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vCloud Suite 5.1 Solution Upgrade Guide

By now you’ve probably heard all the hype around the 5.1 releases of VMware’s vSphere and vCloud platforms – and the vCloud 5.1 Suite, which bundles the latest versions of several VMware key IaaS-focused technologies and delivers a comprehensive cloud solution.  The suite comes in 3 flavors – Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise.

If you’re an existing (active) customer of any of these products, there’s an upgrade and/or entitlement path to the suite for you – and it’s highly recommended that you take advantage of it.  Or, at the very least, you can upgrade your individual products to 5.1 as you ponder the suite.  Whether or not you choose to upgrade and take advantage of the latest and greatest features is up to you.  But if you’re looking for increased scale, performance, efficiency, and capability while taking advantage of end-to-end advancements in VMware’s leading cloud technologies, then I would place upgrade at the top of your to-do list.  (some of my peers suggest I’m drinking the Kool-Aid via fire hose….really?).  Learn more about the suite here: http://www.vmware.com/products/datacenter-virtualization/vcloud-suite/overview.html.

The attached guide will walk you through, in detail, the upgrade steps and procedures for moving to vCloud Suite 5.1.

Upgrade Overview

Speaking of upgrade – and to get back on topic – I thought it would be beneficial to publish a how-to guide of sorts to help with upgrading from previous versions of the core infrastructure stack to version 5.1, taking in consideration the many co-dependencies of an active cloud deployment (VMware’s pubs and guides cover the process for individual products with plenty of detail, but not so much as a whole solution…yet).

I’ll specifically focus on upgrading from previous (pre-5.1) versions to 5.1.  The approach will go something like this (in this order):

  1. vCloud Director 1.5.x -> vCloud Director 5.1
  2. vShield Manager 5.0.x -> vCloud Networking & Security 5.1
  3. vCenter 5.0.x (windows) -> vCenter 5.1 + required add-ons
  4. vSphere (ESXi) 5.0.x -> ESXi 5.1
  5. vShield Edge (vSE’s) 5.0.x -> Edge Gateway 5.1

Note: Many issues encountered during the upgrade are contributed to lack of planning, upgrading components out of order, or skipping steps.  To ensure a successful upgrade and continuity of services, it is critical that the steps highlighted in this document are followed closely.  In other words, avoid shortcuts!

Things to Consider

Before we get started, let’s set expectations and discuss some caveats.  At first glance, upgrading to a “dot” release doesn’t seem that significant, but if you have followed VMware’s versioning strategy in the past, you’ll know that a “.1” release is typically a major update that adds a significant set of capabilities and functionality.  This one upgrade path is no exception.  And with that comes several considerations…

  • Take advantage of snapshots – take one of every VM you’re touching and make sure you have good backups of the configs any associated databases.
  • Understand the implications of upgrading your vCenter server, especially in environments that of other products and 3rd-party solutions installed that depend on it (see: VMware View).
  • If you plan on migrating from vCenter Server on Windows to the vCenter Server Virtual Appliance (VCVA), this guide isn’t going to help you much.  The upgrade procedure to follow is for a Windows-installed vCenter.  But, by all means, download the VCVA and give it a run – works great.  Just note that you can’t currently migrate from one platform to another.
  • vCenter Server 5.1 adds a significant set of new features, some of which that will require special attention during this upgrade…specifically for the new single-sign on (SSO) function.  To ensure the upgrade goes smoothly, be sure the follow the installation steps IN ORDER.  This ensures all service dependencies will be in place as new features are installed.
  • vCloud Director 5.1 is backwards compatible with vSphere 5.0.x, but not the other way around.  You can upgrade vCD and sub-components now and wait to get vCenter and ESXi up to 5.1 later…just understand this may limit some of the new features in vCD that depend of vSphere 5.1.  See VMware’s compatibility matrix for more details: http://partnerweb.vmware.com/comp_guide2/sim/interop_matrix.php
  • The upgrade procedure for vCloud Director 1.5.x highlighted in this doc assumes a single instance (cell) is installed.  As such, upgrading the only cell will result in a vCD outage (not the running vApps, just vCD UI access).  See VMware’s guide, vcd_51_install.pdf, to upgrade a multi-cell environment…it’s just a few extra steps.
  • The new version of vCloud Connector (2.0) is not yet available (as of this writing).  While the majority of the cloud suite’s components have been upgraded and converged on 5.1 versioning, the latest vCC 2.0 appliance is expected to go live by the end of the year.  If you’re currently using vCC 1.x, upgrading to vCD 5.1 may break it.  Stay tuned for the 2.0 release if this is something you depend on.
  • If you’re running vCenter Operations (vCOps) 5.0.x and are planning on upgrading the rest of your environment, you might as well take the time to update your appliance to version 5.0.3 to take advantage of some minor new enhancements that will compliment the vCloud 5.1 suite – vCenter Operations Suite 5.6 was announced at VMworld Barcelona and will be available for download/upgrade soon.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get upgrading!  Upgrading to 5.1 is not difficult, but it does take some planning, cautions (see above), and an organized approach to ensure all goes well…especially in a production environment.  Speaking of that, here’s my disclaimer:

