• Tech & Trends

Automate Life-Cycle Management With Hitachi HCI and VMware vLCM

By Dinesh Singh

The release of Hitachi Unified Compute Platform Advisor v3.10.0 (UCP Advisor) has introduced comprehensive, one-click, life-cycle management for both software and compute hardware: UCP Advisor provides consistency, performance and reliability across the cluster. The following quick overview of UCP Advisor infrastructure automation and management software reveals the power of this unified cloud management tool.

Using Hitachi’s UCP Advisor as a plug-in for VMware vSphere Lifecycle Manager (vLCM) solves perennial issues for administrators. For example, it keeps hyperconverged Hitachi Unified Compute Platform HC hosts updated and in a declarative state.

Driving Customer Value

To ensure a reliable and predictable infrastructure, it is essential to maintain a consistent environment across the VMware ESXi cluster. However, this is a time- and resource-intensive task, especially at scale. It’s also risky. Ensuring compatible firmware and drives to avoid outages and deliver optimum performance is a tedious manual task that is often error-prone. And lack of automation in upgrades can cause longer maintenance windows, disrupting production schedules.

Unlike the previous VMware Update Manager, vLCM ensures consistency over its entire territory. Furthermore, it updates firmware and drivers, not just application packages. When updates occur to firmware and drivers, data center administrators can update the desired software specification, check its compatibility against the VMware Compatibility Guide and Hyperconverged Compatibility List, and remediate hosts in the cluster to bring them in line with the desired software specification. Administrators can even export and import the desired specification as an image.

Full-Stack Upgrade
Hitachi partnered with VMware to deliver the simplicity of unified life-cycle management for the full-stack hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) appliance. We enhanced Hitachi Unified Compute Platform Advisor with a purpose-built plug-in that works in conjunction with VMware vLCM to enable software and firmware upgrades, ensuring a consistent environment across the cluster. In addition to the above, UCP Advisor enables firmware upgrades of Cisco and Arista Ethernet switches deployed as part of the hyperconverged UCP HC cluster or rack-scale UCP RS (multirack) deployments with VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF).

VMware vCenter Server
VCF = VMware Cloud Foundation, vLCM = VMware vSphere Lifecycle Manager, BMC = baseboard management controller, HCI = hyperconverged infrastructure

One-Click Speed
Integrated life-cycle management capabilities allow Hitachi’s HCI customers to efficiently upgrade software and firmware for the entire environment, with a single workflow simplifying the process and improving predictability. Admin teams can upgrade their entire HCI environment, including hardware and software, in a single scheduled window, reducing planned downtime and complexity.

One-Click Speed

Desired State of HCI Cluster
UCP Advisor v3.10.0 and vSphere 7.x work together to introduce the ability to define the desired life-cycle state of ESXi hosts in an HCI cluster. The desired state consists of a combination of the ESXi version, vendor add-ons, the firmware and the driver versions for the hosts. Once the desired state has been set up, the hosts are automatically checked for compliance and compatibility. In the event of a drift, vSphere administrators can remediate the cluster and bring it back to the desired state in an automated fashion.

To enable the automated compliance for hosts, the following are prerequisites:
1. UCP Advisor 3.10 or higher.
2. vSphere 7.0 U1 or higher.
3. Common configuration: All ESXi hosts in the cluster should ideally have same configuration.

Comprehensive Firmware Management
With the latest release of the UCP Advisor v3.10.0, Hitachi UCP virtualization customers will also be able to natively upgrade the I/O cards to the latest version in a nondisruptive manner for increased stability and better performance. UCP Advisor makes it easy for administrators to schedule the upgrades as per their downtime schedule.

Desired Cluster State

NSX-T Awareness
The latest release of UCP Advisor allows Hitachi customers deploying VMware NSX-T Data Center (formerly NSX-T) on Hitachi’s UCP infrastructure to leverage UCP Advisor as a management tool for the physical provisioning of IP switches. UCP admins with the right privileges are now able to:

  • Get inventory visibility and manage (VLANS and ports).
  • Provision, back up and restore switch configuration.
  • Perform a firmware upgrade on current Cisco and Arista network switches enabled with VMware’s NSX-T.

For UCP RS with VCF environments, UCP Advisor enables the management of multiple workload domains with integration into a linked multi vCenter.

Please ask your questions in the comment section below or visit here for more information.

Dinesh Singh is Senior Solutions Marketing Manager at Hitachi Vantara.

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