Recently I’ve upgraded my homelab from 6.7U3 to vSphere7. The workflow is straightforward and very easy. The VMware Design team did a very good job with the UI.
I cannot point that out enough: check the VMware HCL. Just because your system is supported under your current vSphere version, doesn’t mean it’ll be supported under vSphere7 too. On the day I’ve upgraded, vSphere7 was brand new and there were just a few entries in the HCL. But it’s a homelab and if something breaks I don’t care to rebuild it from scratch. Don’t do this in production!
Although my Supermicro E300-9D is not yet certified for version 7.0, it works like a charm. I guess it’s just a matter of time, because the VMware Nano-Edge cluster is based on that hardware.
Before we can start, you need to download the vCenter Server Appliance 7.0 (VCSA) from VMware downloads (Login required). You also need to have new license keys for vCenter, ESXi and vSAN (if yor cluster is hyperconverged).
There have been issues with VMware network driver igbn which is responsible for Intel 82580, I210, I350, and I354 Gigabit Ethernet Controllers. Under certain conditions this can lead to a PSOD, which makes it a critical issue for all hosts with one of the ethernet controllers mentioned above.
Currently there’s no VMware patch to solve the problem. It is recommended to replace the VMware driver with a newer version (1.4.10) of Intels native driver.
If we start SSH service on the host, we can check the installed igbn version.
First we have to download the driver package from VMware (login required) and extract the archive. It contains a documentation with release notes and update guide, a VMware Installation Bundle (VIB) and an offline bundle (ZIP). While it is possible to install the VIB on a command shell from an ESXi host, it is more convenient to use VMware Update Manager (VUM). The latter is the procedure I will explain here.
Open vSphere-Client and go to Menu > Update Manager. If you’re not running vSphere 6.7 U1 or later, you’ll have to use the infamous Web-Client (Flash-Client). Select Updates and click on “Upload from File”.
Select the extracted ZIP File (Offline Bundle). Just to avoid some confusion: The file you’ve downloaded from VMware is a ZIP-archive. Extract it once. Within that archive there’s another ZIP-archive. Do not extract that one! From the dialogue we select that ‘inner’ ZIP-file for upload to VUM.
If you have joined VMware Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP), you’re able to use Skyline-Health in your cluster. In older versions of vSphere/vSAN this feature used to be called vSphere-Health and vSAN-Health respectively. They both have been renamed to Skyline Health. You can access Skyline-Health in the vSphere-Client by navigating to Monitor > vSAN > Skyline-Health.
Today I’ve seen a warning after powering on up my homelab.
Drilling into details showed one of 4 hosts issued a warning: “Proactive rebalance is needed”.
Usually a vSAN cluster will distribute load amongst capacity disks automatically. For some reason that wasn’t the case in my homelab. But there’s help. You can click on “Configure Automatic Rebalance” directly from Skyline-Health (see picture below).
You’ll be redirected to vSAN cluster configuration. As you can see in the screenshot below, my cluster wasn’t configured for automatic rebalance.
Just move the slider and vSAN will automatically start to balance disks. A couple of minutes later the warning had switched to green. Depending on the cluster load and how imbalanced the capacity disks are, this process might take a while.
I usually get a lot of questions during trainings or in the process of vSAN designs. People ask me why there is a requirement for 30% of slack space in a vSAN cluster. If you look at it without going deeper, it looks like a waste of (expensive) resources. Especially with all-flash clusters it’s a strong cost factor. Often this slack space is mistaken as growth reserve. But that’s wrong. By no means it’s a reserve for future growth. On the contrary – it is a short term allocation space, needed by the vSAN cluster for rearrangements during storage policy changes.