This is a multi-part blog series on some of the frequently asked questions and scenarios for the vSphere+, vSAN+ and VCF+ Cloud Services. What started out as a single blog post that attempted to summarize some of the learnings and notes that I have made while answering various questions from our field and customers for vSphere+, vSAN+ and VCF+ quickly turned into a 3K+ word blog post and counting! 😅
While I thought it would be easier from a search perspective to have everything in a single blog post, I decided to take the advice from the community and actually break it up into small blogs which would be part of a large multi-part blog series, in no particular order but I recommend reading it in the following logical order as shown below:
- Frequently asked scenarios about vCenter Cloud Gateway (VCGW) for vSphere+, vSAN+ and VCF+
- Frequently asked scenarios about vCenter Lifecycle Management for vSphere+, vSAN+ and VCF+ (THIS BLOG POST)
- Frequently asked scenarios about vCenter Desired State Configuration for vSphere+, vSAN+ and VCF+
- Frequently asked scenarios about VM Provisioning & Management for vSphere+, vSAN+ and VCF+
- Frequently asked scenarios about Cloud Consumption Interface (CCI) for vSphere+, vSAN+ and VCF+
- Frequently asked scenarios about Global Inventory for vSphere+, vSAN+ and VCF+
- Frequently asked scenarios about Subscription & Entitlement for vSphere+, vSAN+ and VCF+
vCenter Lifecycle Management
Simplified lifecycle management for your vCenter Server(s) is one of the core capabilities of the vSphere+ service that you will have access to once your vCenter Server has been converted from perpetual to subscription, which is an operation that is performed in the VMC Console after registering your vCenter Server(s) to the VCGW. This is important for anyone interested in evaluating vSphere+ using the 15day free trial as the vCenter LCM capability will NOT be available for use.
vSphere+ uses the new Reduced Downtime Upgrade (RDU) feature for vCenter Server Lifecycle Management (LCM) which is currently only available to vSphere+ and VMware Cloud on AWS (VMC-A) customers. It works simliar to the existing migration-based upgrade approach for the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA), with the exception that the downtime required for the switchover to the new VCSA appliance has been significantly reduced.
It is also important to note that for VCF+ customers, there is currently no vCenter LCM capabilities. You will continue to use SDDC Manager to lifecycle the vCenter Server both in the Management and Workload Domains.
Self-Managed vs Management Cluster
As of today, a self-managed vCenter Server is required to use the vCenter Server LCM feature as access to the underlying ESXi hosts that is hosting the VCSA, which is a requirement for a migration-based upgrade of vCenter Server. While you can register a non-self managed vCenter Server, you will not be able to benefit from the vSphere+ vCenter LCM capability, so just something to be aware of. In speaking with the vSphere+ Engineering team, Management Cluster support is definitely on the roadmap.
When a vCenter Server upgrade is initiated by a user within the VMC Console, a new VCSA will be deployed and data from the existing VCSA will start transferring data to new VCSA while the current vCenter Server is still running. Once the data has been copied over to the new VCSA, the switch over occurs and the new VCSA is now up and running. If any issue arises during the upgrade, automatic rollback is performed without any user intervention because we still have the original VCSA in a powered off state, this is the exact same approach that users would take if they were to upgrading their vCenter Server.
VMware will preserve the powered off VCSA until the next vCenter Server upgrade, in which it will then delete original VCSA to free up resources for the next upgrade. Users can manually delete the VCSA if they so chose to free up resources, it will not affect the already upgraded VCSA. Users can also manually rollback by simply powering off the new VCSA and powering back on the original VCSA, the VCGW will automatically pickup the changes and continue to function with the previous version of VCSA without any issues.
When you enable vCenter Server LCM in vSphere+, there are two configuration changes that are applied to the vSphere Cluster which is hosting the VCSA. First, a resource pool is created along with a full reservation to ensure that there is sufficient capacity (2x) for deploying the additional VCSA during upgrade. Second, if the vSphere Cluster that is hosting the VCSA has not been configured with DRS in automatic mode, it will go ahead and automatically enable that configuration.
Here are some additional resources related to vCenter LCM that might be of interests: