Easier vCenter Server Updates with Update Planner
Updating and patching systems can potentially include many steps. When planning to update we must consider the many moving parts of the environment to be sure of interoperability as well as compatibility between products in the datacenter. In previous versions of vSphere, discovering the interoperability of VMware products within an environment included manual steps.
Steps may have included:
- Discovering that a new version is available (via Blogs, email, VMware TAM or account teams, etc.)
- Understanding the interoperability of a new solution version (via VMware Product Interoperability Matrix / Interoperability)
- Learning about the supported Upgrade Path of the new version (via VMware Product Interoperability Matrix / Upgrade Path)
- Comparing VMware products in the datacenter for compatibility with each other before upgrading
In vSphere 7, this task list has been consolidated into a workflow that brings it all into the vSphere Client, introducing vCenter Server Update Planner. Update Planner is used to facilitate vCenter Server updates. Update Planner handles updates and upgrades all within the same interface, further simplifying vCenter Server lifecycle.
When a new feature becomes available there can be a sense of curiosity, or how will this help me, or what should I be aware of before using that feature. To help with those unknowns, let’s discuss a few prerequisites to consider when using Update Planner.
- Update Planner is intended for upgrading from vSphere 7 to a higher version or update (example: Update 1)
- Update Planner does not assist moving from older vSphere versions to vSphere 7, as the feature is specific to vSphere 7
- You must join the VMware Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) to use Update Planner.
- vCenter Server must have access to the internet to participate in CEIP either directly or via proxy
- Update Planner (along with; Skyline Health for vSphere, vSAN Performance Analytics, vSAN Support Insight, Host Hardware Compatibility, etc.) uses this path to query VMware Product Interoperability Matrices online and report findings via the vSphere Client
- Learn more about CEIP in the vSphere Client. Join or Leave the CEIP program easily from the same interface (see below)
Why should customers care about using Update Planner? Update Planner enables the ability to manage vCenter Server updates and upgrades as well as create interoperability reports for compatibility requirements. These reports will help plan vCenter Server updates and upgrades within your vSphere environments. Planning for an update is also simplified. One of the most important steps when planning an upgrade is to check and verify compatibility by visiting the
Update Planner automates the following steps of planning an update:
- Discover the current vSphere version and details
- Verify compatibility against the target vCenter Server version
- Verify interoperability of the target version with other products
- Recommend, Create, and Test vCenter Server update plans
When logged into the vSphere Client, from the vCenter Server Summary page, an Administrator can quickly see when new updates become available. If either of those alerts is clicked (View Updates or Updates Available), the vCenter Server Update Planner is launched. The available update is displayed in Update Planner along with some valuable info about the update; Release Date, Version, Build, Type, Severity, Reboot Required, and Release Notes. Now it is even easier to find the Release Notes for the software version as a link is provided in the results.
Administrators can quickly run Pre-Update Checks to ensure the system meets the minimum requirements to upgrade.
In this example lab environment above I do not have any additional VMware products installed yet so my Interoperability report is blank. If more products were part of my environment, it may look like this sample data below.
Modify Product List
This data can also be exported as a CSV file for reporting purposes. Products that are not detected, can be added manually by clicking the Modify Product List button.
Having these new features and information readily available at the vSphere administrator’s fingertips while using the vSphere Client is critical. Overlooking a product in the datacenter or omitting a step in the upgrade process can cause unwanted or unexpected results. Allowing Update Planner to perform interoperability and pre-checks, avoids any missed steps by bringing it all into one view.
As a recap, Update Planner increases the accuracy of planning for a vCenter Server upgrade by querying online interoperability matrices to report which products within your vSphere environment meet the minimum software and hardware requirements for a successful upgrade of vCenter Server. The guess-work is removed for customers, and the (time) efficiency is greatly improved to make sure vCenter Server updates are correctly done with the least amount of impact on the vSphere infrastructure.