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Design a Horizon View upgrade plan

Move between VMware Horizon View versions with a careful plan to avoid issues. You should break up the process by first upgrading your vCenter and ESXi servers and then upgrading VDI.

The complexity of a VMware Horizon View upgrade often strikes fear into the hearts of IT system administrators,...

but with proper planning and documented best practices, you can upgrade VMware Horizon View versions without much trouble.

Depending on the configuration at hand, you can split the Horizon View upgrade into two separate phases -- upgrading vCenter and the ESXi hosts and then upgrading the Horizon infrastructure servers and associated items. VMware recommends separating these tasks.

Before doing anything, make sure you have a good backup of the environment that includes connection server backups. Ideally, these should already be part of your daily backups. Make sure there is a copy somewhere other than the connection servers.

When upgrading ESXi, ensure that the ESXi versions you are upgrading from and to are supported in VMware's VDI compatibility matrix. Skipping this step is the easiest way to get into trouble, and getting out of it isn't simple or quick.

If vCenter and the hosts need to be upgraded, upgrade them normally by first upgrading vCenter and then the hosts. Determine whether vCenter and host upgrades are necessary. They need to be compliant with the aforementioned matrix. Don't forget to take a snapshot prior to the vCenter upgrade in case you need to roll it back.

Sometimes, VMware removes relatively new hardware from the hardware compatibility list. If you're upgrading vSphere infrastructure, you should check that your hardware is on the list and that you have the appropriate firmware versions to upgrade vCenter and ESXi hardware.

Ensure everything is working correctly beforehand. Clean up any lingering issues. If vMotion, for example, isn't working correctly, the host won't evacuate correctly and will interrupt the vCenter upgrade.

Upgrade Horizon View

The Horizon View upgrade process consists of three steps: upgrading the composer, the connection servers and the security servers.

The simplicity of this process depends on your configuration. It won't be quite as easy with security servers, but if there are no security servers involved, then it is as easy as following Horizon View documentation.

Due to the major changes between Horizon View versions 6 and 7, it's impossible to revert back once the upgrade is complete.

You can perform an upgrade with no downtime if a load balancer fronts all the connection servers. During these upgrades, the composer service won't be available if the servers are on different software versions. Be prompt with this upgrade. Disable each connection server in the admin client before running the upgrade and returning it to the pool. Take a snapshot to enable rollback if necessary.

Due to the major changes between Horizon View versions 6 and 7, it's impossible to revert back once the upgrade is complete. This shouldn't be an issue for most, but it's worth noting.

Upgrade the Horizon View client

Upgrading the Horizon View client is one of the biggest logistical challenges of this process. You can upgrade the client after the main upgrades, but it's easier to deploy the latest client ahead of time with whichever deployment method you usually use.

This addresses any issues with users trying to install the client without administrative rights. The clients are mostly backward-compatible, so this will save a lot of time and hassle.

Note that when the connection servers are upgraded, they must use Federal Information Processing Standards. This might present issues depending on your environment configuration.

For virtual desktops, you need to upgrade the Horizon View agent and, potentially, VMware Tools and virtual hardware. If you use linked clones, this is a relatively simple process of updating the master image and automatically redeploying the VMs with the newly updated virtual hardware and software.

This step doesn't need to be done immediately, but it's best to do it as soon as possible, even though older agents should work in a non-optimal state.

A Horizon View upgrade isn't difficult as long as you follow these steps, study the documentation and test at each stage of the deployment. Treat the vCenter and ESXi server upgrade as the first stage and then move onto the VDI upgrade.

This was last published in June 2018

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