Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Upgrading your vSphere Site Recovery Manager

vSphere 5.5 going end of life in September 2018, we have been traveling all over doing workshops for upgrading to vSphere 6.x. However, with each workshop we have at least one customer who is running Site Recovery Manager with their vCenter Server 5.5 and aren’t too sure what the upgrade path is. This blog will go over the steps I took to upgrade a vSphere 5.5 U3 environment which runs Site Recovery Manager 5.8.1 and vSphere Replication 5.8.1 to a vSphere 6.5 U1 environment which runs Site Recovery Manager 8.1 and vSphere Replication 8.1.

Preparing for your Upgrade

As we review the Interoperability Matrices for vCenter Server and Site Recovery Manager we can see there is no direct upgrade path from vCenter Server 5.5 U3 with Site Recovery Manager 5.8.1 to vCenter Server 6.5 or 6.7. Luckily Site Recovery Manager version 8.1 was released which helps alleviate some of the issues. Site Recovery Manager 8.1 introduced compatibility with vCenter Server 6.0 U3, 6.5, and 6.7. Along with the Interoperability Matrices we highly recommend reviewing the release notes, product documentation, and the update sequence guides for 6.0 and 6.5 as this will layout the recommended paths to upgrade the compatible VMware products.

Site Recovery Manager Upgrade Paths

there is no direct upgrade from vCenter Server 5.5U3 and Site Recovery Manager 5.8.1 to vCenter Server 6.5 and Site Recovery Manager 5.8.1. We do have a few supported methods that we can use. These methods would depend on your own environmental requirements. During your upgrade, your environment may also include a hardware refresh, because of these you may have opted to deploy a new vCenter Server and Site Recovery Manager environment and opted to do a parallel migration.

Another possibility is that you may also have a simple or small Site Recovery Manager deployment, and you choose to do more of a forklift upgrade. With this method, you would uninstall Site Recovery Manager from your vSphere 5.5 environment and then upgrade directly to vSphere 6.5. Once your environment is fully upgraded you can then deploy a fresh installation of Site Recovery Manager 8.1.

As we review the Site Recovery Manager  6.0 documentation we can see that we have the following upgrade note. This means if we are on a version previous to 5.8.x we must first update.

Upgrading from Site Recovery Manager 5.0.x and 5.1.x to Site Recovery Manager 6.0 is not supported. Upgrade Site Recovery Manager 5.0.x and 5.1.x to a Site Recovery Manager 5.5.x or 5.8.x release before you upgrade to Site Recovery Manager 6.0.

When we review the Site Recovery Manager  6.1 documentation we can see that we have a new warning.

Upgrading from Site Recovery Manager 5.x to Site Recovery Manager 6.1 is not supported. Upgrade Site Recovery Manager 5.x to a Site Recovery Manager 6.0.x release before you upgrade to Site Recovery Manager 6.1.

And then last but not least when we review the Site Recovery Manager  8.1 documentation we can see

Upgrading from Site Recovery Manager 6.0.x to Site Recovery Manager 8.1 is not supported. Upgrade Site Recovery Manager to a Site Recovery Manager 6.1.x release before you upgrade to Site Recovery Manager 8.1.

When we put this all together we can see our upgrade path, we will upgrade Site Recovery Manager in the following order. 5.8.1 -> 6.0, 6.0 -> and then -> 8.1.

Site Recovery Manager - Site Recovery Manager Plugins moved from C# Client to vSphere Web Client (Flash)

I hope this has been informative and thank you for reading!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

What’s New with SRM and vSphere Replication 8.1

I’m going to cover these features at a high-level SRM and vSphere Replication 8.1.

New HTML5 User Interface

Here is nice screenshot for SRM now has a slick new HTML5 based “Clarity” UI. This new interface supports all the functionality of the previous UI and the SRM and vSphere Replication interfaces have been merged to allow for easier navigation and improved management. Work has also gone into improving workflows and making the interface easier to use. For example, when configuring VMs for replication with vSphere Replication, as part of the same protection workflow the VMs can be added to a new or existing Protection Group and a new or existing Recovery Plan.

