New vCenter Server 6.7 – Lifecycle, Client & Tools

For the vCenter Server 6.7 Appliance, vSphere 6.7 adds plenty of new features in a variety of areas. The monitoring tools available to users have been upgraded. Many additional procedures have been added to the vSphere Client, bringing it closer to feature parity. The architecture of the vCenter Server Appliance is changing to a more straightforward deployment strategy.

In addition, the vCenter Server Appliance UI has been updated to Clarity, and the built-in file-based backup now incorporates a scheduler. More information on this and other vCenter Server Appliance 6.7 enhancements may be found in this area.

vCenter Server 6.7 Lifecycle

Install (vCenter Server 6.7)

A simplification of the architecture and a shift to executing all vCenter Server services on a single instance are two major changes in vCenter Server Appliance 6.7. This deployment architecture delivers the following benefits with the implementation of vCenter Server with embedded Platform Services Controller instance with Enhanced Linked Mode:

  • No load balancer is required for high availability; native vCenter Server high availability is fully supported.
  • Supports vSphere scale maximums
  • Provides flexibility of placement in the vSphere single sign-on (SSO) domain with site boundary removal
  • Reduces the number of nodes to administer and maintain in a vSphere SSO domain by allowing 15 installations

vSphere SSO Domain with Enhanced Linked Mode

Embedded Platform Services Controller Instances with Enhanced Linked Mode
Embedded Platform Services Controller Instances with Enhanced Linked Mode

*vCenter Server 6.7 Appliance Only*

Migrate (vCenter Server 6.7)

VSphere 6.7 is the last version that include the obsolete vCenter Server for Windows. Customers can use the built-in migration tool to migrate to vCenter Server Appliance. During a migration, vSphere 6.7 provides the following options for importing historical and performance data:

  • All data must be deployed and imported
  • Data must be deployed and imported in the background

When migrating, users are given an estimate of how long each choice will take. The estimated time will differ depending on the size of historical and performance data in the user’s environment. Users can opt to halt and continue data imports in the background. The vSphere appliance management interface now has this new feature (VAMI). Another enhancement to the migration process is the support for custom ports. Users whose default Windows vCenter Server ports have been modified are no longer prohibited.

Background Data Migration
Background Data Migration

Upgrade (vCenter Server 6.7)

Upgrades and migrations from vSphere 6.0 or 6.5 are supported in vSphere 6.7. From vSphere 5.5 to vSphere 6.7, there is no direct upgrade path. Before upgrading to vSphere 6.7, customers who are already using vSphere 5.5 must upgrade to vSphere 6.0 or 6.5. In addition, a vCenter Server 6.0 or 6.5 instance that manages ESXi 5.5 hosts cannot be updated or transferred until the hosts are upgraded to ESXi 6.0 or later.

NOTE: vSphere 5.5’s general support will terminate on September 19, 2018.

Monitoring and Management (vCenter Server 6.7)

The monitoring for the vCenter Server Appliance has received a significant amount of effort. These features started with vSphere 6.5, and vSphere 6.7 adds a few more. To proceed, connect to the VAMI on port 5480.

The VAMI has been upgraded to the Clarity UI, which is the first thing to notice. In comparison to vSphere 6.5, there are several new tabs on the left-hand side. Monitoring now has its own tab, with views of CPU, memory, network, and database consumption. In vCenter Server 6.7, a new Disks area of the monitoring tab has been added. Users may now see each of a vCenter Server Appliance instance’s disk partitions, as well as their allotted space and utilization.

New Disk Utilization Screen
New Disk Utilization Screen

File-Based Backup launched in vSphere 6.5 under the Summary tab, but it now has its own tab. When you go to the Backup tab, the first available choice, front and center, is a scheduler. Users may now schedule vCenter Server Appliance instance backups and choose how many backups to keep. Another new area for File-Based Backup is Activities. The backup job is completed and full information is logged in the Activities area. When talking about backups, it’s impossible not to bring up the topic of restore.

