May 30

Whats new vSphere 6.5 vCenter Server High Availability

This video covers Whats new vSphere 6.5 High Availability.

Rating: 5/5


Nov 21

How to backup and restore the embedded vCenter Server 6.0 vPostgres database

Posted on October 18, 2016 by Ramesh B S

This video demonstrates how to backup and restore an embedded vCenter Server 6.0 vPostgres database. Backing up your database protects the data stored in your database. Of course, restoring a backup is an essential part of that function.

This follows up on our recent blog & video: How to backup and restore the embedded vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 vPostgres database.

Note: This video is only supported for backup and restore of the vPostgres database to the same vCenter Server. Use of image-based backup and restore is the only solution supported for performing a full, secondary appliance restore.

Rating: 5/5


Oct 18

What’s New in vSphere 6.5: vCenter Server

Posted on October 18, 2016 by Charu Chaubal
Today VMware announced vSphere 6.5, which is one of the most feature rich releases of vSphere in quite some time. The vCenter Server Appliance is taking charge in this release with several new features which we’ll cover in this blog article. For starters, the installer has gotten an overhaul with a new modern look and feel. Users of both Linux and Mac will also be ecstatic since the installer is now supported on those platforms along with Microsoft Windows. If that wasn’t enough, the vCenter Server Appliance now has features that are exclusive such as:

  • Migration
  • Improved Appliance Management
  • VMware Update Manager
  • Native High Availability
  • Built-in Backup / Restore

We’ll also cover general improvements to vCenter Server 6.5 including the vSphere Web Client and the .

Migration

vCenter Server Appliance Migration

vCenter Server Appliance Migration


Getting to the vCenter Server Appliance is no longer an issue as the installer has a built in Migration Tool. This Migration Tool has several improvements over the recently released vSphere 6.0 Update 2m release. Now, Windows vCenter Server 5.5 and 6.0 are supported. If you’re currently running a Windows vCenter Server 6.0, this is your chance to get to the vCenter Server Appliance using this Migration Tool. In vSphere 6.5 there is an improvement in the migration tool which allows for more granular selection of migrated data as follows:

  • Configuration
  • Configuration, events, and tasks
  • Configuration, events, tasks, and performance metrics

VMware Update Manager (VUM) is now part of the vCenter Server Appliance. This will be huge for customers who have been waiting to migrate to the vCenter Server Appliance without managing a separate Windows server for VUM. If you’ve already migrated to the vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 the upgrade process will migrate your VUM baselines and updates to the vCenter Server Appliance 6.5. During the migration process the vCenter configuration, inventory, and alarm data is migrated by default.

Improved Appliance Management

Another exclusive feature of the vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 is the improved appliance management capabilities. The vCenter Server Appliance Management Interface continues its evolution and exposes additional health and configurations. This simple user interface now shows Network and Database statistics, disk space, and health in addition to CPU and memory statistics which reduces the reliance on using a command line interface for simple monitoring and operational tasks.

vCenter Server Appliance Management

vCenter Server Appliance Management

vCenter Server High Availability

vCenter Server 6.5 has a new native high availability solution that is available exclusively for the vCenter Server Appliance. This solution consists of Active, Passive, and Witness nodes which are cloned from the existing vCenter Server. Failover within the vCenter HA cluster can occur when an entire node is lost (host failure for example) or when certain key services fail. For the initial release of vCenter HA an RTO of about 5 minutes is expected but may vary slightly depending on load, size, and capabilities of the underlying hardware.

vCenter Server High Availability

vCenter Server High Availability

Backup and Restore

New in vCenter Server 6.5 is built-in backup and restore for the vCenter Server Appliance. This new out-of-the-box functionality enables customers to backup vCenter Server and Platform Services Controller appliances directly from the VAMI or API, and also backs up both VUM and Auto Deploy running embedded with the appliance. The backup consists of a set of files that will be streamed to a storage device of the customer’s choosing using SCP, HTTP(s), or FTP(s) protocols. This backup fully supports vCenter Server Appliances with embedded and external Platform Services Controllers. The Restore workflow is launched from the same ISO from which the vCenter Server Appliance (or PSC) was originally deployed or upgraded.

