Cisco Software Version 6.2.3x New and Changed Features Cisco WAAS Software Version 6.2.3d includes the following new features and changes: • Alarm Email Notification- With release 6.2.3d, the WAAS software supports an email notification mechanism, that is triggered whenever the WAAS Central Manager receives an alarm notification for a raised or cleared alarm. To configure the alarm email notification feature: –From the WAAS Central Manager menu go to Devices >Configure >Monitoring >Email Notification to configure the email server settings. –From the WAAS Central Manager go to Home >Admin >Alarm Email Notification >Configure to configure the email notification settings. You can enable the email notification for Raised and Cleared alarms, depending on the severity level.
After you have configured this, you are notified of all alarms for the devices that are registered with the WAAS Central Manager. • Easy detection and resolution of configuration conflicts between WAAS Central Manager and WAAS Devices. To identify the configuration conflict pages, from the WAAS Central Manager navigate to Home >Admin >Force Device Group >View Pages to see the impacted Device Name, Device Group Name and Page Name. You can click on the page link to navigate to the corresponding page to correct the configuration conflict. Cisco Software Version 6.2.3b New and Changed Features • Configuring ICA over Socket Secure (SOCKS) Server—For WAAS Version 6.2.3b and later, WAAS software supports optimizing ICA traffic redirected over SOCKS proxy servers.
For details on how to configure ICA over SOCKS for WAAS, see. • SMART-SSL, an encryption service that enables L7 application network services (such as FTP, HTTP, DNS) to optimize traffic on SSL/TLS encrypted applications. SMART-SSL enables content caching for SSL/TLS applications (HTTP object cache for HTTPS traffic) in single-sided deployment. For how to configure and use this feature, see “Configuring SMART-SSL” in the “Configuring Application Acceleration” chapter of the.
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• Cisco WAAS Version 6.2.3 with Akamai Connect Version 1.4.2 • vWAAS new and changed features: –vWAAS in KVM on CentOS For a list of CLI commands added to or changed for WAAS Version 6.2.3x, see. Standard Image Files Cisco WAAS Software Version 6.2.3x includes the following standard primary software image files for use on Cisco WAAS appliances and modules: • waas-universal-6.2.3. X -k9.bin—Universal software image that includes Central Manager and Application Accelerator functionality. You can use this type of software file to upgrade a device operating in any device mode. • waas-accelerator-6.2.3.
X -k9.bin—Application Accelerator software image that includes Application Accelerator functionality only. You can use this type of software file to upgrade only an Application Accelerator device.
This software image file is significantly smaller than the Universal image. Kdump analysis functionality is not included in the Accelerator-only image. The following additional files are also included: • waas-rescue-cdrom-6.2.3. X -k9.iso—Cisco WAAS software recovery CD image. • waas-sre-installer-6.2.3.x-k9.zip—Image for SRE installer. • waas-x86_64-6.2.3. X -k9.sysimg—Flash memory recovery image for 64-bit platforms (WAVE-294/594/694/7541/7571/8541).
• waas-6.2.3. X -k9.sysimg—Flash memory recovery image for 32-bit platforms (all other devices). • waas-kdump-6.2.3. X -k9.bin—Kdump analysis component that you can install and use with the Application Accelerator software image. The Kdump analysis component is intended for troubleshooting specific issues and should be installed following the instructions provided by Cisco TAC. • waas-alarm-error-books-6.2.3. X.zip—Contains the alarm and error message documentation.
No Payload Encryption Image Files Cisco WAAS Software Version 6.2.3x includes No Payload Encryption (NPE) primary software image files that have the disk encryption feature disabled. These images are suitable for use in countries where disk encryption is not permitted. NPE primary software image files include the following: • waas-universal-6.2.3. X -npe-k9.bin—Universal NPE software image that includes Central Manager and Application Accelerator functionality. You can use this type of software file to upgrade a device operating in any device mode. • waas-accelerator-6.2.3. X -npe-k9.bin—Application Accelerator NPE software image that includes Application Accelerator functionality only.
You can use this type of software file to upgrade only an Application Accelerator device. This software image file is significantly smaller than the Universal image. Kdump analysis functionality is not included in the Accelerator-only image. • waas-sre-installer-6.2.3. X -npe-k9.zip—SM-SRE install.zip file that includes all the NPE files necessary to install Cisco WAAS on the SM-SRE module.
The following additional files are also included: • waas-rescue-cdrom-6.2.3. X -npe-k9.iso—Cisco WAAS NPE software recovery CD image. • waas-x86_64-6.2.3.
X -npe-k9.sysimg—Flash memory NPE recovery image for 64-bit platforms (WAVE-294/594/694/7541/7571/8541). • waas-6.2.3. X -npe-k9.sysimg—Flash memory NPE recovery image for 32-bit platforms (all other devices). • waas-alarm-error-books-6.2.3.
X -npe.zip—Contains the NPE alarm and error message documentation. Cisco WAAS Appliance System Firmware Update On Cisco Wide Area Application Engine (WAE) and Cisco Wide Area Application Virtualization Engine (WAVE) appliances, we recommend that you update the following three types of system firmware to the latest version to best support new Cisco WAAS features. This section has the following topics: • BIOS on the WAVE-294/594/694/7541/7571/8541 models. The latest BIOS is required for AppNav operation. • BMC firmware on the WAVE-294/594/694/7541/7571/8541 models.
The latest BMC (Baseboard Management Controller) firmware is required for Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) over LAN feature. • RAID controller firmware on the WAVE-7541/7571/8541. The latest RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) controller firmware is recommended to avoid some rarely-encountered RAID controller issues. WAVE-594/694/7541/7571/8541 appliances shipped from the factory with Cisco WAAS Version 5.0.1 or later have the correct BIOS installed. WAVE-294 appliances shipped from the factory with Cisco WAAS Version 5.1.1 or later have the correct BIOS installed. If you install a Cisco AppNav Controller Interface Module in a device that requires a BIOS update, the bios_support_seiom major alarm is raised, “I/O module may not get the best I/O performance with the installed version of the system BIOS firmware.” To determine if a device has the correct BIOS version, use the show hardware command.
The last three characters of the Version value, for example, “20a,” show the BIOS version installed on the device. For the specific BIOS version required for WAVE-594/694 models, WAVE-7541/7571/8541 models, and WAVE-294 models or if a BIOS firmware update is needed, you can download it from cisco.com at the download page ( customers only). The firmware binary image for WAVE-294/594/694/7541/7571/8541 appliances is named waas6-bios-installer-20a-19a-13a-k9.bin. You can use the following command to update the BIOS from the image file that is available through FTP on your network: copy ftp install ip-address remotefiledir waas6-bmc-installer-49a-49a-27a-k9.bin Use the appropriate BIOS installer file for your appliance model. The complete update process can take several minutes and the device may appear unresponsive but do not interrupt the process or power cycle the device. After the update is complete, you must reload the device. After the device reboots, you can verify the firmware version by using the show hardware command.
