VMware recently announced the end of support for ESXi v6.0 and vCenter 6.0 coming in March of 2020. Since many customers are still using v6.0 now and the end of life is less than one year away, now would be a good time to start preparing for a VMware ESXi 6.7 upgrade. In many cases, a hardware upgrade may be necessary since many servers certified for v6.0 are too old for v6.7. If you need help determining whether your server is supported, visit the VMware Compatibility Guide and search for v6.7 and your server. If you need assistance, just reach out and we’ll gladly assist.
End of Support is not the only reason to upgrade from v6.0 to v6.7. With v6.7 came many new features and enhancements worth mentioning. While we can’t review all of them in this post, we selected a few of the more popular new capabilities worth highlighting.
vCenter Server with embedded Platform Services Controller
Over the years VMware consolidated the distributed vCenter model of earlier versions to simplify deployment and maintenance of vCenter with v6.7 update 2, VMware has deprecated the external Platform Services Controller and combined all the functionality to a virtual appliance built to sit on the cluster. All of the features available are now in one virtual appliance easing management.
HTML5 vSphere Client
Announced in vSphere 6.7 Update 1, the web client now completely replaces older vSphere client. The web client now has all features including Auto Deploy, Host Profiles, Update Manager, and more. Moving to a browser-based client enables flexibility for systems administrators.
VM Encryption and vSphere Encrypted vMotion
With the use of an external key manager and the creation of an encryption policy, administrators gained the ability to encrypt virtual machines in vSphere v6.5. Upgrading to v6.7 introduces enhancements including encrypted vMotion across multiple vCenters. This feature is crucial for data center migrations or hybrid cloud solutions. Now a broader vSphere community can leverage VM encryption in a variety of architectures.
Virtual Trusted Platform Modules
Security is paramount on customers mind, and if customers would like not only TPM for their hosts, they can now through software create a Virtual Trusted Platform for their virtual machines. TPM is a hardware-based encryption solution from the motherboard BIOS of the server. With v6.7 administrators can now get the same encrypted functionality in a virtual machine.
Single Reboot Upgrade and vSphere Quick Boot
VMware ESXi v6.7 upgrade includes a significant improvement in Update Manager. In the past with v6.0 and earlier a version upgrade would require a reboot before the update is applied and another after the update. The two reboot process makes upgrades time consuming but with v6.7 Single Reboot Upgrade is introduced, and only one reboot is now required. A Single Reboot Upgrade can reduce the time needed by as much as 75% according to VMware.
vSphere Quick Boot is new for v6.7 and eliminates the need for a host reboot when a patch is applied. Unlike earlier versions where a patch would require a host reboot, with the v6.7 upgrade only an OS level reboot is required. Quick Boot reduces the interruption of service significantly by no longer involving a hardware reboot.
Hybrid Linked Mode
If you are considering a hybrid cloud solution and leveraging VMware on AWS, we recommend a VMware ESXi 6.7 upgrade first. With the introduction of v6.7, it is now possible to link your vCenter in AWS with your on-premise vCenter into a Single Sign-On domain. The feature is called Hybrid Linked Mode and enables inventorying both on-premise and cloud resources through a single web client interface. The single interface makes migrating between on-premise and cloud easy and sharing tags and tag categories.
While a VMware ESXi v6.7 upgrade may not have been on your list of projects for 2020, there are many benefits aside from keeping your environment supported. With the move to the hybrid cloud and the need for increased security, v6.7 brings enormous value.
If you need help assessing your ability to upgrade or want more information, please contact us, and we’ll be happy to help.