My vSphere 6 Upgrade Experience

Hi all,

If you are the PS type that does a bunch of these you will like this upgrade. But if you have not done many or any, then I suggest you check out the Chris Wahl vSphere upgrade education on PluralSight. It is very well done and teaches you all you need to know and then some – like the good investigation that an upgrade needs and how to do certs too! Very well done. Below you will find my story.

BTW, I have two labs, one that is very old and has Windows vC, which I had hoped to use the fling to move to vCSA soon but likely not now, and one lab already using the vCSA. So this article is about upgrading the Windows vC environment – with an external SQL db too. Important to note that while a lab it has been upgraded a number of times, and has been running a long time.

Update: if I had to do this again, I might have an external PSC.  Not that I need it but because I would have flexibility.  With this upgrade I have no ability to add a PSC.  More info on this here and here.  If I was not a lab, and I was a production environment, I would probably have an external PSC. I suspect over a certain size, or a certain complexity, I would always do it.

Prerequisites

Reading material

  • Important Information before upgrading to vSphere 6 (KB 2110293)
  • Upgrading to vCenter Server 6.0 best practices (KB 2109772)
  • List of recommended topologies for vSphere 6.0.x (KB 2108548)
  • Update sequence for vSphere 6.0 and its compatible VMware products (KB 2109760)
  • Methods for upgrading to VMware ESXi 6.0 (KB 2109711)
  • vSphere 6.0 is here! – KBs you need to know about (link)
  • Release Notes – here – here is a third-party interpretation (part 1 and part 2) of the release notes that is a long read but has some good points.
  • Whats new – here
  • For those home lab guys – like myself who sometimes cut corners you will need to check this out to learn more about dropped supported hardware.
  • You can find out the status of your backup software here, or at the vendor too of course.  I use Veeam and I know that it will break with this upgrade and I will need to wait a bit for it to work!
  • Here is an article about a painful vSphere 6 upgrade, and one about a VUM upgrade that might be useful if you have issues.

Miscellaneous Preparation

  • Licenses – need new vSphere 6 Enterprise and vCenter 6 Standard licenses.  You should be able to find them in your License Portal.  Or in your vExpert spreadsheet.
  • Bits – here, but I would use the VMware Software Manager to download them – see this for more info.
  • If you boot like I do, using an SD then you likely do not have good persistent storage on your scratch location. So set that up before you continue.  Use this to help.

Compatibility

  • SQL – What about SQL? SQL 2012 Enterprise SP1 and SQL 2008 Standard R2 SP1 are supported.  I had to check as I have seen various others comments around this on the twitter-verse and so was a little confused.  I was not sure what my SQL server version was, but this doc helped me figure out I am at Win2K8 R2 SP1 (and it worked).
db compatibility

vSphere 6 Supported SQL

  • Backup software. For example Veeam needs an upgrade for vSphere 6 and I think others will too.
  • You might check out all the VMware software to make sure it works together but what about other key stuff – things that really touch the VMware stuff – like backup does – as it touches the API.  See here for hardware, and here for third-party software.  I use View, vR Ops, and VIN so I check to make sure the versions I have work for me.
  • Watch out for plug-ins. Such as in my work lab the wonderful OpenManage Integration for VMware vCenter – if you have a tool like this, and it is important to you, like this one is to me, you need to wait for it to be upgraded and hopefully it doesn’t take long!
  • I forgot I had VMware vCenter Support Assistant installed – and really like it, and it fouled up my upgrade experience.  See that story here.  If you must upgrade and use this tool make sure to uninstall it.

My specific comments

  • Log Insight needs to be at 2.5 but that happened for me some time ago (necessary).
  • VIN was also upgraded to 5.8.4 before vSphere 6 by a day or two (necessary).
  • View was also upgraded – to 6.1 before vSphere 6.  This was not necessary but I thought a good idea and did it.
  • I upgraded vR Ops to 6.0.1 before vSphere 6 (necessary).
  • Even though I test upgrades in beta I also test the GA in a private lab just in case.  This upgrade is about that one – using all GA bits.
  • My ESXi and vC were all updated to current with all patches.
  • While I read through everything in the reading section above, I do not expect all of you too.  But the information here will get you through the process necessary!  But if you are doing upgrades for customers, yes you should go through everything.
  • I normally use the CloudPhysics tool to help me with this, as it does the checking of the hardware for me. They are not checking against 6.0 yet however.

