This week sees the end of general support for VMware vSphere 5.5, if you haven’t upgraded already, now is the time to start your vSphere 5.5 upgrade
19th September 2018 will be the end of general support for VMWare vSphere 5.5, this also includes vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.5, vCenter Server 5.5 and vSAN 5.5. In order for customers to preserve their full level of support and subscription services, VMware recommends that any customers using vSphere 5.5 upgrade to a newer version, between vSphere 6.5 and 6.7 as soon as possible.
To encourage customers to upgrade, VMware has now extended the general support for vSphere 6.5 to a full five years from its date of release, which means the general support for vSphere 6.5 will end November 15, 2021. The End of General support for vSphere 6.7 will also be on November 15, 2021.
For those customers that are not in a position to upgrade and are active on Support and Subscription, they will have the option to purchase VMware Extended Support at a premium price. VMware Extended Support is intended to provide security and Severity 1 fixes for customers legacy environments whilst they are migrating to a newer fully supported version however.
Technical Guidance for vSphere 5.5 will be available until September 19, 2020 through the VMware self-help portal, however VMware will not offer new hardware support, server/client/guest OS updates, or any new security patches or bug fixes during this time. To ensure your virtual infrastructure is fully supported it is recommended that any customers that are still using vSphere 5.5 upgrade now.
VMware Upgrade Path Compatibility
It is worth noting that vSphere 5.5 does not have a direct upgrade path to vSphere 6.7. Customers looking to complete a vSphere 5.5 upgrade must first upgrade to vSphere 6.0 or 6.5 and then upgrade to vSphere 6.7 (upgrade not supported vSphere 6.7.0 released before vSphere 6.5 U2). If you have a mixed environment with vCenter Server running 6.0 or 6.5 managing ESXi hosts 5.5, you have to upgrade the hosts to at least version 6.0 before upgrading the vCenter Server.
Verify support for the upgrade path from your current version of vSphere or vCentre Server to your planned upgrade version by using the VMware upgrade path compatibility matrix.
VMware vSphere 5.5 upgrade to 6.5
By upgrading to vSphere 6.5 you will continue to benefit from VMware full support and subscription services until November 2021. VMware vSphere 6.5 provides a powerful, flexible, and secure foundation for business agility that accelerates the digital transformation to cloud computing and promotes success in the digital economy. With vSphere 6.5, customers can now run, manage, connect, and secure their applications in a common operating environment, across clouds and devices.
Top 10 features of vSphere 6.5
- Reduce IT Operational Complexity with vCenter Server Appliance: The re-imagined VMware vCenter Server Appliance™ provides up to 2–3x greater performance and scale, native vCenter High Availability, file-based backup and recovery, and integrated vSphere host management and patching.
- Mitigate Risk with VM-Level Encryption: Policy-driven vSphere encryption safeguards data—both at rest and in motion—at scale across the enterprise data centre.
- Drive IT Automation and Business Agility with APIs: Simple, REST-based APIs makes it easy to automate operations for a more agile, modern data centre.
- Secure the Data Center Infrastructure with Secure Boot: Protect both the hypervisor and the guest operating system from tampering by validating code with a digital signature, ensuring that only trusted OS software will run.
- Gain Forensic Insights with Audit-Quality Logging: Gather insights about user actions so that IT teams can better understand who did what, when, and where in the event of a security threat or anomaly.
- Maximise Data Centre Resources with Predictive Load Balancing: Predictive DRS leverages system usage patterns and analytics to help maximise IT resources and minimise CapEx.
- Modernise the Data Centre with vSphere Integrated Containers: Run enterprise containers side by side with virtual machines in an existing vSphere environment with no tooling or process changes.
- Prevent Downtime with Proactive High Availability: Proactive HA anticipates hardware failures before they occur and preemptively migrates workloads before problems happen.
- Streamline Management with a Modern HTML5-Based User Interface: Administer and manage the virtual data center with the responsive, easy-to-use new HTML5-based vSphere client interface.
