The End of General Support for vSphere 6.0 is Here: Do you have a plan?

Jim Fields

Aaaaugh, make it stop! Another one bites the dust!

Over the last year, you’ve been busy updating all your Microsoft Windows Server versions to one that is supported (right?), and just when we thought we could relax, here comes another end of support date.

VMware extended the general support for vSphere 6.0 to a full five years from date of release, but that date has now passed. Any vSphere hosts in your environment that are still running ESXi 6.0 will soon need to be updated to either vSphere ESXi 6.5 or 6.7, both of which also go End of General Support less than two years from now, on November 15, 2021! 

Per VMware, this End of General Support that happened on March 12, 2020 applies to multiple vSphere 6.0 components:

  • vCenter Server 6.0
  • vCenter Update Manager 6.0
  • ESXi 6.0
  • Site Recovery Manager 6.0 and 6.1
  • vSAN 6.0, 6.1, and 6.2
  • vSphere Data Protection 6.0 and 6.1
  • vSphere Replication 6.0 and 6.1

Stay Compliant and Secure

Can your business afford to continue to run older vSphere software that’s past End of General Support? Just the lack of updates and bug fixes would be bad enough, but these days, security is the main driver. For most production environments, the answer is, “No.” For some with regulatory requirements (HIPAA, PCI, etc.), it’s an absolute no. Unless vSphere 6.0 is in your Test/Dev space, you need to upgrade to vSphere 6.5 or 6.7, and this needs to be completed now.

Ideally, VMware would like you to upgrade to either 6.5 or 6.7, which, as long as your host licenses are still covered by VMware support, would be a “free” upgrade. (For any host licenses where SnS contract coverage has lapsed, your Connection Account Manager can help with renewal). But if your ESXi 6.0 server hosts are too old to be on VMware’s Compatibility Guide for even 6.5 U3, there may be some replacement hardware purchases on your horizon. Hosts that are running with Intel Xeon 54xx (Penryn), 55xx (Nehalem), 56xx (Westmere) or 65xx (Nehalem) processors are limited to ESXi 6.5 U3 or older versions. See the VMware Compatibility Guide for more information.

Newer processors, such as E5-2600 (Sandy Bridge), E5-2600-v2 (Ivy Bridge), E5-2600-v3 (Haswell), E5-2600-v4 (Broadwell), Scalable Gen1 (Skylake), and Scalable Gen2 (Cascade Lake) typically have support for ESXi 6.7 U3, as well. However, the upcoming release of vSphere 7 (which was not officially announced at either VMworld 2019 event), will likely support few old processors, if any. If your processors are on the edge today, it is worth considering whether it makes more sense to replace older hosts today, or before November 2021, when vSphere 6.7 goes End of General Support.

What to Upgrade—and How

Once the decision is made to upgrade ESXi 6.0 to a supported version for your current (or newly acquired) hosts, that decision may require additional vSphere components to be upgraded, as well. Here’s the general upgrade sequence for upgrading a vSphere environment (see the VMware KB article for your specific vSphere version):

  1. Higher-level Tools (vRA, vRO, vRB, vROps, vRLI, vROps, EPOps, vADP, NSX-v, NSX-T)
  2. External Platform Services Controller (PSC) / Single Sign On (SSO)
  3. vCenter Server / vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA)
  4. vSphere Update Manager (VUM)
  5. vSphere Replication (VR)
  6. Site Recovery Manager (SRM)
  7. vSphere Update Manager Download Service (UMDS)
  8. ESXi Hypervisor
  9. VMware Tools
  10. VM Hardware
  11. vSAN /VMFS

And once your hosts are updated, could your workloads benefit from updating VMware Tools and VM Hardware Version? These have been optional, but often provide some very useful new features; for example:

  • VMware Tools 11 brings better integration with Microsoft Update Service, and updated drivers (pvscsi, vmxnet3, and vmci) will be made available through the same service for Windows Server 2016 and later when the driver publication process completes
  • VM Hardware Version 13 (vmx-13) increased maximum VM memory to 6TB
  • VM Hardware Version 14 (vmx-14) added support for NVDIMMs and virtual TPM
  • VM Hardware Version 15 (vmx-15) added support for up to 256 vCPUs (up from 128 vCPUs)

Set Yourself Up for Success

So, the next decision to make is “Do we go it alone?” or “Do we bring in the experts?” If your staff has experience with VMware upgrades and the time, that can be a more economical path (although other projects could be delayed while your staff works through these various upgrades). Engaging the experts allows for the upgrades to be completed in a timely manner and keeps your staff available for other projects, or shadow the upgrade to grow their skills.

Connection offers vSphere Upgrade Services to make this upgrade a pain-free experience. Contact us today to get started.

Jim Fields is a Senior Systems Engineer at Connection with more than 38 years of experience in servers and server management. He holds several technical certifications, including HPE Master Accredited Solutions Expert (MASE)—Advanced Server Solutions Architect V3, HPE Accredited Solutions Expert (ASE)—Composable Infrastructure Integrator V1, and HPE ASE—Server Solutions Architect V4. In his free time, Jim enjoys playing the trombone and singing at his church, as well as computer programming and volunteering with the Boy Scouts.