Safety

You have checked out the release notes – right? The longest read I think for any vSphere release in recent memory.
You have a backup, right? Snapshot?  Update: BTW, after you upgrade a host from 5.5 to 6.0, and are using dVS switches you may have an issue adding a vmnic to the host.  See here for more info.

Process – upgrading vC

A little different with the architecture difference. But I have read all the stuff above, and I just want to get things started! So bits are handy and extracted and waiting for me. Yes it was an ISO but used 7-zip to extract it.

ExtractedFiles

We want to run – partially because I am paranoid, the autorun.exe as an Admin.

RunAsADmin

And now we see the main screen.

MainMenu

When I tried to run the vCenter Server for Windows I was told – somewhat rudely I had an outstanding Install.  No idea what as I have not worked on my vCenter VM for a long time!

RestartBeforeInstall

As part of the exit I get a very nice option to see the install logs.  Nice touch.

ReallyLikeErrorOfferMessage

So as you can imagine I exit and restart and try again.  Of course it works.

RestartOrNext

We are asked about credentials.

ReadyGo2Creds

I should mention here I got the credentials wrong.  And my records were incomplete.  But I was able to solve it in a way I had not used or heard of before so I am sharing here in case it helps someone else.  I immediately logged into vC using my personal account which I had made an SSO admin account in the past, in case of any adventures, and I changed the administrator@vsphere.local password as easy as you please.

Next we will see the PreCheck.

ReadyGo2PastCredsPreCheck

And now we are prompted about the ports.  I really do not like changing them.  Really don’t like.  You will acquire bad karma in fact if you mess with them.

ReadyGo4Ports

There is quite a few additional ports required listed on the bottom left corner.  You can learn about some of them here.

Next we look at the Destination Path.

ReadyGo5Path

I have always tried to have VMware files on my second disk – drive G: and you see that I have been both successful and not successful with that in the screenshot above.

ReadyGo6AreYouSure

It asks above if we are sure, and if we have a backup.

We see progress after we select Upgrade.

ReadyGo7Progress

ReadyGo8MoreProgress

ReadyGo9StillMoreProgress

ReadyGo10DoingvCNow

Updating vCenter – finally

ReadyGo10ReallySlowOnImport

Very slow on the Import – and this can vary widely

ReadyGo11Complete

Once this process was done, which took around 45 – 50 minutes, I tried to log in.  Above I talk about checking if Web Client plug-ins are compatible or not and how Support Assistant is not.  This is where when I logged in I learned that.  Full story here but we will continue on here as if we did not have the problem, or we fixed it!

I had to visit the Help About page to be able to download the Client Integration Plug-in.  I was working on a Mac and there was no other way I could find.

HelpAboutClient

While this is by design for Mac’s I think, I have heard of others in Windows having this issue so remember where you can find the Client Integration Plug-in.  Don’t forget it gets you easy and secure login in for Windows users, and remote console and the ability to deploy OVA / OVF for either Windows OR Mac.

vCenter License

Now you should remove the old vCenter license and add the new vSphere 6 vCenter license.

Test Time – vC

We now need to confirm state.  Here is some of what I tested.

  • Could I log in as a local user – Yes
  • Could I log in as an AD user – Yes
  • Could I connect successfully using Mac or Windows via the vSphere Web Client – Yes
  • Could I connect successfully using the C# Client – Yes
  • Could I connect using the Mac View client to my desktop – Yes
  • Did I see any errors that were unexpected or not appropriate – Yes – I saw errors in the C# client for VMware vCenter Storage Monitor and Auto Deploy.  You can see it below.  am not using Auto Deploy – did you notice that there was no option to install it?  These errors do not seem to cause an issue at this time.   My vC is showing a Health warning state with no clarity so not sure if it is connected with this.  I will investigate further.

vCenterBrokenServices

Process – Upgrading VUM

This was very easy.  You had to supply the vC service account password and the ODBC account password to connect to the DB. And done.

Test Time

We need to test the bigger picture now.

