I recently ran into a small issue applying a patch to one of my lab’s vCenter Servers. Specifically, attempts to patch the vCenter Server ran into the error, Exception occurred in install precheck phase.
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vSAN deployments in brownfield environments are simple. New hosts are configured based on projected workloads (plus points for utilising vSAN Ready Nodes), they’re purchased, racked, built, and absorbed into an existing vCenter workload domain before vSAN is finally enabled and configured. But how would we deploy vSAN into a greenfield environment? An environment with no vCenter, no shared storage, but only brand new ESXi hosts with valid (yet unconfigured) cache and capacity vSAN disks? As vSAN is reliant on vCenter for its operations, we seemingly have a chicken-and-egg scenario.
In this article, I detail the process of deploying (Stage 1) and configuring (Stage 2) a vCenter Server Appliance into a greenfield environment and, more specifically, onto a single-node vSAN cluster in hybrid-mode (Note – this is in no way supported by VMware for anything other than deploying vCenter and vSAN into a greenfield environment). I then add additional hosts to the cluster and configure vSAN storage and networking via the brilliant Cluster Quickstart tool (Stage 3), before applying a vSAN VM Storage policy to the vCenter Server Appliance (Stage 4). Once complete, our vSAN cluster will be ready to host live workloads.
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Patching my lab’s vCenter Server Appliance this evening raised an issue whereby the root password had expired. Unable to login via root, I can still administer the appliance via a vCenter’s SSO domain account (firstname.lastname@example.org, for instance), however, attempts to perform any updates will not be possible until the appliance’s root account password is reset. This an easy exercise, however, this is not possible via vSphere UI or console, only bash.
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Following a recent upgrade of VMware NSX Data Centre for vSphere from 6.4.1 to 6.4.4, the option to access NSX’s Networking and Security extension from within the vSphere Client (HTML 5) had simply disappeared. This left me scratching my head a little, more so as I’ve completed this upgrade (what seems) a million times.
Scenario-wise, I had completed the initial NSX Manager upgrade, but after logging in to the vSphere Client, I noted the Networking and Security extension failed to display.
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A while back I was welcomed to the office by a vCenter Server Appliance critical health alert, specifically, ‘The /storage/log filesystem is out of disk space or inodes’. This error is usually due to a failed automated log clean-up process, so in this article I detail how to implement a temporary ‘get out of jail’ fix, followed by a more permanent fix with the identification of the offending files and how to tidy them up.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the file system itself in order to confirm our UI findings. SSH onto the VCSA appliance and enter BASH, then list all available file systems via the df -h command. From the below screenshot the UI warning has been confirmed, specifically, the file system in question has been completely consumed.
The ‘Get Out of Jail’ Temporary Fix
In the unfortunate event that this issue is preventing you from accessing vCenter, we can implement a quick fix by extending the affected disk. Note, this is a quick fix only and should be implemented to restore vCenter access only. This should not be relied on as a permanent resolution.
As we have already identified the problematic disk, jump over to the vSphere client and extend the disk in question (you call by how much, but in my environment, I’ve added an additional 5 GB). This leaves us the final task of initiating the extension and enabling the VCSA to see the additional space. Depending on your VCSA version, there are two options:
vpxd_servicecfg storage lvm autogrow
VCSA v6.5 and 6.7
Lastly, list all file systems to confirm the extension has been realised.
So, we’re out of jail, but we still have an offending consumer. In my instance, checking within the file system identified a number of large log files. These hadn’t been cleared automatically by the VCSA so a manual intervention was required. Specifically, the removal of localhost_access_log, vmware-identity-sts, and vmware-identity-sts-perf logs was required. These can be removed via the below command.
Following the removal, another df -h show’s we’re back in business.
Lastly, and in this instance, restart the Security Token Service to initiate the creation of new log files.
service vmware-stsd restart
For this specific issue, please see VMware KB article 2143565, however, if in doubt, do call upon the VMware Support. The team will be able to assist you in identifying the offending files/directories which can be safely removed.
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With the release of vSphere 6.7 back in April 2018, a host of new enhancements, features, and goodies had the vCommunity going wild. With enhanced feature parity between the legacy vSphere Web Client and new HTML 5 vSphere Client, as well as the vCenter Server Appliance boasting performance increases of ~2X faster performance in vCenter operations per second, ~3X reduction in memory usage, and ~3X faster DRS-related operations (e.g. power-on virtual machine); these two areas alone made most of us want to upgrade. Nice.
vSphere 6.7 also boasts the new Quick Boot feature for vSphere hosts running the ESXi 6.7 hypervisor and above. This feature allows users to a) reduce maintenance time by removing the number of reboots required during major version upgrades (Single Reboot), and b) allows users to restart the ESXi hypervisor without having to reboot the physical host (essentially skipping the time-consuming hardware initialisation). Very nice!
