vSphere 8 was announced during VMware Explore US with a lot of new powerful and cool features targeting bringing cloud benefits to on-premises workloads, focusing on supercharging workload performance through DPUs (SmartNICs a.k.a project Monterey ) and GPUs, whole new set of innovations around integrated Kubernetes and enhancing operational efficiency of vsphere administration by introducing many enhancements for Lifecycle and Resources Management. Starting vSphere 8, VMware has also introduced Initial Availability (IA) release model, This is a production quality major release that meets all GA quality gates and is fully partner certified. IA releases will be available during the IA phase to all VMware customers for production deployments. 

In this blog post, I will share with you my experience of upgrading my lab environment from vSphere 7 to vSphere 8 and eventually I will be writing series of blog posts testing some of the new and cool features of vSphere 8, so subscribe to my blog and stay tuned.

Note: If you have NSX connected to your clusters, ensure ti check the interoperability matrix first before you proceed with the upgrade to vSphere 8.

Lab Inventory

For software versions I used the following:

    • VMware ESXi 7.0U3f
    • vCenter server version 7.0U3f
    • TrueNAS 12.0-U7 used to provision NFS data stores to ESXi hosts.
    • VyOS 1.4 used as lab backbone router and DHCP server.
    • Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS as DNS and internet gateway.
    • Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter as management host for UI access.

For virtual hosts and appliances sizing I used the following specs:

    • 3 x ESXi hosts each with 12 vCPUs, 2 x NICs and 128 GB RAM.
    • vCenter server appliance with 2 vCPU and 24 GB RAM.

Downloading vSphere 8 ISOs & Upgrading vCenter

Upgrading to vSphere 8 Initial Availability is supported for vSphere 6.7 and 7.0, first you need to downloaded vSphere ISOs from HERE  (download vCenter and ESXi 8.0 ISOs) and then login to your current vCenter UI and ensure that there are no open alerts or warnings:

Now navigate to the location to where you have downloaded vCenter 8 ISO, mount the ISO (double click on it) and switch to installer > win32 folder and double click the installer executable.

This should launch the 8.0 installer window, click on Upgrade

Fill out the standard information about your current environment and assign temporarily network settings to the installer, revise the below and then hit FINISH

Next, go grab cup of coffee and keep yourself busy for a while since this will take sometime (20 to 30 minutes) then you should see this

Click on continue, then on Upgrade Source vCenter Server to start upgrading your existing vCenter server

Go through the wizard and revise that all information about your environment is correct and then click on FINISH and go grab another coffee, as the below process takes roughly 35 minutes to complete

After 30 minutes, stage 2 should be complete, lets login now and see how did the upgrade go

Logging in to vCenter UI, things are looking good and also my NSX Manager instance which is registered to my vCenter has retrieved the new vCenter version successfully

Since vCenter upgrade has gone smooth, now we are up to ESXi hosts upgrade

ESXi Hosts Upgrade

Although the vCenter upgrade went smooth, when I wanted to enable Single Image management on my cluster in order to upgrade my ESXi hosts using vRLCM, I got the following error message:

Cannot determine whether NSX-T Data Center is enabled on this cluster. Go to NSX-T Data Center system and enable bidirectional trust.

Which is weird, as my NSX is already connected and Trust is enabled, I got around the issue by simply rebooting my newly upgraded vCenter server and now I can start the Single Image management workflow with no issues:

I then chose image 8.0GA from the image depot

As you can see, there were some compliancy issues detected which will be remediated once we start the finish image creation wizard

Click on Yes, Finish image setup and during the process, your cluster will start remediating any compliancy issues. 

Once your cluster is ready to be remediated you will get the option to either remediate all hosts at once or one by one. Depending on how big your cluster is this might take a while because different hosts in the cluster will enter maintenance mode and be rebooted to finalise the imaging process.

Once remediation is completed successfully, all the hosts should be now upgraded to ESXi 8.0 

Final word

Upgrading to vSphere 8 is a pretty standard and straight forward task, just make sure to backup your vCenter config before the upgrade process and open a proactive support case in advance (if your support entitlement allows that).

Happy upgrading and stay tuned for my coming post covering zonal TKGs deployment on vSphere 8.