VMware Product Updates – April 2013

VMware UpdatesVMware has released updates to several products over the past couple weeks.  Many of the updates take the version 5.1 products announced at VMworld 2012 to Update 1 (i.e. the first major service pack).  The updates, spanning vSphere (ESXi and vCenter), vCloud Director, vCenter Operations, vCenter Orchestrator, vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM), vSphere Data Protection, and the vSphere Storage Appliance, include bug fixes, security fixes, and functionality changes.  Here’s what you need to know about the updates, including a few upgrade bugs that you need to know about before you pull the upgrade trigger.

ESXi 5.1 Update 1

VMware vSphere ESXi 5.1 Update 1 contains some functionality changes, a bunch of bug fixes, and some administrative changes.

First, ESXi support for several guest operating systems will be deprecated after this release.  Those guest OSs include:

  • Windows NT
  • All 16-bit Windows and DOS releases (Windows 98, Windows 95, Windows 3.1)
  • Debian 4.0 and 5.0
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 2.1
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise 8
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise 9 prior to SP4
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 prior to SP3
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 Prior to SP1
  • Ubuntu releases 8.04, 8.10, 9.04, 9.10 and 10.10
  • All releases of Novell Netware
  • All releases of IBM OS/2
  • Guest customization of Windows 2000 will also be deprecated in releases after Update 1, but running Windows 2000 guests will still be supported for a bit longer.

In ESXi 5.1 U1, support for certain host server CPU models will be eliminated with the requirement of SAHF and LAHF support on the CPU.  While most processors produced after 2006 will support these instruction sets, it is possible that your test/dev or home labs could not run ESXi.  For more on LAHF/SAHF, read here: http://vsphere-land.com/news/what-is-sahf-and-lahf-and-why-do-i-need-it-to-install-vsphere-51.html.

Fixes and resolved issues in ESXi 5.1 U1 include improved SNMP trap handling, better support for Mac OS X VMs running hardware version 9, purple screen and guest blue screen fixes, a unicast flooding condition with long running vMotion operations, improved Host Profiles functionality, and improved ESXi Upgrades.

Added functionality in Update 1 includes Component-based logging to enhance log detail for simplified troubleshooting, and an increased VMFS Heap size to allow ESXi hosts to address more than 60TB of open files on VMFS5 (more on that in this post: http://vmtoday.com/2013/04/is-spanning-vmdks-using-windows-dynamic-disks-a-good-idea/).

You can find the release notes for ESXi 5.1 Update 1 here: http://www.vmware.com/support/vsphere5/doc/vsphere-esxi-51u1-release-notes.html

vCenter 5.1 Update 1

vCenter Server 5.1 Update 1 supports installation on Windows Server 2012 with SQL Server 2012 and 2008 R2.

Guest customization of Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Ubuntu 12.04, and RHEL 5.9 are no also supported.

This release (release notes here: https://www.vmware.com/support/vsphere5/doc/vsphere-vcenter-server-51u1-release-notes.html) has a ton of bug fixes for everything from a minor VMs display a red warning icon in the VM inventory list when there is no alarm triggered, to more substantial issues like vCenter and SSO services failing to start.

There is a known issue with this release that causes account lockouts when a vCenter SSO enabled user who is in many domain groups attempts to log in.  If you might be in this situation, hold off on the upgrade until VMware releases a fix.  More on the issue here: http://blogs.vmware.com/kb/2013/04/alert-login-issue-after-updating-to-vcenter-5-1-update-1.html

If you are planning to upgrade to vSphere (ESXi and vCenter) 5.1 Update1, VMware has published a knowledgebase article at http://kb.vmware.com/kb/2037630 that covers the complete upgrade sequence and product compatibility.  Not all solutions are compatible with the new 5.1 Update 1 release.  VMware View 5.1.x, for example, is not compatible with vSphere 5.1 Update 1.  If you run Horizon View and want to go to vSphere 5.1 Update 1, you’ll have to first update View to v5.2  You should also review the VMware Compatibility Matrix at http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php and the Product Interoperability Matrix at http://partnerweb.vmware.com/comp_guide2/sim/interop_matrix.php to verify that your hardware and VMware software elements are compatible with this release.  If you run into problems or have questions, drop us a comment and we’ll be happy to help!