DISCLAIMER: This document is not an ‘official’ VMware publication, nor are the author (that’s me) or VMware responsible for any outcomes, outages, late nights in the datacenter, or complete system meltdowns.  This document and its forthcoming upgrade procedures were created as reference material to help you get your environment upgraded so you can enjoy all the wonders of the vCloud 5.1 Suite.  As a precaution, do this in a test/dev environment prior to attempting the process in a production deployment.  On the other hand, please feel free to share your successful upgrade stories!

Download the full guide here: vCloud 5.1 Suite Solution Upgrade Guide v1.1



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Connecting Clouds

For those organizations on the journey of transforming their datacenters to meet the demand of a modern IT consumption model, it’s easy to envision what cloud euphoria could/should look like.  That’s mostly because vision is quite cheap – all it takes is a little imagination (maybe), a few Google queries, several visits by your favorite vendor(s), and perhaps a top-down mandate or two.  The problem is execution can break the bank if the vision is not in line with the organization’s core objectives.  It’s easy to get carried away in the planning stages with all the options, gizmos and cloudy widgets out there – often delaying the project and creating budget shortfalls.  Cloud:Fail.  But this journey doesn’t have to be difficult (or horrendously expensive).  Finding the right solution is half the battle…just don’t go gluing several disparate products together that were never intended to comingle and burn time and money trying to integrate them.  Sure you might eventually achieve something that resembles a cloud, but you’re guaranteed to hit several unnecessary pain points on the way.

Of course I’m not suggesting putting all your eggs in one vendor’s basket guarantees success.  Nor am I suggesting that VMware’s basket is the only one that provides everything you’ll ever need for a successful cloud deployment.  In fact, VMware prides itself with an enormous (and growing) partner ecosystem that provides unique approaches and technologies to cloudy problems and beyond.  What I am suggesting, however, is the need to pick and choose wisely.  Well integrated clouds = well functioning clouds = happy clouds and happy customers.  Integration means common frameworks and interfaces, extensible API’s, automation via orchestration, app portability across clouds, and technologies that are purpose-built for the job(s) at hand.  And as a bonus, integration can mean leveraging what you already have – an infrastructure awaiting the transformation of a lifetime.  That’s right, the cloud journey should not be a rip-and-replace proposition.

