If you are tasked with upgrading the VMware vSphere infrastructure, you might be interested in the vSphere Assessment Tool (vSAT). The tool enables you to streamline the entire upgrade process and helps to determine which host(s) might not be compatible with your vSphere version. If you have older hardware, it might be supported up to a certain version of vSphere, but not higher. This tool will help to detect incompatible hardware such as NICs, storage controllers, etc.

Vladan Seget

Vladan Seget is an independent consultant, professional blogger, vExpert 2009-2019, VCAP-DCA/DCD and MCSA. He has been working for over 20 years as a system engineer.

The tool has two parts: the desktop client and an online portal. The online portal is a SaaS application, so some of your data must be sent to the online app for the analysis. You'll also need to create a VMware Online account at VMware, if you don't already have one.

If you are an administrator and you really want to avoid hardware upgrade problems, and want to know whether the hardware you're currently managing is compatible with the latest vSphere software, then this tool is definitely for you.

The vSAT utility can detect remote clusters and remote datacenters managed by different vCenters. You just need to configure a user account with sufficient privileges to access these remote locations.

Preparing for an upgrade of any critical system in a production environment requires planning, including architecture considerations, its end state, and whether the current hardware supports the upgrade.

After you connect to the vSphere Assessment Tool portal, you can download the vSphere Assessment Tool desktop client. The desktop client enables data collection locally within your environment. It is provided for Windows, OSx, and Linux, depending on the system you're working in.

Here is the overview of the process.

vSphere Assessment Tool download

vSphere Assessment Tool download

Once you download the client software, simply use your management workstation to install it.

The installation process is simple:

vSphere Assessment Tool desktop client

vSphere Assessment Tool desktop client

Click the Start button, click Add vCenter Server Account, and click Run Data Collection. If you don't want to provide an Administrator account, you can also create a custom role with host settings privileges so the tool can operate.

Add vCenter Server account and start collection

Add vCenter Server account and start collection

The collection process takes a long time. Once it is finished, there are two ways you can upload the data to your online portal for processing:

  • The built-in upload in the desktop client utility.
  • Offline upload – The desktop client can save the results locally. You can then upload them into the vSphere Assessment portal manually. This method can be used when you have a secure environment with no internet access.

You'll be asked to enter the passcode in order to upload the collected data file. The data file is a simple JSON file.

Enter the vSAT passcode to upload the collection data

Enter the vSAT passcode to upload the collection data

Once the data are uploaded to the online SaaS portal, you'll get a view of your infrastructure. You will see what vSphere versions are running, how many vCenter servers are present, and how many ESXi hosts are installed. For example:

Overview example of the architecture from VMware

Overview example of the architecture from VMware

When you select a specific host, you'll get the details about all its required components and their possible compatibility problems with the vSphere 6.7.

You might spot some incompatibility of the overall system; however, individual components (networking cards) will successfully support the upgrade process.

As you can see, this demo system includes both the latest vSphere 6.7 as well as older systems. Imagine you have some hosts that are still on 5.5. You can check what the latest system would be that you could still install on without problems. That's precious as a tool, isn't it?

Check vSAT results if your hardware is supported for upgrades

Check vSAT results if your hardware is supported for upgrades

You can export the data directly from the online dashboard if you want to consult them while offline too.

The vSAT is a very good tool to know about. It is easy to use and even though it sends some technical data to the online app portal for processing, it's worth running the check if you're planning an upgrade.

Having an alternate way to upload the JSON files is good, too. Not every vSphere environment can be open to the internet. As such, many environments might be completely isolated in terms of security. If this is the case, you can upload the JSON file from the online SaaS application rather than from the desktop client.

Upgrades can go wrong; therefore, they require preparation. If you're dealing with hardware that isn't well documented and you're almost guessing which hardware components with which firmware versions are present, this tool will ease the pain.

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