vSphere Web Client

From a User Interface perspective, probably the most used UI is the vSphere Web Client. This interface continues to be based on the Adobe Flex platform and requires Adobe Flash to use. However, VMware has continued to identify areas for improvement that will help improve the user experience until it is retired. Through several outreach efforts over the past year we’ve identified some high-value areas where we think customers are looking most for improvements. This small list of high-impact improvements will help with the overall user experience with the vSphere Web Client while development continues with the HTML5-based vSphere Client:

  • Inventory tree is the default view
  • Home screen reorganized
  • Renamed “Manage” tab to “Configure”
  • Removed “Related Objects” tab
  • Performance improvements (VM Rollup at 5000 instead of 50 VMs)
  • Live refresh for power states, tasks, and more!
vCenter Server Web Client

vCenter Server Web Client

vSphere Client

With vSphere 6.5 I’m excited to say that we have a fully supported version of the HTML5-based vSphere Client that will run alongside the vSphere Web Client. The vSphere Client is built right into vCenter Server 6.5 (both Windows and Appliance) and is enabled by default. While the vSphere Client doesn’t yet have full feature parity the team have prioritized many of the day to day tasks of administrators and continue to seek feedback on what’s missing that will enable customers to use it full time. The vSphere Web Client will continue to be accessible via “http:///vsphere-client” while the vSphere Client will be reachable via “http:///ui”. VMware will also be periodically updating the vSphere Client outside of the normal vCenter Server release cycle. To make sure it is easy and simple for customers to stay up to date the vSphere Client will be able to be updated without any effects to the rest of vCenter Server.

Now let’s take a look at some of the benefits to the new vSphere Client:

  • Clean, consistent UI built on VMware’s new Clarity UI standards (to be adopted across our portfolio)
  • Built on HTML5 so it is truly a cross-browser and cross-platform application
  • No browser plugins to install/manage
  • Integrated into vCenter Server for 6.5 and fully supported
  • Fully supports Enhanced Linked Mode
  • Users of the Fling have been extremely positive about its performance
vSphere Client

vSphere Client

Conclusion

While we’ve covered quite a few features there are many more which will be covered in accompanying blog articles. We will also be following up with detailed blogs on several of these new features which will be available by the time vSphere 6.5 reaches General Availability.

We hope you are as excited about this release as we are! Please post questions in the comments or reach out to Emad (@Emad_Younis) or Adam (@eck79) via Twitter.

To learn more about vSphere 6.5, please see the following resources.

Rating: 5/5


Jun 14

VMware vCenter Server 6.0 Performance and Best Practices

Introduction

VMware vCenter Server™ 6.0 substantially improves performance over previous vCenter Server versions. This paper demonstrates the improved performance in vCenter Server 6.0 compared to vCenter Server 5.5, and shows that vCenter Server with the embedded vPostgres database now performs as well as vCenter Server with an external database, even at vCenter Server’s scale limits. This paper also discusses factors that affect vCenter Server performance and provides best practices for vCenter Server performance.

What’s New in vCenter Server 6.0

vCenter Server 6.0 brings extensive improvements in performance and scalability over vCenter Server 5.5:

  • Operational throughput is over 100% higher, and certain operations are over 80% faster.
  • VMware vCenter Server™ Appliance™ now has the same scale limits as vCenter Server on Windows with an external database: 1,000 ESXi hosts, 10,000 powered-on virtual machines, and 15,000 registered virtual machines.
  • VMware vSphere® Web Client performance has improved, with certain pages over 90% faster.

In addition, vCenter Server 6.0 provides new deployment options:

  • Both vCenter Server on Windows and VMware vCenter Server Appliance provide an embedded vPostgres database as an alternative to an external database. (vPostgres replaces the SQL Server Express option that was available in previous vCenter versions.)
  • The embedded vPostgres database supports vCenter’s full scale limits when used with the vCenter Server Appliance.

Performance Comparison with vCenter Server 5.5

In order to demonstrate and quantify performance improvements in vCenter Server 6.0, this section compares 6.0 and 5.5 performance at several inventory and workload sizes. In addition, this section compares vCenter Server 6.0 on Windows to the vCenter Server Appliance at different inventory sizes, to highlight the larger scale limits in the Appliance in vCenter 6.0. Finally, this section illustrates the performance gained by provisioning vCenter with additional resources.

