There have been some small but very useful changes to the feature set of Maintenance Mode in vSphere Update Manager 5.
It’s easier to see when comparing screenshots of a vSphere 4.1 environment to a vSphere 5.0 setup.
Here are the settings presented in VUM 4.1
And here are the settings in VUM 5.0. I’ve highlighted the changes.
Starting at the top (orange), when you remediate one or more hosts, you can choose to change the power state on the VMs if you desire.
The options include shutting down the VMs or suspending them. This is useful in test/dev environments where shutting down/suspending a large number or VMs may be quicker than migrating across to other hosts.
The second change (green) is just some simple more aggressive timing changes on the retry should a host fail to go into maintenance mode. By default it will now try up to 3 times every 5 minutes (instead of every 30 minutes in vSphere 4).
The last set of changes (purple) are some welcome enhancements, particularly if you have large clusters and offer some more automation around migrating powered-off VMs.
The most prominent feature in my opinion is parallel remediation for hosts. In vSphere 4, hosts were remediated in a serial fashion and this could be very time consuming in a large cluster.
Now vSphere 5 will auto determine how many hosts it can patch in parallel using information from DRS. As an admin you can over-ride this at remedation time and manually select how many hosts you want patched at the same time. (see screenshot)
Powered-off and suspended VMs can now be auto configured to migrate when a host goes into maintenance mode, another nice time saver.
The final new feature is around the ability to apply patches to ESXi hosts deployed via vSphere Auto Deploy (i.e PXE booted hosts).
Be aware, only patches that don’t require a host reboot work with this, as PXE booted ESXi hosts are stateless and any patch applied won’t be there next time you reboot the host from the Auto Deploy repository. Any permanent patch would need to be applied to the ESXi host image in the repository.
Overall, the new VUM changes lessen the manual tasks on larger clusters and make patching a less time consuming process.