This merging of the interfaces of SRM with vSphere Replication extends throughout the new UI. It improves usability and reduces the time required to execute common workflows. The integration is designed in a way that it works regardless of if SRM or vSphere Replication are used together or if either product is used on its own. When SRM or vSphere Replication are accessed the new HTML5 interface opens in a new browser tab. 

Flexible Site Pairing – vCenter Decoupling

SRM and vSphere Replication 8.1 have been decoupled from specific versions of vCenter. This means that SRM and vSphere Replication 8.1 can be installed with vCenter 6.0U3, 6.5, 6.5U1 or 6.7. And the same version of vCenter does not have to be run at both sites (eg Site A running vCenter 6.0U3 and Site B running vCenter 6.5). SRM and vSphere Replication 8.1 also work with VMware Site Recovery, the DRaaS offering for VMware Cloud on AWS.

This flexibility makes installation, upgrades and ongoing operations with SRM and VR much simpler and easier for customers. For example, a customer running vCenter 6.0U3 with SRM 8.1 could upgrade vCenter to 6.5 or 6.7 without impacting SRM or requiring any changes to it. This enhanced interoperability greatly reduces risk and simplifies administration.

Simplified Upgrade Path

In combination with being decoupled from a specific version of vCenter, SRM & VR 8.1 also support upgrades from more than just the previous release. Customers can now upgrade to SRM and VR 8.1 from SRM and VR 6.1, 6.5 or 8.0. This combined with vCenter version flexibility makes it easier than ever to utilize the latest version of SRM. It reduces the time required and the number of steps needed which combined together reduces risk and simplifies management.

Configuration Import/Export Tool

This one is huge. A lot of customers have asked for this and we listened. SRM now has a simple, easy to use tool for exporting and importing the entire SRM configuration. This allows for customers to use it to backup and recover their configuration as well as to migrate between database types (eg. Export from MS SQL Import into vPostgres embedded DB). This tool is run from the command line on the SRM server at either site and it exports/imports the entire configuration.

Here is a quick summary of everything that is exported/imported:

  • Protection Groups
  • Recovery Plans
    •   Priority groupings of VMs
    •   VM dependencies
    •   Callouts
  • IP customization settings
    • Network, Folder, Resource and Storage Policy mappings
  • Including IP subnet mapping rules
  • Placeholder VM information
  • Advanced settings
  • Local and remote site addresses
  • Array Managers with SRA information
  • Having this functionality reduces customers risk and increases manageability.

Support for more Protection Groups

SRM 8.1 now supports up to 500 Protection Groups per SRM pair, up from 250 in previous releases. This additional capacity provides flexibility for customers with large numbers of applications looking to organize their Protection Groups around individual applications.

Support for FT Protected VMs

SRM 8.1 now supports protection for VMs that require the use of Fault Tolerance. There are a few restrictions; array-based replication only, both primary and secondary FT VMs must be located on the same array consistency group and the recovery VM is recovered without FT enabled. Even with these restrictions, this added resilience should be enough to support the most critical applications.

Automation enhancements

SRM 8.1 exposes two additional APIs:

Configure and Retrieve IP Customization Settings
Add/remove Datastores from Array-Based Replication Protection Groups
These APIs in addition to those already exposed, make it easier than ever to automate and interact with SRM programmatically.

I hope this has been informative and thank you for reading!

What’s New in vSphere 6.7 Whitepaper

VMware recent announcement and general availability of vSphere 6.7 we’ve seen an immense amount of interest. With each new version of vSphere we continue to see customers start their testing of new releases earlier and earlier in the release cycle. vSphere 6.7 brings a number of important new features that vSphere Administrators well as architects and business leaders are excited about.

vSphere 6.7 focuses on simplifying management at scale, securing both infrastructure and workloads, being the universal platform for applications, and providing a seamless hybrid cloud experience. Features such as Enhanced Linked Mode with embedded Platform Services Controllers bring simplicity back to vCenter Server architecture. Support for TPM 2.0 and Virtualization Based Security provide organizations with a secure platform for both infrastructure and workloads. The addition of support for RDMA over Converged Ethernet v2 (RoCE v2), huge pages, suspend/resume for vGPU workloads, persistent memory, and native 4k disks makes shows that the hypervisor is not a commodity and vSphere 6.7 enables more functionality and better performance for more applications.

