Unsupported upgrade of VCSA 6.5 U2 to 6.7

I decided to upgrade the vCenter Server Appliance from 6.5 U2 to 6.7 though it is not supported, see VMware KB. As this is not supported you will NOT want go ahead with this in a production environment. Maybe I will have regrets later on too … but this is my lab environment so the alternative is to redeploy a new VCSA.

Update:

While it was not possible at the time of writing of this post. This VMware KB has been updated with the following information.

Important:
vSphere 6.5 Update 2d and higher are not supported to upgrade to vSphere 6.7 Update 1.
vSphere 6.5 Update 2d and higher are supported to upgrade to vSphere 6.7 Update 2. For more information, see VMware Product Interoperability Matrices.


I have applied the following knowledge base articles on the source VCSA:

The first KB was applied because the installer is failing due to a lack of disk space on the source appliance. The installer gives the opportunity to supply a location on the source VCSA to export the necessary files that facilitate the upgrade.

The second KB was applied because the VMware Directory failed during the firstboot phase after the upgrade succeeded.

I downloaded the sources for VCSA 6.7.0 but had to go and download the sources for VCSA 6.7.0a. The VCSA 6.7.0 sources stalled at 5% on VMware Identity Management Service.

I also went to change the root password expiration to no and set the administrator@vsphere.local account password to only include alphabet characters.

The installer will also fail after the first phase if the VAMI port is not reachable, the first phase will finish succesfully though. I forgot to add an exception to my firewall. You can then continue the installer by going to the VAMI interface on port 5480.

vShield Endpoint SVM status vCenter alarm

vCenter is showing an alarm on the TrendMicro Deep Security Virtual Appliance (DSVA): ‘vShield Endpoint SVM status’

vShield Endpoint SVM status alarm

Checking vShield for errors:

The DSVA VA console window shows: (as to where it should show a red/grey screen)

Let’s go for some log file analysis

To get a login prompt: Alt + F2

Login with user dsva and password dsva (this is the default)

The log file we are going to check is the messages log file at /var/log/messages

(why less is more: you get almost all the vi commands)

To go to the last line:

For some reason the ovf file is not like it is expected. The appliance is not able to set some ovf settings, in this case the network interfaces.

To exit the log file display mode:

To gain root privileges:

Enter the dsva user password

Navigate to the /var/opt/ds_agent/slowpath directory

Create the dsva-ovf.env file (if the file exists, delete the existing file first):

Reboot the appliance, once rebooted give it 5 minutes and the alarm should clear automatically:

Start or stop ESXi services using PowerCLI

Start the ssh service on all hosts:

Thanks to Alan Renouf at virtu-al.net, where I found this snippet: https://www.virtu-al.net/2010/11/23/enabling-esx-ssh-via-powercli/

If you want to start the ssh service on a single host, change ESXiHostName to your ESXi FQDN:

If you want to stop the ssh service on all hosts:

If you have multiple cluster in vCenter, are connected to multiple vCenters, be sure to launch the command only to the necessary hosts:

  • Get-Cluster -Name ClusterName will filter to the specified Cluster
  • Get-VMHost -Name ESXiHostName will filter to the specified ESXi
  • Get-VMHost -Server vCenterServerName will filter to the specified vCenter server

These are other services I frequently use:

  • DCUI (Direct Console UI)
  • lwsmd (Active Directory Service)
  • ntpd (NTP Daemon)
  • sfcbd-watchdog (CIM Server)
  • snmpd (SNMP Server)
  • TSM (ESXi Shell)
  • TSM-SSH (SSH)
  • vmsyslogd (Syslog Server)
  • vmware-fdm (vSphere High Availability Agent)
  • vpxa (VMware vCenter Agent)
  • xorg (X.Org Server)

There are other services available but I have never used them in this context (yet):

  • lbtd (Load-Based Teaming Daemon)
  • pcscd (PC/SC Smart Card Daemon)
  • vprobed (VProbe Daemon)

Change the startup policy for a service:

  • Automatic: Start automatically if any ports are open, and stop when all ports are closed
  • On: Start and stop with host
  • Off: Start and stop manually

From IOmeter to VMware I/O Analyzer fling

VMware I/O Analyzer is a tool to launch orchestrated tests against a storage solution available from the VMware flings website. It can be used as a single appliance where the worker process and the analytics is done within. Additional appliances can be deployed to act as Worker VMs. The Analyzer VM launches IOmeter tests (on the Worker VMs) and after test completion it collects the data. All configuration is done from a web interface on the Analyzer VM.

This post is describing how I deployed VMware I/O Analyzer and how I got to a test with maximized IOs. The first tests were conducted launching a IOmeter from within a virtual machine on the vSAN datastore and showed more or less 300 IOs being generated. In the end 18 Worker VMs with 8 disks each on a 6 host vSAN cluster were used generating 340K+ IOPS. The purpose was to create a baseline for a VSAN datastore maximum IOPs.

Hardware used

6 hosts
1 disk group
1 800GB SSD drive5 1,2 TB 10K SAS
vSphere 5.5 U3

General

The VM OS disks should not be put on the vSAN datastore you want to test, if not the generated IOPs will be part of your report. To keep the Analyser VM IOPS out of the performance graphs, put it on a different datastore.

Deploy one Analyser VM. Deploy a Worker VM per ESXi host. You should end up with as much Worker VMs as you have hosts in your cluster.

I changed the IP of all VMs to static as there was no DHCP server available in the subnet. This means that no DNS entries were required.

