Upgrade VMware’s vSphere Data Protection Appliance 6.0

Before upgrading the appliance, let’s first resolve the SSL certificate problem of vSphere Data Protection Appliance.

The modern internet browsers don’t like VMware’s vSphere Data Protection Appliance 6.0 SSL certificate. So VMware made available a hotfix that removes the old SHA1 certificate of the VDPA tomcat service and installs a new SHA2 certificate.

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2111900

It’s a pretty straightforward guide that resolves the connectivity problem of chrome or firefox browsers to VDPA.

So, download the compressed 2111900_VDPHotfix.SHA2.sh script, sftp it to the tmp folder of the appliance as admin user, ssh login as admin, su – root, goto tmp folder and chmod a+x the script file. Finally execute it and it will replace the certificate. Now you may connect to vdp-configure using your latest chrome browser.

Before upgrading the appliance you must take a snapshot of VDPA virtual machine. If you don’t, the upgrade cannot be completed. At this point you cannot take a snapshot since the three backup disks of the appliance are configured as independent disks. So, shutdown the appliance via vSphere client, edit the appliance settings and uncheck the “independent” disk mode of each backup disk. Finally take a snapshot of the vm. Leave the disk mode unchecked and power on the appliance.

To upgrade vSphere Data Protection Appliance, download the latest upgrade iso file from my.vmware portal and sftp it to a datastore accessible from VDPA. Using your vSphere Client, mount the iso to the appliance. Open your browser and login to the vdp-configure page of VDPA. Click on Upgrade tab and wait until the appliance checks the iso image.

When the check is completed, click on the Upgrade button and wait until the job is completed.

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During the upgrade the web connectivity is lost.

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At the end the appliance shuts down. It’s time to delete the vm snapshot and reconfigure back the three backup disks to independent/persistent mode. Power on VDPA and the console display shows:

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Connect to vdp-configure and check the services status. Run a backup job to make sure that everything works fine.

Post comments:

  • If you upgrade to version 6.1.1, do not forget to install first VDP61_Iso_Hotfix.tar.gz otherwise the iso image will not be detected. More info at the Release Notes.
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Avoiding the hidden pitfalls of VMware’s vCenter server appliance 6.0 upgrade

VMware’s vCenter appliance is missing parts, one of these is the easy upgrade method. I would prefer to mount the upgrade iso on to the vCSA and click a button that does the job. Instead of this, get ready to read the various walkthroughs of upgrading the vCSA and remember the old days of typing shell commands on linux. It’s not that bad but hey it’s 2015, user friendliness and user interface design are one of the main criteria of selecting products. VMware steps backward!

Ok, let’s start. First of all, check the console display of vCSA, it should be like this:

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Open a browser, goto VMware’s Patch Download Center and download (in our case) the VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance-6.0.0.5110-2656759-patch-FP.iso file. Now sftp this file to a datastore accessible from vCSA, probably the same datastore that the appliance resides. If you mount the iso patch file to the appliance from vSphere client the job will abort since during the installation the vSphere client disconnects from vCenter. So mount the iso file from an accessible datastore.

Get putty ready and ssh to vCenter Server Appliance. Login as root to install the patch.

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Logging in as root, it doesn’t give me the same shell environment as logging in as an administrator but it returns the linux bash environment. At this point, if you execute software-package command it will return an error since this is not a bash shell command. You must execute appliancesh command to get into the vCSA shell environment.

By typing software-package command with a help flag you can get the various option of the command

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we are interested on the iso flag. So execute software-packages install --iso command to start the patch installation

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during the patch installation, both vSphere desktop and web clients will be disconnected.

During the installation, be careful with the EULA screens because you may press enter by accident when it asks you if you accept the terms and conditions. If you do so, the patch will be staged but not installed. Execute the command software-packages install --staged to install the patch.

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When the installation finish, reboot vCSA appliance by issuing the command shutdown -r <remark> for example shutdown reboot -r patch_vca_upgrade6.0.0.b

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Now the console screen displays the new vCSA version.

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Finally disconnect the iso image from cd drive.

Good luck!

Clone a VMware’s VM without vCenter in ESXi 5.x by commands (the official way)

Almost a year ago, I wrote an article about cloning VMWare VMs via vSphere client GUI and actually this is one of the most viewed posts in my blog. This method had the disadvantage of keeping the vm filenames the same. Let’s see an official way of cloning VMWare vms using vmkfstools command. Of course this method works with the free edition of ESXi 5.5 as well. I will show the procedure by cloning a snapshot of a vm since this is a little more tricky than cloning just a single vm.

First let’s make a snapshot of my Xp3 vm. Right click the vm and make a snapshot, let’s call it “mySnapshot”. Of course you don’t need to do this if you just want to clone a single vm. After that, shutdown the vm otherwise the files will be locked.

vm snapshot

vm snapshot

Now enable the ssh service on your ESXi by going to the configuration tab and the security policy option. Just start it for the moment, you don’t need to set it to start automatically. Use a ssh client like putty and connect to the hypervisor. Browse the folder under /vmfs/volumes path. It should look like this

datastores

datastores

so type

cd /vmfs/volumes
ls -la

in my case I have two datastores and my Xp3 vm is in datastore2, so let’s get into it.

