you have an i3 CPU or newer, 64-bit virtual machines can run in a virtualized ESxi environment by eneabling virtualized hardware virtualization (how cool it sounds?). Shut down you virtual ESXi server and find its .vmx file (this is a virtual machine configuration file). You can find it usually in VM’s working directory – open virtual machine’s settings and go to Options tab. Open the file with a text editor and add the following line at its end:

vhv.enable = "TRUE"

Save the file, start the virtual ESXi. Now you can run 64-bit virtual-virtual machines :-)


VMware Update Manager Download Service to download them all…

piątek, Listopad 1st, 2013

Many times vCenter Server and Update Manager reside on the same server and for security reasons there is no access to internet from this machine. So what do you do to patch your ESXi hosts? You can download bundles from an other server and import them into Update Manager. You can try patching the hosts manually, without UM. Or you could try VMware Download Manager. This tool is little known but can save you a lot of trouble by downloading patches and creating a store Update Manager can use on a another server with access to the internet.

As vSphere 5.1 documentation says „VMware vSphere Update Manager Download Service (UMDS) is an optional module of Update Manager. UMDS downloads upgrades for virtual appliances, patch metadata, patch binaries, and notifications that would not otherwise be available to the Update Manager server.” So this is exactly what we need. First things first though so let’s have a look on Download Manager’s requirements:

  • it cannot share the same machine with Update Manager (otherwise, why would you need Download Manager in the first place?);
  • previous versions of UMDS must be uninstalled before you try to install it from vSphere 5.1 installation media;
  • server to install UMDS must be x64;
  • and last but not least – access to the internet on the server you intend to install DM to.

Ok, let’s start the installtion from vSphere 5.1 installation media \umds folder. It is pretty straight-forward. Go through the welcome screen, license agreement, etc.  If you don’t have MS SQL server it can install MS SQL 2008 R2 Express edition for you. If you do, you will need to create 32-bit ODBC as UMDS is 32-bit applications. You will be able to configure proxy as well. Now when the installation has finished, let’s have a look on the tool. First mind that it is purely CLI-based tool so there is no GUI. Secondly, there is only one binary to run and that is (by default located in Program Files x86\Vmware\Infrastructure\Update Manager):


Run it and you will see all possible switches. -D will start download:

vmware-umds.exe -D

but wait a minute. First, let’s configure what should be downloaded. To list supported platforms use:

vmware-umds.exe --list-host-platforms

and the outcome will be something similar to:

[2013-10-29 00:40:59:876 '' 2244 ALERT]  [logUtil, 265] Product = VMware Update
Manager, Version = 5.1.0, Build = 1022478
Supported ESX Host platforms:

To enable download for ESX 4.1 insert:

vmware-umds.exe -S -e esx4.0.0

Make sure that the configuration is ok:

vmware-umds.exe -G

To download the updates for host / VA versions you enabled:

vmware-umds.exe -D

And finaly to configure the store that will be used by Update Manager and export downloads to it:

vmware-umds.exe -E --export-store <path_to_the_store>

Simple as that. Now configure Update Manager to use that store and voila!. There is another tool that comes with UMDS and it is VMwareupdateManagerUtility.exe located in the same folder. It will allow you to change proxy and database settings later on if necessary.

ESXi cannot resolve names

poniedziałek, Październik 28th, 2013

I have recently encountered a strange problem when an updated (ESX 4.1 -> ESXi 5.1) host would not connect to the vCenter. The host would be up and respond to ping but no connection to vCenter. A usual troubleshooting step  pinging vCenter server from the host showed that the vCenter server’s name could not be resolved. Ping via IP worked fine. Checking hosts file showed that all entries were fine. Worse, the host was not able to resolve localhost either – hence problems wih starting services. So what has changed?

After the upgrade has been done, I added DNS servers to the host’s configuration. So let’s try to remove them. After I commented out the entries in resolve.conf file – bam! – everything started working again. I restarted the management services and the host connected to vCenter. But, well, I needed these DNS entries.

Finally I found out that the /etc/nsswitch.conf was completely empty. I am not sure if it was like that before. The simplest way to resolve the problem was to copy a correct file from another host, review it to make sure all settings were fine, replace it on a faulty host and reboot the server. After the reboot the server connected correctly to vCenter and all names resolution worked fine.

Transparent Page Sharing nowadays

środa, Październik 23rd, 2013

I run accross a really great article by Jason Boche that puts some light on what can gradually happen to the consolidation when newer operating systems are intruduced. It’s really eys-opening and this is something that can slip our attention as it happens gradually. It all focuses on the fact that large pages (2MB) are not considered by Transparent Page Sharing mechanism. For two reasons basically: 1) because the possibility of matching pages is much lowe and 2) because it is much more work-intensive. As a result as newer OSes are introduced and begin using large pages, the memory saved by TPS is smaller. It’s yet another case of performance vs. resurce saving. You’re the one to choose.

I really appreciated tests done by Jason to check how much memory can be saved by forcing small pages. Be sure to check out his article.