vCloud Director 5.1.2

vCloud Director was rev’d to version 5.1.2.  Among the functional changes in vCloud Director 5.1.2 are:

  • Support for Microsoft SQL Server 2012 databases
  • Support for guest customization of Microsoft Windows Server 2012
  • vCloud Director can now be installed on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.3
  • Enhancements to the role based permissions to allow administrators to grant vCloud users rights for working with vApp snapshots (creating, reverting and removing).
  • Changes to resource allocation models for Organization Virtual Datacenters to control how elastic Allocation Policies function.  See this post for more information on this topic: http://fojta.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/allocation-pool-organization-vdc-changes-in-vcloud-director-5-1-2/.

Bug fixes in 5.1.2 include database error fixes, networking fixes, and virtual machine/vApp.  Full release notes for vCloud Director 5.1.2 can be found here: https://www.vmware.com/support/vcd/doc/rel_notes_vcloud_director_512.html.

VMware vSphere Storage Appliance 5.1.3

VMware vSphere Storage Appliance 5.1.3 provides a distributed shared storage solution that abstracts the computing and internal hard disk resources of two or three ESXi hosts to form a VSA cluster. The VSA cluster enables vSphere High Availability and vSphere vMotion.

If you are running VSA and upgrade to vCenter 5.1 Update 1, you must upgrade your VSA to 5.1.3 due to know compatibility issues.  Beyond making VSA compatible with vSphere 5.1 U1, VSA 5.1.3 adds functionality that improves performance and scalability of the solution.

Notable improvements include the ability to add storage capacity of an existing VSA cluster, the ability to manage multiple VSA clusters from a single vCenter, and the ability to install VSA on hosts that already have VMs running on their local storage.

Release notes for vSphere Storage Appliance 5.1.3 can be found here: https://www.vmware.com/support/vsa/doc/vsphere-storage-appliance-513-release-notes.html

vSphere Data Protection (VDP) Version 5.1.10

vSphere Data Protection is VMware’s built-in full VM backup solution, based on EMC Avamar technology.  This release includes a bunch of usability improvements, with additional options presented for backup and restore operations, as well as additional options for VM configuration post-restore (connect the NIC, auto power on, etc.).

VDP 5.1.10 also includes a migration utility that automates the process of moving from the old vSphere Data Recovery (vDR) solution if you happen to be running that.

You can find the full release notes here: https://www.vmware.com/support/vdr/doc/vdp_5110_releasenotes.html

VMware vCenter Orchestrator 5.1 Update 1

vCenter Orchestrator is a automation tool that allows administrators to develop complex workflows for vSphere, as well as other systems.  Orchestrator is included with vCenter Server.  Orchestrator automates deployment and customization of VMs, as well as additional tasks like creating VMFS datastores, adding VMs to Active Directory, and updating third-party change management databases.  VCO is an incredibly powerful tool with hundreds of built-in workflows to get you started.

If you want to learn more about VCO, check out the documentation here: http://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/orchestrator_pubs.html

VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5.1.1 & vSphere Replication 5.1.1

SRM 5.1.1 and VR both received minor updates.  While no new functionality was introduced in these releases, both include a host of stability and performance improvements.  Among the fixes are:

  • SRM 5.1.1 also includes logic that allows upgrades from SRM 5.0.2 – there was previously no logic written into the code to support upgrades.
  • Recovery of a Windows Server 2012 Domain Controller protected by VR is fixed.

Release notes for SRM 5.1.1 are here: https://www.vmware.com/support/srm/srm-releasenotes-5-1-1.html

Release notes for VR 5.1.1 are here: https://www.vmware.com/support/vsphere5/doc/vsphere-replication-511-release-notes.html

VMware vCenter Operations 5.7

Jason Shiplett covered the release of vCenter Operations (vCOps) 5.7 in an earlier blog post here: http://blog.shiplett.org/vcenter-operations-manager-5-7-whats-new-and-how-to-upgrade/.  vCOps 5.7 includes new views, policies, and improved usability.  Read Jason’s post for more information on vCenter Operations 5.6.

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