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The VLCM allows simplified and consistent lifecycle management for your ESXi hosts. Instead of just applying baselines, it introduces a desired-state model that provides lifecycle management for the hypervisor.
The desired-state model is super exciting, as it is able to handle the full stack of drivers and firmware and manage their versions. This is very important, especially in a VMware vSAN environment where combinations of unsupported versions of drivers and firmware can return unwanted or unexpected performance results or even the Purple Screen of Death (PSOD). For now, with vSAN 7.0, the VLCM supports only some hardware via the VMware ReadyNodes program (Dell and HPE).
You'll see some screenshots below that use the new dark mode, which made its appearance in vSphere 6.7 U3. Note also that in this version, the UI includes an indication of whether there are new updates for VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA). Previously, you could only see updates if you were logged into the VCSA VAMI via port 5480.
However, concerning single-image management, there is another catch—the hosts must be all running ESXi 7.0 or higher, which the current environment is not.
While we cannot use the single image for hosts management, we'll go and update the environment via baseline.
Upgrade the VMware cluster of ESXi 6.7 to 7.0 ^
The high-level steps:
- Import the ESXi 7.0 ISO image.
- Create and attach the upgrade baseline.
- Scan and remediate the cluster.
Let's look at the whole process in detail. First, we need to download and import the latest VMware ESXi ISO image. Go to your profile at the VMware site and download the full installation image.
Next, let's check the newly imported ISO. Click the Imported ISOs link and verify that the ISO is there.
Then create a new upgrade baseline for the operation.
After that, simply follow the assistant. In the next step, select the ISO we just uploaded to our VCSA.
Then attach this baseline to the cluster.
Note: We could also have used the Create and Attach Baseline button, which would use a single wizard to complete these steps. I didn't do that here because I wanted to show you the separate steps.
So now we have an Assistant for attaching the baseline to the cluster. Here is the shot:
Select the upgrade baseline and click Remediate. Another assistant is displayed.
We see an informative message about DRS, which is currently disabled.
DRS should be enabled if available. To remediate hosts from this cluster, place the host in maintenance mode and manually migrate virtual machines prior to remediation.
What is VMware DRS? ^
VMware DRS stands for Distributed Resource Scheduler. It allows VMware vSphere to evenly distribute workloads across hosts via vMotion.
Where to enable DRS? ^
Just select your cluster. Then click Configure > Edit > vSphere DRS.
Let's go back and hit the Remediate button. A new assistant will start. We'll need to accept the license agreement.
The next screen shows a nice option, Schedule Cluster Update, which allows you to schedule the upgrade for a different time rather than run it immediately. You could schedule it to occur outside business hours or on weekends.
If you scroll further down, there are other options concerning remediation settings. We have Quick boot, which we can enable if the hardware supports it.
There is also an option to ignore warnings about unsupported hardware devices. This might be good if we know that certain hardware drivers work for vSphere 7.0 but are not supported (or not supported yet) by VMware. You can test on one of the hosts before launching a mass upgrade of the whole cluster.
We can also close this dialog box and go to Settings. The settings that do not have check boxes can only be changed on the global vSphere Lifecycle Manager settings page.
Going one at a time, the upgrade process will start to vMotion VMs out of the host > put the hosts into maintenance mode > upgrade > exit maintenance mode > vMotion the VMs back. It is a fully automated process.
At the end, you should see all your hosts upgraded to ESXi 7.0. The process isn't really different from the upgrades we used to do from 6.5 to 6.7 or 6.0 to 6.5; however, there were some changes to the workflows and assistants.
Additionally, there is the new image management across clusters, which should ease some pain concerning the management of drivers, their versions, the versions of firmware for storage controllers, and NICs across clusters. This should be in place for ESXi 7.0 U1, I'd imagine, as you need your infrastructure to be on ESXi 7.0 first.
If you see that some of your hosts after upgrade are not compliant, simply select the baseline whose status is "non-compliant" and click Remediate again.
Final words ^
VMware has again improved the user interface and the user experience. The dark mode is very pleasant to work with as well.
The next post will show us the upgrade of virtual machine (VM) virtual hardware, if necessary, and some automation and scheduling of the VMware Tools upgrade via the vSphere Lifecycle Manager.