The disk format upgrade is optional and a Virtual SAN cluster will continue to run smoothly if you use a previous disk format version.

For best results, upgrade the objects to use the latest on-disk format. The latest on-disk format provides the complete feature set of Virtual SAN.

Depending on the size of disk groups, the disk format upgrade can be time-consuming because the disk groups are upgraded one at a time. For each disk group upgrade, all data from each device in a disk group is evacuated and the disk group is removed from the Virtual SAN cluster. The disk group is then added back to Virtual SAN with the new on-disk format.

When you initiate an upgrade of the on-disk format, Virtual SAN performs several operations that you can monitor from the Resyncing Components page. The table summarizes each process that takes place during the disk format upgrade.

Table 1. Upgrade Progress
Percentage of Completion Description
0 - 5% Cluster check. Cluster components are checked and prepared for the upgrade. This process takes a few minutes. Virtual SAN verifies that no outstanding issues exist that can prevent completion of the upgrade.
  • All hosts are connected.
  • All hosts have the correct software version.
  • All disks are healthy.
  • Automatic disk claiming is disabled.
  • All objects are accessible.
5 - 10% Disk group upgrade. Virtual SAN performs initial disk upgrade with no data migration. This process takes a few minutes.
10 - 15% Object realignment. Virtual SAN modifies the layout of all objects to ensure they are properly aligned. This process can take a few minutes for a small system with few snapshots, but many hours or even days for large a system with many snapshots, many fragmented writes and many unaligned objects.
15% - 95% Disk group removal and reformat. Each disk group is removed from the cluster, reformatted, and added back to the cluster. The time required for this process varies, depending on the megabytes allocated and the system utilization. A system at near it's I/O capacity will transfer very slowly.
95% - 100% Final object version upgrade. Object conversion to the new on-disk format and resynchronization is completed. The time required for this process varies, depending on the amount of space used and whether the Allow reduced redundancy option is selected.

During the upgrade, you can monitor the upgrade process from the vSphere Web Client when you navigate to the Resyncing Components page. See Monitor the Resynchronization Tasks in the Virtual SAN Cluster. You also can use the RVC vsan.upgrade_status <cluster> command to monitor the upgrade. Use the optional -r <seconds> flag to refresh the upgrade status periodically until you press Ctrl+C. The minimum number of seconds allowed between each refresh is 60.

You can monitor other upgrade tasks, such as device removal and upgrade, from the vSphere Web Client in the Recent Tasks pane of the status bar.

The following considerations apply when upgrading the disk format:
  • If you are upgrading the Virtual SAN cluster that contains three hosts where each host contains a disk group, and you want to perform a full evacuation to protect against a potential failure that could cause data loss, the evacuation will fail for objects that are configured with Number of failures to tolerate greater than zero. The reason is that a three-host cluster cannot reprotect a disk group that is being fully evacuated using the resources of only two hosts, For example, when the Number of failures to tolerate is set to 1, Virtual SAN requires three protection components (two mirrors and a witness), where each protection component is placed on a separate host.

    For a three-host cluster, you must choose the Ensure Accessibility evacuation mode. When in this mode, any hardware failure might result in data loss.

    You also must ensure that enough free space is available. The space must be equal to the logical consumed capacity of the largest disk group. This capacity must be available on a disk group separate from the one that is being migrated.

  • When working with a three-host cluster or when upgrading Virtual SAN with limited resources, run the RVC command with the option, vsan.ondisk_upgrade --allow-reduced-redundancy, to allow the virtual machines to operate in a reduced redundancy mode during upgrade.
  • Using the --allow-reduced-redundancy command option means certain virtual machines might be unable to tolerate failures during the migration. This lowered tolerance for failure also can cause data loss. Virtual SAN restores full compliance and redundancy after the upgrade is completed. During the upgrade, the compliance status of virtual machines and their redundancies are temporarily noncompliant. After you complete the upgrade and finish all rebuild tasks, the virtual machines will become compliant.
  • While the upgrade is in progress, do not remove or disconnect any host, and do not place a host in maintenance mode. These action might cause the upgrade to fail.

For information about the RVC commands and command options, see the RVC Command Reference Guide.