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NSX 6.3 for vSphere is a major version upgrade that includes new security, platform and compliance features, as well as operations enhancements, such as an updated troubleshooting dashboard and security tagging. Although version 6.3 was the biggest NSX-related release of 2017, it wasn't the only one; within the past year, VMware has released four other minor NSX upgrades. Let's take a quick look at what each of these VMware NSX upgrades includes.
It goes without saying that you should check to see whether your current NSX version is compatible with the upgrade package you want to install before you proceed with any upgrade. You should also verify whether your version of ESXi is compatible with the NSX version to which you intend to upgrade. Each new release of NSX includes updated VMkernel modules, which you need to update on your hosts. VMware provides helpful interoperability matrices to help determine compatibility.
NSX 6.3.1 and 6.3.4, both released in October 2017, are bug-fix releases. If you've experienced any of the issues mentioned in the release notes for either NSX 6.3.1 or 6.3.4 -- such as UI problems on macOS in Firefox and Safari, resolved in 6.3.4 -- you would be wise to upgrade to these versions. NSX 6.3.2 and 6.3.3 also include bugs fixes, but these VMware NSX upgrades include significant improvements, as well.
VMware NSX upgrades add new features and support
Previously included as a tech preview in NSX 6.3.0, NSX 6.3.2 now fully supports Controller Disconnected Operation (CDO) mode. This feature adds a new logical switch, which your hosts and the NSX controller nodes use to exchange VXLAN Tunnel Endpoint information that allows the hosts to continue to exchange networking information when they lose connection to the controller cluster. CDO mode is enabled at the transport zone level and creates a new logical switch with a designated VXLAN identifier.
NSX version 6.3 also changes the controller nodes' OS to the Photon Linux distribution. This distribution, developed by VMware, is at the heart of an increasing number of appliances. For example, the vCenter Appliance versions 6.5 and forward also use the Photon Linux OS. The implication with this upgrade is it deletes controller nodes and replaces them with new ones. This occurs on a rolling basis, and the newly deployed VMs use the same IP address as the original controllers, so there's no downtime involved in the process. You should, however, make sure all three controllers are online when you start the upgrade.
NSX 6.3.3 adds support for Guest Introspection in Windows Server 2016, a new API that allows you to receive all unresolved alarms from NSX Manager. You can typically only see these alarms in the dashboard, but this API allows you to read this data with a REST-enabled client, such as vRealize Orchestrator, and take action. Since some modules in version 6.3.3 are no longer compliant with Federal Information Processing Standards, U.S. government customers should be careful to review release notes to see whether this will affect their environment.
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