vCloud Director: vCD SP 5.6.3 Release …with a catch!

“With regards to the upgrade path for SPs looking to deploy vCD SP there will be a build released approx. Q1 15 that will allow upgrades from 5.5.2”

On the 8th of October, VMware released the first vCloud Director build that was forked for the Service Provider Community. vCD for SP 5.6.3 (Build 2116763) represents a milestone for vCloud Director as a product and while Enterprises will start to move away from vCD and look to use vRealize Automation (previously vCloud Automation Center) For Service Providers the re-commitment to the Partner Network VMware in the launching of the vCloud Air Network means that VMware was not about to kill off vCD but continue to develop the platform for its own vCloud Air Services and in turn feed through feature upgrades in the form of regular vCD SP Build Updates.

As from the vCD SP 5.6.3 release, all development on the GUI has stopped and all new features are made available only through the API. As part of this release there is an extended list of SDKs added which makes developing against the platform more streamlined for SP dev teams and offers more choice. Previous to and during VMworld 2014 I had a chance to speak to the vCD Product Team and get insight into the vision for the platform moving forward. There is no doubt in my mind that VMware are serious about continuing to release features to Service Providers such as the ones mentioned at VMworld like Object Storage, DRaaS and DBaaS while there is possibility for 3rd Party ISV Solutions to be seamlessly plugged into an existing deployment.

Updates in the SP 5.6.3 GA include:

  • Virtual machine monitoring: Expose current and historical VM performance metrics to tenants through this tenant visible, multi-tenant safe API. Using the API, tenants can troubleshoot application performance problems, auto-scale their applications, and perform capacity planning.
  • VM Disk Level Storage Profiles – Allows a single virtual machine (VM) to access different tiers of storage such as storage area network (SAN), network-attached storage (NAS), and local storage to help balance storage cost vs. storage performance. VMware vCloud Director 5.6 also supports VMware Virtual SAN.
  • VMware NSX Support thru API Compatibility- Simple, secure software-defined networking using the NSX network virtualization platform in vCNS compatibility mode, in addition to the current VMware vCloud Networking and Security (vCNS) support
  • Updated Software Development Kits (SDKs) to the vCloud API – New set of Java, PHP, and .NET SDKs with documentation and samples available.

The first two represent significant enhancements to the platform and work to give tenants more visibility and choice if the Service Provider chooses to expose the features. It must be noted that the VM Disk Level Storage Profiles has a caveat in that it is obviously not exposed via the GUI, meaning SPs will need to write mechanisms for disks to be housed on separate vCenter Storage Policies or allow the tenants to make the change via PowerCLI commandlets for vCD. The downside to this is that in the dropdown menu of the VM in the GUI you will not see multiple polices and could trigger a move back to the one policy via the drop down configuration action.

The biggest feature in my opinion if the full support for NSX-v which effectively means an existing vCNS setup can be inplace upgraded to NSX which paves the way for hybrid solutions to be implemented. If you deploy a vCloud VSE once NSX-v has been deployed into an existing environment the Edge version will be at 5.5.3 and while there is no benefit in this Edge there is nothing stopping SPs from offering NSXs Enhanced 6.x Edges via VLAN backed PortGroup Direct Connect configurations.

https://www.vmware.com/support/vcd/doc/rel_notes_vcloud_director_56.html#featurehighlights

If you are a Service Provider, vCD SP 5.6.3 is now available for Download.

So that’s the good news…the bad news is that at the moment if your vCD deployment is currently running 5.5.2 and you upgrade to 5.6.3 vCD will break!! And while that’s about all the detail I have at the moment there is apparently an issues where some patches that were included in 5.5.2 are not compatible with 5.6.3. The frustrating part for SPs at the moment is that there were some key bug fixes in 5.5.2 so I would dare say that most providers have deployed this build. I’m currently chasing up more details and will update this post as they come to hand.

4 comments

  • Zach Shepherd

    > “the bad news is that at the moment if your vCD deployment is currently running 5.5.2 and you upgrade to 5.6.3 vCD will break”

    I don’t think this is quite right.

    If your vCloud Director deployment is currently running 5.5.2 and you attempt to upgrade to 5.6.3, you’ll receive the message “ERROR: the RPM for another version of vCloud Director is already installed and upgrading from that release is not supported.” followed by the prompt “Are you sure you want to continue with upgrade? (y/n)?”

    If you choose to continue, upgrade of the cell binaries succeeds, but when you attempt to run the “./bin/upgrade” script to upgrade the database, you’ll receive the error “Upgrade from version ‘[“2.1.9”, “6.0.114”]’ is not supported.” with no option to force the process to continue (as there’s no way to do so safely).

    At this point, the upgrade has failed, but nothing is broken. If you didn’t try to proceed after receiving the error that upgrade wasn’t supported, you just restart your cells — exiting after receiving that error leaves your system in an unchanged state. Even if you did proceed, you just have to revert your cells to their pre-upgrade state (either by restoring a snapshot or backup, or — if you tried to upgrade the system without making a backup — you can backup your system, uninstall the vCloud Director RPMs, and re-install the product using the 5.5.2 “.bin” file).

    • Hey Zach…that’s great additional information. I wasn’t given too much detail so made a couple assumptions based on info given. Thanks for clarifying the situation…any news on a fix/new release?

      • Zach Shepherd

        Unfortunately, I can’t comment on future releases.

        I’d just suggest that anyone affected by this reach out through the usual channels so that the team can better track impacted customers and know who to reach out to with more information as it becomes available.

  • After installing 5.6 I can no longer access the Console with Firefox, Chrome or Explorer 11 (No supported at all in IE11). Getting a black screen and “Disconnected”. 5.5 works fine! Very annoying. Anyone with an idea how to fix this? I cant tell the users to downgrade to Windows 8 or below when they using Win 8.1, and even downgrade from Explorer 11 to 10. I don’t even think that is possible?