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CatSpirent
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VCSA v6.5 a safe bet now?

Post by CatSpirent » Sep 28, 2017 2:45 pm

I have a VCenter server v6.0. I had planned to migrate to VCSA v6.0 using the VMWare migrate tool, but from all my reading it is not supported.
I have been worried about going to VCenter v6.5 which I gather is a migration option (v6.0 to v6.5 VCSA), but after all the warnings about v6.5 even though many are fixed I have some concerns.

Are there any known still to warrant holding off concerns regarding VCenter VCSA v6.5, or are they only associated with the esxi v6.5 hosts?

Just as an FYI, it appears our server at v6.0 does use the postgres database which from some reading is atypical? The Windows server does have SQL from an old application but most of the SQL services have been disabled.

Sadly I am unable to use the VEEAM Windows agent to back up the server as a precaution as our server is Windows Server 2008 without the R2.

Since our VCenter use is very simplistic I see no need to back up the postgres database separately as part of the backup protocol if most answers to my question seem confident migrating to VCSA v6.5 is a fairly safe move so that I can then also use VEEAM to back up the VCSA VM.

oliverL
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Re: VCSA v6.5 a safe bet now?

Post by oliverL » Sep 29, 2017 12:32 pm

Have the VCSA running since 5.0. The only thing which i hated was the log-partitions which mostly ended up filled and making the whole vcenter-web-client sluggish as hell.

6.5 is genereally not nice to use as it has many critical Bugs. Go for 6.5 Update 1 and you won't have to worry about those Bugs and can enjoy the HTML5 UI which is way faster than than the creepy Flash-Counterpart!

StoobyDoo
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Re: VCSA v6.5 a safe bet now?

Post by StoobyDoo » Sep 29, 2017 12:39 pm

Hi, we're running VCSA 6.5d U1 after upgrading from 6.0 and find it very stable and better UI experience... was in a similar situation in that we had a single VCSA with embedded platform services controller, so in theory, a simple job right? :D

Upgradation process itself was very straightforward but the success rate was awful, but only because we had a combination of a previously upgrade (5.5 > 6.0) VCSA that had a custom CA which left a dodgy cert embedded in our platform... result was the upgrade always failed at 62% "Starting VCenter Services", but this was eventually resolved via VMware using a workaround.

Anyhoo, backups and snapshots of the VCSA prior to upgrade allowed us to rollback easily without any worries or issues whenever we hit that upgrade bug ... so just be sure to snapshot your VCSA before you hit the upgrade button, you can always revert it.

The upgrade is usually in a few stages..

1. Deployment of a new "temporary" VCSA appliance (allocate a spare IP for this)
2. Migration of data, settings etc from old VCSA
3. Retirement of old VCSA, new VCSA inherits original VCSA IP

Our process went along the lines of:

- Backup VCSA VM
- Snapshot
- Make a note of which ESXi host the VCSA resides on
- Disable DRS if enabled (you dont want anything moving around during this)
- Run the VCSA upgrade installer from the extracted files (on your admin workstation)
- Follow the prompts, provide the VCSA login details and also the ESXi host root details that the VCSA is residing on etc
- Before it even attempts to begin it should do a pre-req check, so just be sure to heed any advice it gives. I kept forgetting to disable DRS when I was doing it (which it will warn about).
- Eventually (and it does take a while) you should get to a point where the new VCSA is running in tandem (just as a bare skeleton), and then phase 2 starts
- Assuming you don't hit any issues (like we had) then you will then be prompted to proceed with the migration/upgrade, and this step also takes some time

Once on 6.5 and it's all complete you should find VCSA reboot/startup times are much quicker as it's now based on a PhotonOS VM, basically Vmware's stripped down Linux distro for containers.

This is a pretty good overview of the process:
https://miketabor.com/upgrade-vcenter-s ... -0-to-6-5/

Best of luck!

anthonyspiteri79
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Re: VCSA v6.5 a safe bet now?

Post by anthonyspiteri79 » Sep 29, 2017 12:42 pm

Hey there Caterine.

I would use the resources that out on the web that talk about people's experience with the VCSA and the migration tools. I've personally been using the VCSA's since 5.5 and haven't had too many issues with them. As you would expect there have been a few teething issues however as long as you have a decent backup policy you should be confident in moving to the latest VCSA in vSphere 6.5 Update 1 which now supports upgrades/migrations from vSphere 6.0 Update 3 (note that other updates didn't have issues)

Your best option with the Windows Server 2008 RTM build is to use the migration tool to move away from that Windows version and onto the VCSA. I've got a blog post here on that process: https://anthonyspiteri.net/migrate2vcsa ... -6-5-vcsa/

Backing up the whole VCSA using full VM backups is acceptable in a small environment, so you are correct in that you don't need a seperate PostGres backup mechanism.

Thanks
Anthony Spiteri
Global Technologist, Product Strategy | VMware vExpert
Email: anthony.spiteri@veeam.com | Mobile: +61488335699
Twitter: @anthonyspiteri | Skype: anthony_spiteri

CatSpirent
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Re: VCSA v6.5 a safe bet now?

Post by CatSpirent » Oct 03, 2017 3:10 pm 1 person likes this post

Well I ran through the migration/upgrade yesterday and it went pretty smoothly.
The only thing I forgot to check was the VEEAM version. VMWare 6.5 requires 9.5 Update 1, since update 2 is already released I updated to Update 2.

Thank you all for your answers. It gave me confidence that the v6.5 VCSA should be just fine.

The only thing I didn't like was that it required me to enter an AD login as it wanted to connect to our domain.
Something I tried and decided against previously because it allows anyone in AD to log into VCenter even if they can't do anything to it.
It failed the login due to a bad password but I still need to check to see if I need to remove any AD configuration.

Now I just browse around and see how I like it before I re-purpose my old server.

CatSpirent
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Re: VCSA v6.5 a safe bet now?

Post by CatSpirent » Oct 04, 2017 3:38 pm

I wanted to add one more tiny update. We setup LDAP to AD and that didn't allow a non-registered AD user in VCenter access, so now we are using AD for authentication, though doing any kind of access configuration is extremely slow.

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