VMware vSphere 6 – Manually upgrading vSphere 6.0 to vSphere 6.0 Update 2 with ease

You have read all the announcements about vSphere 6.0 Update 2 being released and now you want to upgrade.  Maybe you haven’t tried out the embedded web ui and are tired on needing to use the thick client when your VC goes down.  Whatever the reason applying the update is pretty easy and straight forward.

Updating vCenter Appliance

First things first we need to upgrade vCenter to Update 2.  To do this manually you will first need to download the vSphere patch iso VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance-6.0.0.20000-3634791-patch-FP.iso from myvmware.  Once you have downloaded the iso simply follow these steps to apply the update:

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DailyHypervisor Forums are online.

We have just launched our DailyHypervisor Forum located at http://www.dailyhypervisor.com/forum. Stop by, contribute and be a part of our community. The DH Forum is intended to be for all things cloud. Currently we have forums created for vCAC, vCD, vCO, Cloud General, and Openstack. More forum categories will be coming based on demand. If you have a category you would like to see shoot us a note and let us know.

Our goal is to create a common place where anyone can come to learn, get help, share ideas, or just about anything that will help foster knowledge regarding cloud computing. Considering this very blog is the announcement of our forum you could image there isn’t a whole lot happening yet so what are you waiting for, be the first. Go ask a question, post an issue, share a thought and let’s get things rolling.

vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 5.1 – Automated Installation Of Windows Guest Agent

In this article I’m gong to walk through automating the installation of the Windows Guest Agent. There are advantages to automating the guest agent installation. One advantage is instead of pre-installing it in your template you can script the install using the “Run Once” capability exposed through the vCenter Customization Specification.
 
Included in the vCAC installation package is a zip file named DCAC-GuestAgent2010Zip.zip. This has all the exploded files that are used within the Windows Guest Agent Installer. These are the files we will be utilizing to manually install the service.

Preparing the files for Installation

1. First thing we need to do is extract the zip file so we can access the files within it.
 
2. Inside the zip file there is a file name “VRMAgent.exe.config” we need to edit this file and replace all references to “localhost” with the “IP” address or “hostname” of the “vCAC server“.
 
3. Next place the files in a folder on an open share where they can be accessed during the sysprep operation.
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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 5.1 – Executing Scripts with the Windows Guest Agent

There are a few components to executing scripts in a Windows Guest OS which I’m going to cover in this post. Those items are:

  • Windows Guest Agent
  • Custom Properties

Windows Guest Agent – UPDATED!

Note: Due to a bug in this version of the agent installer that prevents it from being properly removed from the guest machine I recommend you use the process I define in Automated Install of Windows Guest agent to install the agent. You can follow the article and automate the installation or perform the steps manually in your template to achieve the same result as outlined in this article, without the side affect of the agent staying resident on your deployed machines.

The Windows Guest Agent has a number of feature benefits that you receive if you utilize it. The Windows guest agent is a small agent that acts very similarly to the vCAC proxy agents. When it is installed you give it the name or IP address of the vCAC server. This allows it to check in with the server when it loads on a newly provisioned machine and determine if there is anything it needs to do. If the vCAC server has work for it to do it send the instructions and the agent executes the instructions on the local guest operating system. Once the guest agent is finished performing the work assigned the last process it executes is to remove itself from the guest. The guest agent comes with a number of pre-built functions, but also allows you to execute your own scripts. Some of the features available with the Windows Guest Agent are:

Disk Operations – Partition, Format, and mount disk that is added to the machine.
Execute Scripts – Execute scripts after the machine is provisioned.
Network Operations – Configure setting for additional network interfaces added to the machine.
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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 5.1 – Creating Custom Drop Down Menu’s

To create a custom drop down menu that can be presented to users at request time we will be leveraging the Property Dictionary. The Property Dictionary gives us the ability to enhance and further customize the request experience. The Property Dictionary allows us to:

  • Create Basic Drop Down Menu’s
  • Create Context Sensative Drop Down Menu’s
  • Create Drop Down Lists
  • Create Checkboxes
  • Create Date/Time inputs
  • Create Noteboxes, TextBoxes, Integer inputs, links, password inputs and more.

Property Dictionary

In this example we are going to create a basic drop down menu that allows a user to select the folder their machine should be placed in inside vCenter from a list of available locations.
 
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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 5.1 – Using Custom Properties

In this example we are going to configure a few different types of custom properties. The properties we are going to configure are:

  • VMware.VirtualCenter.Folder – This property allows you to define the folder in vCenter that a virtual machine will be placed in. If the folder does no exists it will be created when a machine is crated to be placed in the folder.
  • Cost.Center – This is not a reserved custom property, it’s one we are going to make up to attach a cost center to the machine request.
  • Project.ID – This is not a reserved custom property, it’s one we are going to make up to attach a Project ID to the machine request. We are going to prompt the user to input this value as part of the request.
  • Plugin.ADMachine.Cleanup.X – There are actually a few properties associated with this. The AD Cleanup wizard is a set of properties that allows you to configure what action to take in AD when a machine is destroyed. In my example I’m going to remove the machine record, however you can also configure it to move the machine to a specific OU and not delete it’s record.

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ESX is Going Away – How to Migrate to ESXi

If you didn’t know it yet, VMware announced a while back that future releases of VMware will not include the “traditional” ESX Server. From their site:“VMware vSphere 4.1 and its subsequent update and patch releases are the last releases to include both ESX and ESXi hypervisor architectures. Future major releases of VMware vSphere will include only the ESXi architecture.”

If you are in a “24/7/365” shop then the applications running in your private cloud should currently be in virtual data centers (vDC) that are contained in DRS/HA clusters and the migration can be completed with no downtime to the applications. However, there are still other systems, such as development and test systems or possibly some minor infrastructure services applications that may not benefit from vSphere’s availability features. I know many people have scheduled outages, shutdowns, etc. during the upcoming holidays. It may the best time to migrate to ESXi.

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ESX vs ESXi which is better(Revisited vSphere 4.0)

Back in April I wrote a blog aimed and the differences between ESX and ESXi. The original post was written for ESX 3.5 and with the introduction of vSphere I think it’s about time i have revisited this topic and looked at the pros and cons of ESX4 and ESX4i. Now before we dig into the technical details there is one big thing you should all be aware of. The FAQ page published by VMware states “VMware ESXi is the recommended platform for both new and existing customers. Future hypervisor releases will solely be based on this architecture.

For most that should be enough said. After reading that I would seriously start rolling out ESXi in a lab and start figuring out how I could maintain my needs without the service console most of us have become to know and love. I would also start brushing up on the RCLI as well as the PowerCLI if you are currently dependent on scripts that run in the service console. The good news is almost everything you do today in the service console can be achieved one way or another with ESXi as well. OK with that said lets talk about some of the other limitations.

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VMware SDK and Visual Studio 2008

I went to install the VMware SDK for vSphere 4.0 on to my desktop running Windows 7 64-bit, Visual Studio 2008, and .Net 3.5 SP1 and discovered the SDK setup is not friendly with these versions.  According to VMware you need Visual Studio 2005 and .Net 2.0 if you want to run the SDK.

So like most of you reading this I turned to my trusted adviser…google to find the answer I was looking for.  Much to my disappointment after 5 minutes of searching around I didn’t find any instant gratification for my problem so I decided to just go ahead and figure it out on my own.

It turned out to be a relatively easy task once I discovered what was causing my issues.  There are two windows cmd scripts that need to be edited to point to the proper locations of your installations.  I have included the modified cmd files in our downloads section for those of you that would like them.  These files are built to support my specific configuration but they are very easily edited to support your configuration.

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