For those wanting a deep dive into the new features and functionality, I’m happy to announce the availability of the What’s New in vSphere 6.7 whitepaper. This paper is a consolidated resource that discusses and illustrates the key new features of vSphere 6.7 and their value to vSphere customers. The What’s New with vSphere 6.7 whitepaper can be found on the vSphere product page in the Resources section or can be downloaded directly here. After reading through this paper you should have a very good grasp on the key new features and how they will help your infrastructure and business.

Finally, we have a new collection of vSphere 6.7 resources on vSphere Central to make setting up and using these new features even easier. There are also some walkthroughs on upgrading. You can see all of the currently available resources on the vSphere 6.7 Technical Assets.

I hope this has been informative and thank you for reading!

Friday, May 11, 2018

What’s New with VMware vSAN 6.7

vSAN 6.7 is here! This release offers features and capabilities that enable improved performance, usability and consistency. Significant improvements to the management and monitoring tools are also matched by lower level performance and application consistency improvements.

What’s New with VMware vSAN 6.7

vSAN 6.7 is here! This release offers features and capabilities that enable improved performance, usability and consistency. Significant improvements to the management and monitoring tools are also matched by lower level performance and application consistency improvements.

Modern management interface and improved visibility

Ease of use drives productivity, lowers operating costs, and helps administrators manage a reliable and consistent computing environment.  vSAN 6.7 provides intuitive operations that align with other VMware products from a UI and workflow perspective to provide a “one team, one tool” experience.

New HTML5 User Interface Fast, efficient, and consistent

While many customers use CLI and API’s to interact with vSAN, the graphical UI is still the most common day to day management tool.  vSAN 6.7 introduces a new HTML5 UI based on the “Clarity” framework as seen in other VMware products. All products in the VMware portfolio are moving toward this UI framework. This interface is more than a simple, direct port from the old vSphere Web Client.  VMware took a long look at how tasks and workflows can be optimized and introduced new ways to accomplish tasks more intuitively with fewer clicks. Going forward all new functionality will be delivered in the HTML5 client; however, the legacy vSphere Web Client is still available in this release. The HTML5 UI is a great step forward in providing vSAN users an intuitive and efficient user experience.

vRealize Operations within vCenter – vRealize powered intelligence about your vSAN cluster, inside vCenter

Traditionally, using vRealize Operations with VMware vSAN meant that an administrator needed to use two separate interfaces.  A new feature known as “vRealize Operations within vCenter” provides an easy way for customers to see vRealize intelligence directly in the vSphere Client.  vCenter now includes an embedded plugin that enables a user to easily deploy and configure a new vR Ops instance or select an existing instance.  From there, vROps analytics are visible in the new HTML 5 based vSphere Client using built in dashboards for vCenter and vSAN. For situations requiring more detailed information, the full collection of dashboards in vR Ops can be launched from the vSphere Client with two simple clicks. This functionality makes it easy for administrators to see key metrics at a glance and troubleshoot more quickly when an issue occurs. 

Support for WSFC Using vSAN iSCSI Service – Support legacy clustering technologies

vSAN 6.7 now expands the flexibility of the vSAN iSCSI service to support Windows Server Failover Clusters (WSFC).  vSAN already supports modern Windows application layer clustering technologies such as Microsoft SQL Always-on Availability Groups (AAG), Microsoft Exchange Database Availability Groups (DAG), and Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC).  For organizations with WSFC servers in a physical or virtual configuration, vSAN 6.7 supports shared target storage locations when storage targets are exposed using the vSAN iSCSI service.  This enhancement allows data center administrators to run workloads using legacy clustering technologies on vSAN as they transition to more modern implementations of application layer clustering. 