BMC Firmware Update IPMI over LAN requires that you install a specific BMC firmware version on the device. The minimum supported BMC firmware versions are as follows: • WAVE-294/594/694—49a • WAVE-7541/7571/8541—27a Cisco WAAS appliances shipped from the factory with Cisco WAAS Version 4.4.5 or later have the correct firmware installed. If you are updating a device that was shipped with an earlier version of Cisco WAAS software, you must update the BMC firmware, unless it was updated previously. To determine if you are running the correct firmware version, use the show bmc info command. The following example displays the latest BMC firmware version installed on the device (49a here).
If a BMC firmware update is needed, you can download it from cisco.com at the Cisco Wide Area Application Service (WAAS) Firmware download page ( customers only). For example, if the firmware binary image is named waas-bmc-installer-49a-49a-27a-k9.bin, you can use the following command to update the firmware from the image file that is available through FTP on your network: copy ftp install ip-address remotefiledir waas6-bmc-installer-49a-49a-27a-k9.bin The update process automatically checks the health status of the BMC firmware. If the system detects that the BMC firmware is corrupted, BMC is recovered during the BMC firmware update procedure. The complete update process can take several minutes. If the device appears unresponsive, do not interrupt the process or power cycle the device. After the update is complete, you must reload the device.
After the device reboots, you can verify the firmware version by using the show bmc info command. BMC recovery and BMC firmware update restores the factory defaults on the BMC and all the current IPMI over LAN configurations are erased. If the BMC firmware gets corrupted, a critical alarm is raised.
RAID Controller Firmware Update We recommend that you upgrade to the latest RAID-5 controller firmware for your hardware platform, which can be found on cisco.com at the Cisco Wide Area Application Service (WAAS) Firmware download page ( customers only). The firmware differs depending on your hardware platform: • WAVE-7541/7571/8541—Update to the 12.12.0 (0060) RAID Controller Firmware (or later version). The firmware binary image is named waas6-raid-fw-installer-12.12.0-0060-k9.bin.
Instructions on how to apply the firmware update are posted on cisco.com together with the firmware in the file named M2_0060_FIRMWARE.pdf, which you can see when you hover the mouse over the firmware file. About ICA over SOCKS Optimization In a typical deployment where NetScaler is deployed as a SOCKS proxy, the connections from the client go to the SOCKS server instead of the XenApp server.
Since the ICA optimizer accepts and intercepts only ICA and CGP packets, the packets with SOCKS headers are not recognized and the connection is handed off. The ICA traffic does not get optimized in such scenarios.
For WAAS Version 6.2.3b and later, the WAAS software supports optimizing ICA traffic redirected over SOCKS proxy servers. Configuration Procedure for Optimizing ICA over SOCKS To support optimizing ICA over SOCKS, perform the following steps: Step 1Make the necessary changes in the NetScaler Gateway to enable the SOCKS proxy (Cache redirection server) and also make the equivalent/required changes on the StoreFront server along with updates to the default.ica file. Refer to Citrix NetScaler documentation for more information.
Step 2From the WAAS Central Manager menu, choose Devices >device-name (or Device Groups >device-group-name). Next choose Configure >Acceleration >Optimization Class-Map.
Step 3Edit the class-map named Citrix and add the required port number using the Add Match Condition option. The port number added in the class-map should be the same as the one configured for the SOCKS proxy, on the NetScaler gateway. Note that in case the SOCKS proxy port is running on ICA or CGP ports i.e. 1494 or 2498, then the existing configuration need not be modified. Step 4Select the branch device and make the necessary changes for the port number. Alternately use the class-map type match-any citrix global configuration command to make these changes.
Platforms Supported by WAAS The Cisco WAAS software operates on these hardware platforms: • WAVE-294, 594, 694, 7541, 7571, 8541 • SM-SRE-700/710, 900/910 • ISR-WAAS-200, 750, 1300, 2500 • vWAAS-150, 200, 750, 1300, 2500, 6000, 12000, 50000 on ESXi. For information on minimum ESXi version supported for each vWAAS model, see the. • vWAAS-150, vWAAS-200, 750, 1300, 2500, 6000, 12000, 50000 on Microsoft Hyper-V. For information on the version of Windows supported for each vWAAS model on Microsoft Hyper-V, see the.
• For WAAS Version 6.2.1 and later, vWAAS is supported on RHEL KVM. For WAAS Version 6.2.3x and later, vWAAS is supported on KVM on CentOS and Microsoft Azure. For more information on vWAAS for RHEL KVM, KVM on CentOS, and vWAAS on Microsoft Azure, see the. Additionally, Cisco 880 Series, 890 Series, and ISR G2 routers running Cisco WAAS Express are supported on the branch side (Cisco WAAS Version 5.0.x or later is required on the data center side). You must deploy the Cisco WAAS Central Manager on a dedicated device. Cisco WAAS Version Interoperability Consider the following guidelines when operating a Cisco WAAS network that mixes Software Version 6.2.3x devices with devices running earlier software versions: • Cisco WAAS CM interoperability: In a mixed version Cisco WAAS network, the Central Manager must be running the highest version of the Cisco WAAS software, and associated Cisco WAAS devices must be running Version 5.1.x or later. • Cisco WAAS system interoperability: Cisco WAAS Version 6.2.3x is not supported running in a mixed version Cisco WAAS network in which any Cisco WAAS device is running a software version earlier than Version 5.1.x.
Directly upgrading a device from a version earlier than Version 5.5.3 to 6.2.3x is not supported. • For vWAAS with WAAS Version 6.1.x and later, the vWAAS and vCM devices require both virtual (network) interfaces to be present, but both need not be active. If only one virtual interface is active, the vWAAS and vCM devices will not be operational after power up. For more information, see the. • To ensure reliable throughput with the following configuration—vWAAS on Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V in Cisco UCS-E Series 160S-M3—we recommend that you do the following: –Upgrade to the latest UCS-E firmware (Version 3.1.2), available on the. –Verify that you have installed the critical Windows Server updates, available on the page.
You can also obtain the standalone update package through the Microsoft Download Center by searching for KB2887595. • If the virtual host was created using an OVA file of vWAAS for WAAS Version 5.0 or earlier, and you have upgraded vWAAS within WAAS, you must verify that the SCSI Controller Type is set to VMware Paravirtual. Otherwise, vWAAS will boot with no disk available and will fail to load the specified configuration. If needed, change the SCSI controller type to VMware Paravirtual by following these steps: a.Power down the vWAAS.
B.From the VMware vCenter, navigate to vSphere Client >Edit Settings >Hardware. C.Choose SCSI controller 0.
D.From the Change Type drop-down list, verify that the SCSI Controller Type is set to VMware Paravirtual. If this is not the case, choose VMware Paravirtual. F.Power up the vWAAS, with WAAS Version 6.1.x or later. For more information on setting the SCSI Controller Type and on the vWAAS VM installation procedure, see the. NoteFor a vCM-100 model used with the RHEL KVM or KVM on CentOS hypervisor, with the default memory size of 2 GB: When you upgrade to WAAS Version 6.2.3x from an earlier version, or downgrade from WAAS Version 6.2.3x to an earlier version, and use either the restore factory-default command or the restore factory-default preserve basic-config command, the vCM-100 may not come up due to GUID Partition Table (GPT) boot order errors.
