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Category: ESXi

How To: Upgrade vCSA 6.0 to vCSA 6.5

Today marks the release of vSphere 6.5 and with that, a new vCenter Server Appliance that is worth paying attention to. Beyond the traditional boost of configuration maximums and security, this version comes loaded with features that have been requested over the past few years. Some highlights include:

  • Built-in migration tool to go from vCenter Server 5.5 or 6.0 to vCSA 6.5
  • Built-in VMware Update Manager
  • Native HA support deployed in Active-Passive-Witness architecture
  • No Client Integration Browser Plug-in
  • Adobe Flex AND HTML5 web clients
  • API Explorer via vCSA portal page for your automation needs
  • Tons of other little enhancements that you can read about here
  • This post will be a guide on getting you from vCSA 6 to 6.5 with setting up vCSA HA at a later date.

    Crack open the ISO in your preferred flavor of OS and run the vCenter Server Appliance Installer. You’ll be greeted by this step1

    Hit next, accept the EULA, and fill out your environmental info. FQDN/IP of 6.0 vCSA, SSO details, and the ESXi host info that is currently housing your 6.0 vCSA. step2

    Now, if you are running VUM on a Windows server in your environment, you will see the following error: Unable to retrieve the migration assistant extension on source vCenter Server. Make sure migration assistant is running on the VUM server. Copy the ‘migration-assistant’ folder to the VUM server and run ‘VMware-Migration-Assistant.exe’, type in the password for the VUM service account and return back to the vCSA 6.5 Installer. step4

    The next few pages are choosing your cluster resources, folder organization, and general deployment information. Since this was done in my lab, I chose to stick with the ‘tiny’ vCenter deployment since I do not expect to ever need anything larger than that… hopefully. step7step8step9step10step11

    Once all that is done and dusted, you will get to the confirmation page to verify you didn’t fat finger any settings. If they all look good, click Finish. step12

    Assuming everything was chosen properly, you will see this lovely screen step16
    Congrats, you now have 2 vCSA’s running… but that’s not what we are here for. We want to decommission the 6.0 in favor of 6.5 with all of our lovely settings. So let’s get that crackin’


    Hit next and fill in your vCSA 6.0 info as well as the host that is running your 6.0 vCSA. You may get a warning about DRS being enabled on the cluster so feel free to change that setting depending on if your settings are set too aggressively.

    Next you will choose what data you wish to migrate from your old 6.0 to your new 6.5. I wanted all that lovely historical data so I went with the longer, last option. step19

    After that, you should be good to go! You will see some progress bars and then greeted with links to your shiny, new 6.5 vCSA. *Hint* It’s the same info as your 6.0, thanks migrations!


    After you login, check out your About vSphere menu and you should see vSphere 6.5 listed as current build. You will also notice that your original 6.0 VM is powered off and can be decommissioned to your liking. step23

    From there, you can hop into the Update Manager tab and upgrade your hosts to 6.5 automatically as well! Happy trails, friends and enjoy all the new awesomeness that vCSA 6.5 has dropped into your lap.

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    Quick Script: Syslog Server Updater

    Recently deployed a new syslog server and needed a script to update the ~20+ ESXi hosts as fast as possible. This is pretty cut and dry in terms of what happens… prompts for vCenter and Syslog addresses, then it updates the Syslog Server field on each host associated with that vCenter as well as allowing UDP/514 through the ESXi firewall.

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    The heavens parted and then… ESXi Heartbleed patch!

    Better late than never, yea? Quick Saturday post, here is how to get your host up to date real quick via SSH, generate new certs, and change the root password. Better safe than sorry, friends.

    Note: This is only for ESXi 5.5 Update 1! If you are not running 5.5u1, replace ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard with ESXi-5.5.0-20140401020s-standard.

    This will be the quick way to do it, your environment may not let you turn on the built-in httpclient within ESXi but I am going to assume that will not be an issue. And because I am currently doing these patches on my homelab where I am the boss!

    Enable SSH on your host(s) and remote in via terminal/putty

    Enable the ESXi built-in httpclient:

    Pull down and install the patch:

    Backup your ‘old’ SSL keys:

    Generate new keys and chmod them:

    Reboot the host:

    Once the host comes back up, SSH back in and change the root password: passwd root

    That’s all there is to it. These types of security issues are no fun for anyone but it comes with the territory. Cheers!

    VMware KB#2076665 – Resolving OpenSSL Heartbleed for ESXi 5.5

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    Centralized rsyslog with ESXi 5.x hosts

    One of the most important things in any environment is the syslog server. A centralized host to keep all the debug, runtime, and access information to be sent to your Kibana/Logstash or Splunk implementations will make any sysadmins life easier. The walk-through below sets up a central server running rsyslog, accepting logs on 514 from TCP and UDP, as well as placing them in dated folders for easier organization. Let’s dive in:

    Create a dump folder for your syslog structure:

    Edit /etc/rsyslog.conf and remove the comments for TCP and UDP reception as well as change receiving port to your liking:

    Create a conf file within /etc/rsyslog.d (e.g. daily_log.conf) and define the daily rotation:

    Recycle the rsyslog service:

    That covers the syslog server side of things, now to get rid of that annoying ‘system logs are not on persistent storage’ warning.

    You can add this info to a host profile and apply it against all your hosts if your environment is large, but for example purposes, this will be a one-off host. You can also easily set this up via pCLI script.

    Display your current settings:

    Adjust syslog settings:

    Recycle ESXi syslog service:

    Open up syslog ports on ESXi firewall:

    And that’s it! Now on your syslogd server, you should see a directory path similar to /var/log/syslogd/year/month/day/hosts*.log

    From here on out, you can point all of your log analyzers to the centralized syslog server and keep an eye on your ESXi hosts. Cheers!

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