vCenter Server Appliance Upgrade from 5.x to 6.0

The upgrade process of vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) version 5.x to 6.0 isn’t truly a upgrade but more of a migration. You are basically deploying a second vCSA that will migrate the hosts/inventory/IP address from the old to the new. You can only upgrade vCSA versions 5.1U3 and 5.5. The 6.0 vCSA is still based on SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 and now has the the same mins/max as the Windows installed version.

vCenter 6 Appliance vs Windows

Before You Start:

There is some prep work you need to perform before doing the migration:

  • Pick a host and ensure it has a standard switch with a vmnic uplink. Because Distributed Switches is a vCenter function it wants to perform the upgrade on a standard switch.
  • Rename your current vCenter VM in the inventory so the new VM can be created as the same name. Otherwise the vCSA folders on the LUNs will not match.
  • Have at least two available LUNs, one for your current vCSA and one for the new vCSA. Since you will want to deploy the new one with the same name they have to be on different LUNs
  • The installation media is a .ISO instead of a .OVA. You will need to burn it to a disc, extract it, or mount it.

Read more…vCenter Server Appliance Upgrade from 5.x to 6.0

vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 – A Fresh Install

The VMware vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) is a security hardened SUSE Enterprise 11 operating system baked with the vCenter server function. With vSphere 6.0 the appliance now has the same mins/max as the Windows installed version. This makes it very appealing to move over to the appliance!

vCenter 6 Appliance vs Windows

Before You Start:

  • Pick a host and ensure it has a standard switch with a vmnic uplink. Because Distributed Switches is a vCenter function it wants to perform the upgrade on a standard switch.
  • The installation media is a .ISO instead of a .OVA. You will need to burn it to a disc, extract it, or mount it.
  • If you want to upgrade your environment instead of fresh deployment, check out my posts Upgrading Windows based vCenter 5.x to 6 and vCenter Server Appliance Upgrade from 5.x to 6.0

PluralSight:

PluralSight has amazing video courses on VMware vSphere. If you haven’t checked out PluralSight it’s an amazing service! Highly recommended!

Installation:

The VCSA is no longer a .OVA but instead a .ISO image so burn/extract/mount it on your computer. First we need to install the VMware Client Integration 6.0 Plugin. In the vcsa folder there is the executable named VMware-ClientIntegrationPlugin-6.0.0.exe.  The installation is simple, once installed proceed to the next step:

Install the VMware Client Integration Plugin 6

Now the plugin is installed, open the vcsa-setup.html in the root of the ISO. This will launch the vCSA installer splash screen:

1 vCSA Upgrade - Mount the ISO

Click Install:

1 vCenter Server Application - Splash Screen

Accept the EULA and click Next:

2 vCSA Install - License Agreement

Enter the FQDN or IP address and root credentials of the ESXi host for the VCSA to be deployed on. Click Next:

VCSA 6 - Connect to ESXi host

Enter the name that you want to call your appliance and set a root account password. Click Next:

4 vCSA Install - Name the appliance

For a small environment/lab, you will want to stay with the embedded platform services controller. If you are in a large environment that has multiple vCenters you may want to separate vCenter from the platform services controller. If you want to read more about separating them read about it in the VMware vCenter Server 6.0 Deployment Guide. Click Next:

5 vCSA Install - Platform Services Controller

If you have a SSO domain already enter the information below. Otherwise create a new SSO domain. Click Next:

Note: Do not use the same Active Directory domain name as your SSO domain. You will have major issues!

6 vCSA Install - Set SSO information

Here you can pick how much resources your vCSA will get.

Tiny: 2 vCPU , 8 GB memory , 120 GB disk space

Small: 4 vCPU , 16 GB memory , 150 GB disk space

Medium: 8 vCPU , 24 GB memory , 300 GB disk space

Large: 16 vCPU , 32 GB memory , 450 GB disk space

Pick your appliance size and click Next:

7 vCSA Install - Appliance Size

Pick a datastore to deploy the appliance to, click Next:

8 vCSA Install - Select Datastore

The vCSA supports using a external Oracle database. I want to continue using the embedded Postgres database. Click Next:

9 vCSA Install - Configure Database

Select the standard switch network you want to use, enter the IP address, FQDN, subnet mask, gateway, and DNS server. Check the box if you want to enable SSH (you can enable this later if you don’t check it now).  Click Next:

10-1 vCSA Install - Network Settings 10-2 vCSA Install - Network Settings

Look over the summary page. If everything looks correct click Finish:

11 vCSA Install - Ready to Complete

Once the VM is created you can monitor the console while it works. Nothing really happened but was neat comparing the console progress bar with the installation.