Consistent Application Experience  Adaptive data placement and improved failure handling

vSAN 6.7 introduces an all-new Adaptive Resync feature to ensure a fair-share of resources are available for VM I/Os and Resync I/Os during dynamic changes in load on the system. An improved vSAN storage scheduler uses congestion signaling to detect both the read and write throughput capabilities of a vSAN disk group.  When I/O activity exceeds the capabilities of the bandwidth provided, the Adaptive Resync feature guarantees a level of bandwidth to ensure one type of traffic is not starved for resources. Adaptive Resync is intelligent enough to allow for maximum bandwidth to be used during periods in which VM I/O and resync I/O are not contending for resources. Additional improvements to the consolidation of components will speed cluster maintenance actions.

Performance Improvements through faster destaging

VMware is always looking for ways to improve the performance of vSAN and the consistency of its performance. vSAN 6.7 continues this drive for better performance and consistency through optimizations made in the data path.  vSAN 6.7 optimizes the de-staging mechanism, resulting in data that “drains” more quickly from the write buffer to the capacity tier.  The ability to de-stage this data quickly allows the cache tier to accept new I/O, which reduces or eliminates periods of congestion.  This optimization provides a positive impact for not only VM I/O, but all resynchronization traffic as well.

Holistic Support Experience

vSAN 6.7 continues to grow smarter about your infrastructure and provides even more health checks.  These health checks are found throughout the product. They ensure an environment is properly configured using HCL approved hardware.  vSAN 6.7 feeds additional health-related information gathered with vSAN Support Insight and provides the results directly to administrators in the vSphere Client. New health checks include listed options
  • Maintenance mode verification ensures proper decommission state
  • Consistent configuration verification for advanced settings
  • Improved vSAN and vMotion network connectivity checks
  • Improved vSAN Health service installation check
  • Improved physical disk health check combines multiple checks (software, physical, metadata) into a single notification
  • Firmware check is independent from driver check

I hope this has been informative and thank you for reading!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Introducing VMware vSphere 6.7!

We are excited to share that today VMware is announcing vSphere 6.7, the latest release of the industry-leading virtualization and cloud platform. vSphere 6.7 is the efficient and secure platform for hybrid clouds, fueling digital transformation by delivering simple and efficient management at scale, comprehensive built-in security, a universal application platform, and seamless hybrid cloud experience.

vSphere 6.7 delivers key capabilities to enable IT organizations address the following notable trends that are putting new demands on their IT infrastructure
  • Explosive growth in quantity and variety of applications, from business-critical apps to new intelligent workloads.
  • Rapid growth of hybrid cloud environments and use cases.
  • On-premises data centers growing and expanding globally, including at the Edge.
  • Security of infrastructure and applications attaining paramount importance.

Simple and Efficient Management, at Scale

vSphere 6.7 builds on the technological innovation delivered by vSphere 6.5, and elevates the customer experience to an entirely new level. It provides exceptional management simplicity, operational efficiency, and faster time to market, all at scale.

vSphere 6.7 delivers an exceptional experience for the user with an enhanced vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA). It introduces several new APIs that improve the efficiency and experience to deploy vCenter, to deploy multiple vCenters based on a template, to make management of vCenter Server Appliance significantly easier, as well as for backup and restore. It also significantly simplifies the vCenter Server topology through vCenter with embedded platform services controller in enhanced linked mode, enabling customers to link multiple vCenters and have seamless visibility across the environment without the need for an external platform services controller or load balancers.

Moreover, with vSphere 6.7 vCSA delivers phenomenal performance improvements (all metrics compared at cluster scale limits, versus vSphere 6.5)

2X faster performance in vCenter operations per second
3X reduction in memory usage
3X faster DRS-related operations (e.g. power-on virtual machine)
These performance improvements ensure a blazing fast experience for vSphere users, and deliver significant value, as well as time and cost savings in a variety of use cases, such as VDI, Scale-out apps, Big Data, HPC, DevOps, distributed cloud native apps, etc.

vSphere 6.7 improves efficiency at scale when updating ESXi hosts, significantly reducing maintenance time by eliminating one of two reboots normally required for major version upgrades (Single Reboot). In addition to that, vSphere Quick Boot is a new innovation that restarts the ESXi hypervisor without rebooting the physical host, skipping time-consuming hardware initialization.

