VMware Tools grows up

This week VMware announced that VMware Tools – the agent that sits on the guest operating system is now a separate product. This means that it’s subject to its own product lifecycle, and admins can modify their approach to keeping tools updated. It’s all grown up, and got a home of it’s own.

Traditionally VMtools have followed along with vSphere and guidance was generally “make sure you keep your tools up-to-date”. With the separation of this lifecycle, there is now a much more prescribed patching cycle. There’s also presumably now a requirement to keep within the supported versions to keep an entire virtual infrastructure in support, so no more leaving old tools versions in place when upgrading vSphere.

Supported Versions

Tools version Release Date (GA) End of General Support End of Technical Guidance
9.10.x (vSphere 6.0) 2015-03-12 2020-03-12 2022-03-12
10.0.x 2015-09-03 2020-03-12 2022-03-12
10.1.x ( ~ vSphere 6.5) 2016-10-25 2021-11-15 2023-11-15
10.2.x 2017-12-14 2022-12-14 2024-12-14
10.3.x ( ~ vSphere 6.7) 2018-07-12 2024-06-30 2026-06-30
11.0.x 2019-09-19 2024-09-19 2026-09-19
11.1.x ( ~ vSphere 7.0) 2020-05-07 2027-05-07 2027-05-07
11.2.x 2020-10-15 2025-10-15 2027-10-15

Source: vmware.com/…/product-lifecycle-matrix.pdf – dates of corresponding vSphere launches have been added for reference.

As the table shows there’s a 7-year support span, in line with the VMware Enterprise Infrastructure Support lifecycle, so there’s no worry about this imposing an onerous workload onto sysadmins.

The other place to check out is the interoperability matrix- it’s important to make sure that the version of VMware Tools is compatible with the underlying ESXi hypervisor. There’s a crucial thing to note here, ‘Tools versions prior to 10.1.0 (i.e. vSphere 6.0 VMTools) are not compatible with/supported on ESXi 7.0 Update 1. Whilst there’s generally been a long tail of interoperability here (ESXi 6.7 supports tools back to 5.5 releases for example) I’d recommend in the future to keep a closer eye on this.

More info