12 vCSA Install - Can monitor progression

And it’s finished! Click Close:

13 vCSA Install - Installation Complete

VCSA is ready for configuration!

Configuring the VCSA to use Active Directory:

Below is how to configure the VCSA to use Active Directory users and groups. First access the VCSA web client via https://FQDN or IP ADDRESS/vsphere-client/

Log in using the administrator SSO domain you configured above and password.

1 VCSA 6 - Login

On the home page click System Configuration

2 VCSA 6 - System Configuration

Click Nodes -> Your Node Name (LABVC01.virtuallyBoring.com) -> Manage -> Active Directory -> Join

3 VCSA 6 - Join to Active Directory

Enter your domain name and a user name/password that has at least SystemConfiguration.Administrators domain permissions

(More information about this step can be found here in the vSphere 6.0 Documentation: https://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-60/index.jsp?topic=%2Fcom.vmware.vsphere.vcsa.doc%2FGUID-08EA2F92-78A7-4EFF-880E-2B63ACC962F3.html?src=vmw_so_vex_sbori_1079)

4 VCSA 6 - Join AD Creds

Once you click OK and do not see an error, reboot your VCSA. It will not give you a success message.

To reboot right click your node name and click Reboot

5 VCSA 6 - Reboot

Once reboot log back into the web client. On the left menu click Administration. Now in Active Directory you should see your domain showing up with the Leave button enabled.

7 VCSA 6 - Successfully joined to domain

Now the VCSA is talking to the domain we need to configure it as a Identity Source. Click Home then on the left menu click Administration

6 VCSA 6 - Administration Menu

Click Configuration -> Identity Sources -> then the green + sign

8 VCSA 6 - SSO IdentitySource

Since we are configured the VCSA for Active Directory use the first option Active Directory (Integrated Windows Authentication)

Enter your domain name

Select Use Machine Account then click Ok

(More information about this step can be found here in the vSphere 6.0 Documentation:https://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-60/index.jsp?topic=%2Fcom.vmware.vsphere.security.doc%2FGUID-B23B1360-8838-4FF2-B074-71643C4CB040.html?src=vmw_so_vex_sbori_1079)

9 VCSA 6 - Add Identity Source

Select your domain in the list and click Set as Default Domain

10 VCSA 6 - Set as Default Domain

(Default) will show up beside your domain. If your domain isn’t selected as the default I have had issues with the “Use Windows Session Credentials” option.

11 VCSA 6 - New default domain

Now that we have the Identity Source configured we are ready to assign permissions to a domain user.

On the left menu click Global Permissions -> Manage -> click the green + sign

12 VCSA 6 - Global Permissions

Click the Add button

13 VCSA 6 - Global Permissions - Add

Change the drop down menu to your domain, you can search or browse for users and groups, select them then click Add. Once finished click Ok

14 VCSA 6 - Global Permissions - Select Users and Groups

On the drop down menu select which role you want to assign the users/groups. Click Ok when finished.

15 VCSA 6 - Global Permissions - Finish

You now have a fresh install of the VCSA and configured it to use Active Directory users and groups for permissions.

If you did not deploy the latest version check out my post on Upgrading to Update 2!

Additional Resources:

VMware vCenter Server 6.0 Deployment Guide: https://www.vmware.com/resources/techresources/10453

StarWind Virtual SAN: A Storage Solution for your virtual environment

One important thing you need for your virtual environment is storage. If you have a single ESXi host then using local storage is just fine but if you have multiple hosts and want to use features such as vMotion, High Availability (HA) , and DRS you need shared storage. In my quest to find a storage solution I started out using my Synology DS411slim. It works fantastically but I am very limited with speed and drive size due to the 2.5″ drive limitation. With the cost very high for a new Synology unit it left me seeking an alternative solution, that is where StarWind Virtual SAN steps in. StarWind Virtual SAN presents a servers local storage as a iSCSI LUN and even performs VMware VAAI functions.

