After updating my homelab to the latest version I stumbled across a new feature which may not have that much attention it should have. The renamed Lifecycle Manager does have the ability to plan and precheck the vCenter server appliance update itself through an “Update Planner”. It also does compatibility checks for already installed products and let’s you edit the list for more software products.
Make sure to check, if the appliance is able to communicate with the repository to fetch the newest updates. Port requirements are listed at VMware Docs.
After you login to the vCenter (and an update is available) you’ll see notifications about an available update on the top line and as a sticker located near the version.
Clicking on either the top notification or the sticker will bring you to the “vCenter Server Update Planner” located under the Update tab. It resembles the update option available of the VAMI and shows all needed information about the update, such as build number, severity, if a reboot is required and a link to the release notes for this update.
Selecting the listed update will activate the options to generate a report for either the interoperability or pre-update checks.
First you should check if all the software components running in your environment are capable of working with the new version which is about to be installed. Selecting the “Interoperability” menu will bring up an additional part on the Update Planner page for all VMware products to check. Software currently in use or already registered are listed automatically, but you’ll have the option to add more manually through the “Modify product list” button. All information listed can be exported also for documentation purpose.
Manually editing the product list option:
Note: 3rd party products will not be checked! Make sure to get in touch with the vendor and / or service provider!
Selecting the “Pre-update checks” option under the “Generate Report” button will bring up another part of the Update Planner which works quite similar as the pre-check of the hosts update and tells you if something is not working as expected and needs to be resolve prior the update. If no issues occur it succeeded and shows the option to move forward to the appliance management interface to install the update.
Up from this point the update is installed as always. Make sure to backup you appliance before moving forward, stage only or install it after staging.
IMHO it is a quite useful and neat feature to check the interoperability beforehand and directly through the vCSA. It makes the update process more straight forward, more centralized and could be expanded in the future with more products or even 3rd party vendors just like the vendor addon option for hosts updates. Kudos!