The workload for this comparison uses vSphere Web Services API clients to simulate a self-service cloud environment with a large amount of virtual machine “churn” (that is, frequently creating, deleting, and reconfiguring virtual machines). Each client repeatedly issues a series of inventory management and provisioning operations to vCenter Server. Table 1 lists the operations performed in this workload. The operations listed here were chosen from a sampling of representative customer data. Also, the inventories in this experiment used vCenter features including DRS, High Availability, and vSphere Distributed Switch. (See Appendix A for precise details on inventory configuration.)

Operations performed in performance comparison workload

Results

Figure 3 shows vCenter Server operation throughput (in operations per minute) for the heaviest workload for each inventory size. Performance has improved considerably at all sizes. For example, for the large inventory setup (Figure 3, right), operational throughput has increased from just over 600 operations per minute in vCenter Server 5.5 to over 1,200 operations per minute in vCenter Server 6.0 for Windows: an improvement of over 100%.
The other inventory sizes show similar gains in operational throughput.

vCenter Server 6.0 operation throughput

Figure 3. vCenter throughput at several inventory sizes, with heavy workload (higher is better). Throughput has increased at all inventory sizes in vCenter Server 6.0.

Figure 4 shows median latency across all operations in the heaviest workload for each inventory size. Just as with operational throughput in Figure 3, latency has improved at all inventory sizes. For example, for the large inventory setup (Figure 4, right), median operational latency has decreased from 19.4 seconds in vCenter Server 5.5 to 4.0 seconds in vCenter Server Appliance 6.0: a decrease of about 80%. The other inventory sizes also show large decreases in operational latency.

vCenter Server median latency at several inventory sizes

Figure 4. vCenter Server median latency at several inventory sizes, with heavy workload (lower is better). Latency has decreased at all inventory sizes in vCenter 6.0.

Download

Download a full VMware vCenter Server 6.0 Performance and Best Practices Technical White Paper

Rating: 5/5


Jun 10

VMware vCenter Server™ 6.0 Deployment Guide

Introduction

The VMware vCenter Server™ 6.0 release introduces new, simplified deployment models. The components that make up a vCenter Server installation have been grouped into two types: embedded and external. Embedded refers to a deployment in which all components—this can but does not necessarily include the database—are installed on the same virtual machine. External refers to a deployment in which vCenter Server is installed on one virtual machine and the Platform Services Controller (PSC) is installed on another. The Platform Services Controller is new to vCenter Server 6.0 and comprises VMware vCenter™ Single Sign-On™, licensing, and the VMware Certificate Authority (VMCA).

Embedded installations are recommended for standalone environments in which there is only one vCenter Server system and replication to another Platform Services Controller is not required. If there is a need to replicate with other Platform Services Controllers or there is more than one vCenter Single Sign-On enabled solution, deploying the Platform Services Controller(s) on separate virtual machine(s)—via external deployment—from vCenter Server is required.

This paper defines the services installed as part of each deployment model, recommended deployment models (reference architectures), installation and upgrade instructions for each reference architecture, postdeployment steps, and certificate management in VMware vSphere 6.0.

VMware vCenter Server 6.0 Services

vCenter Server and Platform Services Controller Services

Figure 1 – vCenter Server and Platform Services Controller Services

Requirements

General
A few requirements are common to both installing vCenter Server on Microsoft Windows and deploying VMware vCenter Server Appliance™. Ensure that all of these prerequisites are in place before proceeding with a new installation or an upgrade.

  • DNS – Ensure that resolution is working for all system names via fully qualified domain name (FQDN), short name (host name), and IP address (reverse lookup).
  • Time – Ensure that time is synchronized across the environment.
  • Passwords – vCenter Single Sign-On passwords must contain only ASCII characters; non-ASCII and extended (or high) ASCII characters are not supported.

Windows Installation

Installing vCenter Server 6.0 on a Windows Server requires a Windows 2008 SP2 or higher 64-bit operating system (OS). Two options are presented: Use the local system account or use a Windows domain account. With a Windows domain account, ensure that it is a member of the local computer’s administrator group and that it has been delegated the “Log on as a service” right and the “Act as part of the operating system” right. This option is not available when installing an external Platform Services Controller.

Windows installations can use either a supported external database or a local PostgreSQL database that is installed with vCenter Server and is limited to 20 hosts and 200 virtual machines. Supported external databases include Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, Oracle Database 11g, and Oracle Database 12c. When upgrading to vCenter Server 6.0, if SQL Server Express was used in the previous installation, it will be replaced with PostgreSQL. External databases require a 64-bit DSN. DSN aliases are not supported.