  • Is Log Insight working?  Does it see events from vC – Yes
  • Does vR Ops work? Is it displaying correctly in the widgets and its own UI – Yes
  • Does VIN work?  Does it find applications the way it should – Yes
  • I was able to connect in via View and do all these tests.
  • I connected to CloudPhysics to see what it would see and it thought my Observer and vCenter were down.  It was just a time delay I believe although I did restart the Observer.  It came on for a while and down again so I think vSphere 6 is an issue for it.

So while vC is successfully upgraded and the components that work with it are good we have not upgraded ESXi yet but this is a good spot to pause if you need too.  Everything is working and your ESXi can be managed for now in this configuration.  I do not suggest you leave it for long.

Process – Upgrading ESXi

We are going to use VUM to upgrade our ESXi hosts as that will be easy, smooth and will mean no outage.  We will create a vSphere 6.0 baseline and use it to upgrade our cluster. So lets get started.  You will need the C# client and the Update Manager plug-in installed.

ESXiUpgrade1

Now we are in VUM, we need to import the ESXi ISO.  See the ESXi Images tab, and the Import button in the screenshot below?

ESXiUpgrade2

The first screen of the Import wizard will prompt you for the ESXi image.  Hopefully you will know where it is.

ESXiUpgrade4

I browse out to where I have the vSphere 6 ESXi stored.

ESXiUpgrade5

ESXiUpgrade6

Now we will start to see the actual import happen.

ESXiUpgrade7

ESXiUpgrade8

When the import is finished you will see something like below.

ESXiUpgrade9

On the Next screen we will be able to create a baseline to host this image.

ESXiUpgrade10

Now we need to attach this baseline to the cluster.  We attach it at the cluster so that it will impact all of the hosts in the cluster.

So change to the Host & Clusters View, select the cluster, and select Update Manager.

ESXiUpgrade11

If you right + click on the white space in the Attached Baselines window you will be able to attach the new baseline.

ESXiUpgrade12

Select the baseline you create and Attach.

You should see something like below.

ESXiUpgrade13

We can see the Critical and Non-Critical Host Patches are Compliant but the vSphere 6 baseline is with a question mark.  Lets use the Scan button to see what hosts are compliant or not with the baselines.

ESXiUpgrade13

ESXiUpgrade14

We can watch the status of the Scan in the Recent Tasks.

ESXiUpgrade15

Once the scan is complete we can see that none of our hosts are compliant with the vSphere 6 baseline.

ESXiUpgrade16

Now we want to upgrade those hosts to vSphere 6.  Near the bottom of the screen, on the right, is a Remediate button.

ESXiUpgrade17

We are prompted now in the wizard to make our choices and we should select the Upgrade Baselines as seen in the screenshot below.

ESXiUpgrade18

ESXiUpgrade19

I do not normally make any changes on the next screen.

ESXiUpgrade20

On the next screen I generally leave it at Immediately for the remediation time.

ESXiUpgrade21

I like to select the option to Disable any removable media devices connected to the virtual machines on the host as seen below.  This will mean no attached CD ISO will stop a maintenance mode and impact the upgrade.

ESXiUpgrade22

I think the next screen is a little different in vSphere 6 – in that Disable High Availability is selected.  I used to have to select that myself.  So now I make no changes.

ESXiUpgrade23

We have a Summary screen next and the Finish button.  Full speed ahead.

ESXiUpgrade24

If you change back to the Update Manager screen and change to the Events tab you will be able to watch things progress.

ESXiUpgrade25

It took about 1.5 hours for the process to finish.  But after that all were updated and running 6.0.  You can click on each host and check its new version information on the Summary page.

Don’t forget to license them with the vSphere 6 licenses.

Final Test Time

This is the same tests you did before to make sure that vSphere 6 on the hosts is not impacting anything badly.

  • Is Log Insight working?  Does it see events from vC – Yes
  • Does vR Ops work? Is it displaying correctly in the widgets and its own UI – Yes
  • Does VIN work?  Does it find applications the way it should – Yes
  • I was able to connect in via View and do all these tests.
  • I connected to CloudPhysics to see what it would see and it thought my Observer and vCenter were done.  It was just a time delay I believe although I did restart the Observer. It came on for a while and down again so I think vSphere 6 is an issue for it.

