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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.

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.

Backup your distributed virtual switch

wtorek, Listopad 6th, 2012

I was going to wrote a tutorial how to backup a distribution switch configuration in vSphere 5.1 but I found out a terrific article wrote by Chris Wahl so I decided to simply put the link to his site as he’s done a really good job explaining step by step why and how to backup the dvs configuration. The post is here.

vCenter Server 5.1.0a update – some bugs fixed

niedziela, Październik 28th, 2012

Ok, vSphere 5.1 is kinda buggy and I am not talking about functional bugs that can break your environment but rather about annoying bugs that impact administration. VMware has just release an update for vCenter – 5.1.0a that fixes some bugs like:

  • vCenter Server takes an unusually long time to start and the vSphere Client might time out


  • Upgrading to vCenter Server 5.1 might fail with error 29107 even though the service or solution user is already registered

and certificate issue. Have you encountered any vCenter 5.1 bug that made impossible or difficult for you to work with this release? This update can help. Release notes are here.

Permissions for Veeam account on vCenter Server

poniedziałek, Październik 22nd, 2012

When you use an account to set up a SOAP connection to vCenter Server:

SOAP connection to vCenter in Veeam 5

SOAP connection to vCenter in Veeam 5

you need to assign to these account certain privileges. The easiest way to do so is to create a role in vCenter and assign it to this account. The role will need to get the following permissions, according to backup type you intend to use. This table has been taken from this great Veeam blog note. Check out this article should you want to know how to set up VSS-enabled backups and what else you need for successful Veeam backups.

Privilege Level vStorage API Virtual Appliance mode vStorage API Network mode vStorage API SAN mode
Global Log event Log event Log event
Datastore Low-level file operations Low-level file operations Low-level file operations
Virtual Machine state Create SnapshotRemove Snapshot Create SnapshotRemove Snapshot Create SnapshotRemove Snapshot
Virtual Machine configuration Disk change trackingChange resourceAdd existing diskRemove disk Disk change tracking Disk change trackingDisk lease
Virtual Machine provisioning Allow read-only disk access Allow read-only disk access Allow read-only disk access


„Did you know” Saturday – greyed out options in vSphere client

sobota, Październik 13th, 2012

Did you know that when your ESXi host is manager by a vCenter Server if you connect to the host directly with vSphere client, some of the options will be grayed out?

One example is reasource management for virtual machines. As you can see below you won’t be able to change these settings when connected directly to the hos. This is in order to avoid settings desynchronization between vCenter Server and the host.

Virtual machine resource options are greyed out

Virtual machine resource options are greyed out