There’s another major component to this – while I spend the majority of my time helping organizations and federal agencies adopt the cloud and transform their infrastructures, there’s often something else on the customer’s mind that can’t be ignored.  It’s a long-term strategy delivered in nine datacenter-shattering words: “I want to get out of the infrastructure business”.   I’m hearing this more often than not and it cannot be ignored.  What they are referring to is the need to eventually shift workloads to public clouds rather than continue to invest in their own infrastructures.  This strategy makes perfect sense.  As the adoption of public cloud services increases, more and more CIO’s are finding new comfort levels in handing over their apps and workloads to trusted cloud providers, albeit slowly.  But this also introduces new challenges.  How does an organization well on its way to delivering an enterprise/private cloud to the business ensure that future adoption of public clouds does not mean starting from scratch?  What about managing and securing those workloads just as you would in the private cloud?  Public cloud providers need to be an extension of your private cloud, giving you the freedom of application placement, the ability to migrate workloads back and forth, and providing single-pane-of-glass visibility into all workloads and all clouds.  This endeavor requires the right planning, tools, and frameworks to be successful.

Here are the top “asks” from customers currently on, or getting ready to start, this journey (in no particular order):

  • Private cloud now…public cloud later (or both…now)
  • Workload portability (across clouds / cloud providers)
  • A holistic management approach
  • End-to-end visibility
  • Dynamic security
  • Cloud-worthy scalability

If any of this is resonating, then you’re probably in a similar situation.  CIO’s are pushing the deployment of private clouds while simultaneously considering public cloud options.  Therefor the solution needs to deliver everything we know and love of the private cloud while laying down the framework for public cloud expansion.  Problem is not many solutions out there can do this.  Public cloud providers often run proprietary frameworks and management tools to keep costs low and private cloud solutions are generally focused on just that (being private).

Enter VMware.

VMware has put a lot of effort in leveraging the success of vSphere – the cloud’s critical foundation – to help take a controlling lead up the software stack and deliver a cloud solution for both private and public (i.e. hybrid) clouds.  And through the VMware Service Provider Program (VSPP), they have also enabled a new generation of cloud service providers that build their offerings using the same vCloud frameworks available to enterprises.  As a result, each and every one of these vCloud-powered service providers instantly becomes a possible extension of your private cloud, placing the power of the hybrid cloud – and all the “asks” above – at your fingertips.

Here’s what that looks like from a 1,00ft view…

  CIM Stack

  Let’s review this diagram:

1 – Physical Infrastructure: commodity compute, storage, and network infrastructure.

2 – vSphere Virtualization: hardware abstraction layer and cloud foundation.  Delivers physical compute, storage, and networks as resource pools, datastores, and portgroups (or dvPortgroups).

3 – Provider Virtual Datacenter (PvDC) and Organizational Virtual Datacenter (OvDC): delivered by vCloud Director as the first layer of cloud abstraction. resources are simply consumed as capacity and delivered on demand.

4 – vCenter Orchestrator: key technology for cloud integration, automation, and orchestration across native and 3rd-party solutions.

5 – vCenter Operations: holistic management framework for visibility into performance, capacity, compliance, and overall health.

6 – Security & Compliance: dynamic, policy-based security and compliance tools across clouds using vShield Edge and vCenter Configuration Manager (vCM)

7 – VMware Service Manager for Cloud Provisioning (VSM-CP): self-service web portal and business process engine tying it all together.  Integrates with vCO for mega automation.

8 –vCloud Connector (vCC): single pane of glass control of clouds and workloads.  enables workload portability to/from private and public vClouds and traditional vSphere environments.

Last but not least is the very important question of “openness” in the cloud (don’t get me started on heterogeneous hypervisors!).  VMware spearheaded the OVF standard several years ago, which has been adopted by the industry as a whole as a means of migrating vSphere-based workloads to non-vSphere hypervisors (and the clouds above them) with metadata in tact.  In fact, OVF remains a key technology in the Hybrid cloud scenarios and is an integral part of workload portability across clouds.  OVF gives customers the ability to move workloads in/out of vSphere and vCloud environments and into other solutions that support the standard.  Just beware of solutions that will happily accept OVF workloads but not so happily give them back (warning: the majority won’t).

The end result: cloud goodness, happy CIO’s, and streamlined IT.  How’s that for a differentiator?



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