CAUTION: The restore factory-default command erases user-specified configuration information stored in the flash image, including the starting configuration of the device, and also removes data from the disk, user-defined partitions, and the entire Central Manager database. To resolve this situation, follow these steps: 1. Power down the vWAAS using the virsh destroy vmname command or the virt manager. Power up the vWAAS using the virsh start vmname command or the virt manager.
This upgrade/downgrade scenario does not occur for vCM-100 models whose memory size is upgraded to 4 GB. Operating Guidelines for Cisco WAAS, ISR-WAAS and IOS-XE Interoperability • ISR4321-B/K9 is not supported for ISR-WAAS installation.
• Activating ISR-WAAS after formatting the Cisco 4000 Series ISR-router bootflash: After you format the Cisco 4000 Series ISR-router bootflash, you must reload the router to ensure a successful activation of ISR-WAAS. If you do not reload the ISR router after formatting the bootflash, you will be unable to activate ISR-WAAS. For more information on formatting the Cisco 4000 Series ISR router bootflash, see the. • For ISR-4321 with IOS-XE, used with WAAS Version 6.2.3c or 6.3.1: You must complete a new OVA deployment of WAAS version 6.2.3c or 6.3.1 for this configuration to work successfully.
This configuration will not automatically work after an upgrade to WAAS Version 6.2.3c or 6.3.1 from WAAS Version 5.x or 6.x. • Using the intrusion detection and prevention system Snort with ISR-WAAS and ISR-4000 Series, with a hard disk less than or equal to 200 GB: To ensure a successful WAAS installation of ISR-WAAS and Snort on an ISR router, you must install ISR-WAAS before you install Snort. If you do not follow this installation order, ISR-WAAS will not install and a disk error will be displayed. • VRF restriction for VirtualPortGroup31 on ISR-WAAS: When you configure ISR-WAAS with EZConfig—VirtualPortGroup31, the WAAS service/router interface, is automatically created, and you can then add or modify specific parameters for it. • All AppNav devices in a single cluster must be of the same exact type. This includes IOS-XE devices, down to memory and ESP configuration.
–All Cisco ASRs (Aggregation Services Routers) in an AppNav Controller Group need to be the same model, with the same ESP (Embedded Services Processor) rate (in Gbps). For example, in an AppNav Controller Group, you cannot have one ASR-1006 40-Gbps ESP and one ASR-1006 100-Gbps ESP.
–The same principle is true for using the ISR (Integrated Services Router) 4000 series. You cannot have an ISR-4451 and an ISR-4321 in the same AppNav-XE cluster. • If you are connecting an AppNav Controller (ANC) to a Catalyst 6500 series switch and you have configured the ANC to use the Web Cache Communication Protocol (WCCP) with the L2 redirect method, do not deploy the ANC on the same subnet as the client computers.
This configuration can cause packet loss due to a limitation of the Catalyst 6500 series switch. • For a Cisco WAAS device running WAAS Version 6.x and a Cisco WAAS Express peer device running Cisco IOS Release 15.6(3)M, 15.6(2)T1 or later, TLS1 is supported, but SSL3 is removed. Before upgrading WAAS Express to one of these IOS releases, configure TLS1 in the WAAS Express Device Group >Peering Service page, and then upgrade the WAAS Express device to the specified IOS release. • When using a Cisco WAAS device running version 5.x and a Cisco WAAS Express peer device running Cisco IOS Release 15.2(2)T or earlier, connections originating from the Cisco WAAS device and sent to the Cisco WAAS Express peer are passed through instead of being optimized. We recommend upgrading to Cisco WAAS Express in Cisco IOS Release 15.2(3)T or later to take advantage of the latest enhancements. Step 2Perform the Cisco WAAS software upgrade on all WAEs using the Cisco WAAS Central Manager GUI. Step 3Verify that all WAEs have been upgraded in the Devices pane of the Central Manager GUI.
Choose Devices to view the software version of each WAE. Step 4If mask assignment is used for WCCP, ensure that all WAEs in the service group are using the same WCCP mask value. Step 5Reenable WCCP redirection on the Cisco IOS routers. To enable WCCP redirection, use the ip wccp global configuration commands. NTLM Interoperability Cisco WAAS Version 5.1 and later do not support Windows domain login authentication using the NTLM protocol.
Therefore, upgrading from a Cisco WAAS Version earlier than Version 5.1 with the device configured with Windows domain login authentication using the NTLM protocol is blocked. You must change the Windows domain authentication configuration to use the Kerberos protocol before proceeding with the upgrade. Follow these steps to change from NTLM to Kerberos Windows domain login authentication: Step 1Unconfigure Windows domain login authentication.
You can do this from the Central manager in the Configure >Security >AAA >Authentication Methods window. Step 2Change the Windows domain configuration setting to use the Kerberos protocol. You can do this from Central manager in the Configure >Security >Windows Domain >Domain Settings window. For more information, see “Configuring Windows Domain Server Authentication Settings” in the “Configuring Administrative Login Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting” chapter of the. Step 3Perform the Windows domain join again from the Central manager in the Configure >Security >Windows Domain >Domain Settings window. Step 4Configure Windows domain login authentication from the Central manager in the Configure >Security >AAA >Authentication Methods window. Step 5Upgrade your device.
NoteIf you are upgrading the Central Manager itself from the GUI and the Windows domain login authentication on the Central Manager is configured to use the NTLM protocol, the upgrade fails with the following error logged in the device log: Error code107: The software update failed due to unknown reason. Please contact Cisco TAC. To view the device log for the Central Manager, choose the Central Manager device and then choose Admin >Logs >Device Logs. If you see this error, follow the steps above to change the Central Manager device Windows domain login authentication from NTLM to Kerberos. If you upgrade the Central Manager itself from the CLI and the upgrade fails due to NTLM being configured, you will get an appropriate error message. Once the Central Manager is upgraded to Version 5.1, it can detect and display the reason for any upgrade failures for other devices.
NoteCisco WAAS Version 5.1 and later do not support the Kerberos protocol running with a nonstandard port (other than port 88). Upgrading from a Cisco WAAS Version earlier than 5.1 with the device configured with the Kerberos protocol on a nonstandard port is blocked. You must change the Kerberos server on your network to listen on port 88 and change the Kerberos configuration on the device to use port 88. You can do this from the Central manager in the Configure >Security >Windows Domain >Domain Settings window. If you are trying to upgrade your device from the CLI and the upgrade fails due to NTLM configuration, then the kerberos_validation.sh script is installed on your device. This script can be used to verify that your network supports the Kerberos protocol before changing from NTLM to Kerberos. This script is not available if you are using the Central Manager to upgrade the device.
To run the script, follow these steps: Step 1(Optional) Run the Kerberos validation script command with the -help option to display the usage: CM# script execute kerberos validation.sh -help. WAAS AOs Interoperability with Third-Party Load Balancers A load balancer is used to balance network and application traffic across a set of servers, The resulting evenly-distributed traffic improves the response rate of network traffic, increases the availability of applications, and minimizes the risk of a single server becoming overloaded. Shows the interoperability between WAAS application accelerators (AOs) and the F5 load balancer. For more information about WAAS load balancing, see and in the “Configuring Traffic Interception” chapter of this Configuration Guide, and also see the. Upgrading from a Release Version to Version 6.2.3x Upgrading to WAAS Version 6.2.3x is supported from WAAS Version 4.2.1 and later.