When upgrading vCenter Server to vCenter Server 6.0, only versions 5.0 and later are supported. If the vCenter Server system being upgraded is not version 5.0 or later, such an upgrade is required first.

Table 2 outlines minimum hardware requirements per deployment environment type and size when using an external database. If VMware vSphere Update Manager™ is installed on the same server, add 125GB of disk space and 4GB of RAM.

Minimum Hardware Requirements – Windows Installation

Table 2. Minimum Hardware Requirements – Windows Installation

Download

Download a full VMware vCenter Server™ 6.0 Deployment Guide

Rating: 5/5


May 22

Common vCenter Server Tasks in the vSphere Web Client Part 2

https://kb.vmware.com/kb/2145397

This video tutorial demonstrates how to perform some common tasks in VMware vCenter Server using the vSphere Web Client.

The tasks covered in this video are:

– Creating a virtual machine
– Powering on a virtual machine
– vMotioning a virtual machine
– Editing or changing the virtual machine settings
– Storage vMotioning a virtual machine

This video tutorial is aimed at VMware users who are new to the vSphere Web Client.

Rating: 5/5


Nov 03

Installing vCenter Server 6.0 best practices (KB2107948)

Purpose

This article provides information about installing VMware vCenter Server 6.0 Best practices.

Note: This article assumes that you have read the vSphere 6.0 Installation and Setup documentation.
The documentation contains definitive information. If there is a discrepancy between the documentation and this article, assume that the documentation is correct. Ensure that you have read the known issues in the VMware vSphere 6.0 Release Notes.

Resolution

Deployment models and Platform Services Controllers

With vSphere 6.0, we have introduced deployment models and Platform Services Controllers. There are two deployment models:

    ■ Embedded Deployment Model:
    – vCenter Server with an embedded Platform Services Controller
    ■ External Deployment Model:
    – External Platform Services Controller.
    vCenter Server with external Platform Services controller.

For more information about when to use the external or embedded deployment models, see vCenter Server Deployment Models.

Warning: Although the installation can complete successfully, some resulting topologies may not be recommended by VMware. For a list of recommended topologies and mitigation steps, see List of recommended topologies for vSphere 6.0.x (2108548).

Warning: If you decide on an external model, the installation must be done sequentially starting with the platform services controllers, not concurrently.

If you have used vSphere 5.x you may be familiar with some services that were previously deployed independently of vCenter Server. For more information about how the vSphere 5.x services map to the new vSphere 6.0 servers, see Migration of Distributed vCenter Server for Windows Services During Upgrade to vCenter Server 6.0 in our documentation.

For further related installation information,see the vCenter Server 6.0 documentation subtopics:

vCenter Server Components and Services
vCenter Server Deployment Models
Overview of the vSphere Installation and Setup Process
vSphere Security Certificates Overview
Enhanced Linked Mode Overview

vCenter Server for Windows Requirements

To install vCenter Server on a Windows virtual machine or physical server, your system must meet specific hardware and software requirements. For more information, see also following related Prerequisites.

vCenter Server for Windows Hardware Requirements
vCenter Server for Windows Storage Requirements
Required free space for system logging
vCenter Server for Windows Software Requirements
Supported host operating systems for VMware vCenter Server installation (including vCenter Update Manager and vRealize Orchestrator) (2091273)
Verify that the FQDN is resolvable
Synchronizing Clocks on the vSphere network
vCenter Server for Windows Database Requirements
VMware Product Interoperability Matrix

vCenter Server Appliance Requirements

The appliance upgrade process has changed significantly from the previous release. There is now an ISO file containing the appliance that can be downloaded. The ISO contains an installer that will deploy the appliance to a host running ESXi 5.1.x or later. The tool runs in a browser on a Microsoft Windows Platform. The tool requires the client integration plugin to function and therefore must meet it’s requirements. For more information about installing the Client Integration Plug-in Software on your windows platform, see Install Client Integration Plug-in. For information about the appliance upgrade tool, see Upgrade the vCenter Server Appliance.

