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Monthly Archives: March 2016

vCenter Server Upgrade Finished

In my previous post I bypassed a fairly lengthy step we had in validating the compatibility matrix. VMware software has strict guidelines in what hardware and firmware levels will be supported. Layer in the 3rd party plug-ins and databases and other VMware software and you have something that resembles a pile of cubes rather than a single matrix. For the basics like esxi & vCenter, this page is helpful: https://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/sim/interop_matrix.php#interop&1=577&2=

After the previous list of gotchas, I ran into a few more gotchas. My main virtual center was asking for 24GB of freespace to upgrade from 5.5 to 6. Easy enough problem unless you have only 2 drives in a physical blade that are already fully partitioned. Some of the solutions we batted around were:

1. Get the hbas working and zone a lun, then swap the drive letters
2. backup and restore to a VM
3. install a clean 5.5 and point to an existing database
4. Use the VMware converter to P2V

We tried option 2 and failed. There ended up being some limitation of the software that we ran into. Option 4 worked out quite well. At first I was told it wasn’t possible becuase you need vCenter online for the converter to work. Turns out there is a workaround. The P2V only took an hour and I was able to re-size the partitions in the process. Two posts that were very helpful in this process were:

https://blog.shiplett.org/performing-a-p2v-on-a-physical-vcenter-server/

https://virtualnotions.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/how-to-p2v-of-vcenter-server/

5.5 came back online in virtual form on this isolated host fairly quickly. Then it was time for the upgrade.

After about 30 minutes of solid progress bar moving, it appeared to stall out. CPU was idle and the upgrade window showed a message like, “Starting Up vCenter Server…”

vcenter_stall

I got concerned, almost scrapped it and started over from my VM snapshot. I checked a bunch of log files and looked at the disk activity to see what files it was writing to. None of this really amounted to much of a lead. I looked at the windows services and vCenter was in the “started” state. I tried with the thick client to log in but it said I didn’t have access. It was at that point the upgrade appeared to take off again and completed without error. I guess it just needed a kick.

vcenter_fin

The update manager install was simple and uses the same install media. After that I only had one issue remaining. The overview performance charts were not showing up. This is by design in the thick client https://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2109800

However, the error I was getting in the Web Client was not by design. Adjusting some network parameters corrected the error I was recieving after a restart of the Performance Charts Service
https://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2131040

Overall this project was great experience. I have a better understanding of vCenter and learned what logs are important. I got some practice in disaster recovery (failed upgrades). I am also more comfortable with running virtualized vCenters. The plan is to move to the vCenter appliance at some point but I suspect that will come after we upgrade are hosts.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2016 in Virtual