A backup archive browser has been added to the restore workflow. The browser shows all backups without having to know the complete backup path.

vCenter Server Appliance Backup Scheduler
vCenter Server Appliance Backup Scheduler

Another new tab in the VAMI is Services. It was previously part of the VMware vSphere Web Client, but now it’s part of the VAMI for out-of-band troubleshooting. All of the services that make up the vCenter Server Appliance are viewable here, including starting type, health, and state. If necessary, services can be started, stopped, and restarted.

Despite the fact that the Syslog and Update tabs are not new to the VAMI, they have been improved. As many as three syslog forwarding targets are now supported by Syslog. Only one forwarding destination was supported in vSphere 6.5. Patching and updating can now be done with more freedom. Selecting which patch or update to apply can be done from the Update tab.

Users also have more information, such as the type, severity, and whether or not a reboot is required. When you expand a patch or update in the view, you’ll get more details about what’s included. Finally, we can use the VAMI to stage and apply a patch or update. Previously, this capability could only be accessed via the command-line interface (CLI).

vSphere Client (vCenter Server 6.7)

The HTML5-based vSphere Client has also received a lot of attention. VMware announced a supported version of the vSphere Client with vSphere 6.5. It was only partially functional when it was included in the vCenter Server Appliance. The vSphere team has worked tirelessly to bring the vSphere Client closer to feature parity with the vSphere Server. The team has been streamlining and upgrading workflows based on consumer input. The Flash-based vSphere Web Client is likewise being phased out with vSphere 6.7. Among the newer workflows in the latest vSphere Client release are the following:

  • VSphere Update Manager
  • Content library
  • vSAN
  • Storage policies
  • Host profiles
  • VMware vSphere Distributed Switch topology diagram
  • Licensing

Some of these workflows are missing features. In future vSphere maintenance—that is, patch and update—releases, we will continue to update the vSphere Client. Because the Platform Services Controller UI (/psc) functionality is now part of the vSphere Client, there is one fewer client. Platform Services Controller options are grouped into two tabs inside of the Administration menu: All other management is under the Configuration tab, except for certificate management, which has its own tab.

CLI Tools (vCenter Server 6.7)

There are also some new features in the vCenter Server Appliance 6.7 CLI. The first uses the cmsso-util repoint command. Although the ability to repoint an external vCenter Server Appliance instance between SSO sites inside a vSphere SSO domain is not a new feature, it was not included in vSphere 6.5 and is now available in vSphere 6.7.

Administrators can now merge their vCenter Server Appliance instances across multiple vSphere SSO domains. Only external vSphere 6.7 deployments can use the domain repoint feature. A built-in Pre-check option is included in the feature, and it is strongly advised that you use it. The pre-check checks the two vSphere SSO domains and creates a conflict JSON file with any discrepancies. This gives you the chance to correct any differences before using the domain repoint tool. Licenses, tags, categories, and permissions can be moved from one vSphere SSO domain to another using the repoint tool.

Move vCenter Server Instance to New SSO Domain via Domain-Repoint
Move vCenter Server Instance to New SSO Domain via Domain-Repoint

Another CLI addition is the ability to manage the vCenter Server Appliance lifecycle using the CLI installer. JSON template examples are included in the vCenter Server Appliance ISO. Installs, upgrades, and migrations can all benefit from these templates. Typically, users must run one JSON template at a time, in the correct order, through the CLI installer. This manual per-node deployment is no longer necessary with batch operations. Several JSON templates can now be performed in series without intervention from a single directory. Use the Pre-check option on the directory to test the templates, including the sequence, before execution.

Install, Upgrade, or Migrate Multiple vCenter Server Systems with Batch Operations
Install, Upgrade, or Migrate Multiple vCenter Server Systems with Batch Operations

Read Also Introduction of new VMware vSphere 6.7

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