StarWind Disk

There is a free edition StarWind offers that is perfect for home labs, test and dev environments. You can download and receive your license key here: http://www.starwindsoftware.com/starwind-virtual-san-free

Prerequisites:

At a minimum all you need is some local storage and a network connection as you will be presenting it out as iSCSI. Luckily I have a Dell PowerEdge R520 that will become my virtual SAN server. For better performance, you should have storage running on a RAID (5,10, etc) and multiple network connection that will be dedicated for iSCSI traffic. I have eight 300GB 10k SAS drives using RAID 5, I carved 300GB for my boot drive which left 1.6 TB for my D:\ drive.

LABCORE01 Disks

Installation:

Installation and setup of Starwind Virtual SAN is super easy. You can have it installed and presenting storage in roughly 5 minutes! The install process is pretty much straight forward but is documented below:

1 Install Welcome

Agree and click Next:

2 License Agreement

Read through the information, click Next:

3 Information

Pick your installation directory, click Next:

4 Destination

Recommend doing a full install (only 108.4 MB), click Next:

5 Select Install

Pick if you want a desktop icon, click Next:

7 Desktop Icon

Review and click Install:

8 Ready to Install

Storage Management Initiative – Specification (SMI-S) is a management standard for SANs. You can read more about it here. Go ahead and click Yes:

9 Configure SMI-S Agent

Only thing you should do is set a password. Type a password of your choosing, click Ok:

10 SMI-S Agent Config

Leave the check in the box to launch the Management Console, click Finish:

11 Install Complete

Installation is complete!

Configuration and Setup:

StarWind Management Console

It is asking you what drive and location you want to store the virtual SAN hard drive files. In my case it’s the D:\ drive. Change yours if applicable:

12 Storage Location

Welcome to the StarWind Management Console. We only have two more things to do before we have a operational virtual SAN.

1 StarWind Management Console

If you have multiple network connections you can dedicate some of them only for iSCSI traffic.

In my case I have four connection and will dedicate two NICs (well, once I plug in my second cable) :). Each of my two ESXi hosts will have their own dedicated NIC for storage traffic:

2 Network Connecctions

Back on the Management Console, click on the Configuration tab, then Network. If you are dedicating iSCSI traffic go ahead and remove the IP address of the server. Then only your iSCSI NICs will be listed. If you aren’t going this approach then ignore this step.

3 Network Configuration

Now, let’s create the disk that will be the storage of your virtual SAN. Click on Add Device, you can change the name if you want or leave the default Storage1, type in how much space to make the disk and click Next:

4 Add Device

Now click Create:

5 Create Virtual Disk

Finished! Click Close:

6 Creation Complete

We now have virtual SAN storage!!

7 Virtual SAN Completed

Configuring ESXi Host for iSCSI:

Now we can configure the host to find our virtual disk. Go to your host, Configuration tab, then Storage Adapters. If you have a iSCSI card you can use it or you can add a software iSCSI Adapter. Right click your iSCSI adapter and click Properties:

1 Host Storage Adapters

Click on Dynamic Discovery then click Add:

2 iSCSI Initiator

Enter the IP address of your StarWind Virtual SAN server then click Ok:

3 Add iSCSI Targer Server

You will see the entry, now click Close:

4 iSCSI Initiator Finish

Click on Yes for it to perform a scan:

5 Rescan iSCSI Adapter

You should now see the Starwind disk appear!!

6 Starwind iSCSI Dis

VMware – Don’t Miss Event – February 2nd

VMware announced an online event “that should not be missed” scheduled on February 2nd. There are many rumors floating around the net but I personally feel vSphere 6.0 will be announced.  Excited to see what is announced!! Register Here!

This event is so BIG that we’re offering broadcasts around the globe the entire week of February 2…and continuing the excitement throughout February. All event registrants will automatically receive access to additional content, engagement, and activities via our online event platform.