- Improve IT Compliance with Host Profile Management Streamlined and scalable host profile management enables better compliance with the policies and procedures put in place by IT.
Some of our favourite vSphere 6.5 features
- A migration tool for moving to vSphere 6.5 from vSphere 5.5 or 6.0.
- VMware Update Manager (VUM) is now integrated into the vCenter Server appliance. This means no more plug-ins to add or external VUM services to restart.
- A new vCenter Server high-availability feature uses cloned vCenter instances to maximise uptime for the appliance and its services. As a virtualisation admin, this feature is a personal favourite since a single vCenter instance has always been a vulnerable single point of failure.
- Built-in backup and restore for streaming critical files to a specific destination for safe keeping and future recoveries.
- The vSphere web client gets several cosmetic changes based on customer feedback, including a reorganised and easier to navigate home screen, renamed and removed tabs, and default views.
- vSphere VM and vMotion Encryption, with vSphere 6.5, VMware approaches VM encryption by securing at the hypervisor level with the kernel doing most of the work. This keeps the VM from having to run its own encryption processes. It also allows the admin to set policies that work across multiple VMs, rather than isolated instances. VSphere 6.5 addresses recent encryption standards used in modern processors from Intel and AMD. For example, AES-NI (NI for new instructions) is now a supported standard that helps vSphere take advantage of today’s processors’ hardware-encrypted capabilities. VMware adds vMotion encryption to vSphere 6.5, which doesn’t require encryption at the network level. Instead, designated VMs get a randomly generated certificate from vCenter, which is packaged up and forwarded to the participating vMotioning hosts for the VM’s transfer, protecting the data-in-motion.
- The clunky old VMware vSphere Client front-end used to access the vCenter Server got an HTML5 makeover making it much more responsive.
VMware vSphere 5.5 to 6.5 upgrade steps
vSphere is a sophisticated product with multiple components to upgrade. Understanding the required upgrade steps and the sequence of tasks is vital for a successful vSphere upgrade. When upgrading to vSphere 6.5, it is important to understand changes in component behaviour for version 6.5 that can affect the upgrade process. Understanding changes from previous versions of vSphere can assist in your upgrade planning. For a complete list of new features in vSphere 6.5, see the Release Notes.
To complete your vSphere 5.5 upgrade you should include the following tasks:
- Read the vSphere 6.5 Release Notes.
- Back up your configuration.
- If your vSphere system includes VMware solutions or plug-ins, verify that they are compatible with the vCenter Server or vCenter Server Appliance version to which you are upgrading. See VMware Product Interoperability Matrix
- Upgrade vCenter Server.
- If you are using vSphere Update Manager, upgrade it. Refer to the VMware vSphere Update Manager documentation.
- Upgrade your ESXi hosts.
- To ensure sufficient disk storage for log files consider setting up a syslog server for remote logging. Setting up logging on a remote host is especially important for hosts with limited local storage.
- Upgrade your VMs and virtual appliances, manually or by using vSphere Update Manager, to perform an orchestrated upgrade. When you upgrade vSphere, you must perform all procedures in sequence to avoid possible data loss and to minimise downtime. You can perform the upgrade process for each component in only one direction. For example, after you upgrade to vCenter Server 6.5, you cannot revert to vCenter Server version 5.5 or version 6.0. With backups and some planning, however, you can restore your original software records.
Below is a link to an eBook resource to help guide you with all stages of the vSphere 6.5 upgrade process. If you require assistance with your vSphere 5.5 upgrade to 6.5, Krome’s accredited and experienced VMware consultants can support you with the initial planning, the upgrade, validation guidance and rollback procedures, please contact us on 01932 232345.
Which vSphere edition is right for you? VMware vSphere 5.5 upgrade to 6.7.
