vSphere Host Update utility could help you survive a zombie outbreak
Sorry for the crazy post title but I could not resist being a big fan of Zombie movies. Now on to the meat of the subject. The vSphere Host Update utility that comes as an option with the vSphere Client can be a very helpful tool. You can use it for host version upgrades for both ESX and ESXi. It is also a very simple patching tool for ESXi. You have use Host update utility to apply any ESXi security or update patches to your hosts.
So if you a small shot or not a scripting genius this little gem will provide a solid way to keep your hosts up on all the latest patches. The only draw back is that you cannot use it to patch ESX hosts. I will run through how to use this utility so that you can hit the ground running.
Upon opening the utility it should add in your host if you have an open connection to it with the vSphere client. If not just add it in manually via the add option form the top menu. Once added you will need to Download patches from VMware, this is really just downloading a patching list that applies to your host not pulling down the packages.
Once the patch list has been downloaded you will see a display like the one below. It will show your hosts and list how many patches are detected and the status of your host. You will now need to make sure your host that is being patched is in maintenance mode.
Next you will want to click the Patch Host button and you will be presented with the following options. You will now see all of the patches available for your host and be able to select which ones you will download and apply. By clicking on the different patches you will get a short description of what the patch is and what it fixes or updates. Now you can select which patch you want to apply, I will be applying the Update 1 patch and then come back and re-scan and apply anything that is left over. I figured this would be the smartest way and potentially not apply patches that might be in Update 1 already. I did it that way since I am not sure the level of intelligence that is built into the patching selection of this utility. After your selections are made proceed with the install.
Next the vSphere Host update utility begins to download all selected patches and will then apply them. You will see a progress window like below that will show you how things are moving along.
Once your patches have been downloaded and applied the tool will show you a confirmation like the image below. Then the ESXi host will be rebooted.
Once your host has been rebooted you can now re-scan the host to see if there are any more patches for your host.
After applying Update 1 to my test ESXi host I re-scanned and there was only 4 patches left to apply. This is much less than the 13 listed from the original scan. So by applying the latest update I was able to save time and reboots. Now depending on what reason your are patching for this approach may not be the best for your environment. Always research each patch being applied for what it fixes and any potential side affects it might have on your environment.
About Brian Suhr
Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design