Event Times:

AMERICAS

Date: February 2, 2015
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 PM PST / 4:00 – 5:00 PM EST

EMEA
Date: February 3, 2015
Time: 9:00 – 10:00 AM GMT / 10:00 – 11:00 AM CET

ASIA PACIFIC – ASEAN, Western Australia, Hong Kong
Date: February 5, 2015
Time: 10:00 – 11:00 AM SGT

ASIA PACIFIC – Sydney, Australia
Date: February 5, 2015
Time: 10:00 – 11:00 AM AEDT

ASIA PACIFIC – Mumbai, India
Date: February 5, 2015
Time: 10:30 – 11:30 AM IST

Guest customization runs on every boot

In our vSphere 5.1 update 2 environment we found that some of our Windows virtual machines were running guest customization every time they boot. This was causing them to loose their static IP address and take an additional 5 minutes to boot.

vmware-image-customization

To fix this issue, boot to Windows and open regedit. Navigate to to the following location:

HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\

Regedit Key

Edit the BootExecute key and remove all sysprepDecrypter.exe lines. We had some VMs with up to 10 entries!

Regedit - edit key

Your key should now look like this:

Regedit - correct key

Click OK. Now the VM will not perform the guest customization on every boot.

To prevent future VMs you deploy from gaining this issue update your vSphere environment to at least 5.1 Update 5.

Authorize Exception Error when logging into vCenter

If you get the following error when logging into vCenter(5.1U5): “A general system error occurred: Authorize Exception”

vCenter - Authorize Exception error

 

Restarting the Single Sign On service on your vCenter should resolve the issue. In my case the cause of this was due to the LDAP connection pool being exhausted. To confirm this check the ssoAdminServer.log found here:

C:\Program Files\VMware\Infrastructure\SSOServer\log

Do a search for the following error: No ManagedConnections available within configured blocking timeout

If you find that around the time when you was logging in then your LDAP connection pool was exhausted. This issue is resolved in vSphere 5.5.

The VMware KB article for this issue 2055448:

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2055448

 

The VMRC console has disconnected…attempting to reconnect

This morning I received an error I haven’t seen before when trying to open the console of a VM in our ESXi 5.5 environment….  “The VMRC console has disconnected…attempting to reconnect.

VMRC Console Disconnected Error

There are two ways to fix this. The easy way is to reboot your computer 🙂 If you would want to avoid a reboot you can do the following:

Close out all of your VMware vSphere Clients and open Task Manager. You will want to make sure all processes named “vmware-vmrc.exe“, “vmware-remotemks.exe“, and “vpxclient.exe” are not running. If they are go ahead and end all those processes.

Task-Manager-vmware-vmrc Task-Manager-vpxclient

Now open up the vSphere Client, console should now work:

Yay its fixed

 

Comment below and let me know what worked for you!

 

Multi-NIC vMotion

In vSphere 5 a new feature was added that many people may be overlooking. It is called Multi-NIC vMotion. If you have a environment where you have 2 or more dedicated uplinks reserved for vMotion you can double the total bandwidth available by using this option. Do I have your attention? 🙂

Normally you would have 1 port group with both of your vMotion uplinks set to active like this:

A Normal vMotion Port Group

What if I told you when you are vMotioning a VM, the VMkernal is picking one of those uplinks and basicly ignoring the other? According to the VMware KB article 2010877, “The VMkernel TCP/IP stack uses a single routing table to route traffic. If you have multiple VMkernel network interfaces (vmknics) that belong to the same IP subnet, the VMkernel TCP/IP stack picks one of the interfaces for all outgoing traffic on that subnet as dictated by the routing table.” If you want to use both uplinks for vMotion traffic and double your total bandwidth you have to create two vMotion VMkernals and assign each one a uplink. There was some issues with multi-NIC vMotions if you were running ESXi version before 5.0U2. As always try this out in your test enviroments first 🙂

Here is VMware KB2007467 walking you through these steps that compliment my steps below.

First we will create a new port group and rename the current vMotion port group to show them apart. In my case I will name one “vMotion-uplink3” and the other “vMotion-uplink4”.