Prior to installing vSphere 6.0, please ensure you have these requirements:

vCenter Server Appliance Hardware Requirements
vCenter Server Appliance Storage Requirements
Verify that the FQDN is resolvable
Synchronizing Clocks on the vSphere network
vCenter Server Appliance Software Requirements
vCenter Server Appliance Database Requirements
Software Included in the vCenter Server Appliance

vSphere Web Client Software Requirements

Make sure that your browser supports the vSphere Web Client.
The vSphere Web Client 6.0 requires Adobe Flash Player 16 or later. The latest Adobe Flash Player version for Linux systems is 11.2. Therefore, the vSphere Web Client cannot run on Linux platforms.
VMware has tested and supports these guest operating systems and browser versions for the vSphere Web Client. For best performance, use Google Chrome.

vSphere Web Client Software Requirements

If you plan to install the Client Integration Plug-in separately from the vSphere Web Client so that you can connect to an ESXi host and deploy or upgrade the vCenter Server Appliance, make sure that your browser supports the Client Integration Plug-in.
To use the Client Integration Plug-in, verify that you have one of the supported Web browsers.

vSphere Client Requirements

You can install the vSphere Client to manage single ESXi host. The Windows system on which you install the vSphere Client must meet specific hardware and software requirements.

vSphere Client Hardware Requirements
vSphere Client Software Requirements
Supported host operating systems for vSphere Client (Windows) installation (2100436)
TCP and UDP Ports for the vSphere Client

Additional Information

Walkthroughs
If you would like to see step-by-step upgrade instructions with annotations, see go to our Product Walkthroughs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are Oracle databases supported as an external database for vCenter Server Appliance?
A: Oracle 11g and 12c are supported as external databases in vCenter Server Appliance 6.0

Q: Will Oracle databases continue to be supported beyond vSphere 6.0 for vCenter Server Appliance?
A: Oracle 11g and 12c as an external database for vCenter Server Appliance is deprecated in the 6.0 release. VMware will provide general support as per lifecycle support policy.

Q: What is the plan to support Microsoft SQL databases with vCenter Server Appliance 6.0?
A: There is no plan to support Mircosoft SQL database as an external database. Embedded vPostgres database supports scale limits of 1,000 hosts and 10,000 virtual machines.

Q: Can I deploy vCenter Server Appliance using OVFTOOL?
A: Starting with vSphere 6.0, the user interface based installer is the only supported method to install and upgrade vCenter Server Appliance.

Q: Why can’t I deploy vCenter appliance on vCenter Server cluster?
A: This feature is planned for a future release.

Q: What is considered too large for an embedded deployment model?
A: An embedded deployment model can only include a single instance of vCenter Server. If your requirements exceed the limits of a single instance of vCenter Server, you should consider using an external model.

Q: What is considered too small for an external deployment model?
A: If you only require a single instance of vCenter Server and you do not expect the environment to grow, you should consider an embedded model.

Rating: 5/5


Nov 02

Best practices to install or upgrade to VMware ESXi 6.0 (KB2109712)

Purpose

This article provides best practices to install or upgrade to VMware ESXi 6.0.
This article assumes that:

  • You have read the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide for ESXi 6.0 or the vSphere Upgrade Guide for ESXi 6.0 upgrades. These guides contain definitive information. If there is a discrepancy between the guide and this article, assume that the guide is correct.
  • You have upgraded your vCenter Server to version 6.0 prior to upgrading your ESXi hosts to version 6.0. For more information, see:

Installing vCenter Server 6.0 best practices (2107948)
Upgrading to vCenter Server 6.0 without migrating SQL database to vPostgres (2109321)
Upgrading to VMware vCenter Server 6.0 with an embedded Platform Services Controller from vCenter Server 5.5 installed using the simple install method (2109559)
Upgrading VMware vCenter Single Sign-on 5.5 to a VMware vCenter Server 6.0 Platform Services Controller 6.0 (2109560)
Upgrading VMware vCenter Server 5.5 to vCenter Server 6.0 with an external Platrfom Services Controller (2109562)

VMware provides several ways to install or upgrade to ESXi 6.0. For more information, see:

  • Methods of installing ESXi 6.0 (2109708)
  • Methods for upgrading to ESXi 6.0 (2109711)

Resolution

ESXi 6.0 System Requirements

When installing or upgrading to ESXi 6.0, ensure that the host meets these minimum hardware configurations supported by ESXi 6.0:

