The Order of vCloud Director 5.1 Upgrade Process

It seems there has been quite few articles that try to explain the vCloud Director 5.1 Upgrade Process out there in the blog sphere, but most of them focus on the steps on how to upgrade vCloud Director Cells and the Database. As many of them do quite good job at that, I am not going to re-invent the wheel and will just list few of them through this blog post. Though what seems to me missing of most of these articles is the order to carry out the vCloud Director environment components upgrade process in.

vCloud Director includes quite few moving parts and integrations, so you will need to ensure you upgrade all of these pieces in the correct order to avoid mixing incompatible products versions and wreck your vCloud environment. In such a situation, VMware interoperability matrix is your big friend and can be accessed at:

Alright, Alright, you already know where to find the interoperability matrix, but still scratching your head which product to upgrade first & which one second. Do you upgrade vCenter Chargeback, vCloud Director, vCenter, or vShield first & in what order should you upgrade all of these components involved in your vCloud Solution. In this post, I will document the best order I have came up with, which reduce your downtime to minimum and reduce the risk of you breaking the interoperability matrix.

The approach I usually follow during upgrading a vCloud Director 1.5 environment to vCloud Director 5.1 environment is something I like to call a Top Down Approach. Start from the top of the tree and go down as you complete the upgrade for the top of the tree products. This usually work pretty well, as products running higher in the chain usually support current release and previous version and the opposite is not true. For example, vCD 5.1 support both vCenter 5.1 & vCenter 5.0 where vCenter 5.1 is not supported by vCD 1.5. I guess you get the story. Below is the order I usually do my upgrade in:

My Top Down Approach:

1- Upgrade vCenter ChargeBack (Optional & if used)

Alright so if you have vCenter ChargeBack in your vCloud Director environment, which is most likely it will be the first thing you will need to upgrade. While might be surprising, it is the sole truth as older versions of vCenter ChargeBack does not support vCloud Director 5.1 & you will need to at least step up to vCenter ChargeBack 2.5.

2- Upgrade vCloud Director Cells & DB

Now that you have vCenter ChargeBack and other products higher in the chain than vCD upgraded, it is time to update your vCloud Directors Cells & Databases. The upgrade will require a bit of downtime on the vCD side at least equivalent to the time it required to update the vCD DB. The upgrade order of your Cells and DB depend on if you are having a Load Balancer in front of your vCD or not and how critical is downtime to you. Below is a highlight of both scenario:

No Load Balancer:

– Disable user access to vCloud Director Cells.

– Quiesce all vCD cells in the server group and shut down vCloud Director service.

– Upgrade vCloud Director software on all members of the server group.

– Upgrade the vCloud Director database.

– Restart vCloud Director on the upgraded servers.

Load Balancer Scenario:

I would use this method if you have quite few cells in your environment and you have a load balance that balance between them and you require more than one vCD Cell to handle your environment workload. If your full environment workload can be handled by a single vCD Cell & you only have two vCD Cell in your environment following the extra steps in here will not save you any downtime. Alright so let’s look at the scenario where you have 6 vCD Cells, where your environment require at least 3 vCD Cells to handle the workload. The below give steps highlight of the upgrade steps in such a scenario:

– Disable user access to three vCloud Director Cells.

– Quiesce the same three vCD cells pointed out in the first step and shut down vCloud Director service on them.

– Upgrade vCloud Director software on those 3 vCD Cells. By the end of this step, your Cells should look like below:

vCD 1 <== Stopped <== Upgraded
vCD 2 <== Stopped <== Upgraded
vCD 3 <== Stopped <== Upgraded
vCD 4 <== Started <== Not Upgraded
vCD 5 <== Started <== Not Upgraded
vCD 6 <== Started  <== Not Upgraded

– After finishing the upgrade of the first three Cells go ahead and stop access to the non upgraded cells, quiesce them, & Stop the service on them. Your Cells will look as follow:

vCD 1 <== Stopped <== Upgraded
vCD 2 <== Stopped <== Upgraded
vCD 3 <== Stopped <== Upgraded
vCD 4 <== Stopped <== Not Upgraded
vCD 5 <== Stopped <== Not Upgraded
vCD 6 <== Stopped  <== Not Upgraded

– Upgrade the vCloud Director database.

– Restart vCloud Director on the upgraded Cells. Now your setup should look like:

vCD 1 <== Started <== Upgraded
vCD 2 <== Started <== Upgraded
vCD 3 <== Started <== Upgraded
vCD 4 <== Stopped <== Not Upgraded
vCD 5 <== Stopped <== Not Upgraded
vCD 6 <== Stopped  <== Not Upgraded

– Upgrade and start the rest of your vCD Cells.

Note: Using the load balancer upgrade approach in this scenario will shorten your downtime by the time it would have taken to upgrade three vCD Cells, though it will not eliminate vCD Downtime required for updating the vCD DB.

3- Upgrade vCNS Manager & Edge Appliances

– Update your vCNS Manager using the update package. Make sure to update to at least 5.1.2 to avoid any bugs with earlier releases especially if you are using VXLANs.

– Update your edge appliances using your upgraded vCNS Manager

4- Upgrade vCenter Orchestrator (Optional & if used)

5- Upgrade vSphere 5.1.

Last but not least, you will need to upgrade your vSphere environment to 5.1 to benefits of new vSphere 5.1 features in your vCD environment. Below is just steps highlights.

– Create DB for SSO
– Install SSO
– Install Web Client & Confirm operation of SSO.

– Install vCenter Inventory Service

– Upgrade vCenter Service

– Upgrade your ESXi hosts

– Upgrade VMFS & vDS if required.

– Upgrade VMware Tools

– Upgrade VMware Hardware.

Note: This upgrade guidance is assuming you are starting with vCD 1.5 & vSphere 5.0. If you are using vSphere 4.x you will need to upgrade to vSphere 5 before following up the steps documented in here.

Hope this help guide some one with the upgrade process.

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