Xp3 vm and snapshot

Xp3 vm and snapshot

cd datastore2
ls -la

As you can see now, there are more than one vmdk disk files, the flat vmdk, the delta vmdk and the vmdk descriptor file (the Xp3-000001.vmdk file in our example), along with the memory snapshot and various control and log files. What we should use here as a source file is the descriptor file that points to our snapshot. If you didn’t have a snapshot, the source file would be the vmdk descriptor file of your vm, Xp3.vmdk.

Now, what I need to do is clone my Xp3 snapshot to a new Xp4 vm. First create the destination folder in datastore2 folder and type in the following commands

mkdir Xp4

and clone the disk file

vmkfstools -i /vmfs/volumes/datastore2/Xp3/Xp3-000001.vmdk /vmfs/volumes/datastore2/Xp4/Xp4.vmdk -d thin

if it was a single vm without a snapshot, you should run

vmkfstools -i /vmfs/volumes/datastore2/Xp3/Xp3.vmdk /vmfs/volumes/datastore2/Xp4/Xp4.vmdk -d thin

if you list the files in the destination folder you will see the new flat file and the descriptor file.

cloned disk files

cloned disk files

The actual syntax of vmkfstools command is

vmkfstools -i source_path destination_path -d disk_format -a adapter_type

type man vmkfstools for more on this command

Finally create a new vm and force the use of an existing disk file.

create new vm

create new vm

use existing virtual disk

use existing virtual disk

select the cloned vmdk

select the cloned vmdk

You are ready to power it on.

power on

power on

if you list the folder of the cloned vm you will see something like that

cloned vm files

cloned vm files

Don’t forget to use sysprep command in windows to generalize your new virtual machine. More on this at the end of my previous article.

Reference: VMWare’s website article

Installing VMware vCenter Appliance on vSphere

VMware‘s vCenter server provides a centralized platform for managing your virtual infrastructure. The vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) is a preconfigured Linux-based virtual machine that is optimized for running vCenter Server and associated services. Note that this version does not support Microsoft SQL server and IBM DB2. vCSA has some limitations, so it is not prefered in production environments. There is an interesting article summarizing these VMware vCenter Server Appliance 5.1 (vCSA) Limitations.

Goto myVMware Downloads page and press the button “View Download” at VMware vCenter Server record.

myVMware downloads page

myVMware downloads page

Then press the “Download Manager” button at the VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance line with File type OVA. An OVA (open virtual appliance or application) is merely a single file distribution of the OVF and VMDK files stored in the TAR format.

An OVF refers to the Open Virtualization Format, which is a “packaging standard designed to address the portability and deployment of virtualization appliances”. The OVF file is a descriptor file of the packaging and VMDK files are containers for virtual hard disk drives of the appliance. For example, our OVA file includes the following files:

The ova file

The ova file

You can see the manifest file and the certificate files as well.

Appliance Download

Appliance Download

And download the appliance file. Then open the vCenter client and connect to your hypervisor. Select “Deploy OVF Template” from the main menu, to start the import wizard. Browse the downloaded ova file and press Next.

Source File

Source File

OVF Template Details

OVF Template Details

Enter the name for the Appliance, for example “vCenter Appliance”.

Name and Location

Name and Location

Select  Thick Provision Eager Zeroed disk format since this is the fastest way to write to a virtual disk (without zeroing blocks first or extending the disk file). I copy the policies from VMware’s website:

Thick Provision Lazy Zeroed

Creates a virtual disk in a default thick format. Space required for the virtual disk is allocated when the virtual disk is created. Data remaining on the physical device is not erased during creation, but is zeroed out on demand at a later time on first write from the virtual machine.

Using the default flat virtual disk format does not zero out or eliminate the possibility of recovering deleted files or restoring old data that might be present on this allocated space. You cannot convert a flat disk to a thin disk.

Thick Provision Eager Zeroed

A type of thick virtual disk that supports clustering features such as Fault Tolerance. Space required for the virtual disk is allocated at creation time. In contrast to the flat format, the data remaining on the physical device is zeroed out when the virtual disk is created. It might take much longer to create disks in this format than to create other types of disks.

Thin Provision

Use this format to save storage space. For the thin disk, you provision as much datastore space as the disk would require based on the value that you enter for the disk size. However, the thin disk starts small and at first, uses only as much datastore space as the disk needs for its initial operations.

Disk Format

Disk Format

Select the Network Map.

Network Mapping

Network Mapping

Check the Power on after deployment checkbox and press Finish.

Ready to Complete

Ready to Complete

It will take some time to deploy the vCenter Appliance.

Deploying

Deploying

Deploying

Deploying

Finally the vCenter Appliance will appear on vSphere client. It will power on and get an ip from your DHCP server.

vCenter Appliance Console

vCenter Appliance Console

Open a browser and type in the url of the appliance at SSL port 5480. for example https://10.1.1.10:5480

vCenter Appliance Administrative Console

vCenter Appliance Administrative Console

The default login credentials are username root and password vmware.

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Finally configure the appliance pressing the setup wizard button!