vSphere Lifecycle Manager

Lifecycle Management with vLCM in vSAN 7 Update 1

Lifycle Management with vLCM in vSAN 7 U1

vSphere 7 introduced an entirely new solution for unified software and firmware lifecycle management that is native to vSphere. vSphere Lifecycle Manager, or vLCM, is a powerful new framework based on a desired state model to deliver simple, reliable and consistent lifecycle operations for vSphere and HCI clusters. vSphere 7 U1 extends these capabilities with improved scalability, Fault Domain and Stretched Cluster awareness as well as the addition of support for NSX-T and Lenovo xClarity. Let’s take a closer look.


vSAN Fault Domain and Stretched Cluster awareness

vSAN now provides intelligent sequencing of updates to honor Fault Domains if configured for a vSAN cluster. A rolling update will be performed on all hosts in a FD before the cluster remediation proceeds to the next FD. This serialized fashion ensures all vSAN objects remain available during the remediation. vSAN Stretched Clusters only have two FDs, so vLCM will attempt to first update the Preferred FD before proceeding with the Secondary FD.

Improved Scalability

vLCM improves on several scalability limits, which provides more effective capabilities of parallel remediation across clusters. vLCM can now support a maximum of 64 concurrent vSAN cluster operations (up from 15 in vSphere 7). For non-vSAN clusters, vLCM can now support cluster sizes of up to 96 nodes.

Concurrent operations allow administrators to remediate multiple clusters simultaneously, which increases efficiency and saves time during maintenance windows. Concurrent operations however still respect fault domains and update hosts in each cluster in a serialized fashion. This applies to all cluster types, including vSphere clusters, standard vSAN clusters, Stretched Clusters, 2-Node, and vSAN clusters configured with Fault Domains. For stretched clusters, it will use this same approach, treating the first fault domain to upgrade as the “Preferred Site.” In addition, vLCM can now support a maximum of 280 vLCM-enabled hosts (across N clusters) in vCenter which is increased from 150 in vSphere 7.

Support for Lenovo xClarity Integrator (LXCI)

In addition to Dell and HPE, vLCM now supports unified lifecycle management including firmware on Lenovo servers with the integration of the Lenovo XClarity Integrator HSM (Hardware Support Manager). The initial support of Lenovo servers targets the ThinkAgile VX server models which includes the VX certified ReadyNodes.

For more information about taking advantage of the unified lifecycle management capabilities of vSphere Lifecycle Manager with Lenovo XClarity, be sure to check the VMware Compatibility Guide for all supported server models. Under “vSAN ReadyNode Additional Features” select “vCLM Capable ReadyNode”


Enhancements to hardware compatibility checks

vLCM will now automatically trigger checks after modification of the desired state image and will poll the HCL database on a scheduled interval for any changes (such as removal and replacing of bad firmware versions). In addition, adding of hosts to the cluster will invalidate the current hardware compatibility results and alert the administrator to re-run the checks.

By default, vSphere Lifecycle Manager reports hardware compatibility issues as a warning, which does not prevent remediation. Administrators can now configure vLCM to prevent remediation when hardware compatibility issues exist for the cluster. Selecting the “Prevent remediation if hardware compatibility issues are found” option in Lifecycle Manager will report hardware compatibility issues as an error, which prevents remediation.

NSX-T Integration

vLCM now supports lifecycle management (including drift detection) of NSX-T host components by integrating with NSX Manager workflows. Administrators can use NSX Manager to install/uninstall/modify NSX-T components on a cluster, which automatically updates the cluster desired image and performs the remediation. Cluster remediations are always performed in a serialized fashion with host maintenance mode. This integration is supported from NSX-T v3.1 onwards and with use of VDS and N-VDS.

In Summary

Lifecycle management has historically been a time-consuming and complex process. Administrators need to find the right balance between software, firmware and drivers that are current but also supported on the VCG. This can involve several tools and considerable time and effort. vSphere Lifecycle Manager in vSphere 7 reduced the complexity of monitoring and maintaining hyper converged infrastructure by consolidating software, driver and firmware update tools and introducing a desired-state model of implementing a desired image. vSphere 7 U1 extends these capabilities with improved scalability, Fault Domains and Stretched Clusters awareness, and support for Lenovo xClarity. vSphere Lifecycle Manager delivers simple, reliable and consistent lifecycle operations for vSphere and HCI clusters and ESXi hosts.

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