1. Compatible hardware: Ensure your hardware is compliant on the VMware Compatibility Guide. This includes:

  • System compatibility
  • I/O compatibility (Network and HBA cards)
  • Storage compatibility
  • Backup software compatibility

2. Compatible CPU: Your hosts must have a supported and compatible processor. VMware ESXi 6.0 requires:

  • A host with 2 or more CPU cores
  • A 64-bit x86 processor released after September 2006. For a complete list of supported processors, see the VMware Compatibility Guide
  • The NX/XD bit for the CPU must be enabled in the host BIOS.
  • To support 64-bit virtual machines, support for hardware virtualization (Intel VT-x or AMD RVI) must be enabled on x64 CPUs.

Note: To determine whether your server has 64-bit VMware support, download the CPU Identification Utility from the VMware Website.

3. Sufficient memory: Your hosts must have at least 4 GB of RAM, 8 GB of RAM is recommended to take advantage of all features and run virtual machines in a typical production environment.

4. Sufficient network adapters: Your host has one or more Gigabit or faster Ethernet controllers. For a list of supported network adapter models, see the VMware Compatibility Guide.

ESXi 6.0 Booting Requirements

vSphere 6.0 supports booting ESXi hosts from the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). With UEFI, you can boot systems from hard drives, CD-ROM drives, USB media, or network. Provisioning with VMware Auto Deploy requires the legacy BIOS firmware and is not available with UEFI BIOS configurations.

Notes:

Changing the host boot type between legacy BIOS and UEFI is not supported after you install ESXi 6.0. Changing the boot type from legacy BIOS to UEFI after you install ESXi 6.0 might cause the host to fail to boot. The host displays an error message similar to:

Not a VMware boot bank

ESXi can boot from a disk larger than 2 TB provided that the system firmware and the firmware on any add-in card that you are using supports it. Check your hardware documentation.

Storage requirements

ESXi 6.0 has these storage requirements:

1 Gigabyte+ boot device: Installing or upgrading to ESXi 6.0 requires a minimum of a 1 GB boot device.

Note: Although a 1 GB USB or SD device suffices for a minimal installation, you should use a 4 GB or larger device. The extra space is used for an expanded coredump partition on the USB/SD device.

4 GB extra for scratch partition: When booting from a local disk, a SAN or an iSCSI LUN, a 5.2 GB disk is required to allow for the creation of the VMFS volume and a 4 GB scratch partition on the boot device.

If a smaller disk or LUN is used, the installer attempts to allocate a scratch region on another available local disk. If no local disk can be found to serve as a scratch partition, /scratch is located on the ESXi host ramdisk, linked to /tmp/scratch. You can later reconfigure /scratch to use a separate disk or LUN.
Due to the I/O sensitivity of USB and SD devices the installer does not create a scratch partition on these devices. Again, the host attempts to configure the /scratch on an available local disk, if no local disk is available it is placed on the ramdisk.
For environments that boot from a SAN or use Auto Deploy, it is not necessary to allocate a separate LUN for each ESXi host. You can co-locate the scratch regions for many ESXi hosts onto a single LUN. The number of hosts assigned to any single LUN should be weighed against the LUN size and the I/O behavior of the virtual machines.
For best performance and memory optimization, do not leave the /scratch partition configured to use the ramdisk. To reconfigure /scratch, see the Set the Scratch Partition from the vSphere Web Client section in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.

Best practices for upgrading or migrating ESXi hosts

For a successful upgrade or migration, perform these best practices:

If your vSphere system includes VMware solutions or plug-ins, ensure that they are compatible with the vCenter Server version that you are upgrading to. For more information, see the VMware Product Interoperability Matrix.
If you are upgrading multiple VMware solutions, review this article, to ensure you update them in the correct order: Update sequence for vSphere 6.0 and its compatible VMware products (2109760).
Read the Before You Install ESXi section in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.
Read the VMware vSphere Release Notes for awareness of any known installation issues.
If the ESXi hosts are part of a VMware Virtual SAN cluster, carefully review the Upgrading the Virtual SAN Cluster section in the VMware Virtual SAN 6.0 Documentation.