For information on upgrade paths, see. To take advantage of new features and bug fixes, we recommend that you upgrade your entire deployment to the latest version. For an overview of the upgrade process from a release version to Version 6.2.3xx, see. This section contains the following topics: • • – – – – – – – – • • • For additional upgrade information and detailed procedures, refer to the. WAAS Version 5.1 and Later: NTLM Cisco WAAS Version 5.1 and later do not support NTLM Windows domain authentication or use of a nonstandard port (other than port 88) for Kerberos authentication. • Upgrading from a Cisco WAAS Version earlier than 5.1 is blocked if either of these configurations are detected. You must change these configurations and ensure that your domain controller is configured for Kerberos authentication before proceeding with the upgrade.
• A script is provided to verify that your network supports Kerberos protocol before migrating from NTLM. For more information, see. If no application is using the unsupported configurations on the device, then remove the unsupported configurations to upgrade. WAAS Version 5.2 and Later: Usernames Cisco WAAS Version 5.2 and later restrict the characters used in usernames to letters, numbers, period, hyphen, underscore, and @ sign, and a username must start with a letter or number.
Any username not meeting these guidelines is prevented from logging in. Prior to upgrading the Central Manager to Version 5.2 or later, we recommend that you change any such usernames to valid usernames to allow login. For local users—Change usernames in the Central Manager Admin >AAA >Users page. For remotely authenticated users—Change usernames on the remote authentication server. WAAS Version 5.3 and Later: Name and Description Fields Cisco WAAS Version 5.3 and later restricts the use of characters in the name and description field to alphanumeric characters, periods (.), hyphens (-), underscores (), and blank spaces when you create custom reports. When you upgrade from Cisco WAAS Version 4.x and you have custom reports that have special characters in the name or description field, Cisco WAAS automatically removes the special characters from the report name and description, and logs the modification in the Centralized Management System (CMS) logs.
WAAS Version 6.2.3x: vCM-100 with RHEL KVM or KVM on CentOS If you upgrade to WAAS Version 6.2.3x, or downgrade from WAAS Version 6.2.3x to an earlier version, and use a vCM-100 model with the following parameters, the vCM-100 may not come up due to GUID Partition Table (GPT) boot order errors. • vCM-100 has default memory size of 2 GB • vCM-100 uses the RHEL KVM or KVM on CentOS hypervisor • You use either the restore factory-default command or the restore factory-default preserve basic-config command. Description • • Before you start the upgrade process from a release version to Version 6.2.3x, create a backup of the primary WAAS CM database and save it to a remote location.
• • If your WAAS system has a standby WAAS CM, upgrade the standby WAAS CM before you upgrade the primary WAAS CM. • • Upgrade the primary WAAS CM, including verifying that the new WAAS image is loaded correctly, verifying connectivity between WAAS CM and all WAE devices, and verifying that all WAE devices are online. • • Upgrade the branch WAE devices, including verifying that new WAAS image is loaded correctly, verifying that correct licenses are installed, and saving the new configuration. • • Upgrade the data center WAAS software, including upgrading each data center WAE device.
• • Upgrade each data center WAE device, including disabling and re-enabling WCCP 3. • For information on the sets of tasks to enable and reconfigure WCCP, and information on configuring accelerators, switches and routers for migration, see the. • After you complete the WAAS system upgrade to Version 6.2.3x, perform tasks including clearing your browser cache, verifying licenses, and verifying proper configuration of applications accelerators, policies, and class maps.
Prerequisite for Primary WAAS CM Database Backup Note the following different CMS database backup scenarios, depending on the size of /sw and /swstore: • If you are upgrading your vCM, vWAAS, ISR-WAAS, or SRE device from an earlier WAAS version to WAAS Version 6.2.3x, and the /sw and /swstore partition size is less than 2GB, you must back up the CMS database before creating a backup of the primary WAAS CM database, following the instructions described in the note. • For devices using WAAS Version 5.x, the /sw and /swstore partition size is 1GB, so you must back up the CMS database, you must back up the CMS database before creating a backup of the primary WAAS CM database, following the instructions described in the note.
• For devices using WAAS Version 6.x, the /sw and /swstore partition size is 2GB, so you do not need to create a backup of the CMS database before creating a backup of the primary WAAS CM database. CautionIf you are upgrading your WAAS device from an earlier WAAS version to WAAS Version 6.2.3x, and the /sw and /swstore partition size is less than 2 GB, it is crucial that you create a backup of the WAAS CM database and save it to an external file (FTP/SFTP) before you upgrade to WAAS Version 6.2.3x. The upgrade process on this type of configuration will automatically clear system and data partition, which will erase the WAAS CM database.
After upgrade is complete, restore the saved WAAS CM database to your system. Creating a Primary WAAS CM Database Backup Before upgrading to WAAS Version 6.2.3x, follow these steps to create a backup of the WAAS CM database: Step 1Use Telnet or SSH to access the primary WAAS CM IP address. Step 2Create the database backup, using the cms database backup command: waas-cm# cms database backup Step 3The cms database backup command displays the following information: creating backup file with label ‘backup’ backup file local1/filename filedate.dump is ready. Use ‘copy’ command to move the backup file to a remote host.
Step 4Copy the backup database file to a remote location, using the copy disk command: waas-cm# copy disk ftp hostname ip-address remotefiledir remotefilename localfilename Step 5Verify that the backup file was copied correctly by verifying file size and time stamp. Upgrade Part 2: Upgrade the Standby WAAS CM Follow these steps to upgrade the standby WAAS CM, if present in your WAAS system. Step 1Use Telnet or SSH to access the standby WAAS CM IP address: Step 2Copy the new software image to the standby WAAS CM with the WAAS CLI copy ftp command. The following example shows the file in the root directory. Provide the correct path on your WAAS system, if different from the root directoy path.
Wae# copy ftp install ftpserver / waas-image.bin Step 3Reload the standby WAAS CM, using the reload command Step 4Verify that the new image is loaded correctly, using the show version command. Step 5To confirm connectivity, ping the primary WAAS CM and branch WAE devices.
Step 6Wait at least five minutes. Step 7To ensure that the database has been synchronized, confirm the database last synchronization time, using the show cms info command. Step 8From the primary WAAS CM, confirm that the status indicator for the standby WAAS CM is online and green.
Upgrade Part 3: Upgrade the Primary WAAS CM Perform the following tasks before you upgrade the primary WAAS CM: • Before upgrading the primary WAAS CM, create a backup copy of the primary WAAS CM database. For more information, see.
• If your WAAS system has a standby WAAS CM, you must upgrade the standby WAAS CM before you upgrade the primary WAAS CM. For more information, see. Follow these steps to upgrade the primary WAAS CM. Step 1Use Telnet or SSH to access the primary WAAS CM IP address: Step 2Copy the new software image to the primary WAAS CM, either from the WAAS CM or the CLI.
