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Why You Shouldn’t Upgrade to vSphere 6.7 Just Yet

VMware announced the latest version of vSphere in April 2018 — with updates to its hypervisor and management console. There’s a lot of positive buzz around vSphere 6.7. VMware touts its comprehensive security features, increased support for workloads, and seamless hybrid cloud experience.

With a host of new features and enhancements, it’s tempting to rush and upgrade to 6.7. It might be better putting it off for a while. Here’s a look at why you shouldn’t upgrade to vSphere 6.7 just yet.

It may not be necessary for your environment

After glancing at all the new features VMware offers with vSphere 6.7, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement. You might decide, then and there, to upgrade. Who doesn’t like a shiny new platform? But you need to make sure it’s right for your organization.

Be sure to consider the benefits of an upgrade with critical eyes. Bring in your team, and stakeholders across the organization, if necessary. Evaluate the features one by one, and ask yourselves: Are any of these true must-haves? Do they solve critical business problems? Will they increase efficiency or lower costs?

If you answer “yes” to these questions, can you explain the reasoning behind your answers to leaders in your organization? If not, or if you couldn’t determine a true business justification for the upgrade, it makes sense to wait.

This is especially true if you have a long adoption cycle that involves a lot of resources and testing. There’s something to be said for the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. That also applies to the previous version of vSphere, 6.5.  

Waiting to upgrade to 6.7 gives you time to evaluate the benefits of the platform. It also enables the release to mature with needed patches and updates. As a result, vSphere could become more suitable for your org.

Your existing tech may not be compatible

IT pros who upgraded to 6.7 before evaluating its specs may have encountered a common problem: They had software or hardware that doesn’t support 6.7. If they were smart, they discovered the incompatibility in their staging or test environments before upgrading. If not, they’ve got an expensive situation on their hands.

Before any upgrade, it’s important to do diligent research. However, if you’re determined to upgrade to 6.7, do yourself a favor. Use VMware’s compatibility guide to check both your software and hardware. vSphere 6.7 is incompatible with some older CPUs that are still in use in many environments. Performing a simple check can save you headaches.

You may be able to find workarounds like this explanation of how to upgrade with the disallowed 56xx series CPU. But do you really want to take the risk in your work environment? Several generations of servers lose out on support, as well. If your host hardware is not compatible when installing the vSphere 6.7 upgrade, you’ll receive an incompatibility message and your installation process will be halted.

With a potential for compatibility issues, you may need to think twice about upgrading. There are quite a few CPUs supported by vSphere 6.5 now not supported by 6.7. For example, if you use machines with AMD or Intel processors, you should make sure it’s still supported.  

Also of note, Intel Xeon E3-1200 (SNB-DT) and Intel Xeon E7-2800/4800/8800 (WSM-EX)are supported in the vSphere 6.7 release, but may not be supported in future vSphere releases.

Some VMware products are not compatible with vSphere 6.7, as well. VMware Horizon, VMware NSX, VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO), and VMware vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) are all incompatible.

Other incompatibilities with vSphere 6.7 have been reported, too. For example, one user shared issues with Veeam and older EMC VNXe3200s. You’ll need to find a workaround if you rely on Veeam because vSphere broke some of Veeam’s functionality. But in this case, waiting to upgrade would be a more prudent decision.

vSphere 6.7 needs time to mature

With any new release, this argument comes up: It’s not ready! It’s often recommended to wait three to six months to upgrade after a major release. One reason for this is that many third parties agree to make their integrations compatible with the latest release within this type of timeframe.

VMware, in particular, is a vendor that often gets a lot of “give it a little more time” chatter amongst IT pros. Are you sure you want to take the risk of upgrading before all possible bugs and fixes have been discovered?  Although vSphere 6.7 had a long beta period before being released, it would be wise to wait at least a few more post-release months of general availability before upgrading.

This conservative waiting period allows more bugs to be fixed and give you a better chance at success. Take a look at the release notes for known issues and their workarounds.

There are no supported upgrade paths

If you’re using vSphere 6.5 Update 2, you can’t upgrade to 6.7 yet. There’s no supported upgrade path between the two hypervisors because update 2 was released after 6.7.

With a vendor as large as VMware, there’s a very complex and complicated upgrade system that results in this limitation. So, you’ll have to wait for another 6.5 update before you can consider the 6.7 upgrade.

There’s also no supported upgrade path from vSphere 5.5 to 6.7, either. If your environment is on vSphere 5.5, you’ll have to upgrade to at least version 6.0 before you upgrade to 6.7. The vSphere 6.0 platform is the minimum version that can be upgraded to 6.7. While this alone isn’t a reason not to upgrade, it’s something to be aware of.

Not having the proper support for an upgrade is a reason to hold off, even if it’s for the shiny vSphere 6.7.

A steep learning curve for users of older versions

This goes along with the “it may not be sensible in your environment” reason not to upgrade. If you’ve been on the legacy C# vSphere client (AKA thick client or desktop client), you’re going to face a steep learning curve when you upgrade to anything newer than 6.0.

Newer versions of vSphere include an HTML5-based vSphere Web Client. vSphere has received considerable praise for its improved interface and features. However, it is a big change from previous versions. You should consider the learning curve in regard to your decision about whether or not to upgrade.

Do you have the time and resources to dedicate to mastering this new component? It might be best for your organization to wait until the IT team has the skills to leverage vSphere 6.7.

The bottom line

You shouldn’t hold off on upgrading to vSphere 6.7 forever, especially if you have good business reasons to upgrade. There are many great features with the new release. And VMware users can be confident bugs will be fixed over time. If you do have incompatible software or hardware, maybe it’s time to upgrade those components. It can enable a clearer path to upgrading to 6.7.

But as with many new VMware releases, there are sensible reasons to hold off on an upgrade. The time, risk, and obstacles involved may not make sense for your organization now. vSphere 6.7 will be waiting for you when you’re ready.

 

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