Who needs a hardware reboot? Not you with vSphere 6.7 Update Manager
The release of vSphere 6.7 brings a great many features and upgrades to vCenter Server and ESXi. I want to focus on two of the new features of VMware Update Manager (VUM) that I feel show how it is increasingly helping administrators gain valuable time when securing and upgrading their environments.
VUM 6.7 is now embedded into your vCenter Server Appliance, which simplifies the VUMs architecture in my opinion. You can now access Update Manager with the new HTML 5 interface, which streamlines the process of remediation from the old Flex client. So it’s goodbye to the wizard, which has been replaced by a few clicks. You can also now perform pre-checks on your cluster to ensure that it is ready for any upgrade. It is important to note that at the moment, there are a small number of actions that you cannot do in the HTML5 client, such as configuring ESXi Quick Boot, which I’ll explain below.
vSphere 6.7 Quick Boot
Applying a patch to the Hypervisor or installing a third party component such as a device driver would usually require a reboot. As the hardware boots up, it would have to perform self diagnostics and device initialization before booting ESXi, which can take some time even on modern hardware. Quick Boot removes the hardware reboot by performing an OS level only restart, which again brings potentially huge speed advantages when remediating one host at a time in a cluster, effectively removing the hardware pre-checks from the equation.
At the moment Quick Boot is available on the following Dell and HPE platforms running ESXi 6.7, with more being added over time. If you have the correct hardware but are running 6.5 or below, you won’t be able to access this feature.
- PowerEdge R740
- PowerEdge R740xd
- PowerEdge R640
- PowerEdge R730
- PowerEdge R730xd
- PowerEdge R630
- ProLiant DL360 Gen10 Server
- ProLiant DL360 Gen9 Server
- ProLiant DL380 Gen10 Server
- ProLiant DL380 Gen9 Server
You can check if you’re host is compatible with Quick Boot by running the following on the host shell or alternatively if you check in the VUM UI it will give you the option if your servers support the feature.
The HTML5 client is constantly improving and evolving but for now, you have to use the flash client to enable Quick Boot by going to Home > Update Manager > Select your vCenter under Servers on the left > Manage tab in the top right > Host/Cluster Settings > Edit.
Single Reboot upgrade of hosts from 6.5
Traditionally when you would schedule a host update on with 6.0 and below, VUM would trigger a reboot to ensure the host is in a good state to install the updates, followed by a further reboot when it is finished.
With VUM 6.7 you now only require one reboot when performing a version upgrade from 6.5, which might not sound like a lot, but depending upon the size of your environment, can massively reduce the time it takes to upgrade clusters and shorten maintenance windows. A 6.5 to 6.7 upgrade will usually take around a quarter of the time it would usually take to upgrade, as an example. Obviously with DRS and vMotion, your applications experience no down time when you perform an ESXi hypervisor upgrade as they migrate to other hosts in your cluster.
Please note that ESXi6.0 will still require two reboots to update to 6.7.