Hardware, firmware and drivers

10/10/2018

Because the subject is still actual, I created an updated version of this post from 2015.

A modern server is besides our favorite ESXi hypervisor loaded with all kinds of additional software, like the BIOS, firmware and drivers for items like; Baseboard management , Remote support interfaces, Storage controllers, NICs, Power Supplies, to name a few.

Some vendors provide ISO images or repositories containing the actual updates, you may run the update process and voila, ready and done.
If you want to stay in control and want some more insight in this subject, please read on.

It comes down to these four questions:

  • What hardware is in the server?
  • How to determine the current firmware and or driver?
  • Which driver and or firmware do I need?
  • How do I upgrade drivers and firmware?

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ESXi CLIativity – Part 3

09/09/2018

In previous post in this series, one and two, I showed you some examples how to run ESXi CLI commands on a more relaxed way with use of the PuTTY tools and some scripting.

In this post, I would like to introduce two other methods to execute ESXi CLI commands.

PowerSSH

Microsoft Windows PowerShell and VMware PowerCLI are commonly used by VMware admins. The functionality of PowerShell can be extended by adding Modules. Since PowerShell version 5 adding Modules has become very easy with the introduction of repositories (external and internal). A repository is (said irreverently) a kind of app store where you can retrieve modules. The best known repository is the PowerShell Gallery. If this is all new, the link provides information to get your started, as well as many posts about this topic.

A very handy module is Posh-SSH, created by Carlos Perez, which extend PowerShell with SSH and SCP functionality. The following commands will check for the availability of the PowerShell Gallery and installs the Posh-SSH module.

PS C:\Users> Get-PSRepository

Name      InstallationPolicy   SourceLocation
----      ------------------   --------------
PSGallery Untrusted            https://www.powershellgallery.com/api/v2/

The Get-PSRepository should return the PSGallery as one of the repositories.

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ESXi CLIativity – Part 2

01/07/2018

In my previous post, I showed you how to run scripts on the ESXi CLI with minimal intervention. In this episode, I will show you another example, which will also make use of PowerCLI and one of the PuTTY utilities.

The scenario; Now and then servers need all kind of upgrades; BIOS, NIC and HBA firmware to name a few. Hardware vendors usually offer multiple ways and additional tooling to perform those updates. As an example HPE provides packages, called Smart Components which can be installed from the Operating System layer, in the past limited to Windows and some Linux flavours, today also for ESXi.

Smart Components for ESXi come in the form of a .zip file, named CPxxxxxx.zip . The .zip contains an executable called: CPxxxxxx.vmexe, the firmware CPxxxxxx.vmfile, some additional .xml and .json files and a README.txt with installation instructions. Chances are that during an upgrade cycle of a cluster multiple components need a firmware upgrade, it will become clear that this is a time consuming task. So time for some automation!

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Getting started with the vCSA 6.x – Part 3

22/01/2018

In part 1 and part 2 of this series about the vCSA, we have covered topics like; the shells, filesystem, services, health, logging, database and some extra tools. Recently I realised there a few more topics worth mentioning.

Appliance MUI

In pre 6.0 releases of the vCSA, there was a vCenter Server Appliance Management Interface, better known as the VAMI. This management interface is written in HTML5 and is now called the e Appliance Management User Interface (Appliance MUI).

You will find the new management interface in vCSA 6.0 and 6.5, however there are some differences.

You can login to this interface, using: https://<vCSA fqdn or IP>:5480. Us a local account such as the “root” account.

Fig. 1 – Summary vCSA 6.0.

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About update levels and build numbers (VMware)

31/05/2015

You are working on a project, e.g. installing the latest VMware Horizon View on a vSphere 5.5 Platform. The VMware Product Interoperability Matrixes can help you determine which versions of ESXi are compatible with View.

20150531-01

This is not the best example, as this version of View runs on almost all version of ESXi, you might see the issue, as ESXi presents no update levels, just build numbers. So how do you match Update levels to Build numbers?

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VCAP5-DCA Objective 5.2 -Deploy and Manage complex Update Manager environments

30/08/2012

Objectives

  • Install and configure Update Manager Download Service
  • Configure a shared repository
  • Configure smart rebooting
  • Manually download updates to a repository
  • Perform orchestrated vSphere upgrades
  • Create and modify baseline groups
  • Troubleshoot Update Manager problem areas and issues
  • Generate database reports using MS Excel or MS SQL
  • Upgrade vApps using Update Manager
  • Utilize Update Manager PowerCLI to export baselines for testing
  • Utilize the Update Manager Utility to reconfigure vUM settings

Install and configure Update Manager Download Service

Official Documentation:
Installing and Administering VMware vSphere Update Manager 5.0, Chapter 9 “Installing, Setting Up, and Using Update Manager Download Service”, page 57.

Summary:
Short Recap: Update Manager enables centralized, automated patch and version management for VMware vSphere and offers support for VMware ESX/ESXi hosts, virtual machines, and virtual appliances.
With Update Manager, you can perform the following tasks:

  • Upgrade and patch ESX/ESXi hosts.
  • Install and update third-party software on hosts.
  • Upgrade virtual machine hardware, VMware Tools, and virtual appliances.

Update Manager requires network connectivity with VMware vCenter Server. Each installation of Update Manager must be associated (registered) with a single vCenter Server instance. The Update Manager module consists of a plug-in that runs on the vSphere Client, and of a server component, which you can install either on the same computer as the vCenter Server system or on a different computer.

You can deploy Update Manager in a secured network without Internet access. In such a case, you can use the VMware vSphere Update Manager Download Service (UMDS) to download update metadata and update binaries.

Upgrading vSphere objects and applying patches or extensions with Update Manager is a multistage process

in which procedures must be performed in a particular order. VMware recommends following this procedure.

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Update Notice

28/04/2011

I do like to keep my older post up-to-date (as long as it makes sense). For that reason these posts have been updated:

By the Way, per April 28th 2011, VMware hast just released Patch Release ESXi410-201104001 for ESXi 4.1. See this KB for more info.