Home Lab Generation 7: Part 2 – New Hardware and Software Updates

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In the final part of this 2 part series, I’ll be documenting the steps I took to update my Home Lab Generation 7 with the new hardware and software changes.  There’s quite a bit of change going on and these steps worked well for my environment.

Pre-Update-Steps:

  1. Check Product Interoperability Matrix (VCSA, ESXi, NSX, vRNI, VRLI)
  2. Check VMware Compatibility Guide (Network Cards, JBOD)
  3. Ensure the vSAN Cluster is in a health state
  4. Backup VM’s
  5. Ensure your passwords are updated
  6. Document Basic Host settings (Network, vmks, NTP, etc.)
  7. Backup VCSA via the Management Console > Backup

Steps to update vCenter Server from 7U2d (7.0.2.00500) to 7U3a (7.0.3.00100):

  1. Downloaded VCSA 7U3a VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance-7.0.3.00100-18778458-patch-FP.iso
  2. Use WinSCP to connect to an ESXi host and upload the update/patch to vSAN ISO-Images Folder
  3. Mount the ISO from step 1 to VCSA 7U2d VM
    • NOTE: A reboot of the VCSA my be necessary for it to recognize the attached ISO
  4. Went to VCSA Management Console > Update > Check Updates should auto-start
    • NOTE: It might fail to find the ISO. If so, choose CD ROM to detect the ISO
  5. Expanded the Version > Run Pre-Update checks
  6. Once it passed pre-checks, choose Stage and Install > Accept the Terms > Next
  7. Check ‘I have backed up vCenter Server…’
    • NOTE: Clicking on ‘go to Backup’ will Exit out and you’ll have to start over
  8. Click Finish and allow it to complete
  9. Once done log back into the Management console > Summary and validate the Version
  10. Lastly, detach the datastore ISO, I simple choose ‘Client Device’

Change Boot USB to SSD and upgrade to ESXi 7U3 on Host at a time:

  1. Remove Host from NSX-T Manager (Follow these steps)
  2. In vCenter Server
    1. Put Host 1 in Maintenance Mode Ensure Accessibility (better if you can evacuate all data | run pre-check validation)
    2. Shut down the host
    3. Remove Host from Inventory (NOTE: Wait for host to go to not responding first)
  3. On the HOST
    1. Precautionary step – Turn off the power supply on the host, helps with the onboard management ability to detect changes
    2. Remove the old USB boot device
    3. Install Dell HBA330 and M.2/NVMe PCIe Card w/ 240GB SSD into the Host
    4. Power On the Host and validate firmware is updated (Mobo, Disk, Network, etc.)
    5. During boot ensure the Dell HBA330 POST screen displays (optional hit CTRL-C to view its options)
    6. In the Host BIOS Update the boot disk to the new SSD Card
  4. ESXi Install 
    1. Boot the host to ESXi 7.0U3 ISO (I used SuperMicro Virtual Media to boot from)
    2. Install ESXi to the SSD Card, Remove ISO, Reboot
    3. Update Host boot order in BIOS for the SSD Card and boot host
    4. In the ESXi DUCI, configure host with correct IPv4/VLAN, DNS, Host Name, enable SSH/Shell, disable IPv6 and reboot
    5. From this ESXi host and from another connected device, validate you can ping the Host IP and its DNS name
    6. Add Host to the Datacenter (not vSAN Cluster)
    7. Ensure Host is in Maintenance mode and validate health
    8. Erase all partitions on vSAN Devices (Host > Configure > Storage Devices > Select devices > Erase Partitions)
    9. Rename the new SSD datastore (Storage > R-Click on datastore > Rename)
    10. Add Host to Cluster (but do not add to vSAN)
    11. Add Host to vDS Networking, could be multiple vDS switches (Networking > Target vDS > Add Manage Hosts > Add Hosts > Migrate VMKernel)
    12. Complete the Host configuration settings (NTP, vmks)
    13. Create vSAN Disk Groups (Cluster > Configure > vSAN > Disk Management)
    14. Monitor and allow to complete, vSAN Replication Objects (Cluster > Monitor > vSAN > Resyncing Objects)
    15. Extract a new Host Profile and use it to build out the other hosts in the cluster
  5. ESXi Install – Additional Hosts
    1. Repeat Steps 1, 2, 3, and only Steps 4.1-4.10
    2. Attach Host Profile created in Step 4.15
    3. Check Host Profile Compliance
    4. Edit and update Host Customizations
    5. Remediate the host (the remediation will to a pre-check too)
    6. Optional validate host settings
    7. Exit Host from Maintenance mode
    8. Before starting next host ensure vSAN Resyncing Objects is completed

Other Notes / Thoughts:

Host Profiles: You may be thinking “why didn’t he use ESXi Backup/Restore or Host Profiles to simply this migration vs. doing all these steps?”.  Actually, at first I did try both but they didn’t work due to the add/changes of PCIe devices and upgrade of the ESXi OS.  Backup/Restore and Host Profiles really like things to not change for them to work with out error.  Now there are adjustments one could make and I tried to adjust them but in the end I wasn’t able to get them to adjust to the new hosts.  They were just the wrong tool for the first part of this job.   However, Host Profiles did work well post installation after all the changes were made. vSAN Erase Partitions Step 4.8:  This step can be optional it just depends on the environment.  In-fact I skipped this step on the last host and vSAN imported the disks with out issue.  Granted most of my vm’s are powered off, which means the vSAN replicas are not changing.  In an environment where there are a lot of powered on VM’s vSAN doing step 4.8 might be best.  Again, it just depends on the environment state. If you like my ‘no-nonsense’ videos and blogs that get straight to the point… then post a comment or let me know… Else, I’ll start posting really boring content!

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