Why and How To Upgrade to vSphere 6.7 U1
vSphere 6.7 Update 1 is finally here! Lets jump in and find out how and why to upgrade!
Why should I upgrade to vSphere 6.7 Update 1?
vSphere 6.7 Update 1 has been a much anticipated release, it has many features folks have been waiting for some time. To highlight a few we now have a converge tool to migrate from an External PSC topology to an Embedded PSC topology, we now have a 100% Parity HTML-5 vSphere Client and more…. My colleague Emad Younis has a great rundown on the new vSphere 6.7 Update 1 features.
How do I upgrade my vSphere Environment to vSphere 6.7 Update 1?
Actually upgrading to vSphere 6.7 Update 1 can be quite easy, but we don’t just want to jump into the upgrade. We want to make sure we do some planning prior to performing our upgrade.
Planning for your vSphere Upgrade to vSphere 6.7 Update 1
Before we even begin to look at how to upgrade we need to make sure we don’t have any roadblocks that will stop us from upgrading. First, we want to review the vCenter Server 6.7 Update 1 and ESXi 6.7 Update 1 release notes.
When reviewing the vCenter Server release notes we want to pay close attention to the Installation and Upgrade Notes for This Release section as we would highlight any blocked paths such as upgrading from vSphere 6.5 Update 2 to vSphere 6.7 GA. We also want to review the known issues section of the release notes to make sure that none of the current known issues would impact us once we have upgraded.
Once we have validated that we do not have any blockers to upgrade the next thing we want to do is validate compatibility. We need to validate with our 3rd party solutions such as backup, monitoring, security tools are compatible to the release are moving to. We also need to review the VMware Product Interoperability Matrices to make sure our VMware Products are Interoperable and we have a supported upgrade path as well. Last but not least we need to validate our hardware against the VMware Compatibility Guide or the ESXi Compatibility Checker Fling.
If we are using multiple VMware products and some are in need of upgrade we want to consult KB53710 which will tell us the update sequence for vSphere 6.7 and its compatible products. A key consideration here is that vCenter Server is actually #8 on the list so quite a few products may need to be upgraded prior to starting your core vSphere Upgrade.
One last thing to consider when planning your upgrade to vSphere 6.7 Update 1 is your deployment topology. With vSphere 6.5 Update 2 and vSphere 6.7 we now support Enhanced LInked Mode for Embedded vCenter Server deployments. However, this was only available for greenfield or expanded deployments. With vSphere 6.7 Update 1 we now include a converge tool that will allow you to migrate from an External PSC vCenter Server deployment to an Embedded PSC vCenter Server deployment. This is done as a post upgrade task and requires all PSC and vCenter Servers within the SSO domain to be upgraded to vSphere 6.7 Update 1 first.
Once we have reviewed and planned our upgrade we can now begin to actually perform our upgrade.
Performing your vSphere Upgrade to vSphere 6.7 Update 1
I covered the actual upgrade process in this blog series on Automating your vSphere Upgrade but we want to cover the specifics of upgrading to vSphere 6.7 Update 1.
Before starting our actual upgrade we want to make sure to backup our vCenter Server whether it is with the file-based backup or an image-based backup.
PSC / vCenter Server
There is no in-place upgrade to upgrade from 6.0 or 6.5, whether you are doing a migration (windows to vcsa) or upgrade (vcsa to vcsa) the process is the same, when utilizing the vCenter Server Appliance installer to upgrade we deploy a brand new vSphere 6.7 U1 appliance and then export and import the data. Do NOT try to attach the 6.7 U1 iso to your 6.0/6.5 appliance and upgrade in place as it will not work.
When upgrading from vSphere 6.7 to 6.7 U1 this can be done through the vCenter Appliance Management Interface (VAMI). Please excercise caution when applying updates as folks may not realize that when going this route a major release could be occuring as it shows up as just a patch. This is where the planning stages we mentioned above come into place. The upgrade from vSphere 6.7 to 6.7 U1 is done as in-place upgrade so make sure you understand the upgrade plan depending on which version you are upgrading from.
You can find more information on upgrading your PSC/vCenter Server here.
As far as your ESXi hosts go, we do have a supported upgrade path to do an in-place upgrade. Doing some workshops with customers I have heard that in the past they have opted to not use vSphere Update Manager (VUM) and choose to either rebuild or attach the ISO manually and upgrade and this is definitely not ideal!
The recommended approach to upgrade your ESXi Hosts should be to utilize VUM to import the ESXi 6.7 U1 image, then create an upgrade baseline and remediate your cluster. This allows VUM to orchestrate the upgrades of the vCenter Server clusters and patch 1 host at a time without any impact to your running guests
You can find more information on upgrading your ESXi Hosts here.
VM Tools / VM Compatibility
Once your ESXi hosts have been updated to 6.7 U1 you may see that there are newer versions of tools available as well as a newer version of VM Compatibility (v14). VMware Tools should always be updated to the latest version, however when it comes to VM Compatibility we recomend only upgrading it when newer features need to be exposed. At a minimum you should be running v11 to protect against Spectre/Meltdown and only upgrading to v14 if you need features such as VBS, vTPM or Per-VM EVC.
You can find more information on upgrading your Virtual Machines here.
When upgrading your vSphere environment, it does not help to rush and upgrade as soon as you can. To execute a successful upgrade it takes some planning to make sure you wont have any issues and need to rollback. Hopefully this has helped you and if you have any questions leave them below!