And some new ones:

You need to test the things I don’t know about – backup for example, or any custom software that talks to your infrastructure.  I would suggest things like PowerCLI scripts – once PowerCLI is updated need to be tested too!

Things to remember

  • VMware vCenter Support Assistant is not compatible yet and I do not know when it will be.  If I hear I will let you know. Update – new compatible version bits and docs.
  • CloudPhysics is not really vSphere 6 compatible it seems.  I do have queries on that outstanding already.  Will update you when I know more.  Update: works now fine.
  • There is some odd Syslog related things to be aware of – find out more here.  This is a little frustrating so if you are using Log Insight, Splunk or a similar tool make sure to check this out.
  • I consider this a live document and will update it as I learn more.  That will be signified below where I sign off.
  • Would you like to avoid the cert errors when you connect to vC?  I would and today I found this. Update – didn’t work for me.
  • you will need to delete the folder and contents of the exported data – normally found in:

C:\ProgramData\VMware\vCenterServer\export

  • Don’t forget – as I mentioned above that Veeam doesn’t work with vSphere 6 yet and will need possibly to the end of next month.  I believe that any backup product that uses the VMware API will have an issue.  Pure file backup will work fine I suspect.  Update: Veeam 8.0 Patch 2 works with vSphere 6.
  • The most excellent vCenter Plug-in for OpenManage is not updated yet for vSphere 6 and not sure when that will be done.  Again will let you know. Update – it is now (6/17/15) and is version 3 and can be found here.
  • Don’t forget to update PowerCLI which you can find more about here.
  • Log files info for vCenter 6 is here.
  • If you cannot connect to the vCenter with your C# client check this out.

Summary

You have seen above how I successfully upgraded my Windows vC with external SQL server in my lab.  You saw the issues I had and hopefully this info will help you be successful too.  I will update this article as I learn anything new that might help.

I know that this is long but I could not help it.  While I really like the WordPress blog hosted by WordPress as it is easy one of the few things I wanted to do and could not was give you a PDF option for this article.

Updated:

  • 7/16/15 1202 – added a note above that Dell has released version 3 of the OpenManage plugin that supports vSphere 6.  It is available as a new install but in fact not as an upgrade and it appears an upgrade will not be available.  Also check out the things to watch out for like IPv6 being disabled and how it impact your upgrade.  All thanks to Jonathan!
  • 5/15/15 1523 – just discovered I missed the release of Support Assistant. Sorry about that.  Add links above to it.  So now it works with vSphere 6.
  • 5/14/15 0936 – added updates on Veeam 8.0 Patch 2 works with vSphere 6, CloudPhysics works with vSphere 6 now, and the workaound to avoid cert issues with vC didn’t work for me.
  • 5/14/15 0851 – added link for important issue after upgrade  – adding vmnic doesn’t always work right.  Still no news on vSphere 6 compatible Support Assistant or Dell OpenManager plug-in for vCenter.
  • 4/4/13 1318 – add a short bit about doing a PSC up in the beginning.
  • 3/28/15 1530 – added link above for backup products compatibility.
  • 3/28/15 1513 – added link here for a good article on upgrading vCSA to 6.0.
  • 3/19/15 15:48 – added link for the issue with vC C# not connecting to vC.
  • 3/19/15 0915 – added reference to article about vCenter 6 log file locations.
  • 3/18/15 1801 – should have said that any comments or questions welcome.  I am using bigger images so that you don’t have to click on them to see.  Let me know if that is a bad idea or not.
  • 3/18/15 1749 – added link for PowerCLI version 6.

Thanks for reading,

Michael

=== END ===

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Posted in Home Lab, How To
20 comments on “My vSphere 6 Upgrade Experience
  1. […] 6.0 (ESX Virtualization) VMware: Back to the basics – Installing ESXi 6.0 (jorgedelacruz.es) My vSphere 6 Upgrade Experience (Notes From MWhite) ESXi 6 Installation (Tayfun Deger) VMware vCenter Server 6.0 […]

  2. Johncee says:

    did you resolve the issue with the plugins, am curious as I had the same issue

    • Hi there,

      If you mean plugins like Support Assistant yes, and I updated the article to reflect that, and if you mean Dell no I have not figured that out yet but am still chasing info.