From the WAAS CM: a.In the Standby WAAS CM, navigate to Admin >Versioning >Software Update. B.From the Software Files listing, select the new software version. C.Click Submit. From the CLI: a.Use the copy ftp command. The following example shows the file in the root directory. Provide the correct path on your WAAS system, if different from the root directoy path.
Wae# copy ftp install ftpserver / waas-image.bin Step 3Copy the new Version 6.2.3x software image to the primary WAAS CM, using the copy ftp command: wae# copy ftp install ftpserver / waas-image.bin. Step 4Reload the primary WAAS CM, using the reload command Step 5Verify that the new Version 6.2.3x image is loaded correctly, using the show version command. Step 6To confirm connectivity, ping the standby WAAS CM (if present in your WAAS system) and branch WAE devices. Step 7Confirm that the CMS services are running, using the show cms info command. Step 8Choose Devices >All Devices and verify that all WAE devices are online. Step 9Choose Device Groups >AllWAASGroups >Assign Devices and verify that each WAE device is listed with a green check mark. Upgrade Part 4: Upgrade the Branch WAE Devices Before you upgrade the branch WAE devices, verify that you have completed the following tasks: • Created a backup copy of the primary WAAS CM database.
For more information, see. • Upgraded the standby WAAS CM, if one is present on your WAAS system. For more information, see. • Upgraded the primary WAAS CM. For more information, see.
Follow these steps to upgrade the branch WAE devices. Step 1Access the primary WAAS CM GUI: Step 2Verify that all WAE devices are online (displaying green). Step 3Resolve any alarm conditions that may exist.
Step 4Copy the new software image to the branch WAE, either from the WAAS CM or the CLI. From the WAAS CM: a.In the branch WAE, navigate to Admin >Versioning >Software Update. B.From the Software Files listing, select the new software version. C.Click Submit.
From the CLI: a.Use the copy ftp command. You can use either Universal or Accelerator-only images. The following example shows the file in the root directory. Provide the correct path on your WAAS system, if different from the root directoy path. Wae# copy ftp install ftpserver / waas-image.bin Step 5Reload the WAE using the reload command. Step 6Verify that the new Version 6.2.3x software image has installed correctly, using the show version command.
Step 7Verify that the correct licenses are installed, using the show license command. Step 8If you have purchased an Enterprise license and have enabled it, proceed to. If you have purchased an Enterprise license and have not yet enabled it, perform the following tasks: a.Clear the Enterprise license, using the clear license transport command.
B.Add the Enterprise license, using the license add enterprise command. Step 9Save the changed configuration, using the copy running-config startup-config command. Step 10From the primary WAAS CM, choose Devices >branchWAE, to verify that the WAE device is online and has a green status.
Step 11Verify the following WAE device functionalities: a.If you are using WCCP for traffic interception, verify that WCCP is working properly, using the show running -config wccp command. B.(Optional) Confirm that flows are being optimized, using the show statistics connection command. C.Confirm that the Enterprise license is enabled, using the show license command.
If you have purchased the Enterprise license and it is enabled, proceed to. If you have purchased an Enterprise license and have not yet enabled it, perform the following tasks: 1.Clear the Transport license, using the clear license transport command. 2.Add the Enterprise license, using the license add enterprise command. 3.Save the changed configuration, using the copy running-config startup-config command. Step 12The branch WAE devices within the active WAAS network are now upgraded to the current WAAS Version 6.2.3x. NoteFor deployments using WCCP as the traffic interception method, each data center WAE is automatically removed from the interception path. If your deployment does not use WCCP, use one of the following methods to remove each data center WAE from the interception path during the upgrade process: For an inline deployment, use the interface InlineGroup slot/grpnumber shutdown global configuration command to bypass traffic on the active inline groups.
For a deployment using serial inline cluster, shut down the interfaces on the intermediate WAE in the cluster, then shut down the interfaces on the optimizing WAE in the cluster. Upgrade Part 6: Upgrade Each Data Center WAE Follow these steps to upgrade each data center WAE. Step 1Use the following sequence of commands to disable WCCP on the WAE and allow a graceful termination of existing TCP flows that are optimized by WAAS: a.Disable WCCP with the no wccp tcp-promiscuous service-pair serviceID serviceID global configuration command. B.Wait until the countdown expires, or use CTL-C to skip the countdown. C.Verify that WCCP is disabled, using the show wccp status command. D.Save the changed configuration, using the copy running-config startup-config command. Step 2(Optional) Disable WCCP on the intercepting router or switch, using the no ip wccp global configuration command.
Step 3(Optional) Verify that WCCP is disabled, using the show ip wccp command, if you have used. Step 4Upgrade the data center WAE software: Step 5Copy the new software image to the data center WAE, either from the WAAS CM or the CLI. From the WAAS CM: a.In the data center WAE, navigate to Admin >Versioning >Software Update. B.From the Software Files listing, select the new software version. C.Click Submit.
From the CLI: a.Use the copy ftp command. You can use either Universal or Accelerator-only images. The following example shows the file in the root directory. Provide the correct path on your WAAS system, if different from the root directoy path. Wae# copy ftp install ftpserver / waas-image.bin Step 6Reload the WAE using the reload command. Step 7Verify that the new Version 6.2.3x software image has installed correctly, using the show version command.
Step 8Verify that WCCP is disabled, using the show wccp status command. Step 9Save the changed configuration, using the copy running-config startup-config command. Step 10From the primary WAAS CM, choose Devices >branchWAE, to verify that the WAE device is online and has a green status. Step 11(Optional) Enable WCCP on all intercepting routers or switches in the list, if you have used. A.Telnet to each core router or switch.
B.Enable WCCP, using the ip wccp 61 redirect-list acl-name command and the ip wccp 62 redirect-list acl-name command. • WCCP Service ID 61—Source IP address.
The WCCP Service ID (service group) is applied closest to the LAN interface. • WCCP Service ID 62—Destination IP address.
The WCCP Service ID (service group) is applied closest to the WAN interface. • You can change the WCCP redirect list as needed by changing the redirect in/out statement. Step 12Verify the following WAE device functionalities: a.Enable WCCP, using the wccp tcp-promiscuous service-pair serviceID serviceID global configuration command.
If you are using WCCP single-service, use the wccp tcp-promiscuous serviceID global configuration command. B.Verify that redirecting router IDs are seen, using the show wccp routers command. C.Verify that all WAEs in the cluster are seen, using the show wccp clients command. D.Verify that the packet count to the WAE is increasing and no loops are detected, using the show wccp statistics command.
E.Verify that the buckets assigned for Service Group 61 match those of Service Group 62, and are assigned to the WAE, using the show wccp flows tcp-promiscuous detail command. F.Verify that flows are being optmized, using the show statistics connection command. G.If you are using WCCP for traffic interception, verify that WCCP is working properly, using the show running -config wccp command.
