This post comes from a guest blogger, Stijn Depril, @sdepril on Twitter. He is a VMware Senior Specialist SE for HCI that covers the BeNeLux region of EMEA. As you might imagine, he spends quite a bit of time working with our vSAN customers in this area. Thank you, Stijn, for taking a break from your "day job" to write this article on vSAN remediation with VMware vSphere Update Manager!
Today our customers are adopting vSAN rapidly. We see customers planning for future vSAN versions in current and new environments. As VMware is committed in making vSAN easy to operate. This also includes automated patching and upgrading. Latest versions of vSAN include integrations with vSphere Update Manager (VUM).
What is vSphere Update Manager?
In a nutshell, VUM helps you to go from one good state to another good state as simple and as automated as possible. It is built into vCenter Server and the vSphere Client. VUM was first introduced for vSphere but got more capabilities to support other solutions, like vSAN. When we look at vSAN specifically we are helping our customers to validate hardware/software and automate the upgrade of the cluster without disruption.
Helping our customers with VUM and vSAN
As we try to give our customers many reasons to upgrade to the latest version. We understand it is not always possible to do so. vSAN has regular updates and it might not be easy to understand the different relations between hardware and software. VUM is helping our customers to a create baselines to upgrade the environment as seamless as possible. When a customer checked the VUM recommendations prior to vCenter 6.7U3 it would always show you the compatibility with the latest ESXi and vSAN releases.
Introducing Cluster Remediation Settings
Running the latest versions of ESXi and vSAN provides our customers with new features and bug fixes. This will lead to a higher level of stability, availability and performance.
As we want to support all our customers in the upgrade process. We want to help them to have a tailored overview into the upgrade path most relevant for them. Therefore, we introduce the Cluster Remediation Setting in VUM. This feature is part of the vCenter 6.7U3 release. It will help our customers to understand the VSAN upgrade path for their current environment. This feature will give our customers 3 scenarios.
Include upgrades to new ESXi versions
Some of our customer always adopt the latest technology releases. They have new hosts running VSAN. They want to benefit from all the latest and greatest features launched to market. The default setting in VMware vSphere Update Manager is to show you the latest and greatest upgrade path. When you choose this option, we will link the latest release with your current hardware estate and help you upgrade the software from the current state to the latest release. If you are at vSphere 6.5, you will get information about vSphere 6.7.
Include patches and updates for current ESXi version
Not all our customers are running at the latest releases. Several reasons might influence the upgrade cycles. For example, older hardware not supporting the latest releases or maybe they need to pass change boards to upgrade their environment. As much as VMware would like to have those customers on the latest release and benefit all the new features and enhancements, we understand it’s not always possible.
As an example – Our customer is running vSphere 6.5 U1. This links to vSAN 6.6.1. You can check vSphere-to-vSAN versions here. When you tick the box “Include Patches and Updates for Current ESXi Version” you will get the relevant information you need to stay in this release line (6.5), but no recommendations for 6.7. You will get the information that is linked to your hardware platform (via HCL check) and to your desired state. This information will help you create the baseline to upgrade from the current state to the new desired state.
While VMware recommends upgrading to the latest version in most cases, some of our customers prefer to stay on their current state. In this scenario you can make the choice to get no recommendation at all. Customers can make the interoperability choices themselves or just keep the environment in the current state without upgrading it.
Not all our customers are having the same pace of upgrading their clusters to the newest versions. The Cluster Remediation Setting will help our customers to tailor the information that is most relevant for their desired state. With this setting you can make a choice to stay in your current release line or implement the latest release of vSAN. We will help you understand the links between the software and the hardware.
Upgrading the environment with VUM will help remove the risk and guesswork from the patching and upgrading process. It will automate the ESXi and vSAN upgrade without service interruption. The automation reduces the operation overhead and the chance of human error. VUM simplifies lifecycle management for HCI environments on-premises and in the cloud.