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Following on from my previous posts (What’s New in vSphere 6.5 and VMware VCSA 6.5: Installation & Configuration), a major area for discussion (and excitement) is the VMware Migration Assistant which, should you wish, is able to easily migrate you away from the Windows-based vCenter Server to the Linux-based vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA).
There are pros and cons to the vCenter appliance of course, as well as a healthy number of supporters in each camp, but if you fancy shaving some licensing costs (Windows Server and SQL Server), would like to enjoy a faster vSphere experience (since 6.0), or would just like to be able to take a quick backup of vCenter without having to either snapshot both Windows and SQL Servers elements, or by utilising your backup product of choice to take a full image of your environment, you might just want to take VCSA for a spin.
I’m a fan of upgrades that ‘just work’, but rarely do they run without a few unforeseens jumping out at you. Reading the VMware Upgrading VMware vCNS 5.5.x to NSX 6.2.x (2144620), I was surprised to see just five upgrade areas. Five? Really?? As this is a business critical system (and one with the potential of being able to turn a long day into an even longer day were things to go awry), I was a little sceptical, however, the vCNS to NSX upgrade process really is that easy.
VMware recommend the below implementation path when upgrading to NSX from vCNS, and if you’re not utilising any advanced features such as the vCNS Edges, you can cut this process down to just the first three steps.
- vCNS/NSX Manager
- Host Clusters and Virtual switches/wires
- vShield App (replaced by NSX Distributed Firewall)
- vShield Edge
- vShield Endpoint
Stick with me, I know you think I’m lying…
So, a requirement exists whereby I need to replace a VMware vCNS 5.5.4 environment with VMware NSX 6.2.5 due to the former going end-of-life in Q4 2016. As I see it, I have two options; a) install NSX and migrate the vCNS workload to the new compute hardware, or b) upgrade vCNS in-place. As there aren’t any spare hosts lying around, the option will see us progressing with the in-place upgrade.
Note, configuration of NSX, as well as integration with AD Security Groups, will be covered in a future post.
Okay, so there are some prerequisites (when would there not be?) Before initiating the upgrade process, you will need to ensure the below checklist has been completed:
- Physical network must be configured with a minimum MTU of 1600 due to the VXLAN overlay.
- As the NSX vSwitch is based upon vSphere Distributed Switches (vDS), if you’re currently running standard virtual switches, you’ll need to migrate to vDS first.
- Your backups have run successfully
- Snapshots of both vCenter and vCNS Manager have been taken
- vCNS Manager – e1000 network adapter replaced with a VMXNET3 adapter
- vCNS Manager – configured with at least 16GB RAM
- vCNS Manager – Tech Support Bundle created
- Download the relevant vCNS to NSX Upgrade Bundle
Upgrade vCNS 5.5.4 to NSX 6.2.5
7. Following the reboot, browse to the previous vCNS Manager FQDN (https://server_name.domain.local), and you will be presented with the new NSX Manager. Note, the default admin credentials will have changed as part of the upgrade process:
- Username – admin
- Password – default
13. After logging in to the vSphere Web Client as email@example.com (we’ll configure NSX users and groups via Active Directory in a later post), you’ll now be able to see the new Networking & Security tab.
At this point we will need to apply licensing, upgrade the ESXi host VIBs, and upgrade the vCNS Firewall to the new NSX Distributed Firewall. Until this takes place, any/all firewall amendments will not be seen by the ESXi hosts.
1. Using the vSphere Web Client, browse to Administration > Licensing > Licenses, click Add (+).
1. Browse to Networking & Security > Installation > Host Preparation.
5. After the migration has finished, browse to Networking & Security > Service Definitions, and remove the now legacy vShield-App-Service.
6. If you have any Edges in play, simply browse to NSX Edges, right-click the Edge in question, and choose Upgrade Version.
This concludes the upgrade of VMware vCloud Networking & Security 5.5.4 to VMware NSX 6.2.5. In a future post, we will cover the configuration of NSX itself, as well as the management of NSX via AD Groups.
A great new range of informational overviews is available via the VMware Product Walkthroughs website. Covering a range of product overviews (from vSphere 6.5, vRealize Network Insight, and more), to the specifics of vSphere 6.5 Encrypted vMotion, NSX VXLAN Configuration, Virtual SAN Fault Domains. Great on so many levels, enabling us to up-skill and dry-run new products, demonstrate solutions to management and technical teams, etc.
Visit the parent website at https://featurewalkthrough.vmware.com.
Good job VMware.
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Following the general release of VMware vSphere 6.5 last month (see my What’s New in VMware vSphere 6.5 post), I’ll be covering a number of technical run-throughs already in discussion throughout the virtual infrastructure community.
We’ll be starting with a fresh installation of the new and highly improved vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA), followed by a migration from the Windows-based vCenter Server 6.0; the latter task made all the easier thanks to the vSphere Migration Assistant. More on this to come. Lastly, I’ll be looking at a fresh installation of the Windows-based product, however, the experience throughout all of these installation/migration scenarios has been vastly improved.