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Upgrading VMware vCenter to v8.0 U2 using Reduced Downtime Upgrade (RDU)

VMware vCenter Server 8.0U2 was released on 9/21/2023 [Release Notes] [Download] and it’s time to upgrade the vCenter in my lab. There’s a couple of different ways to to this, and I wanted try try using the Reduced Downtime Upgrade (RDU) function new to vSphere v8U2. Let’s give it a try!

What exactly is Reduced Downtime Upgrade (RDU)? RDU is a new mechanism introduced for upgrading the self-managed vCenter Servers with decreased downtime. Self-managed vCenter Server is one that manages its own ESXi host and its own virtual machine.

In more simple tech-speak, it means using vSphere Lifecycle Manager (LCM) to upgrade vCenter instead of using the VAMI interface. The RDU process involves staging and deploying a new VCSA, then replicating the configuration database and settings from source to target VCSA, performing a switchover and promotion of the target VCSA, and at a final stage cleanup of of data and removing old VCSA.

Additional information on RDU and the process can be found here: vCenter Server upgrades with the reduced downtime (92659) (vmware.com) and a video of the process can be found here: vCenter Reduced Downtime Upgrade | vSphere 8 U2 – YouTube

Your mileage may vary, so please do your own due diligence when upgrading…talk with your TAM/SE, and if possible open a proactive SR with VMware GSS.

Ok, let’s get to it. Currently my vCenter is on version 8.01.00300, which is vCenter Server 8.0 Update 1c.

Also if you need to check and verify the version(s) of vCenter, check out this previous blog post: https://mikewire.com/2023/10/09/check-and-verify-version-release-date-and-build-number-of-vmware-vcenter-vmware-esxi-and-vmware-tools/

It’s possible to download the update via URL, but for this example with RDU I’m going to upgrade using a local file/ISO combined with using the vSphere Lifecycle Manager (LCM). Let’s go grab the ISO – selecting to download the 8.0U2 full ISO from VMware Customer Connect.

Looking at the vCenter -> Updates/upgrade panel shows me that the ISO is not mounted, so once the ISO is downloaded let’s put the ISO on a datastore and then mount the ISO to the VCSA VM, then we’ll revisit to verify.

Either use the vSphere web client or SFTP (I use WinSCP) to place the ISO on a datastore – I keep ISO’s in a specific folder.

Using the vSphere client, mount the ISO to the VM – find the VM and click, Actions (or right-click), Edit Settings – be sure to check the Connected box.

Going back to the vCenter -> Updates/upgrade tab, now the status shows that the ISO is mounted. Again, I’m going to use vSphere LCM to upgrade, but it would be possible to use the VAMI if wanted.

Now that the ISO is mounted, click on RECHECK – vCenter will compare the installed plugin version with the ISO file version in step 1.

After the comparison I see that the ISO file version is 22385739, and cross-referencing the vCenter v8 matrix (Build numbers and versions of VMware vCenter Server (2143838) shows the version is indeed, vCenter Server 8.0 Update 2. Click NEXT to go to step 2, Backup.

I have a daily FTP backup job that runs, and I verified the back up completed and is valid. So I will check the box and click NEXT to go to step 3.

vCenter checked the version of the vCenter Lifecycle Manager, and it is up to date, so I will click NEXT to go to step 4.

Now it’s time to configure the target appliance – click on CONFIGURE TARGET APPLIANCE.

Accept the terms, click NEXT.

Join (or don’t) the CEIP, click NEXT

Deploy in the same location as source, click NEXT

I’m using the same configuration, click NEXT

Enter in the Virtual Machine name. Here’s where you have a couple of options: one can leave the name, and the system will append the version to the existing VM name. Or you can choose to use a new VM name, like I did below, and use the new name.

After entering the VM name, enter a temp root password twice, then click NEXT

Fill out the Network, Temporary IP, Subnet Mask, Default Gateway and DNS Server IP’s

Verify settings and click FINISH

The config window will close, then click on NEXT to go to step 5, UPGRADE

When ready, click on START UPGRADE, and the LCM will then kick off the process and prepare the upgrade.

The process will run and a progress bar will let you know how far the process has gone…

When the first stage completes, then the SWITCHOVER button will be active.

When ready to commit to the new VCSA, click that and the rest of the process with continue.

Note the message below…the switchover is in progress

When complete, this message will be displayed

When the switchover to the target VCSA is complete, the original VCSA will initialize a shutdown as illustrated below…

After the switchover completed, the new vCenter came up and all services were running. I gave it one last reboot for good measure, and when it came up I verified we were now running on v8U2 and vCenter has been upgraded.

I noted that in my upgrade process, the source VCSA did not automatically delete, which is fine but I was under the impression the RDU process would handle this. No worries as I went ahead and deleted it manually.

And that’s all – thanks all, and if you got to the bottom of this article, do me a favor and leave a quick comment below on your thoughts and if you have upgraded yet or not. Thanks much!

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