To prepare your system for the upgrade:

Check if the version of ESXi or ESX you are currently running is supported for migration or upgrade. For more information, see the Supported Upgrades to ESXi 6.0 section in the vSphere Upgrade Guide.
Check the VMware Compatibility Guide to ensure that your host hardware is tested and certified as compatible with the new version of ESXi. Check for system compatibility, I/O compatibility (network and HBA cards), and storage compatibility.

Note:It is not recommended to upgrade a host with hardware that is not certified for use with ESXi 6.0. If your host model is not on the VMware Compatibility guide, VMware recommend you contact your hardware vendor, and check if they plan to support your hardware devices on ESXi 6.0.

Ensure that sufficient disk space is available on the host for the upgrade or migration. VMware recommend a minimum of 50 MB free disk space on the installation disk of the host you are upgrading.
If you use remote management software to interact with your hosts, ensure that the software is supported and the firmware version is sufficient. For more information, see the Supported Remote Management Server Models and Firmware Versions section in the vSphere Upgrade Guide.
If a Fiber Channel SAN is connected to the host, detach the fiber connections before continuing with the upgrade or migration. Do not disable HBA cards in the BIOS.
Ensure you have sufficient access to VMware product licenses to assign a vSphere 6.0 license to the hosts post upgrade. After the upgrade, you can use evaluation mode for 60 days. For more information, see the Applying Licenses After Upgrading to ESXi 6.0 section in the vSphere Upgrade Guide .
Back up the host before performing an upgrade. If the upgrade fails, you can restore the host.

Rating: 5/5


Jul 08

vCenter Server 6 Deployment Topologies and High Availability

Architectural changes to vSphere 6

Posted on March 9, 2015 by Mohan Potheri

vCenter Server 6 has some fundamental architectural changes compared to vCenter Server Server 5.5. The multitude of components that existed in vCenter Server 5.x has been consolidated in vCenter Server 6 to have only two components vCenter Management Server and Platform Services Controller, formerly vCenter Server Single Sign-On.

The Platform Services Controller (PSC) provides a set of common infrastructure services encompassing
  • Single Sign-On (SSO)
  • Licensing
  • Certificate Authority

The vCenter Management Server consolidates all the other components such as Inventory Service & Web Client services along with its traditional management components. The vCenter Server components can be typically deployed in with either embedded or external PSC. Care should be taken to understand the critical differences between the two deployment models. Once deployed one cannot move from one mode to another in this version.

Deployment Models

vCenter Server with Embedded PSC:
The embedded PSC is meant for standalone sites where vCenter Server will be the only SSO integrated solution. In this case a replication to another PSC is not necessary.
  • Sufficient for most environments. Easiest to deploy and maintain
  • Aimed at minimizing fault domains. Use in conjunction with only one of VMware Product or Solution.
  • Multiple standalone instances supported
  • Replication between embedded instances not supported
  • Supports Windows & Appliance
Embedded mode vCenter Server 6

Figure 1: Embedded mode vCenter Server 6

vCenter Server with External PSC

In this configuration the PSC is external to the vCenter Server. This configuration allows multiple vCenter Servers to link to a PSC.
  • Recommend this if deploying/growing to multiple vCenter Server instances that need to be linked
  • Reduces footprint by sharing Platform Services Controller across several vCenter Servers
  • Deploy more than one PSC to provide resilience within the environment
  • Supports Windows & Appliance
vCenter Server 6 with External PSC

Figure 2: vCenter Server 6 with External PSC

Options available for vCenter Server failure protection

Backup (VDP / Third Party VADP)

vCenter Server deployed in embedded mode can be backed up with VDP or third party backup software that leverage VADP. Currently there is no simple mechanism available to backup the PSC when is external to the vCenter Server. Multiple instances of PSC should be leveraged to protect against an individual external PSC failure.

VMware HA

Majority of the customers have virtualized their vCenter server and leverage VMware HA to protect against Hardware failure. VMware HA can also protect against guest OS failure through the use of heartbeat and watchdog services.

Third Party Solutions that layer on top of VMware HA

Third party solutions like Symantec ApplicationHA layer on top of VMware HA and can also monitor and restart vCenter services in the event of any failure. Using a solution like Symantec ApplicationHA, one can monitor all of the components of vCenter server. In the event it is unable to resolve issues by restarting services, it interacts VMware HA to reset the virtual machine. Symantec ApplicationHA has a specific agent for vCenter agent that helps monitor and protect all aspects of vCenter.

