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Upgrading VMware Horizon View with Zero Downtime

By Dale Carter, Senior Solutions Architect, End-User Computing

Over the last few years working with VMware Horizon View and doing many upgrades, two of the biggest issues I would hear from customers when planning for an upgrade was: “Why do we have to have so much downtime, and with seven connection brokers, why do we have to take them all down at once?”

These questions and issues came up when I was speaking to Engineering about the upgrade process and making it smoother for the customer.

I was told that, in fact, this was not the case, and you did not have to take all connection brokers down during the upgrade process; you can upgrade one connection broker at a time while the other servers are happily running.

This has been changed in View 6, and the upgrade documentation now reflects it. You can find the document here.

In this blog I will show you how to upgrade a cluster of connection servers with zero downtime. For this post I will be upgrading my View 5.3 servers to View 6.0.1

Here are the steps needed to upgrade a View pod with zero downtime:

  1. Follow all prerequisites in the upgrade document referenced above, including completing all backups and snapshots.
  2. In the load balancer managing the View servers, disable the server that is going to be upgraded from the load balanced pool.
  3. Log in to the admin console.
  4. Disable the connection server you are going to upgrade. From the View Configuration menu select Server, then select Connection Servers and highlight the correct server. Finally, click Disable.
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  5. Click OK. The view server will now be disabled.
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  6. Log in to the View connection server and launch the executable. For this example I will launch VMware-viewconnectionserver-x86_64-6.0.1-2088845.exe. NOTE: We did not disable any services at this point.
  7. Click Next.
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  8. Accept the license agreement, and click Next.
  9. Click Install.
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  10. Once the process is done click Finish.
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  11. Now back in the Admin Console enable the connection server by clicking Enable. Also notice the new version has been installed.
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  12. In the load balancer managing the View servers, enable the server that has been upgraded in the load balanced pool.
  13. Follow step 2 – 12 to upgrade all of your View servers.
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Security Servers

If one of the connection servers is paired with a security server then there are a couple of additional steps to cover.

The following steps will need to be done to upgrade a connection server that is paired with a security server.

  1. In the load balancer managing the View Security servers, disable the server that is going to be upgraded from the load balanced pool.
  2. Follow all pre-requisites in the upgrade document referenced above, including disabling IPsec rules for the security server and take snapshots.
  3. Prepare the security server to be upgraded. From the View Configuration menu select Server, then select Security Servers. Highlight the correct server, click More Commands, and then click Prepare for Upgrade or Reinstall.
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  4. Click OK.
  5. Upgrade the paired Connection server outlined in steps 2 – 12.
  6. Log in to the View Security server and launch the executable. For this example I will launch VMware-viewconnectionserver-x86_64-6.0.1-2088845.exe.
  7. Click Next.
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  8. Accept the License agreement and click Next.
  9. Confirm the paired Connection server and click Next.
  10. Enter the pairing password and click Next.
  11. Confirm the configuration and click Next.
  12. Click Install.
  13. In the load balancer managing the View Security servers, enable the server that has been upgraded in the load balanced pool.

Dale is a Senior Solutions Architect and member of the CTO Ambassadors. Dale focuses in the End User Compute space, where Dale has become a subject matter expert in a number of the VMware products. Dale has more than 20 years experience working in IT having started his career in Northern England before moving the Spain and finally the USA. Dale currently hold a number of certifications including VCP-DV, VCP-DT, VCAP-DTD and VCAP-DTA.

For updates you can follow Dale on twitter @vDelboy

35 thoughts on “Upgrading VMware Horizon View with Zero Downtime

  1. Wolfgang

    Hi Dale!

    Just today I did a update from 5.3 to 6.0.2. I used the upgrade guide I downloaded with view 6.0.0. (ID: EN-001476-00) I was really surprised when I read your post because in my guide I still read, that it is necessary to stop the service of all connection servers in the replication-group. I downloaded the latest version of the document (ID: EN-001476-01) now, and you are right, the paragraph was changed! Unfortunately the name of the pdf-file is still the same.

    Thanks for you blog post!
    Wolfgang

    Reply
    1. Dale Carter

      Hi Wolfgang
      Happy you liked the post and hopefully it will help with your next upgrade
      Dale.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Changed procedure in upgrading Connection Server in replicated group | vNote42

  3. Pingback: Upgrading VMware Horizon View with Zero Downtime | vDelboy'sView

  4. TV

    Great article. We’re currently on 5.2. Thoughts on if this process would work with 5.2?

    Reply
    1. Dale Carter

      In theory yes this should work however I have not personally tested from 5.2

      Reply
      1. Edward

        TV: we also are 5.2. Let me know how your upgrade goes. 🙂

        Reply
  5. Edward

    Dale,

    Regarding the security servers. On the step where you say to click “prepare for upgrade or reinstallation”, if it’s grayed out, does this throw any kind of wrench into your steps? I understand this to mean that upon original installation, IPSec rules weren’t put in place, or the setting was outright disabled.