Preferably you will want to change the Analyser VM to a static IP as you will manage the solution from a web browser. The Worker VMs you can leave as is if there is DHCP server available. You will need dns entries and change the configuration used here.

To work easily set the Worker VMs on static IPs or create dns aliases as you will be doing a lot of work on the Worker VMs. I prefer static IPs because they add no complexity due to name resolving, etc…

Prerequisites

Download ova from: https://labs.vmware.com/flings/i-o-analyzer

Deploy

Deploying the Analyser VM:

Deploy ovf template. Choose your settings in regards to the recommendations above.

Delete the 100MB disk (second disk) from the virtual machine.

Start the Analyser VM via vSphere client and the open console

Login with root – vmware

A terminal window will be opened upon login

To configure static IP:

Change /etc/sysconfig/network/ifcfg-eth0 with your preferred text editor.

Assuming the subnet you’re deploying the vm is 192.168.1.0/24

Change the following lines highlighted to your needs:

Leave the other lines as is.

Save and close the file (:wq)

Now we will configure the default gateway

Assuming your default gateway is 192.168.1.1

Add / Change the following line:

Save and close the file (:wq)

Restart the network service:

Check if the VM is reachable.

Now shutdown the VM.

Deploying the Worker VM:

Clone the Analyser VM.

Add a Hard Disk of 1GB.

Choose advanced and put the 1GB disk on the VSAN datastore.

I needed to configure static IPs on the Worker VMs, so I had to start each VM and change the IP address. After changing the network settings, shut down the VM and create a new clone. Not changing the IPs will give duplicate IPs.

Ease of access configuration

Two ease of access configurations were applied. The first is configured for easy copying from the Analyzer VM to the Worker VMs. The second because all appliances need to be logged onto for the VMware IO Analyzer solution to work. All commands are executed on the Analyzer VM and then copied to the Worker VMs.

Setup ssh keyless authentication

Generate a key pair

ssh-copy-id will copy your public key to the target machine

The root account password of the destination will need to be supplied for each of the above lines.

BE AWARE: This has the following security downside. If the root account is compromised on the Analyzer vm all worker vms should be considered compromised too.

Autologon

Change autologon=”” to autologon=”root” in the displaymanager (/etc/sysconfig/displaymanager) file with the following command:

This will force the machine to login with root after boot.

Copy the file to all workers:

Affinity rules

TIP: Create affinity rules in vCenter to keep the Worker VMs on dedicated hosts, otherwise the configuration on the VMware I/O Analyzer dashboard will be outdated soon. The consequence is that certain Worker VMs will not be launching their IOmeter profiles and therefor the reports will not be correct.

Configuration

Prerequisites

Enable the SSH service on the ESXi hosts via the vSphere (Web) Client or through Powershell.

The powershell way: (be aware to filter your hosts if needed). There is a dedicated post about starting and stopping ESXi services through powershell here.

Dashboard

Add the hosts to the host list.

Search for the Worker VMs in the list and add preferred IO test.

There are a lot of standard tests included in the appliance. The one that should be generating the most IOPs is 4k, 100% read and 0% random.

Optimized setup

To reach an optimized setup, three Worker VMs per host were deployed and 7 additional disks were added.

Adding the extra disks via PowerCLI:

The following specification was created on the Analyzer VM…

… and copied over to the Worker VMs

Troubleshooting

I found that looking at the console of the Worker VMs is interesting for troubleshooting. You can see the IOmeter tests being launched. This was very usefull in the process of creating the IOmeter profile. You don’t need to wait untill the test is finished to see it has failed. Stopping IOmeter tests from the console gives the opportunity to look at, edit and save the launched profile.

Failed to clear bootbank content /altbootbank: [Errno 9] Bad file descriptor: ‘/altbootbank/state.xxxxxxx’

In a VSAN project the VMware Compatibility Guide mentioned a different driver version for the raid controller than the one that was installed. So I tried to install a driver update for the raid controller through the CLI. This did not work out as expected because the /altbootbank was in a corrupted state. There were two ways to go ahead, either reinstall from scratch or try to rebuild the /altbootbank from the /bootbank contents. This was not a production server so I had the freedom to apply a more experimental approach and therefor I chose the not supported, not recommended approach to rebuild the /altbootbank from the /bootbank contents.

I ran the following command to install the driver:

I got the following error message:

I found the following two links describing the issue:

https://communities.vmware.com/thread/413441?start=0&tstart=0

https://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2033564

The vmware KB is going through the steps to solve this, which in this case didn’t. The better solution is to repair or reinstall but this is a time consuming task.

The steps in the KB didn’t solve it, so I tried to delete it with:

The ghost file/directory would not delete. The first command returned ‘This is not a file’, the second ‘This is not a directory’.
I repeated the same commands after a reboot with the same results. As the server was still booting well I knew the /bootbank was still ok. I wanted to replace the /altbootbank with the contents of the /bootbank partition.

THE FOLLOWING IS NOT RECOMMENDED NOR SUPPORTED! DO NOT EXECUTE ON A PRODUCTION ENVIRONMENT !

Identity the naaID and partition number of the /altbootbank:

Scratch the partition through recreating the file system:

Remove the /altbootbank folder:

Create a symlink to the newly created vFat volume with /altbootbank:

Copy all the contents from /bootbank to /altbootbank:

Change the bootstate=3 in /altbootbank/boot.cfg

Run /sbin/autobackup.sh script to update the changes