VMware SMP-FT

With the release of vSphere 6, SMP Fault tolerance is available for up to 4 vCPU. This can also protect against hardware failure, but is applicable only to vCenter Server instances that can fit within the 4 vCPU virtual machine size. Any application failure is not protected by SMP-FT.

Database Clustering

For vCenter servers backed by Microsoft SQL databases, SQL clustering can be leveraged to provide reduced downtime for unplanned events and for OS patching.

Platform Service Controller

Multiple External PSC instances can be used for a single site to service one or more vCenter servers. A load balancer is required to frontend the PSC instances. The PSC instances replicate state information between each other.

vCenter Server High Availability

With vCenter Server 5.5 Update 3 and later, Windows Server Failover Cluster is supported as an option for providing vCenter Server availability. Two instances of vCenter Server are in a MSCS cluster, but only one instance is active at a time. VMware only supports 2 node clusters.

Use cases for this solution:
  • This solution helps reduce downtime for maintenance operations, such as patching or upgrades, on one node in the cluster without taking down the vCenter Server database.
  • Another potential benefit of this approach is that MSCS uses a type of “shared-nothing” cluster architecture. The cluster does not involve concurrent disk accesses from multiple nodes. In other words, the cluster does not require a distributed lock manager. MSCS clusters typically include only two nodes and they use a shared SCSI connection between the nodes. Only one server needs the disks at any given time, so no concurrent data access occurs. This sharing minimizes the impact if a node fails.
  • Unlike the vSphere HA cluster option, the MSCS option works only for Windows virtual machines and does not support the vCenter Server Appliance.
  • Before you can set up MSCS for vCenter Server availability, you must create a virtual machine with one of the following guest operating systems:
    • Windows 2008 SP2
    • Windows 2012 R2 Datacenter

Additionally, you must add two RDM disks to this VM. These disks must be mounted and when they are added, you must create a separate SCSI controller with the bus sharing option set to physical. The RDM disks must also be independent and persistent.

In this configuration all vCenter Server services can be protected individually. The backend Microsoft SQL database can also be protected separately with SQL Clustering.

Clustering based high availability for Windows based vCenter Server

Figure 3: Clustering based high availability for Windows based vCenter Server

Deployment Modes for vCenter Server

Local vCenter Server & PSX High Availability:
  • This model protects the platform service controller service by having multiple instances of PSC locally behind a load balancer. Failure of a PSC does not impact the usage of the infrastructure. The PSCs should also be separated from each other physically using anti-affinity rules. The PSCs replicate state information vCenter Server nodes are individually clustered with WSFC for HA. The vCenter Servers interact with the PSCs through a load balancer.
Local vCenter and PSC high availability

Figure 4: Local vCenter and PSC high availability

Multiple Site vCenter Server and PSC basic Architecture:

In this configuration each site is independent with PSC replication between sites. The vCenter Server is aware of the site topologies and use the local PSC under normal circumstances. Customers are able to seamlessly move the vCenter Servers between PSCs when necessary. This topology allows for Enhanced Linked Mode (ELM) which is facilitated by the PSC. Enhanced Linked Mode provides for a single point of management for all vCenter Servers in the same vSphere domain. In vSphere 6 the Windows-based and Virtual Appliance-based vCenter Servers have the same operational maximums and can belong to the same linked mode configuration. The configuration replicates all license, global permissions, tags and roles across all sites.

Multi-site vCenter Server and PSC basic architecture

Figure 5: Multi-site vCenter Server and PSC basic architecture

Multiple Site vCenter Server & PSC with High Availability Architecture:

Combining the high availability configuration in a local site with the multi site configuration. Each site is populated with at least two PSCs for high availability. vCenter Server nodes are individually clustered with WSFC for HA.

Multi-site vCenter Server and PSC high availability architecture

Figure 6: Multi-site vCenter Server and PSC high availability architecture

Conclusion

vCenter Server 6 has a new deployment architecture. In this blog we have discussed the deployment modes for vCenter Server based on different requirements. The modes of deployment can go from a minimal local deployment to a multi site high availability deployment. There are many high availability options available for vCenter Server and one can mix and match these based on customer requirements.

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Jun 17

VMware vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 Installation with Embedded Platform Services Controller

VMware vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 Installation with Embedded Platform Services Controller.

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