But what about the latest version vSphere 6.7? VMware has been pushing users of vSphere 5.5 to upgrade their environments to 6.5 for some time, yet now we also have the recent release of vSphere 6.7 to add to the confusion. So, if you’re still on 5.5, should you be embarking on a vSphere 5.5 upgrade to 6.5, or should you be upgrading to the latest version vSphere 6.7?
What’s the difference between vSphere 6.5 and 6.7?
vSphere 6.7 does deliver an overall improved user experience and delivers some major performance improvements. Whilst most vSphere users will appreciate the updates and new features that their 6.5 version offers, the extras in 6.7, specifically the hybrid cloud features will appeal to those with mixed on-premises and cloud environments.
With the release of vSphere 6.7 we see the introduction of vCenter Server Hybrid Linked Mode, which enables users to have unified visibility and manageability across an on-premises vSphere environment, running on one version and a public cloud environment based on the vSphere platform, such as VMware Cloud on AWS, running on a different vSphere version. This ensures that the fast pace of innovation and the introduction of new capabilities in public clouds based on the vSphere platform do not force the customer to constantly update and upgrade their on-premises vSphere environment. vSphere 6.7 also introduces cross-cloud hot and cold migration, which further enhances the ease of management across on-premises and cloud infrastructure, offering a seamless and non-disruptive hybrid cloud experience for enterprises.
vSphere 6.7 introduces several new APIs that improve the efficiency and experience of deploying multiple vCenter Server Appliance instances based on a template. These new APIs also make management considerably easier while facilitating a more complete backup and- restore solution.
vSphere 6.7 also simplifies the VMware vCenter Server topology through vCenter Server systems with an embedded Platform Services Controller instance in Enhanced Linked Mode. This enables administrators to link multiple vCenter Server instances and have seamless visibility across the environment without the need for an external Platform Services Controller instance or load balancers.
With vSphere 6.7, vCenter Server Appliance delivers major performance improvements (all metrics compared at cluster scale limits in contrast to vSphere 6.5):
- 2X faster performance in vCenter Server operations per second
- 3X reduction in memory usage
- 3X faster operations relating to VMware vSphere Distributed Resource Scheduler (vSphere DRS)—for example, virtual machine (VM) power-on
These performance improvements ensure an incredibly fast experience for vSphere users. They deliver significant value as well as time and cost savings in a variety of use cases, such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), scale-out applications, big data, High Performance Computing (HPC), DevOps, distributed cloud-native applications, and so on.
There are some other handy new features too, like the ability to suspend workloads on virtualised Nvidia GRID GPUs, allowing users to deploy the cards for user-centric apps, such as VDI during the day and then switch them to analytics or other workloads overnight.
vSphere 6.7 also improves efficiency at scale when updating VMware ESXi™ hosts, significantly reducing maintenance time by eliminating one of two reboots normally required for major version upgrades. It now takes just one virtual CTRL-ALT-DEL to get up and running again.
The graphical user interface (GUI) itself is another key component that enables vSphere 6.7 to deliver a simplified and efficient experience. The HTML5-based vSphere Client offers a modern user interface (UI) connection that is both responsive and easy to use. It also now manages vSphere, VSAN and NSX.
Steps required for vSphere 5.5 upgrade to 6.7.
Unfortunately vSphere 5.5 does not have a direct upgrade path to vSphere 6.7, vSphere 6.7 supports upgrades and migrations only from vSphere 6.0 or 6.5. Customers looking to complete a vSphere 5.5 upgrade must first upgrade their environment to vSphere 6.0 or 6.5 and then complete an upgrade from vSphere 6.5 to 6.7. Also, a vCenter Server 6.0 or 6.5 instance managing ESXi 5.5 hosts cannot be upgraded or migrated until the hosts have been upgraded to ESXi 6.0 or later.
If you require assistance with your vSphere 5.5 upgrade to vSphere 6.7, Krome’s accredited VMware consultants can support you with the initial planning, the upgrade to 6.5, then to 6.7, validation guidance and rollback procedures.
To speak to someone about your vSphere 5.5 upgrade, or VMware environment please contact us on 01932 232345