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As written in the previous post, vSphere 5 is not compatible with the View versions prior the 5.0. So to upgrade a vSphere environment from 4.x to 5.0, that also include a View 4.5 or 4.6 implementation, a good approach is first update View to version 5.0 (that it is compatible with vSphere 4.0 Update 3 and vSphere 4.1 Update 1).

The upgrade procedure is well described in the VMware View Upgrade Guide, that include also the “VMware View Component Compatibility Matrix” useful to define the order of the components upgrade:

From the previous table is simple notice that the View Connection Server is compatible with the previous versions of other components… So it becomes the first candidate (with the Security Server and also the Transfer Server) for the first upgrade phases. If the servers are already based on Windows Server 2008 R2 a good solution could be a simple in-place upgrade (just verify if the servers still met the memory requirements).

Please notice that the upgrade of the Connection Server (or servers, if you have a more of them) has a downtime related to the new license key (v5 license are different from previous) and the stop and start of the services. With a good planning this downtime can be keep under the 15 minutes. For the Security Server there aren’t specific consideration. For the Transfer Server I suggest to first make a complete check-in of all desktops in local mode.

The next step is the upgrade of the Composer part (during this and also the previous phase, I suggest to stop the pool provisioning). In case you get “corrupted” pools there are specific command described in the VMware KB to clean both the Composer and the Connection Server database.

Remember also to import, on the AD Domain Controllers, the new GPO templates  (available on the View Connection Server), especially the new Persona Management.

Now is possible upgrade the vSphere part and also the VM part (both the View Agent and the VMware Tools)… for some features (like Windows 7 3D rendering) also an upgrade of the virtual hardware to v8 is required.  But remember that checking out a View desktop that uses virtual hardware version 8 is not supported: if you use vSphere 5 to create virtual machines that will be sources for local mode desktops, be sure to create virtual machines that use virtual hardware version 7.

Note that VMware Tools must be upgrade before the virtual hardware upgrade and some users report some issues if VMware Tools are upgraded after the View Agent (but I’ve not got any issue, so I can’t confirm).

Finally the View Client can be upgraded on all the clients, but you can still use old version without issues and without loosing features (for example the Security Server still works with View Client 4.5).

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As written in the previous post, the HCL check is a mandatory step in each major upgrade (and of course also in each new implementation). And one of the aspect to verify is the firmware version that must match the minimum required for the particular version of vSphere:

  • BIOS of physical servers: my recommendation is use always the latest stable version. The issues with old and unsupported (from vSphere) versions could be really hard to identify and troubleshoot… for example on a old IBM server with an unsupported firmware, there was a really strange and silly issue where only one 64-bit VM was working at one time…
  • Other firmware of physical servers: BIOS is only one of the server’s firmware, some servers have a different firmware for the motherboard (for example on old Dell it is call BMC firmware and must be also upgraded to latest version), most servers have an off-band management interface (DRAC/iDRAC on Dell, iLOE on HP, …) with a related firmware… And of course there are some firmwares on storage card (really important if you use local storage) or storage/network adapters.
  • Storage’s firmware: the VMware HCL specify also the minimum firmware level for storage solutions. Some functions (VAAI, VASA, …) may require firmware really new (sometime marked as experimental or early production).
  • Switches’s firmware: network switches (included SAN switches) are usually not listed in the HCL, but they must be considered and keep up-to-date.

How manage the firmware updates? For storage and network devices it’s usually easy: the vendor defines the specific producer and in most case is also easy to apply (for example with a simple browser). If the infrastructure is well designed for availability a storage processor or physical switch modules upgrade must not impact on the production.

But for physical servers the upgrade procedure could be not so easy: the upgrade packages are usually for Windows, Linux or DOS (this one to be used with a bootable floppy or USB keys)… Nothing specific for ESXi.

For Dell PowerEdge servers there are some options to perform a firmware upgrade:

  • Dell Unified Server Configurator (USC): available only from the 10th generation… during the POST phase it can be activated with F10 (for more information see this doc).
  • Dell Server Update Utility (SUU): a bootable DVD to handle all the firmware upgrade.. the download is available from Dell Support site (note that HP and IBM have also similar solutions).
  • Dell OpenManage IT Assistant: free tool for a central management (for more information see this doc). It includes also a patching function, but seems that does not work with ESXi hosts.
  • Dell Management plugin for VMware vCenter: tool (with a fee) for a central hardware management integrated with vCenter Server (for more information see this doc).

In my case, with the old Dell PowerEdge 2950 servers (9th generation, but compatible with vSphere 5), the new and useful USC function is not available. The SSU or a floppy/USB was a solution, but in my case, with ESX 4.1, was also possible (with a little trick) use the service console and the Linux version of the patches.

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The upgrade path to vSphere 5 is well described in the specific guide (vSphere Upgrade Guide) and in the vSphere Upgrade Best Practices white paper..