Step 13Each data center WAE within the active WAAS network is now upgraded to the current WAAS Version 6.2.3x. Upgrade Part 8: Post-Upgrade Tasks Perform the following tasks after you have completed the upgrade to WAAS Version 6.2.3x: • After upgrading a Central Manager, you must clear your browser cache, close the browser, and restart the browser before reconnecting to the Central Manager. • After upgrading application accelerator WAEs, verify that the proper licenses are installed by using the show license EXEC command. The Transport license is enabled by default. If any of the application accelerators were enabled on the device before the upgrade, you should enable the Enterprise license.
Configure any additional licenses as needed by using the license add EXEC command. For more information on licenses, see the “Managing Software Licenses” section in the Cisco Wide Area Application Services Configuration Guide.
A;lkdsjhf;laksjf • After upgrading application accelerator WAEs, verify that the proper application accelerators, policies, and class maps are configured. For more information on configuring accelerators, policies, and class maps, see the “Configuring Application Acceleration” chapter in the Cisco Wide Area Application Services Configuration Guide. • If you use the setup utility for basic configuration after upgrading to 6.2.3x, WCCP router list 7 is used. Because the setup utility is designed for use on new installations, any existing configuration for WCCP router list 7 is replaced with the new configuration.
• If you have two Central Managers that have secure store enabled and you have switched primary and standby roles between the two Central Managers, before upgrading the Central Managers to Version 6.2.3x, you must reenter all passwords in the primary Central Manager GUI. The passwords that need to be reentered include user passwords. If you do not reenter the passwords, after upgrading to Version 6.2.3x, the Central Manager fails to send configuration updates to WAEs and the standby Central Manager until after the passwords are reentered. • If you use the setup utility for basic configuration after upgrading to 6.2.3x, WCCP router list 7 is used. Because the setup utility is designed for use on new installations, any existing configuration for WCCP router list 7 is replaced with the new configuration. Migrating a Physical Appliance Being Used as a WAAS CM to a vCM Follow these steps to migrate a physical appliance being used as a primary WAAS CM to a vCM: Step 1Introduce vCM as the Standby Central Manager by registering it to the Primary Central Manager.
Step 2Configure both device and device-group settings through Primary CM and ensure that devices are getting updates. Wait for two to three data feed poll rate so that the Standby CM gets configuration sync from the Primary CM. Step 3Ensure that the Primary CM and Standby CM updates are working. Step 4Switch over CM roles so that vCM works as Primary CM. For more information, see the “Converting a Standby Central Manager to a Primary Central Manager” section of the.
To view the status of the drives and check if the RAID pairs are in “NORMAL OPERATION” or in “REBUILDING” status, use the show disk details command in EXEC mode. When you see that RAID is rebuilding, you must let it complete that rebuild process. This rebuild process may take several hours. If you do not wait for the RAID pairs to complete the rebuild process before you reboot the device, you may see the following symptoms that could indicate a problem: • The device is offline in the Central Manager GUI.
• CMS cannot be loaded. • Error messages say that the file system is read-only.
• The syslog contains errors such as “Aborting journal on device md2,” “Journal commit I/O error,” “Journal has aborted,” or “ext3_readdir: bad entry in directory.” • Other unusual behaviors occur that are related to disk operations or the inability to perform them. If you encounter any of these symptoms, reboot the WAE device and wait until the RAID rebuild finishes normally. Downgrade Path Considerations • Downgrading from 6.2.3x is supported to 6.2.1x, 6.1.1a, 6.1.1, 5.5.7, 5.5.5a, 5.5.5 and 5.5.3. Downgrading directly from 6.x to a version earlier than 5.5.3 is not supported. • On the Cisco 4451-X Integrated Services Router running ISR-WAAS, downgrading to a version earlier than 5.2.1 is not supported. • On the UCS E-Series Server Module installed in a Cisco ISR G2 Router and running vWAAS, downgrading to a version earlier than 5.1.1 is not supported. On the UCS E-Series Server Module installed in the Cisco 4451-X Integrated Services Router and running vWAAS, downgrading to a version earlier than 5.2.1 is not supported.
On other vWAAS devices you cannot downgrade to a version earlier than 4.3.1. • On WAVE-294/594//8541 models with solid state drives (SSDs) you cannot downgrade to a version earlier than 5.2.1. • On WAVE-694 model with solid state drives (SSDs), you cannot downgrade to a version earlier than 5.5.1. • On vCM-500/vCM-1000, you cannot downgrade to a version earlier than 5.5.1.
Downgrade Component and Data Considerations • Locked-out user accounts are reset upon a downgrade. • Any reports and charts that are not supported in the downgrade version are removed from managed and scheduled reports when you downgrade to an earlier version.
Any pending reports that were carried forward from an upgrade from a version earlier than 5.0 are maintained. • When downgrading to a version earlier than 4.4.1, the DRE cache is cleared and the DRE caching mode for all application policies is changed to bidirectional (the only available mode prior to 4.4.1). Before downgrading a WAE, we recommend that you use the Central Manager GUI to change all policies that are using the new Unidirectional or Adaptive caching modes to the Bidirectional caching mode. • Current BMC (Baseboard Management Controller) settings are erased and restored to factory default settings when you downgrade Cisco WAAS to a version earlier than 4.4.5. • If you have configured disk cache for ISR-WAAS device, downgraded from 6.2.3x to 5.5.3, and then restore rollback to 6.1.1x, you must reload the disk cache configuration for the new configuration to take effect.
If you do not perform a reload after the rollback to 6.2.3x, the new configuration will not take effect, and output from the show disks cache-details command will display the error message 'Disk cache has been configured. Please reload for the new configuration to take effect.' WAAS CM Downgrade Path Considerations • Downgrading from 6.2.3x WAAS CM directly to a version earlier than Version 5.5.3 is blocked. • If the 6.2.3x WAAS CM is downgraded to a version earlier than 5.2.1, it can no longer manage AppNav-XE clusters and devices and all related configuration records are removed.
• When downgrading a 6.2.3x WAAS CM to a version earlier than 4.4.1, and secure store is in auto-passphrase mode, the downgrade is blocked. You must switch to user-passphrase mode before you can downgrade to a software version that does not support auto-passphrase mode. WAAS CM Downgrade Procedure Considerations • As it applies to your WAAS CM and the current version of your WAAS system, perform the following tasks before a WAAS CM downgrade: –If you have a standby Central Manager, it must be registered to the primary Central Manager before the downgrade. –Prior to downgrading the WAAS CM to a version up to 5.2.1, you must remove Backup WNG from the AppNav-XE cluster and verify that the WAAS CM and AppNav-XE device are in sync. –Before downgrading to a version earlier than 4.4.1, we recommend that you change the following WCCP parameters, if they have been changed from their default values: ——Change service IDs back to their default values of 61 and 62.
——Change the failure detection timeout back to the default value of 30 seconds. • Each of the following WAAS CM downgrade procedures requires a particular task sequence: –If the WAAS CM is downgraded to a version up to 5.2.1 and if the AppNav-XE cluster has more than 32 WAAS nodes: prior to downgrade, we recommend that you reduce the number of WAAS nodes to a maximum of 32 WAAS nodes.
