vLCM Compatibility Checks

The previous blog post on vSphere Lifecycle Manager (vLCM) covers all its capabilities and explains how vLCM ensures consistency across all ESXi hosts in a cluster using a declarative model. The desired state includes the ESXi base image, optional vendor add-ons, and firmware & drivers. When hosts drift from the desired state, the configured single image, customers can remediate hosts to compliance.

This blog post will go into more detail on the integrated hardware compatibility checks in vLCM.

Hardware Compatibility Checks

When a vendor integration in vLCM is set up using a supported Hardware Support Manager (HSM), Dell, or HP in the first vSphere 7 release, customers can verify hardware compatibility. Checking the image compliance for a desired state that includes the optional Firmware and Drivers Addon provides insights on devices on the ESXi hosts and what firmware version they run versus what firmwares are defined in the image.In the screenshot example above, you’ll notice that the hosts in this cluster are not compliant to the desired state. It immediately shows us that various devices including the storage controller is running an older firmware version. To rectify the desired state drift, we can remediate the hosts. The HSM will then work to get the firmwares updates on the devices in the host, all done from within the vSphere client!

The ability to easily upgrade device firmwares using vLCM is a powerful tool that provides reliability and increased performance as hardware devices are only as good as its firmwares and drivers.

HCL Automatic Checks

Running the best firmware is key for all hardware devices, as is the case when running hyper-converged infrastructures (HCI) with vSAN. Think about the storage controller and its impact on storage performance and storage media used for vSAN. Customers will greatly benefit if all storage components in an ESXi host perform as optimal as possible, using the best possible firmware.

Checking updates for firmwares and drivers using the desired state in vLCM provides this capability. We expanded the checks for storage controllers so that the firmware is also checked against the VMware Compatibility Guide (VCG, also referred to as HCL). vCenter Server with vLCM syncs with the HCL.

When you examine the hardware compatibility option under Cluster > Updates it provides the option to discover and resolve potential hardware compatibility issues. In the first release, this is limited to vSAN storage controllers, although selected NVMe devices are also checked as they use embedded storage controllers.

Taking a closer look at the storage controller is this screenshot, we notice it is shown as a compatible device. So not only the firmware of the storage controller is checked against the desired state including the additional firmware and drivers addon. It is also checked against the HCL.

The screenshot below shows the firmware of the Dell HBA330 adapter in all hosts is up to date. It is running the same version as recommended in the HCL. A direct link to the HCL is also provided if you want to review the listing.

–originally authored and posted by me at https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2020/04/vsphere-7-lifecycle-compatibility-checks.html–

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