In some cases an in-place upgrade can be applied with the advantage to require less time and to keep all (or most) of the settings and configurations. For example, a vCenter Server 4.1 can be updated to the 5.0 version (the requirements of the two versions are quite the same) or an old ESXi can be updated to ESXi 5.

But in most cases, also when the in-place upgrade is possible, could be interesting considering a full reinstallation, that give the advantage of the new clean situation. Also it can require more time (and more effort), but can give less downtime, because for example you can build a new vCenter Server, configure it and then simple re-connect the hosts to this new one.

Anyway, some points are quite common for each major vSphere upgrade:

  • HCL: the Hardware Compatibility List must be checked before each upgrade (each vSphere major release as a specific HCL that could be different). Also the software part must be checked (on the VMware Product Interoperability Matrix) to verify the compatibility of some specific part (like for example the DBMS).
  • Firmware: this aspect is related to the previous point… each major release can require a minimum firmware level (especially for servers and storage)… usually a good approach could be update to latest stable firmware (but check with vendor recommendation).
  • ESX: in can be upgrade (with an in-line process) to ESXi 5… but only in some cases (for example not when ESX was upgraded from version 3.x)… and is not possible change the destination of the installation (that goes in the boot partition). Usually a rebuild could be a better option.
  • Drivers and modules: some 3rd part modules or drivers can prevent an upgrade of ESXi /ESX. Check their compatibily with ESXi 5 and, if needed, remove them before the upgrade.
  • Plugin: the vCenter plugins must be verified before the upgrade of vCenter Server… both on the server-side and the client-side. In most cases, could be better remove them before the upgrade.
  • Converter Enterprise e Guided Consolidation: those plugin does no more exist in vSphere 5. Remove them before upgrade the vCenter Server.
  • VDR: there can be some issue during the upgrade of the destinations… If the integrity check fail, consider to build a new VDR with new and clean destination.
  • View: View 4.x is not compatible with vSphere 5. See specif upgrade guide.
  • SRM: SRM 4.x is not compatible with vSphere 5. See the specif upgrade guide.

In the next posts I will describe the upgrade steps for a simple infrastructure composed by the following parts:

  • host ESX 4.1 with Dell PowerEdge 2950 III
  • vCenter Server 4.1 (in a VM)
  • VMware View 4.6
  • iSCSI Storage with Dell Equallogic PS5000XV

Update phases:

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Mike Laverick has started something of a petition to bring back the VMTN Subscription option:

I would like to see VMware re-instate the “VMTN Subscription”. You might ask, what the hell is that? That would be fair enough because it was withdrawn many years ago, and never re-instated by VMware.

The VMTN Subscription was similar to Microsoft MSDN or TechNet – where for relatively small yearly fee you could download the core enterprise software and run it for 1year. Right now there is whole legion of home-labbers out there that have to make do and mend with evaluations that expire after 60-days. Of course this is a non problem for people working for VMware Partner, due to the NFR license, but what about other people? The VMTN Subscription program was cancelled in 2007 and never re-instated.

The announcement of the VMware Labs going public in 2012 is a step in the right direction, as also some existing benefit for vExper people (some beta program, for example).

IMHO, a new version of VMTN Subscription that include all products, early access at beta or RTM (already present in Microsoft and other similar programs), some labs and some useful material and course (for example the courses included in Partner University) could be a good and valuable solution.

But I prefer that this “package” will also a free benefit for some program where people has spend time or money or simple where they deserve it… for example for vExpert people, VMUG Advantage package, VCAP or VCDX certified, …

More information:

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The VCP5 Blueprint with study notes has been updated with new links. Also the PDF version has been updated:

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After the View and vSphere clients for Apple iOS, let’s see some clients for the Android devices:

 

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For the View client for iPad there is any other alternative application (at least with PCoIP support), but for the vSphere client for iPad there are some other applications that can work as well of the official VMware application… With the advantage to do not require any silly virtual appliance to act as a “mobiel proxy” and also to be able to work on iPhone and not only on iPad (IMHO I think that also the vSphere Client for iPad could be adapted to the iPhone screen).

From the possible iOS applications there are:

  • iVMControl: Control VMware® vCenter and ESX devices from your iPhone and iPad – Not free and (IMHO) quite limited
  • OPS1: Operations Management on your iPhone (not designed for iPad) – Free with upgrade to Enterprise fee based

IMHO I fould OPS1 very nice and useful… the features list seems also bigger than the VMware application (but note that most features are only the the Enterprise version of this application).

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The vSphere Client for iPad is an application created by VMware to give a minimum vSphere management ability also from a tablet (at least for some operational management tasks). The first official release was on March 2011.

But this application require a special architecture on infrastructure side, ad well described in one Jason Boche post: there must be a special “proxy” server that convert the output of vCenter Server in a simple way useful to be managed from mobile device. This “proxy” is available from VMware as a virtual appliance and can be downloaded from VMware Labs (vCenter Mobile Access Server).

