The somewhat anticipated release of VMware vSphere 6.7 Update 1 is now with us. So, the burning question now is “Can I upgrade?”. The answer is not quite as simple as a yes or no as this is always a mine field, particularly where interoperability is concerned. My intention with this article is to save you some of the leg work with respect to investigating product interoperability.
However please note, this article doesn’t dig into hardware compatibility, or compatibility with third party products, simply because of the vast array of possible scenarios.
Compatibility with Horizon View 7
The most common starting point is VMware Horizon 7 itself. By checking the VMware product Interoperability Matrix, we can see that the minimum release of VMware Horizon that is validated with VMware vSphere 6.7 Update 1 is the latest release, 7.6.
VMware Horizon 7.6 – COMPATIBLE
VMware App Volumes
VMware App Volumes 2.14 and the more recent patch release are both listed as a valid configuration. This would also be the recommended release for use with VMware Horizon 7.6, although it has quite a generous level of backward compatibility.
One observation of note is that the poorly adopted cul-de-sac release 3.0 product has not been validated against 6.7, but as this was explicitly incompatible with 6.5, so this is not particularly surprising.
VMware App Volumes 2.14.2 – COMPATIBLE
VMware vRealize Operations for Horizon
With respect to VMware vRealize Operations support in general, release 6.6.1 or later is required. This is driven by vSphere rather than Horizon which can work with older vROps releases.
For a VMware Horizon environment running on VMware vSphere 6.7 Update 1, the VMware vRealize Operations for Horizon plugin needs to be on 6.6.0 to support VMware Horizon 7.6 to retain compatibility through to VMware vSphere.
However, care should be taken with the compatibility between the Horizon plugin and vRealize Operations itself. As the Horizon component only supports Horizon 7.6 directly on release 6.6.0 of the plugin, the interoperability matrix dictates that VMware vRealize Operations should be running on release 6.7.
VMware vRealize Operations Manager 6.7 – COMPATIBLE
VMware vRealize Operations for Horizon 6.6 – COMPATIBLE
Of course, for features, guest operating system compatibility, the latest version is recommended.
VMware User Environment Manager 9.5 – COMPATIBLE
VMware NSX for vSphere
Although not every VMware Horizon deployment uses VMware NSX, it’s included to flag a possible concern. With respect to straight VMware vSphere interoperability, VMware NSX for vSphere 6.4.2 and 6.4.3 both support for vSphere 6.7 Update 1. However, the supported Horizon release (7.6) has yet to be validated with NSX 6.4.2 or 6.4.3. This is unlikely to cause an issue, and validation is likely to be only a matter of time, though it may be enough to cause a pause for thought.
VMware NSX for vSphere 6.4.3 – SUBJECT TO CONFIRMATION BY VMware REGARDING HORIZON 7.6
Upgrading Desktop Templates
With respect to upgrading templates, the back-end components should be upgraded prior to the agents within the image. As such, upgrading this rather depends on how many change windows are being used to upgrade the above components. In all cases, VMware have limited support for backward compatibility for agents, so there is flexibility here. The VM templates have the following components/dependencies:
- VMware App Volumes Agent – used for registering the VM and the logged in user to App Volumes manager.
- VMware UEM Agent – used for managing the user persona via UEM.
- VMware vRealize Operations for Horizon Agent – although a version is integrated as part of the VMware Horizon Agent, for full functionality in line with the release of vRealize Operations for Horizon, the dedicated agent is recommended.
- VMware Horizon Agent – this is used to provide components for managing deployment, assignment and the remote desktop protocol to the desktop. It is recommended that this is installed after VMware Tools has been upgraded.
- VMware Tools – required for interaction with vSphere, as well as providing optimised device drivers for the guest OS.
- The VM virtual hardware version – this is defined by the VMware ESXi release. Upgrading should only be carried out once VMware Tools are upgraded but can be beneficial for performance reasons.
Where hardware GPUs are deployed, there are further considerations. For example, if the templates are deployed using a vDGA (Dedicated Graphics) or Nvidia vGPU configuration, further investigation into supported Nvidia drivers should be carried out.
What to upgrade first?
Where to start upgrading will be driven from your starting point, so it’s well worth looking at compatibility of the release that you’re starting at with the relevant components.
Upgrading VMware vRealize Operations and the Horizon plugin is likely to be the best starting point as this supports all the monitored components backwards for a number of releases. In addition, it is the least disruptive activity for users.
After this, updating App Volumes Managers would be the next step.
Upgrading VMware Horizon follows the order it has always followed – VMware Composer, followed by Connection Servers and Security Servers. The recommendation, however, would be to take the time to retire any Security Servers and replace them with VMware Unified Access Gateway appliances instead.
Where deployed, VMware NSX would be next on the list..
After this, the vCenter upgrade followed by the VMware ESXi hosts should take place. In the case of the latter, as mentioned previously, pay close attention where hardware GPUs are deployed as this may need upgraded drivers and software in-line with the vSphere release. If vSAN is deployed, this would take place as the closing step of upgrading all the ESXi hosts in the cluster, ensuring that there is enough space to carry out such an upgrade.
With respect to the desktop templates, upgrading of components can be staged, but the supporting services must be in place first.
Although there are a fair few items to consider, so long as the components are upgraded with consideration to each other and in the proper order, it’s possible to uplift the entire stack to support VMware vSphere 6.7 Update 1. The only caveat is the lack of interoperability testing between releases of VMware Horizon 7.6 and NSX 6.4, though it should be remembered that there is no direct connection between the two products and VMware have yet to actually publish test results for this combination.
If you are looking to get the best from VMware infrastructure and understand your upgrade and compatibility options, please contact us, and we’d be happy to use our wealth of knowledge and experience to assist you.