BlogPost Series – Creating a Roadmap for vSphere Upgrades:
Phase 1 – Kick-off

This is the beginning of the blogpost series “Creating a Roadmap for vSphere Upgrades”. As a consultant, I’ve seen quite some different type of customers, business environments, uses cases for using virtualization and different kind of setups and implementations. One of my recent projects that I’ve been placed on, was upgrading a vSphere environment, but since this was quite a large and specific use case, the more or less “standard” approach wouldn’t suffice. While putting a lot of time in creating a customized Roadmap for the customer, I realized that for the future I wanted to have some form of template or approach. One that my future me, colleagues, other consultants or engineers could use for their own projects. Since the roadmap for this customer was quite use case specific, it was not something that I could re-use directly, but I guess that this is be the case for most designs or roadmaps. So with that being said, with these series, I will try to create a form of template and design approach for creating and planning your own (customized) Roadmap for vSphere Upgrade. All be it through the eyes of a consultant.

Content of the Series

These posts will cover both the technical as well as the non-technical aspects for this approach, since they are both invaluable in these kinds of projects.

If you ever spend time on creating a design or have studied for the VCAP-design exam, then you’ll find that the approach for creating a “vSphere upgrade Roadmap” has a lot of similarities with that. SMART, RCAR & RAMPS sound familiar? If not, no worries, we’ll cover these parts step by step. These series will consist of different parts that are following the different phases during a project. 

BlogPost Serie Overview:
Phase 1: Kick-off
Phase 2: Assessment
         Phase 3: Defining the IST (Current State)
         Phase 4: Dependencies & Compatibility
Phase 5.1: Technical vSphere Challenges
⚬           Phase 5.2: Common vSphere Challenges
⚬           Phase 5.3: Solving vSphere Compatibility Challenges with VVD
⚬           Phase 6: Defining the Soll & Roadmap (Future State)

If you think, wait whut? Where is the technical juice? I just want a simple upgrade and execution plan. No worries, the technical parts will almost be in every phase, but there are several roads, risks and pitfalls that can come with a vSphere upgrade. Getting a clear overview of what’s going on in an organization is a necessity for a project and also for a vSphere upgrade to be successful, especially when you’re a consultant. Asking the right questions and creating clear expectations makes running projects much easier, since making the right (technical) decisions, is only possible when you’ve gained the right information. For this I have created an excel template which will be used to fill in the information that we have gained by going through the above phases. The template can be freely downloaded here:

Why the different Phases?
If you are not a consultant but an internal VMware / Infrastructure engineer, chances are that you know your environment quite well. Going through these phases can therefor also go much faster, since gathering information and planning is a big part of these kind of projects. Still, by going through these phases, you can proceed with more confidence, knowing that you’ve checked all there is and looked at the objective from different angles. Which helps you identifying risks, prevent unwanted downtimes, or prevent being stuck with some choices that cannot be changed without redeploying halve the vSphere environment.

Example: Why the different Phases?
For example: Going from 5.1 or 5.5 to 6.5 is a big step. Jumping forward to version 6.7 is once again quite different. There are lots of different vCenter features that have been added between those different versions (Like Enhanced Linked Mode), and not every one of them is compatible with all the setups or upgrade scenario’s. Depending from which version you’re coming from and to which version you’re going, can make a big difference in the type of upgrade you’re going to choose. Besides that, you also have to check compatibility of versions between different Hardware & Software vendors, that are part, or make use of the vSphere environment.

Since there are hundreds of different factors and setups with VMware and 3th party products possible, I will not address all the possible combinations. Which I guess you will understand. I will however, cover the most common setups, reasons, jumps and problems most customers and organizations seem to face. But most importantly, these posts will help you to develop a Roadmap that will guide you through all the decisions and checks that you can or will face. With that being said.

Let’s begin.


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