      Michael

  3. The dell plugin is available, just not through their online vib depot yet.

    A few extra gotchas I ran into:
    1. If you’re using the NVIDIA GRID cards in a dell server, you’re probably going to have to remove the drivers by hand before you can upgrade ESXi (https://communities.vmware.com/message/2321958)
    2. Before running the ESXi upgrade through VUM, I had to get my ESXi hosts off Active Directory or they would hang (https://communities.vmware.com/thread/508983)

  4. 4. If you’re using Nvidia Grid cards, be very careful which offline bundles are deployed. vGPU graphics mode is mutually exclusive with vSGA mode currently (not documented at the moment). This is why Nvidia publishes two different offline bundles in their support site. If you intend to use vGPU mode, be sure you have the VGX vib loaded. If not, the webclient will let you add the K1 hardware to your template VM but it won’t turn on. This isn’t obvious if you load both drivers into update manager because the names of the bundles are very generic (Version …. .69 & Version … .68). By default the vSGA mode driver will get loaded because it has a higher version number.
    5. Despite what update manager tells you about installing the Nvidia grid card bundle, you must reboot your host after installing it. There is an error in how Nvidia packaged their offline bundles.

  5. calvin says:

    hi,
    what about upgrade from fresh install?

    • Hi Calvin,

      Not sure what you mean. An upgrade from a fresh install is normally easier as there is not much chance for cruft to form. My article should help on either a fresh install upgrade or a not fresh install upgrade. Let me know if I misunderstand or am missing something.

      Michael

  6. Pradeep Adapa says:

    I am having a peculiar issue in my environment where I have vCenter 6 installed on a windows server and the PSC appliances (2) installed and I added the PSC to my domain and added the identity source in the vsphere 6 web client, but after logging out and when I try to login into the webclient using the domain creds, I am unable to get into the webclient using the domain credentials. The error I see is “invalid username and password”, but I am able to login into the vcenter using domain credentials through the C# client. any thoughts on how to resolve this?

    • Each PSC must have a defined connection to AD. Have you checked that?

      • Pradeep Adapa says:

        Yes, I did that, but still the issue persisted. I resolved the AD (web client issue) by removing the simple AD identity source and selecting the second option (LDAP with Active Directory) and filled in all the DSN, service account info and then joined that source, after this everything started working from AD, logins to webclient and C# clients are doing fine now. Not sure what the issue with simple AD (with machine account) as Identity source was, but everything works fine now.

      • Glad it worked. My experience is the simple option (machine account) is easist to make work. Not sure why it would not work for you – but glad you are good now.

        Michael

  7. tomásnelson says:

    Hi Everyone…
    Someone has experienced problems with the warning “Alarm ‘Virtual machine Total disk latency'” after upgrading vSphere 5.5 to vSphere 6.0 update 2, this alert constantly triggered indicating that the latency is above the permitted values for yellow and red, and the virtual machine is changes in the typical green icon playing a red icon

    • Hi there,

      This sounds familiar to me, but I have not seen it myself, and I could not find more info on it. I think I heard that if you update to very current patches this issue is fixed.

      Michael

      • tom says:

        Thanks Michael, the problem was a null value in the alert, support vmware correct and the alarm is not fired again.

  8. Ahamed Nazaie says:

    I am planning to upgrade esxi and vcenter from 6.0 to 6.0 update 2, can you give an idea what all needs to be backed up before upgrading vcenter.

    VC DB and Inventory services and a clone of the VM is fine ?

    • Hi there,

      It sounds like you have a Windows VM that is vCenter? So a backup of the VM, and a backup of the database (or SQL server) is fine. If you are using the VCSA you only need a backup of the VM. It is rare, very rare, but if you are using an external DB for VCSA you need to do a backup of that database too. But generally you only need a backup of the VCSA VM. Once you have external PSC things become much more confusing. There is more info here, and here.

      Michael

      • Ahamed Nazaie says:

        Thanks for the reply.

        Its a windows based Vcenter with external psc, I will backup the VC and VC DB along with PSC VM backup.

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