We have already received quite a few questions on what the new upgrade process looks like, so we will discuss two of our deployment topologies to upgrade from vCenter Server 6.0 or 6.5 to vCenter Server 6.7. We have an embedded deployment, where the Platform Services Controller (PSC) and vCenter are installed on the same machine. We also have an external deployment, where the PSC and vCenter are installed on separate machines.
In previous versions of the appliance, we would either use the Virtual Appliance Management Interface (VAMI) and download the latest update or mount the ISO to the VM and install. This method is correct for patching, but not for upgrades between major versions.
The upgrade process works exactly like a migration scenario, it is a two step process. Step 1 a brand new appliance is deployed with a temporary IP, and then step 2 occurs in which we export the data from the old appliance, and then import the data into the new appliance.
If we perform an upgrade of an embedded deployment we do this once, as the PSC and vCenter are on a single server. However, if we are upgrading an external deployment where we may have 1 or more PSC’s and 1 or more vCenters. We need to perform these steps a little different, we have to move all PSC’s within the SSO domain first, and then once that is complete we can proceed with the upgrade of the vCenters.
You may be asking yourself why do we need a new appliance? Well, when moving from vSphere 6.0 to vSphere 6.5 we changed the underlying operating system from SUSE Linux to Photon OS. However, with vSphere 6.7 we still have the same underlying OS. The answer is simple, we deploy a new appliance in case of misconfiguration or error, we have an easy rollback method. During the upgrade process we do not make any changes to the original configuration. If something were to fail with your vSphere 6.7 upgrade, all you do is shutdown the new appliance and delete it, and then power back on your original appliance. Also, by deploying a new appliance, you have the opportunity to make your own decision with what information you want to carry over. By default we only move over the configuration and inventory, but you do have an option to bring over the events, tasks, alarms and performance data.
Performing a vCenter Server upgrade can be an overwhelming task, however preparing for your upgrade is the most important thing you can do. Before starting the upgrade make sure you have a plan in place. In case of upgrade failure, please make sure you have a rollback plan in place.
We also have created a product walkthrough for upgrading an Embedded vCenter Server 6.5 to vCenter Server 6.7. You can view it here.