Consistency is essential for creating reliable and high performing platforms but is difficult to obtain, especially at scale. vLCM solves this complexity by enforcing consistency across ESXi hosts in a cluster using a declarative model. By simply configuring the desired image, vLCM ensures the desired ESXi version and firmware and driver bundles are consistent across the cluster. When there is drift, the administrator is notified and can perform non-disruptive remediation.
This post outlines the process for using vLCM to upgrade hypervisor drivers, and firmware using vSphere Lifecycle Manager.
Upgrade an Existing Cluster
vSphere 7 Update 1 is now available so it’s time to upgrade my cluster using vLCM. In this environment, the HPE vSAN Cluster is already using a vLCM desired image consisting of vSphere 7 and supporting vendor components and firmware.
Note: The environment used in this post and the demo video consists of HPE DL360s. vLCM is supported on Dell, HPE, and Lenovo servers.
Upgrading to vSphere 7 Update 1 consists of the following steps:
Step 1: Obtain and import the latest firmware baseline in HPE iLo Amplifier. For details on installing and configuring the HPE iLo Amplifier pack and managing firmware bundles be sure to read the HPE Hardware Support Manager plug-in for VMware vSphere Lifecycle Manager.
Step 2: From the HPE HSM plug-in in vCenter, click Settings and then add the firmware bundle (VMware ESXi 7.0 U1 Upgrade Pack).
Step 3: Edit the vLCM desired image
- For ESXi select vSphere 7 Update 1
- For the Vendor add-on, select the appropriate driver bundle (in the demo below I selected the HPE Customization for HPE servers 701 (vSphere 7 U1)
- For Firmware and drivers, select the appropriate firmware bundle (in the demo below I selected HPE’s VMware ESXi 7.0 U1 Upgrade Pack)
- Click Save
After modifying the desired image, it makes sense that your hosts will no longer be compliant and will need remediation.
Step 4: Administrators can either remediate individual hosts by right-clicking on the respective hosts or simply click Remediate All to upgrade all hosts in the cluster. By clicking Remediate All, vLCM will nondisruptively perform the following actions:
- Migrate workload to other servers in the cluster
- Put the host in maintenance mode
- Upgrade the hypervisor and install new drivers
- Restart the host
- Flash the firmware
- Validate the upgrade
- Exit maintenance mode
Choosing vLCM for New Clusters
When creating a new cluster you’ll notice an option to “Manage all hosts in the cluster with a single image.” Checking this box indicates you wish to use a vLCM desired image to manage all hosts in your cluster. If this is not checked, cluster updates can be performed using vSphere Update Manager (VUM).
The video below demonstrates the process of using vLCM’s desired image to nondisruptively upgrade hypervisor, drivers, and firmware on all hosts in a vSAN cluster.
Historically, infrastructure lifecycle management has been a complex process requiring hours of planning and separate outages to perform hypervisor, drivers, and firmware upgrades. Additionally, ensuring all servers remain constant over time adds to the complexity. As of vSphere 7, administrators have a unified full server stack upgrade and management solution, vSphere Lifecycle Manager. For customers interested in using vLCM, be sure to check the vSAN compatibility guide to see a full list of vLCM capable ready nodes.