Another key component that allows vSphere 6.7 to deliver a simplified and efficient experience is the graphical user interface itself. The HTML5-based vSphere Client provides a modern user interface experience that is both responsive and easy to use. With vSphere 6.7, it includes added functionality to support not only the typical workflows customers need but also other key functionality like managing NSX, vSAN, VUM as well as third-party components.

I hope this has been informative and thank you for reading!

Friday, March 30, 2018

VMware vSphere 6.5 Upgrade eBook

The eBook first helps get VMware customers get acquainted with what’s new in vSphere 6.5. By getting familiar with the features and functionality in vSphere 6.5, a business case can present to an organization’s stakeholders on the benefits of upgrading their current vSphere 5.5 or 6.0 environment. This is especially important for the customer’s on vSphere 5.5, which is approaching end of support on September 19th, 2018. After learning about the what’s new of vSphere 6.5 it’s time to start looking at the upgrade process and creating an upgrade runbook. The eBook breaks this down into three phases:

Phase 1 : Pre-upgrade – the upfront work which should be done or considered prior to starting an upgrade
Phase 2 : Upgrade – mapping the steps of the upgrade process and execution
Phase 3: Post-Upgrade – validating with business owners everything went according to plan

Within each phase are details and considerations, but also links to resources to help. There are also two example upgrade scenarios:
  • vSphere 5.5 to vSphere 6.5
  • vSphere 6.0 to vSphere 6.5 Update 1

Each scenario also includes a set of requirements and decisions used to determine the upgrade path. These examples may or may not relate to your current environment. The intent is to help familiarize customers with the upgrade process and concepts which they can apply to their specific situation. The eBook also contains a reference section loaded with important links to documents, knowledge base articles, tools, guides, etc. I hope you enjoy this new resource and may your upgrade planning and execution be successful.

Just sign up and download your full e-book copy here "The Upgrading to VMware vSphere 6.5″

I hope this has been informative and thank you for reading!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

VMware Product End Of Support (EOS)

VMware products reach their End of Support (EOS) phase. It’s very important to keep an eye on support because products that are “EOS” do no longer receive security updates or bugfixes from VMware. Always keep your environment up to date and supported.

Lifecycle Support Phases

General Support Phase

The General Support phase begins on the date of general availability of a Major Release (“GA”) and lasts for a fixed duration. During the General Support phase, for customers who have purchased VMware support, VMware offers maintenance updates and upgrades, bug and security fixes, and technical assistance.

Technical Guidance Phase

Technical Guidance, if available, is provided from the end of the General Support phase and lasts for a fixed duration.  Technical Guidance is available primarily through the self-help portal and telephone support is not provided. Customers can also open a support request online to receive support and workarounds for low-severity issues on supported configurations only.  During the Technical Guidance phase, VMware does not offer new hardware support, server/client/guest OS updates, new security patches or bug fixes unless otherwise noted.  This phase is intended for usage by customers operating in stable environments with systems that are operating under reasonably stable loads. ( See Lifecycle Support Summary Table)

End of Support Life (EOSL)

A product has reached its end of support life when it is no longer generally supported by VMware. End of support life for a specific product is either end of General Support or end of Technical Guidance, if available for that specific product.

End of Availability (EOA) / End Of Distribution (EOD)

A product has reached its end of availability when it is no longer available for purchase from VMware. A product has reached its end of distribution when VMware can no longer make it available as a download from vmware.com or distribute the product in other ways. The end of availability.

Lifecycle products Matrix

I hope this has been informative and thank you for reading!

Upgrading your vSphere Site Recovery Manager

vSphere 5.5 going end of life in September 2018, we have been traveling all over doing workshops for upgrading to vSphere 6.x. However, wi...