- vSphere 6.5 U1 Upgrade Series – PSC VCSA Upgrade
- vSphere 6.5 U1 Upgrade Series – vCenter VCSA Upgrade
- vSphere 6.5 U1 Upgrade Series – ESXi Host Upgrade
Welcome to my blog and thanks for checking it out. As the title implies I’ll be stepping you through upgrading an existing vSphere 6.5 GA or above environment to vSphere 6.5 U1. The process is incredibly simple depending on how many hosts you have it doesn’t take that much time at all. This will be broken into three articles, one for the PSC upgrade, one for the vCenter upgrade and one to demonstrate using Update Manager to upgrade hosts. If you haven’t upgraded to vSphere 6.5 yet check out my vSphere 6.5 Series.
ESXi Host Upgrade
In the previous article we stepped through upgrading the vCenter VCSA appliance. It almost didn’t need to be a separate article since the steps are nearly identical to the PSC VCSA upgrade but since it is a different component I felt it was necessary. Either way now that we have both management components upgraded it’s time to upgrade the ESXi hosts. As of vSphere 6.5 GA, Update Manager is now available on the vCenter VCSA. This is a pretty important step for VMware since they’ve stated that the next iteration of vSphere will not be deployable on Windows. It will be VCSA only for the vCenter and PSC. This is also an important step for customers wanting to migrate to the VCSA and rid themselves of the dependence on Windows.
This is the last step in upgrading our environment and arguably the most important. It’s also typically the easiest part of the process. We’ll use Update Manager to attach a baseline to each host. We’ll scan each host for compliance against the baseline. Finally, we’ll remediate each host, installing all the applicable patches, bugfixes and updates.
In the other articles in this series I’ve tried to stay on the HTML5 client because it’s fast and looks nice. Unfortunately, Update Manager is not yet available on the HTML5 client and is only available on the vSphere Web Client (Flash).
First, we open whatever browser you prefer and navigate to the FQDN of the vCenter Server with the following syntax “https://<vCenter FQDN>/vsphere-client”. Once logged in we select a host and then select the Update Manager tab. A Baseline contains a set of patches, bugfixes, drivers and updates that you can validate against to see whether the host has them installed or not. There are two default baselines: Non-Critical Host Patches and Critical Host Patches. The two default baselines get updated automatically by Update Manager. It will go out to VMware’s Patch Repository and download the latest patches and update the baselines accordingly. You can also create your own Baselines if necessary. An example of which could be drivers specific to your hosts that may not be included natively by VMware. Several manufactures even have their own repositories or depots that you can have Update Manager download from.
In this case we’re going with the default baselines. Click the Attach Baseline button.
NOTE: DRS (Distributed Resource Scheduler) must be enabled on the cluster or it won’t automatically migrate VM’s to another host when you tell it to remediate. The host won’t go into Maintenance Mode until you manually vMotion the VMs to another host or shut them all down.
Put a check in each of the default baselines and click OK. Of note, you must attach baselines to each host you want to scan and update.
Now that we have the baselines attached you’ll notice the Overall compliance status now shows Unknown. Last patch scan time is also empty. The reason for this is because we need to scan the host against the baselines we’ve attached. Click the Scan for Updates button to start the process.
On the Scan for Updates dialog make sure there is a check in both the Patches and Extensions as well as the Upgrades box then click OK to continue.
Once the process is started we see a Scan entity task in the Recent Tasks. Update Manager is scanning the host to see if it complies with the baselines we have attached. If the host were up to date the scan would complete and the Overall compliance status would show Compliant.
In our case the Overall compliance status shows Non-Compliant, which was expected. Below that you can see we’re Non-Compliant against both of the default baselines. Also notice the Last patch scan time shows the date the Scan for Updates process was ran. Almost any other situation you would click Update somewhere and things would get updated. VMware just has to be different and you must click Remediate to start the update process.
The Remediate dialog comes up. In the Baselines section on the right we have to put a check in each of the default baselines. Click Next to continue.
On the Select target objects section, make sure the host is selected. The Patches column has the number of applicable patches to be installed. Click Next to continue.
On the Patches and extensions section we can individually select patches that we do or don’t want to install. We’re installing all of them so we leave them all checked. Click Next to continue.
In the Advanced options section we can schedule the remediation to happen later and can force it to ignore warnings about unsupported components. We won’t use either of those options in this scenario. Click Next to continue.
The Host remediation options section allows you to force VM’s to be powered down on the host and disables removable media among other things. We use the defaults here in this scenario. Click Next to continue.
The Cluster remediation options section allows you to disable DPM, disable FT and disable HA. Again we’re going with the default settings here. Click Next to continue.
The Ready to complete section shows you the options you’ve selected and what hosts are effected as well as the Patches to be installed. Click Finish to continue.
NOTE: DRS (Distributed Resource Scheduler) must be enabled on the cluster for this to work as explained near the top of this article. Otherwise you’ll need to manually shutdown or migrate the VMs on the selected host to another host.
In the Recent Tasks section you will see a Remediate entity task which indicates it’s starting the process to update the host. Eventually you will also see several tasks for the host going into maintenance mode, installing patches and rebooting. When the process is complete the Remediate entity task will show Completed with a green check. The host will exit Maintenance Mode and DRS should eventually kick in and migrate VM’s back onto it.
Once the process is complete you can then repeat it for each host in your cluster and update them all. You can also check your version against the Build numbers and versions of VMware ESXi KB Article to make sure you’re on the latest version. You can also select each individual host and go to the Summary tab to see the current running version.
So that’s it! In this series we’ve successfully updated the vCenter Server Appliance – Platform Services Controller (VCSA PSC) to the latest version. We’ve updated the vCenter Server Appliance – vCenter Server (VCSA vCenter) also to the latest version. Finally we’ve updated the hosts in the cluster using Update Manager. Compared to previous vSphere versions, this is a greatly streamlined process that should allow for more frequent updates of the virtual infrastructure without the fuss.
That being said you should always do your due diligence before tackling an upgrade like this. Make sure any ancillary components are supported on the new versions. If you’re using other VMware products like SRM, vSphere Replication, vSAN, vDS or Horizon View there are definitely additional things to consider as well. Don’t forget to validate compatibility with your backup software also.
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!