vSphere 5.1 Generally Available

After the announcement made at VMworld about 3 weeks ago, vSphere 5.1 is finally generally available for download and your installation pleasure. Since there are enough posts with aggregated link collections to downloads already and I’m lazy, check this post on yellow-bricks.com for example. The HP custom ESXi ISO for 5.1 containing the latest HP extensions released recently is available for download too.

However, leave any laziness behind and take your time to check the vSphere 5.1 release notes, as these document a huge amount of known issues (with some workarounds):
https://www.vmware.com/support/vsphere5/doc/vsphere-esx-vcenter-server-51-release-notes.html
I hope VMware didn’t rush this release and properly implemented all the nice improvements.

According to the release notes, 5.1 is set to be the last major release to formally support legacy old GuestOS’s such as Windows 3.1/NT/95/98/, RHEL 2.1, OS/2, Novell Netware or Ubuntu 8.*/9.*, which long since ran out of OS support too.
A few of these old OSes are already listed as deprecated for 5.1 in the Compatibility List according to the GuestOS support policy.

The HCL was updated to contain 5.1 info, while the compatibility matrix has yet to be updated with any 5.1 products (Update: info now available). As usual, you will have to update vCenter first and then the hosts or other depending applications.
I also suppose the new 5.1 VMware Tools are supported even running on 5.0 only clusters too, as it was in previous versions. This might save you an unnecessary reboot later.

It’s time to start up the printer and get really familiar with esxcli, as this will be the primary tool for cli management, especially in case of emergencies where you don’t have access to Powercli or GUI tools. esxcli in combination with the vMA provided vifastpass authentication comes in especially handy.

If you already run Windows Server 2012 VMs (Tech Preview support) on your 5.0 U1 infrastructure, be aware of this significant issue when you upgrade to 5.1:
Snapshots and checkpoints of virtual machines with Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 do not boot
>Snapshots and checkpoints of virtual machines with Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 that are taken on a host running ESXi 5.0 Update 1 or ESXi 5.0 P03 will not resume on a host running later versions of ESXi ( ESXi 5.0 Update 2, ESXi 5.1, etc.) and the reverse
>VMotion is prevented between hosts running ESXi 5.0 Update 1 or ESXi 5.0 P03 to and from hosts running later versions of ESXi .

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September ESXi HP updates

With the releases of vSphere 5.1, ESXi 4.1 U3 and Windows Server 2012, it’s time for hardware vendors to update their management agents again. HP did so recently and updated their bundles as follows. These bundles are supported for both, ESXi 5.0 and 5.1:

  • HP ESXi Offline Bundle for VMware ESXi 5.x (CIM providers) updated to 1.3
    Added specific HP ProLiant Gen8 servers to the server support matrix:
        HP ProLiant BL660c Gen8 server
        HP ProLiant  DL560 Gen8 server
  • HP ESXi Utilities Offline Bundle for VMware ESXi 5.x (ILO-config etc.) updated to 1.3
    Added support for the following servers:
        HP ProLiant BL660c Gen8 server
        HP ProLiant DL560 Gen8 server
  • HP NMI Sourcing Driver for VMware ESXi 5.x updated to 2.1. Note that this is not intended for HP ProLiant Gen8 servers.
    Edit 09/10/2012: Actually, the actual NMI VIB hasn’t been updated at all. It is still version  2.0.11-434156, which is exactly the same as the previous version. The only thing that changed was metadata in vendor-index.xml of the zip package to include a section to apply to version “5.1.0” too. An already installed hpnmi bundle won’t be updated because of this.
    # esxcli software sources vib list -d /vmfs/volumes/local_datastore_1/hp-nmi-esxi5.0-bundle-2.1-2.zip
    Name   Version        Vendor  Release Date  Acceptance Level  Status
    hpnmi  2.0.11-434156  hp      2011-07-29    PartnerSupported  Installed
  • HP Agentless Management Service Offline Bundle for VMware ESXi 5.x for the new HP ProLiant Gen8 servers updated to 9.2.0
    The following issues have been fixed:
    AMS Static data lost after clearing Active Health System Log
    iLO shows status Other for unplugged NIC port
    AMS crashes when new vSwitch is configured
    cpqSas trap not reported until query is made
    AMS Active Health does not handle iLO reset
    Added support for the following servers:
    HP ProLiant BL660c Gen8 server
    HP ProLiant DL560 Gen8 server
    Added support for the following:
    Memory DIMM status and iLO information for vCenter
    Logging to the OS event log
    cpqHoFWVer support for NIC and SAS controllers
    Added the Update number to the VMware version and build number
  • HP ProLiant Smart Array Controller Driver for VMware ESXi 5.0 updated to 5.0.0-28.0 (never really used this by the way).
    Add support for correctly displaying RAID 1(ADM) mode for logical volumes. Formerly, RAID 1(ADM) volumes were incorrectly displayed as RAID UNKNOWN.
    Remove code that limited the number of external target (array) device connections to 8 array ports. Exceeding 8 ports prevented logical volumes from registering with the driver. Improved code handling paths and targets.

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