New vMotion PortGroups

Now right click a port group, go to Edit Settings, then click on Teaming and Failover. You will take one of the uplinks and move it to standby so you do not loose redundancy. Do the same thing for the second vMotion port group but flip the uplinks. See screen shots below:

vMotion-uplink3
vMotion-uplink3
vMotion-uplink4
vMotion-uplink4

Now the port groups are set for the next step.

Go to Hosts and Clusters, click on a host, click on Configuration tab -> Networking -> vDS -> and Manage Virtual Adapters.

I have only 1 vMotion VMkernal configured using vMotion-uplink3. I want to add another VMkernal set for vMotion that will use vMotion-uplink4. Click Add:

Manage Virtual Adapters

Chose New virtual adapter and click Next:

Add Virtual Adapter

Click Next:

Virtual Adapter Type

Select the new vMotion port group and check the vMotion checkbox. Click Next:

Connection Settings

Give this new vMotion kernal a new, unused IP address, click Next:

Virtual Adapter IP

Now click Finish:

Virtual Adapter Finish

That is it. You have have multi-NIC vMotion configured. You will have to do this for each host that you want to enable this on. Put a host in maintenance mode and see if you get a increase in speed. You can also turn on jumbo frames if your switch supports it for a further speed increase! In our test environment that has two 1 GB vMotion uplinks, it reduced the time it took for a host to enter maintence mode from 40 minutes down to low/mid 20’s. Please leave a comment and let me know your results!!

Installing VMware ESXi and vCenter 5.5 [Part 1]

Installing VMware vSphere 5.5 Series:

In this series I will be installing ESXi and vCenter using Microsoft Server 2012 R2 virtual machines.

Part 1: Introduction and ESXi Installation
Part 2: Microsoft SQL 2012 Installation
Part 3Creating the vCenter Database & ODBC Setup
Part 4: vCenter 5.5 Installation
Part 5: Initial Setup (Accessing vCenter, Configure Basic Permissions, Add Host)ESXi Hypervisor
Downloading ESXi: If you will be running ESXi from a physical server you will want to use the ESXi image provider by the hardware manufacture such as Dell, HP, Cisco. Their ESXi image has the drivers and software specific for the hardware. If you will be running ESXi in a nested environment, then the ESXi image from VMware is what you want. Here are the download links for each manufacturer:
HP: http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/servers/software/vmware/esxi-image.html
Dell: http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/19/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverid=5YC4T
Cisco: http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/td/docs/unified_computing/ucs/release/notes/OL_26617.html
VMware: http://www.vmware.com/go/download-vspherehypervisor

ESXi Installation: First boot your server from the ESXi ISO. Depending on your hardware you should mount the ISO using iLo/iDRAC/etc. Another nice way is to boot it from a USB thumb drive. You can make your USB bootable by using this tool: http://rufus.akeo.ie/ . Of course you can do it the old fashion way and burn the ISO to a disc. The first screen that pops up should look like this. It has a timer that will count down and automatically take you into the installer unless you hit a button on your keyboard.

Installing VMware ESXi and vCenter 5.5

ESXi Installer Load Screen:

2 ESXi Installer Load Screen

Welcome to the ESXi 5.5 Installation. Hit Enter:

3 ESXi Welcome

Accept the license agreement and hit F11:

4 ESXi License Agreement

Here you select where you want to install ESXi. You will have already configured your hard drives with a RAID if applicable (if not go do that and start over). The installation of ESXi is very small, you could use a thumb drive and install to it. Once you select your install location hit Enter:

5 ESXi Disk Selection

Pick your keyboard layout and hit Enter:

6 Keyboard Layout

Enter a password for the root account. Hit Enter:

7 Set Root Password

ESXi is ready to begin the installation. Hit F11:

8 Confirm Install

ESXi Install Progress Screen:

9 Install Progress Screen

Installation is complete. Hit Enter to reboot:

10 ESXi Installation Complete

11 Rebooting Server

Here is what the ESXi screen looks like after booting. Lets do some basic configuration such as setting a static IP, naming this host and ensuring the correct uplinks are selected. Hit F2 to bring up the login menu:

12 First Boot

Enter the password that was set during the install, hit Enter:

13 ESXi Login

Scroll down to Configure Management Network, hit Enter:

14 Configure Management Network

Go to Network Adapters and hit Enter:

Network Adapters Selection

This is where you can select what uplinks the management network has. This screen might be different depending on your environment. Hit space bar on the vmnics that you want to use, when finished hit Enter:

15 Network Adapter

Now scroll down to IP Configuration, hit Enter:

17 IP Configuration

In my lab I want to set a static IP address, once finished hit Enter:

18 Default Gateway

If you are not using IPv6, go to IPv6 Configuration and disable it:

19 IPv6

Now go to DNS Configuration and hit Enter:

20 DNS Configuration

Set your DNS information and host name, hit Enter:

21 DNS Configuration Entry

Now hit ESC to exit, you will be prompted to reboot thehost for the changed to take affect. Hit Y to reboot:

22 Reboot Host

Now your ESXi host is ready for use:

23 Ready for Use

Continue to Part 2: https://www.virtuallyboring.com/installing-vmware-esxi-and-vcenter-5-5-part-2/

Installing VMware ESXi and vCenter 5.5 [Part 2]

Installing VMware vSphere 5.5 Series:
Part 1: Introduction and ESXi Installation
Part 2: Microsoft SQL 2012 Installation
Part 3Creating the vCenter Database & ODBC Setup
Part 4: vCenter 5.5 Installation
Part 5: Initial Setup (Accessing vCenter, Configure Basic Permissions, Add Host)

I am installing Microsoft SQL 2012 on a Microsoft Server 2012 R2 virtual machine. In this walk through I am installing SQL and vCenter on separate virtual machines.

Microsoft SQL 2012 Installation:

1. Go to the Installation tab and click on the New SQL Server stand-alone installation:

SQL Install

2. Setup Support Rules – It will run a quick preinstall scan. Click Next:

Setup Support Rules

3. Product Key – You can proceed with an 180 day Evaluation, Express or enter your product key, click Next with your selection:
Product Key

4. License Terms – Check the box to accept the license terms, check the box if you want to send usage data to Microsoft (who wouldn’t? 🙂 ) now click Next:
4 License Terms

5. Product Updates – Go ahead and install the updates, click Next:
5 Product Updates

6. Setup Support Rules – It will run another test, click Next:
6 Setup Support Rules

7. Setup Role – Ensure SQL Server Feature Installation is selected, click Next:

7 Setup Role

8. Feature Selection – Check the following options:
     a. Database Engine Services
     b. Client Tools Connectivity
     c. Integration Services
     d. Management Tools – Basic
     e. Management Tools – Complete

Also on this screen you can change the install directory to a different drive. In this case I am installing it in my lab so I am leaving it to default. Click Next:
8 Feature Selection

9. Installation Rules – It will run another check, if everything looks good click Next:
9 Installation Rules

10. Instance Configuration – Here you can change the instance ID and instance root directory. Again in this instance I am leaving default. Click Next:
10 Instance Configuration

11. Disk Space Requirements – This is checking to ensure you have enough disk space. Click Next:
11 Disk Space Requirements

12. Server Configuration – Change the Account Name to the service account you created. Also change the Startup Type to Automatic. Click Next:
12 Server Configuration

13. Database Engine Configuration – Here you can set the authentication mode. Lock it down to suit your environment. Since this is my lab I am going to use Mixed Mode and add the service account and domain admins to make administration simplistic. Click Next:
13 Database Engine Configuration

14. Error Reporting – If you want to send error report to Microsoft check the box. Click Next:
14 Error Reporting

15. Installation Configuration Rules – It will run another test to ensure everything will go smoothly, click Next:
15 Installation Configuration Rules

16. Ready to Install – Here is a summary of the install, click Install to let the installation commence!
16 Ready to Install

17. Installation Progress – Grab some coffee, this will take around about 20 minutes on average:
17 Installation Progress

18. Complete – SQL 2012 is now installed! Now we are ready to setup the vCenter database in Part 3.
18 Complete

Continue to Part 3:
https://www.virtuallyboring.com/installing-vmware-esxi-and-vcenter-5-5-part-3/

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