    Reply
    1. Dale Carter

      Yes that is correct and should be fine

      Reply
  6. Edward

    and sorry Dale, 1 last question. This may be out of scope in relation to your article, but, I’ll throw it out anyway. In our VDI environment, 95% are using 5.2 View Agents, the other 5% are using 5.0. We plan to upgrade to the 6.0.2 agent as soon as possible after the brokers/security servers are upgraded. Is there any immediate risk to this? In my testing, it seems the brokers are very forgiving regarding backwards/forwards compatibility with the View agent. IE I have a test VM using a 6.0.2 agent, connecting just fine through the 5.2 brokers. Again, we don’t plan or want to leave our environment at those old agents, we just hope we have a solid window to get it out there, without risk of client downtime.

    Thanks and great article. Our VMware rep pointed us to it and it looks like exactly what we were looking for.

    Reply
  7. Dale Carter

    Yes the broker software is compatible with older agents, newer features will not work but other than that you should be good.

    Reply
  8. Edward

    In your experience Dale, do people not use IPsec for any reason specifically? In our environment we’re not, and unfortunately it was built by someone no longer here. In trying to track down why he went that way, my security team only mentions putting in specific firewall rules for the Security servers, as requested by that former architect. We have 2 Sec servers in our DMZ, each paired with 1 internal broker.

    Reply
    1. Dale Carter

      All customers that I have worked with in the 2 years have been using IPsec, however I have only been working with very large customers in that time frame. I am sure there are cusomers not using IPsec but i have not worked with them so could not comment on why they are not, my guess would be firewall issues.

      Reply
  9. Andrew Bacon

    Good Article

    Reply
  10. Edward

    In between steps 12 and 13 of the View broker upgrade, is there any negativity on having the upgraded broker c-mingled with the other brokers at their previous versions, while you test against the upgraded one? If I have 4 brokers at 5.2 and upgrade 1 to 6.0.2, and put him back in the rotation, is there any harm leaving the environment that way for a few days?

    Reply
    1. Dale Carter

      I wouldn’t recommend leaving it for to long. I would recommend doing all testing in a non production Lab environment.

      Reply
  11. warmkessel

    this is a test

    Reply
  12. Tammy Nguyen

    This blog is great.

    Thanks
    Tammy

    Reply
  13. Jean Chen

    test, please ignore

    Reply
  14. eric nielsen

    test.. we have a customer who can’t leave a comment, tracking the issue down.

    Reply
  15. Pingback: Upgrading to Horizon View 6 – Part 3 – Connection Servers | elgwhoppo's vNotebook

  16. Lee

    How long does a typical Horizon View upgrade take from 5.2 to 6? Between the connection broker and other servers, we have a total of 5 servers for our view environment.

    I’m looking for a ball park realistic figure.

    Reply
    1. Dale Carter

      I think a safe number would be 30 – 60 mins per component depending on the preformance of your server.

      Reply
  17. JamesR

    Dale,
    What you have mentioned above is great and I do plan on following your method. However in my test environment, during the upgrade the installation could not find the java.exe under C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware View\Server\jre\bin. I understand it does not have anything to do with what has been mentioned but while waiting for VMware to respond to my case I thought I would ask.
    James

    Reply
  18. Pierre Trudeau

    Eventhough the server side upgrade is seemless. Horizon has forgoten about the VM side. Why isn’t there a tool in Horizon to Upgrade the View Agent on client OR even better have view agent and vmware tools intergrated?

    Reply
  19. Doug Storms

    Hi Dale – there is no mention in this article about existing desktop sessions, if we are discussing downtime then this is a critical element.
    There are no desktop sessions in your screen shot-
    If i disable the connection server what happens to existing desktop sessions?

    Reply
  20. ZoeTaite

    Dale,

    Do you see any issues upgrading from 5.3.2 to 6.2.1 or 6.2.2? Our vCenter is currently at 5.5 U2 which shows up in the InterOpex matrix. Just wondering if there are any special considerations that we should be aware of.

    Thank you

    ZT

    Reply
  21. Leonid Kanareykin

    Where is View Composer in your upgrade scenario?

    Reply
    1. Zachschi

      From my experience Composer is done first. It can be done without a downtime at all. The first thing I do is make sure I have enough extra desktops provisioned to make up for any floating pools, if you need to do that. Then disable provisioning under the vCenter servers tab (as the composer service is linked to a vCenter service). Next I backup the server according to the documentation and then perform the upgrade. The upgrade matrix shows the Composer service is backward compatible with the connection servers “only during upgrade”.

      Reply
  22. Patrick

    Hi Dale. This is an excellent article. I was wondering if these steps will work upgrading from 6.0 to 7.0? Also, how do you upgrade the View Agents? Will the 6.0 agents work in a 7.0 environment? I was looking for an easy way to push it out, but I can’t seem to find a solution without having users log in, but I read that there can be no PCoIP connections to the guests during the agent upgrade. I’m trying to save our helpdesk from having to log into 700 desktops to upgrade the agent.

    Reply
  23. CLARK HIGHTOWER

    Hi Dale. I was wondering if you have an article out there on steps to upgrade View from 5.1 to 7.0 but for an environment whose version (5.1) is no longer supported and new licensing is purchased with the intention of creation new 2012R2 VMs? Rather than copying existing Master Images and creating new pooled desktops (and all of the GPO customizations, database, file server, etc.) and just reassociate the new core VMs with the existing components.

    Reply
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