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Get your data ready for vSphere 5.5 End of Support

There have been lots of articles and walkthroughs on how to make that upgrade work for you, and how to get to a supported level of vSphere. This VMware article is very thorough walking through each step of the process.

But we wanted to touch on making sure your data is protected prior, during and after the upgrade events.

If we look at the best practice upgrade path for vSphere, we’ll see how we make sure we’re protected at each step along the way:

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Upgrade Path

The first thing that needs to be considered is what path you’ll be taking to get away from the end of general support of vSphere 5.5. You have two options:

  • vSphere 6.5 which is now going to be supported till November 2021 (so another 5 years’ time)
  • vSphere 6.7 which is the latest released version from VMware.

Another consideration to make here is support for surrounding and ecosystem partners, including Veeam. Today, Veeam fully supports vSphere 6.5 and 6.7, however, vSphere 6.5 U2 is NOT officially supported with Veeam Backup & Replication Update 3a due to the vSphere API regression.

The issue is isolated to over-provisioned environments with heavily loaded hosts (so more or less individual cases).

It’s also worth noting that there is no direct upgrade path from 5.5 to 6.7. If you’re currently running vSphere 5.5, you must first upgrade to either vSphere 6.0 or vSphere 6.5 before upgrading to vSphere 6.7.

Management – VMware Virtual Center

The first step of the vSphere upgrade path after you’ve decided and found the appropriate version, is to make sure you have a backup of your vCenter server. The vSphere 5.5 virtual center could be a Windows machine or it could be using the VCSA.

Both variants can be protected with Veeam, however, the VCSA runs on a Postgres-embedded database. Be sure to take an image-level backup with Veeam and then there is a database backup option within the appliance. Details of the second step can be found in this knowledge base article.

If you’re an existing Veeam customer, you’ll already be protecting the virtual center as part of one of your existing backup jobs.

You must also enable VMware tools quiescence to create transactionally-consistent backups and replicas for VMs that do not support Microsoft VSS (for example, Linux VMs). In this case, Veeam Backup & Replication will use the VMware Tools to freeze the file system and application data on the VM before backup or replication. VMware Tools quiescence is enabled at the job level for all VMs added to the job. By default, this option is disabled.

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You must also ensure Application-Aware Image Processing (AAIP) is either disabled or excluded for the VCSA VM.

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Virtual Machine Workloads

If you are already a Veeam customer, then you’ll already have your backup jobs created and working with success before the upgrade process begins. However, as part of the upgrade process, you’ll want to make sure that all backup job processes that initiate through the virtual center are paused during the upgrade process.

If the upgrade path consists of new hardware but with no vMotion licensing, then the following section will help.

Quick Migration

Veeam Quick Migration enables you to promptly migrate one or more VMs between ESXi hosts and datastores. Quick Migration allows for the migration of VMs in any state with minimum disruption.

More information on Quick Migration can be found in our user guide.

During the upgrade process

As already mentioned in the virtual machine workloads section, it is recommended to stop all vCenter-based actions prior to update. This includes Veeam, but also any other application or service that communicates with your vCenter environment. It is also worth noting that whilst the vCenter is unavailable, vSphere Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) and vSphere HA will not work.

Veeam vSphere Web Client

If you’re moving to vSphere 6.7 and you have the Veeam vSphere Web Client installed as a vSphere plug-in, you’ll need to install the new vSphere Veeam web client plug-in from a post-upgraded Veeam Enterprise Manager.

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More detail can be found in Anthony Spiteri’s blog post on new HTML5 plug-in functionality.

You’ll also need to ensure that any VMware-based products or other integrated products vCenter supports are the latest versions as you upgrade to a newer version of vSphere.

Final Considerations

From a Veeam Availability perspective, the above steps are the areas that we can help and make sure that you are constantly protected against failure during the process. Each environment is going to be different and other considerations will need to be made.

Another useful link that should be used as part of your planning: Update sequence for vSphere 5.5 and its compatible VMware products (2057795)

One last thing is a shout out to one of my colleagues who has done an in-depth look at the vSphere upgrade process.


This article was provided by our service partner : Veeam.com 

Good Bye, VMware vSphere Web Client

VMware has announced to deprecate the Flash-based vSphere Web Client with the next numbered release (not update release) of vSphere. The next version of vSphere will be the terminal release for which vSphere Web Client will be available.

