Using VMware Update Manager in Your VCS Instance

5 min read

IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions vCenter Server and Update Manager

Maintenance can be a chore. There always seems to be better things to do than painting your fence or cleaning out the gutters. However, we all know that a well-maintained environment is more reliable and safer. So, now that you have your newly provisioned IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions (IC4VS) vCenter Server (VCS) instance, how are you going to maintain it? One of the great things about VMware on IBM Cloud is that you can use your existing tools and knowledge straight away. The VMware folks have integrated VMware Update Manager (VUM) directly into the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) that is automatically deployed in your VCS instance.

VUM has proven itself a useful tool for updating, upgrading, and patching VMware products like vSphere ESXi, VMware Tools, and VM hardware. It now includes upgrading and patching of vSAN to keep your virtualized storage layer at the latest supported levels. Coupled with the VCS instance updating and patching from the IBM Cloud Console, which allows for upgrades of licensing and the updates of the VCS management components, you can now easily keep your VCS instance updated.

How to set up Update Manager

Can you use VMware Update Manager (VUM) straight out of the box in your new VCS instance? Well, not quite. For security, your VCSA does not have access to the Internet to connect to the VMware repositories. You will need to do a few simple tasks to get secure access, but don’t worry, we have it documented. You can review our approach, tweak it for the needs of your Enterprise, implement it, and enjoy the benefits of VUM.

How can the VCSA access the Internet? We are using a proxy server—in our case, a Squid proxy serverrunning on a CentOS-Minimal operating system. This well known open-source proxy has a dedicated following, is often used, and is well understood by system administrators.

The use of the proxy server allows access to the repositories while preserving the integrity of the VCSA. So, all we need to do is:

  1. Configure the ESG to allow traffic and use NAT.

  2. Install a new VM running CentOS and Squid.

  3. Configure VUM to use the proxy.

  4. If you have a VCS cluster with vSAN, configure the VCSA to use the proxy for vSAN online health.

How to set up Update Manager

What happens next

When enabled, you can use VUM to maintain your VMware products, leveraging the best practice approach built into the workflow. Use as much or as little automation as your Enterprise allows, as VUM is fully configurable. VUM is fully integrated into the vSphere Web Client so you access the Administration and Compliance views from the console you use every day.

We have published a simple five-step guide to help you through the process:

  1. A one-time task to initially configure the VCS cluster for VUM.

  2. Get VUM to gather the latest metadata about available upgrades, patches, or extensions.

  3. Create baselines and attach to clusters, hosts, and VMs.

  4. Scan clusters, hosts, and VMs against the baselines and then review the scans for compliance.

  5. Optionally, patches and extensions can be staged to the host before remediation. During remediation, VUM applies the patches, extensions, and upgrades.

We have also included information on updating VCSA, patching NSX, and using native NIC drivers that contains helpful tips and tricks to minimize the time you spend on chores.

Additionally, we have two videos on proxy installation and configuration and updating a cluster with VUM available.

About the author

Neil Taylor (@Neil1Taylor) is a senior architect who has worked with IBM clients for over 18 years and has been helping them benefit from IBM Cloud since 2013.

For more great IBM Cloud content, please follow the rest of our team for continual updates: Jack Benney (@benney), Jordan Shamir (@jordanshamir2), Simon Kofkin-Hansen (@simonkh), and Scott Moonen (@smoonen).

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