How To: Upgrade vCloud Director in Detail – Part 4

The last phase of the upgrade deals with the final changes to vCloud Director to fully support all advanced features with vSphere 5. This final step should NOT be performed until all the ESXi hosts have been upgraded and are verified to function properly at the current stage. Verify all licensing for vSphere 5 and vShield Manager 5 is in place and all aspects are performing as expected. Making some of the final changes, like VMFS upgrades will be permanent and irreversible.

Personnel Resources Needed

  • VMware vCenter Administrator
  • VMware vCloud Director System Administrator
  • VMware vCloud Director Org or vApp Administrators

Phase IV Impact

This phase of the upgrade may cause some downtime on virtual machines as they may need to be rebooted for VMware Tools. The following components will be affected by this step in the upgrade process.

  • vNetwork Distributed Switch – Upgrading to version 5 is irreversible
  • VMFS 5 – Upgrading to version 5 is irreversible
  • Nexus 1000v – Impact TBD when the new VEM is released.
  • ESX hosts – Must be vSphere 5 before upgrading VMFS
  • VMware Tools – Should be upgraded prior to the upgrading of the Virtual Hardware

Phase IV Advantages

The following is a list of advantages for making the final changes to vSphere and vCloud Director; however, at this phase not all will be available. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but the major items that customers have expressed as their reason to finalize the upgrades

  • Hardware Level 8 – Provides access to the latest hardware level for higher limits and to support Fast Provisioning
  • Fast Provisioning – Quicker time to deployment on certain workloads
  • New vCloud API’s – Call outs and new additions to the API stack

Upgrade vNetwork Distributed Switches to 5.0

This process is documented in the vSphere guides as well. It is a very basic point and click operation and has no real effect on the vCloud Director installation. In testing both prior to and after the upgrade all port groups worked fine.

  • In vCenter Server, navigate to networking, select the vNetwork Distributed switches, then on the “Summary” tab, and you will see an “Upgrade” link. Follow the prompts.
  • This process cannot be reverted back once complete

Figure 19 – Upgrading vNetwork Distributed Swtich

Upgrade to VMFS-5

Just like with the switches, upgrading to VMFS-5 is a permanent change but it not disruptive to running virtual machines. Again it is documented but is a very simply point and click upgrade from a hosts Storage Tab. The process will verify that all hosts are compatible with the change, but as stated above ALL ESX hosts must be at version 5.0 before making this change.

Figure 20 – Upgrading VMFS-5

Modify the vCloud Director Highest Supported Hardware

This is probably the most significant change to the system. Making this change allows you to update the Virtual Hardware on existing virtual machines from within the vCloud Director interface. It also allows you to perform VMware Tools upgrades as well. Prior to this change you will see that on a powered off virtual machine you do not have the option to upgrade Virtual Hardware. You also do not have access to the new Fast Provisioning feature.

Figure 21 – vCloud Virtual Hardware Pre-HW8

Considerations before making final vCloud Director changes

  • The Highest Virtual Hardware setting is per Provider Virtual Datacenter. You must do this on each Provider in which you want to allow the new features and upgraded hardware
  • Fast Provisioning is done on a per Organization Virtual Datacenter. There may be some cases where you do not want this enabled. Once enabled it is per Organization Virtual Datacenter so all virtual machines deployed form that point on will be Fast Provisioned.
  • You can upgrade the Virtual Hardware on all virtual machines in a vApp from the vApp level or on each virtual machine individually.
  • VMware Tools should be updated first at least to match the host version
    • Updating the tools first would ensure that when Virtual Hardware is upgraded static IP information is preserved.
    • This is especially important on vApp Templates so customization will continue to work since it relies on Current tools versions.
  • vApp Templates will need to be deployed, updated, and moved back to the catalog once Hardware and Tools are updated.
    • For a period the customer may want to maintain a lower level of hardware level on a vApp and test the higher Level

Updating Virtual Machines

Navigate to the Provider Virtual Datacenter that you want to enable the advanced features on. Edit the properties and you will see a drop down for hardware version. Simply change it from Hardware Version 7 to Hardware Version 8 and save the changes.

Figure 22 – Changing vCloud Director Highest Virtual Hardware Support

Before any virtual machines hardware is updated is it generally a best practice to update the VMware Tools first. The latest Tools version is required in most cases regardless of hardware version to support the customization options. If the tools are NOT upgraded before the virtual hardware you may lose the static IP/DNS/WINS information in the virtual machines. Also the customer may decide to wait on the hardware updates, but at least do the tools so they are current to the ESXi version. Once ready they can update the tools on the whole vApp once the vApp is Powered Off.

NOTE: Be sure to also upgrade and update the vApps in the catalogs! This will require that you deploy the items, update them, and replace the original items in the catalogs. This is a crucial step to ensure new vApps deployed from catalog items will have the new hardware and tools.

Once Completed you can go back to a powered off virtual machine and see the option to change the Virtual Hardware is available. Upgrading the Virtual Hardware is also permanent; so decide if the change is something you want to make.

Figure 23 – Virtual Hardware Post HW8 Change

Figure 24 – Upgrading vApp Virtual Hardware

Phase IV Completion Verification Checklist

Distributed switches are properly upgraded and vCenter shows them up-to-date
VMFS is properly upgraded to Version 5
vCloud Director hardware level support is increased
VMware tools are updated on all virtual machines deployed and in catalog
Virtual Hardware is updated on all virtual machines
Update tools on all CATALOG items as well. This will require deploying them to an organization, updating, and replacing the items in the catalog
Validate a new vApp can be deployed and the correct tools and hardware are installed 

About Chris Colotti

Chris is active on the VMUG and event speaking circuit and is available for many events if you want to reach out and ask. Previously to this he spent close to a decade working for VMware as a Principal Architect. Previous to his nine plus years at VMware, Chris was a System Administrator that evolved his career into a data center architect. Chris spends a lot of time mentoring co-workers and friends on the benefits of personal growth and professional development. Chris is also amongst the first VMware Certified Design Experts (VCDX#37), and author of multiple white papers. In his spare time he helps his wife Julie run her promotional products as the accountant, book keeper, and IT Support. Chris also believes in both a healthy body and healthy mind, and has become heavily involved with fitness as a Diamond Team Beachbody Coach using P90X and other Beachbody Programs. Although Technology is his day job, Chris is passionate about fitness after losing 60 pounds himself in the last few years.

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