Since vSphere web client is based on Adobe flash technology, It results in less than ideal performance as compared to HTML5 based vSphere client and also has constant update requirements. Additionally, Adobe also has recently announced plans to deprecate Flash.

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Currently we have two variants of the vSphere GUIs which includes the vSphere Web Client and HTML5-based vSphere Client in vSphere 6.5 to manage the operation of virtual datacenter.

With the decommissioning of windows based vSphere client, VMware also introduced the HTML5 based vSphere client with vSphere 6.5. Which provides the solid performance as compared to the vSphere web client. The vSphere Client was introduced first in the Fling, then supported with vSphere 6.5. Since its introduction, the vSphere Client has received positive responses from the vSphere community and customer base.

With the recently released vSphere 6.5 Update 1, the vSphere Client got even better and is now able to support most of the frequently performed operations. With each iteration of the vSphere Client additional improvements and functionality are being added.

By the time the vSphere Web Client is deprecated, the vSphere Client will be full featured but with significantly better responsiveness and usability.

The HTML based vSphere Client will be the primary GUI administration tool for vSphere environments starting in the next release. It is recommended that customers should start transitioning over to the HTML5 based vSphere Client as the vSphere Web Client will no longer be available after the next vSphere release. This announcement from VMware gives ample time to customers to prepare for the eventual vSphere Web Client deprecation.

VMware vCenter Converter

VMware vCenter Converter : Tips and Best Practices

Vmware vCenter converter can convert Windows and Linux based physical machine and Microsoft hyper-v systems into Vmware virtual machines.

Here are some tips and suggested best practices

Tasks to perform before conversion :

  • Make sure you know the local Administrator password! If the computer account gets locked out of the domain – you are likely going to need to login locally to recover
  • Ensure you are using the latest version of Vmware vCenter converter.
  • If possible, install Vmware vCenter Converter locally on the source (physical machine) operating system.
  • Make a note of the source machine IP addresses. The conversion will create a new NIC and having those IP details handy will help.
  • Disable any anti-virus
  • Disable SSL encryption – this should speed up the conversion ( described here )
  • If you have stopped and disabled any services – make sure to take a note of their state beforehand. A simple screenshot goes a long way here!
  • If converting from hyper-v -> vmware. Install the Converter on the host and power down the converter before starting the conversion.
  • Uninstall any hardware specific software utilies from the source server
  • If the source system has any redundant NICs – I would suggest removing them in the Edit screen on the converter ui.
  • For existing NICs – use the VMXNET3 driver and set it to not connected.

Special considerations for Domain Controllers, MS exchange and SQL servers.

Although – You tend to get warned off converting Domain controllers, they do work OK if you take some sensible precautions:

  • Move FSMO roles to Another Domain Controller
  • Make another Domain Controller PDC
  • Stop Active Directory services
  • Stop DHCP service ( if applicable )
  • Stop DNS service ( if applicable )

For SQL and Exchange, you should stop and disable all Exchange and SQL services on the source machine and only start them back up on the target VM once you are happy the server is successfully back on the domain.

( note these steps are not necessary for V2V conversations and you should have the system powered off!)

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Tasks to perform after conversion :

  • Once the conversion has successfully completed, get the source physical machine off the network. You can disable the NIC, pull the cable and/or power it down. It should not come up again.
  • For V2V conversion, delete the NIC from the systems hardware properties completely.
  • Once the physical machine is off the network, bring the virtual machine up (ensure network is not connected initially )
  • Install VMwares and set the ip config ( that you noted during the pre-conversion steps )
  • Shutdown and connect the network and bring your Virtual system back up
  • Uninstall VMware vCenter Converter from the newly converted Virtual macine

Special considerations for Domain Controllers, MS exchange and SQL servers.

  • Create test user on DC and ensure he gets replicated to the other ones.
  • Delete this test and ensure that gets replicated
  • Create test GPO policy and ensure it replicates across all domain controllers
  • Check system, application and importantly the File Replication Service logs to ensure that their is no issues with replication.

 

For SQL and Exchange : double check that their is no trust issues on the virtual machine. Try connecting to the ADMIN$ share from multiple locations. If you do find the computer account locked out. Taking the machine in and out of the domain normally fixes it.

Once happy the machine is on your domain without any trust issues – restart and reconfigure the SQL/Exchange services as per how they originally were.