With the vSphere 5, the new vSphere Web Client can replace this application? The answer is simple: no, because the Web Client is not designed for small screen and also because it’s Adobe Flash based… and the Apple iOS does not support it… Also note that the features available from the vSphere Client for iPad are only a small subset of features available from vSphere Web Client (and they are only a subset of all the features available with vSphere Client).

Same day ago giorno was release on iTunes the new version 1.2 of vSphere Client for iPad that include the following improvements:

  • Support of ESX 3.5
  • Support for vSphere 5.0
  • Migrate virtual machines without downtime using vMotion
    This feature is available via Host & VM action menus.  Virtual machines can also be two-finger flicked/dragged from the Host detail view to enter vMotion mode.
  • Ability to email vMotion validation error details to others
  • View task progress reporting on VM cards
  • Ability to refresh vCenter host list

Requirements:

  • vCMA 1.2, available at VMware Labs
  • iOS version 4.0 or later

See the videos below for an overview on setup and usage:

Step 1: Setup the vCMA
virtual appliance
Step 2: Configure and use the
vSphere Client for iPad

For more information see also the Community page.

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The first version of the native View for iPad (both iPad and iPad2 models) was released on March 2011. It was the first (and as I know the only) that introduce the PCoIP support, because other existing solution, like the Wyse client (PocketCloud), were only compatible with RDP.

Some days ago a new version 1.2 has been released on iTunes… with several improvements:

  • Optimized for VMware View 5 with improved performance (but note that also previous versions work with View 5)
  • Support for iOS 5 including AirPlay
  • Presentation Mode for use with external display and AirPlay
  • Embedded RSA soft token simplifies login to desktop
  • Background tasking to move between Windows and iOS apps
  • Updated look and feel (now seems really better)

Requirements: Requires iPad iOS 4.2 or later.

See also:

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As written in a previous post the current version of Veeam Backup (5.o.2) works also with vSphere 5, due to the compatibility of most of the vStorage API for backup. But to be honest there is some issue, like for example in the usage of the SAN transport mode.

Veeam has publish a post on his blog, to announche the release of a hotfix on 20 October, 2011, to FULLY support vSphere 5. One of the main issues with Veeam Backup & Replication 5.0.2 was that it didn’t work for all processing modes with VMSF5 (just like every other vendor at the time of this writing). A processing mode popular with our customers is direct SAN access utilizing the vStorage API for Data Protection (VADP).

This hotfix is not available on the download page because it’s only available through Veeam support. Of course, Veeam Backup & Replication v6 will have full support of vSphere 5 when it’s released later this year.

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Source: VMware vSphere 4.1 Update 2 Released

The VMware vCenter Server 4.1 Update 2 release offers the following improvements:

  • Support for new processors: vCenter Server 4.1 Update 2 supports hosts with processors on AMD Opteron 6200 series (Interlagos) and AMD Opteron 4200 series (Valencia).
    Note: For the AMD Opteron 6200 and 4200 series (Family 15h) processors, vCenter Server 4.1 Update 2 treats each core within a compute unit as an independent core, except while applying licenses. For the purpose of licensing, vCenter Server treats each compute unit as a core. For example, although a processor with 8 compute units can provide the processor equivalent of 16 cores on vCenter Server 4.1 Update 2, only 8 cores will be counted towards license usage calculation.
  • Additional vCenter Server Database Support: vCenter Server now supports the following databases.
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express (x32 and x64)
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express (x32 and x64)
  • Resolved Issues: This release delivers a number of bug fixes that have been documented in the Resolved Issues section.

The following information describes some of the enhancements available in this release of VMware ESXi:

  • Support for new processors – ESXi 4.1 Update 2 supports AMD Opteron 6200 series (Interlagos) and AMD Opteron 4200 series (Valencia).Note: For the AMD Opteron 6200 and 4200 series (Family 15h) processors, ESX/ESXi 4.1 Update 2 treats each core within a compute unit as an independent core, except while applying licenses. For the purpose of licensing, ESX/ESXi treats each compute unit as a core. For example, although a processor with 8 compute units can provide the processor equivalent of 16 cores on ESX/ESXi 4.1 Update 2, it only uses 8 licenses.
  • Support for additional guest operating system ESX 4.1 Update 2 adds support for Ubuntu 11.10 guest operating system. For a complete list of guest operating systems supported with this release, see the VMware Compatibility Guide.
  • Resolved Issues In addition, this release delivers a number of bug fixes that are documented in the Resolved Issues section.
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For the VMworld scheduled in the next year there will be two wonderful locations (both are confirmed):

Both the city need at least one visit (and both require some days for a good visit…) and also the weather probably could be fine in those period… so which location? Both could be obvious, but also mean time (and money).

I think that if you never been at one VMworld US edition, this could be the right time (probably Barcelona will be confirmed for at least two years?!), but if you are in Europe and you have a limited budget for this event, the Spanish location could be a better option (note that there are 3 airports near the city and several low cost companies).

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