–When downgrading Cisco WAAS devices, first downgrade application accelerator WAEs, then the standby Central Manager (if you have one), and lastly the primary Central Manager. • When downgrading an AppNav Controller device to a version earlier than 5.0.1, you must perform the following tasks: 1.Deregister the device from the WAAS CM. 2.Change the device mode to application-accelerator. 3.Downgrade the device. 4.Re-register the device (or, alternatively, you can reregister the device before downgrading). If you do not deregister the device before downgrading, the device goes offline and the device mode is not set correctly.
In that case, use the cms deregister force EXEC command to deregister the device and then reregister it by using the cms enable global configuration command. Operating Considerations This section includes operating considerations that apply to Cisco WAAS Software Version 6.2.3x: • Central Manager Report Scheduling In the Cisco WAAS Central Manager, we recommend running system wide reports in device groups of 250 devices or less, or scheduling these reports at different time intervals, so multiple system wide reports are not running simultaneously and do not reach the limit of the HTTP object cache.
• Cisco WAAS Express Policy Changes Making policy changes to large numbers of Cisco WAAS Express devices from the Central Manager may take longer than making policy changes to Cisco WAAS devices. • HTTP Object Cache and Akamai Connect HTTP application optimization with Akamai Connect (HTTP object cache) may deliver unexpected HTTP objects to a client, which may create a risk of delivering malicious content. This scenario can occur after a different—erroneously configured, or otherwise failing—client device has retrieved the object with a matching URL from an invalid HTTP server. A check for this scenario will be implemented in a future WAAS release. Device Group Default Settings When you create a device group in WAAS Version 6.2.3x, the Configure >Acceleration >DSCP Marking page is automatically configured for the group, with the default DSCP marking value of copy. • Using Autoregistration with Port-Channel and Standby Interfaces Autoregistration is designed to operate on the first network interface and will not work if this interface is part of a port-channel or standby.
Do not enable the auto-register global configuration command when the interface is configured as part of a port-channel or standby group. Using the HTTP Accelerator with the Cisco ASR 1000 Series Router and WCCP When using the Cisco ASR 1000 Series router and WCCP to redirect traffic to a WAE that is using WCCP GRE return as the egress method and the HTTP accelerator is enabled, there may be an issue with HTTP slowness due to the way the ASR router handles proxied HTTP connections (see ). To work around this issue, on the ASR router, create a web cache service in the same VRF as that of the 61/62 service by using the following command: ip wccp [vrf vrf-name ] web-cache • Disabling WCCP from the Central Manager If you use the Central Manager to disable WCCP on a Cisco WAAS device, the Central Manager immediately shuts down WCCP and closes any existing connections, ignoring the setting configured by the wccp shutdown max-wait global configuration command (however, it warns you). If you want to gracefully shut down WCCP connections, use the no enable WCCP configuration command on the Cisco WAAS device. • Changing Device Mode To or From Central Manager Mode If you change the device mode to or from Central Manager mode, the DRE cache is erased. • TACACS+ Authentication and Default User Roles If you are using TACACS+ authentication, we recommend that you do not assign any roles to the default user ID, which has no roles assigned by default.
If you assign any roles to the default user, external users that are authenticated by TACACS+ and who do not have the waas_rbac_groups attribute defined in TACACS+ (meaning they are not assigned to any group) can gain access to all the roles that are assigned to the default user. • Internet Explorer Certificate Request If you use Internet Explorer to access the Central Manager GUI Version 4.3.1 or later and Internet Explorer has personal certificates installed, the browser prompts you to choose a certificate from the list of those installed in the personal certificate store. The certificate request occurs to support Cisco WAAS Express registration and is ignored by Internet Explorer if no personal certificates are installed. Click OK or Cancel in the certificate dialog to continue to the Central Manager login page. To avoid this prompt, remove the installed personal certificates or use a different browser.
• Default Settings with Mixed Versions If a Central Manager is managing Cisco WAAS devices that have different versions, it is possible that a feature could have different default settings in those different versions. If you use the Central Manager to apply the default setting for a feature to mixed devices in a device group, the default for the Central Manager version is applied to all devices in the group. Headline Waasnet service restart while running continuous soak test SMB preposition not starting with host logging enabled Waasnet core while running singled sided HTTPs/HTTP traffic “Identity not configured” alarm clears and raises several time.
Headline WAAS version 5.5.7 noticed Core dump for smb. WAAS CM API showing 0 for passthroughpeerin and passthroughpeerout Scheduled reports do not get generated on the required date Central manager fails to generate config for waas express routers connection reset for SMB2 connections while doing file upload Disk encryption does not enable with AAA accounting enabled WAAS Corrupted chard after modifying available report.
Regular database maintenance not performed in all device-modes TACACS authentication failing after upgrade Waasnet service restart while running single sided HTTP/HTTPs traffic Unexpected reload of smb accelerator process during long soak test. Memory leak seen during the DBO SOAK profile execution OC server core while running smbv3sign & smbv3 encryption large file cases oc core malloc_printerr while running SMB Regression. Headline WAAS cons are retransmitting packets very quickly and are getting reset.
Using Previous Client Code If you have upgraded to Cisco WAAS Version 6.2.3x and are using the WSDL2Java tool to generate client stubs that enforce strict binding, earlier version client code (prior to 4.3.1) may return unexpected exceptions due to new elements added in the response structures in 4.3.1 and later releases. The observed symptom is an exception related to an unexpected subelement because of the new element (for example, a deviceName element) in the XML response. To work around this problem, we recommend that you patch the WSDL2Java tool library to silently consume exceptions if new elements are found in XML responses and then regenerate the client stubs. This approach avoids future problems if the API is enhanced with new elements over time. You must modify the ADBBeanTemplate.xsl file in the axis2-adb-codegen- version.jar file.
To apply the patch, follow these steps: Step 1List the files in the axis2-adb-codegen- version.jar file. Obtaining Documentation and Submitting a Service Request For information on obtaining documentation, submitting a service request, and gathering additional information, see the monthly What’s New in Cisco Product Documentation, which also lists all new and revised Cisco technical documentation, at: Subscribe to the What’s New in Cisco Product Documentation as a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed and set content to be delivered directly to your desktop using a reader application.
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Spam Filter: The spam filter can get a bit ahead of itself. If you make a post and then can't find it, it might have been snatched away. Please and we'll pull it back in. I'm really new to these tools. I've been using Virtualbox to tinker with virtualization on my laptop for a while, but now I want to set up a 'legit' hypervisor to keep learning more.
Ultimately I'm only planning on running ~5 guests on a single CPU (quad core) system with 16GB RAM. This is really just for personal tinkering, so I'm not looking for anything crazy performance-wise. I'm exploring ESXi 6 as an option, but I have some questions before I dive in. 1) Is ESXi 6 the right choice for me? I see other alternatives (e.g.
Citrix, MS Hyper-V), but it looks like the community around ESXi is more robust, which will be important to me as a new learner. I've looked at feature comparisons, but so far it looks like the major differentiators are beyond what I'll be playing with as a new learner (e.g.
I'm not going to be using direct device mapping, live running-VM migrations or anything weird like that; just hosting some pretty standard machines). 2) If ESXi is a good choice, is there any reason not to use the latest (v6 I think)? Any reason to stay back with v5 for now? (Maybe better support? Serial Number Adobe Acrobat Dc.
