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Upgrading to vSphere 6: Part 1 – How & What to plan for.


So vSphere 6.x is now here. A lot of blog posts have covered whats new and the new limits for the new Suite.

A quick recap of whats new is (abstract from Duncan Epping’s Blog):

  • vVols(Virtual Volumes)
  • Long Distance vMotion, Cross vSwitch and vCenter vMotion
  • vMotion of MSCS VMs using pRDMs
  • vMotion now can be routed (L3)
  • Fault Tolerance of VMs with upto 4vCPU (Network Constraints min 1GbE/CPU still apply)
  • Content Library (Replicate templates, ISO etc across multiple vCenters)
  • NFS 4.1 support
  • Instant Clone (aka VMFork)
  • vSphere HA Component Protection
  • Storage DRS and SRM support
  • Network IO Control per VM reservations
  • Storage IOPS reservations
  • Platform Services Controller architecture for vCenter – for SSO , licensing and integrated Certificate Authority
  • Linked Mode support for vCenter Server Appliance
  • Max Config:
    • 64 hosts per cluster
    • 8000 VMs per cluster
    • 480 CPUs per host
    • 12TB of memory
    • 1000 VMs per host
    • 128 vCPUs per VM
    • 4TB RAM per VM
  • vSphere Replication
    • Compression of replication traffic configurable per VM
    • Isolation of vSphere Replication host traffic
  • vSphere Data Protection now includes all vSphere Data Protection Advanced functionality
    • Up to 8TB of deduped data per VDP Appliance
    • Up to 800 VMs per VDP Appliance
    • Application level backup and restore of SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint
    • Replication to other VDP Appliances and EMC Avamar
    • Data Domain support

Planning for the Upgrade:

If you are planning for an upgrade, the first thing you have to do is ensure that there is product interoperability with all the third party tools and plugins that you use everyday. If you are confident that its going to be OK, this is how to plan for it. Ensure you plan and test this on a non-production environment. Stress test the new environment with application VMs and other tests that you generally perform on a green fields environment. Write out your plan. My plan (for my lab is as below)

  1. Plan out your SSO deployment model and how to upgrade to the new PSC model. (Always deploy PSC in a HA mode with multiple VMs. It has inbuilt replication and so you don’t have to setup anything for it ).
  2. Snapshot your SSO Server and then Install the new PSC (Platform Services Console) and ensure that SSO and licensing of the existing environment is migrated over. Once everything works, don’t forget to delete that snapshot.
  3. Snapshot the vCenter Server (including the SQL Server and the vCenter DB) and upgrade the components of the Management Platform (vCenter, VUM etc). Delete Snapshot again.
  4. Ensure all the licensing is intact and that you can login with the required permissions. This is paramount to test this as you don’t want to upgrade and then realise that it needs newer permissions etc.
  5. Upgrade your hosts one by one using VUM update.
  6. Test out each of the new features that you want to use in your environment.
  7. Document everything I mean everything this way you can run through all the tests you’ve done and repeat any with less than satisfactory results.
  8. Test all the failed tests after all the components have been upgraded. If it still fails the test, if you have VMware Support for your non-production licenses then log a case with VMware Support.
  9. Once resolved, re-run your tests until all of them are successful.

In the next part, we will drill further into the actual steps with pretty pictures.


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