Maybe v6 has kinks they haven't worked out yet?) 3) From what I have read, I can do this for free if I'm just tinkering at home and not doing anything 'fancy'. The hypervisor itself looks straightforward (), I just need to install 'vSphere Hypervisor', right? 4) Where I'm really confused is in the management piece.
I understand that the hypervisor just RUNS the guests, but not much configuration can be done on the hypervisor itself. You apparently need some other 'piece' to do the management (setting up guests and managing their resources). I think this piece is 'vSphere' (), but I'm not sure. When I visit that page, I only see 'Try it for free' types of links, and no 'free' version. But what I've read online has said that you can mange a few servers with limited numbers of CPUs/RAM for free.
Is there a 'free' or 'lite' version of vSphere I should be looking for? Do I just install the free trial 'Demo' and keep using it beyond the 60 day trial? If so, I assume some functionality shuts off at 60 days - what do I lose at that point? EDIT: Wow, downvotes.:- Anything I could do to make this post more appropriate for this subreddit? I've been doing my research - just asking for some help from the experts. VSphere refers to the entire suite of VMware software around virtualization. It's not a single product or download in and of itself.
The bare hypervisor you would need first is called 'ESXi' which is currently up to version 6.0. If you are standing up a new environment, there should be no reason not to go with 6.0. VMware is still the biggest player in the virtualization space, so it's definitely a good place to start. The management piece you are probably referencing is called 'vCenter Server' - this can be installed either on a Windows OS or downloaded as a virtual appliance.
VCenter requires a license to run for longer than the trial period, where as ESXi can continue to run VMs for free with a limited feature set after the trial period. In this case, you would connect directly to the host running ESXi using what is called the 'vSphere Client' - you should be able to grab a download for this from your ESXi host. If you go to the main web page for you host once installed there should be some information including a link to download the vSphere Client, which you can then use to login to the host with root and manage it directly.
I know VMware's web page can be horribly confusing if you're not sure what all their products are. Hopefully this provides some clarification - just respond again if you get stuck, and good luck with VMware! You do not need vCenter at all, however, it wouldn't hurt at all to grab a download of it to try it out and see how it functions. Again, after the trial period (60 days I think) you won't be able to use it anymore.
Though if it's just a lab, reinstall it on a new machine and migrate the ESXi hosts to it.:) vCenter is easy to install as a VM running on the very ESXi host that manages it, so it's not a problem. I would recommend installing ESXi, grabbing the vSphere Client, and then deploying vCenter to test it out. If you just use the plain vSphere Client, then you will need to manually connect to one ESXi host at a time to manage them individually instead of via vCenter as a central location.
Also note that the vSphere Client is being phased out in favor of the Web Client, which is a built-in component of vCenter. In the new version of vSphere (6.0) there are some features that require the Web Client (and therefore a vCenter install) in order to configure them.
It might also help to have a look at this edition comparison for ESXi: The free version will have even fewer features than the Standard edition listed on that page. But that should help you see the difference somewhat. During the free trial period with full features, you can target the things on that page to check out before the trial runs out. Hope this helps. Great idea about installing vCenter on a guest. Is this sort of VMWare's way of giving home users a 'free' version while turning a blind eye and not offering it officially? Or do you think that's a licensing gap they're eager to plug?
Also note that the vSphere Client is being phased out in favor of the Web Client The words 'being phased out' make me a bit nervous. Is there a reasonable possibility that I'll find myself in a position where I have a handful of VMs, but no way to manage them without shelling out for paid management software? There is no licensing gap there - vCenter is on a trial period without a license, and so is ESXi. Once the vCenter trial runs out, you can't add hosts to it anymore, and any existing hosts will disconnect (though the VMs continue to run).
However, if you reinstall vCenter on a new machine, then you can run it under the trial again for another 60 days. Not recommended for production stuff, but it's an option to run a lab setup. Right now, the line is that the vSphere Client will only be able to manage the features that were available in the older versions of vSphere (5.1 and older, I think). Will they eventually do away with it entirely? Maybe, but I think they will have to come up with some way to manage standalone hosts - people were already throwing a fit about that, and actually made VMware back off of that plan. They were already planning to have it so that you can't do ANYTHING with the vSphere Client on new hosts with VMs past virtual hardware version 8, but people screamed so much that they reverted it so that you can manage version 8 and older features with the vSphere Client. So my expectation would be that there should be a way to manage standalone hosts, even if that is not the vSphere Client in the future.
A couple of additions here: you do not NEED vCenter. It's a good idea, since many of the management features, and the highly toted 'web client' is only available via vCenter; but I understand starting with just the vSphere client direct to an ESXi box. This is a good way to get the basics down. When you do look into vCenter (most people do around the time they add a second host), then look into vMUG Advantage. It's a program specifically to help people who are learning and you can get a yearly subscription at a highly reduced rate, that will give you access to licenses for educational/lab use. For the FREE version of the 'ESXi hypervisor' - you need an account with VMware's website, and you'll be given a free license code for the single-server. The core management is not incredibly different than any type 2 hypervisor, with the obvious exception of logging into the system (need IP, username and password - all of which you set up at the console of the hypervisor).
Once you're in, you can create a new VM, deploy it, power it on and off, and do all the things you would expect from any hypervisor; just the system is actually running on another box. If you're coming at virtualization cold, there are some excellent free options that aren't limited, you get full functionality. XenServer is a fine product too, built on the Xen hypervisor and available to run for free.
However, ESXi is probably the premier product in the space in my opinion, rock solid and from an innovator in the field. Essentially, though, you just install the Hypervisor on bare metal, then connect to it via a web browser and you can download a management app, after you set up the basics on the Hypervisor itself. From there, you can just configure etc from the app. I haven't gotten around to trying the free version of v6, not sure how they manage it for a single hypervisor but probably via the app still. In general, VMware are moving to a HTTP-based management method, but that is (as far as I know) via vCenter Server as part of a full vSphere setup. VCenter Server is a central controlling piece that allows you to run multiple hypervisors as a single cluster.
It doesn't come into play for free installs, but is essential once you go to several hosts with basic high availability and shared storage and the like; that would be a licensed setup at that point. But for home use or for cheapo single-hardware installs in a corporate environment you want ESXi and a free license, and then you manage that with a Windows client you can download from the hypervisor itself via HTTP after it is running. VMWARE has a s**tty introduction curve, let me answer you: 1) Is ESXi 6 the right choice for me? There are other hypervisors, but esxi is a solid and easy one. Avoid Hyper-v if you are into installing non-microsoft OS, they don't have the same love and support.
2) If ESXi is a good choice, is there any reason not to use the latest (v6 I think)? Yeah, why not?:) The only thing that could make you go back to an earlier version is the hardware support. When installing esxi if something is out of support, you will have a warning saying so.
Check the compatibility list first if you are using branded hardware: 3) You can do 3 things with licenses: a) Use free esxi license. You can grab one with a free account in vmware.com. You will have basic usage without all the cool features, but you can create and use vm's basic management. In ESXI 6.0 you can use 2 CPU's with that license, but in.