What’s New in HCX 4.4.2 (Maintenance)

The VMware HCX 4.4.2 maintenance release was published globally yesterday! 🥳
This is the most stable and recommended release for HCX 4.4. You can read the HCX 4.4.2 official release note, or catch the highlights below.

After speaking with a handful of customers about HCX release intervals, lifecycle, and upgrade cadence in various recent occasions, I got a sense that there are lingering misconceptions about what rules apply. Tangentially related to “what’s new” and what policies apply when you’re being delivered the next HCX release. I will share some clarifying info about these topics below (following the maintenance info).

What’s New in HCX 4.4.2 (Maintenance)

Resolved Platform Issues

  • PR/3025315 -Upgrading to HCX 4.4.0 or later without also upgrading the HCX Service Mesh appliances to HCX 4.4.0 or later can cause the HCX services to become unstable and report an out of memory error.
  • PR/3029847 – After restarting the HCX Appliance Management Service in the HCX Appliance Management (:9443) UI, the service can become stuck while waiting for internal processes, causing the HCX system to hang.

Resolved Management Issues

  • PR/3030887 – Update SFTP configuration for HCX Backup and Restore operation with additional strong cipher support.

Resolved Network Extension Issues

  • PR/3008776 – When unextending Network Extension High Availability networks, the network is not completely unstretched from the standby appliances.

Resolved OS Assisted Migration Issues

  • PR/3036062 – OS Assisted Migration fails validation with the error, “Validation couldn’t be performed at the moment. Reason: Read timed out.”

Security Issues

This release includes important security enhancements and updates.

Note: From HCX 4.4.0 onwards, HCX only supports strong ciphers for SFTP servers registered to the HCX appliance management service.

A Note About HCX Releases & the Lifecycle Policy

In the past (during the 201X years), the HCX team followed an aggressive (internally defined) release and support policy. Lets call it the HCX N-3.

During the HCX N-3 era, every single HCX update had incremental feature changes and fixes (every 2 weeks or so in the early days). For many years the team operated under this policy. On one hand it was pretty amazing to build and deliver at that pace. On the other hand, you could say we were breaking eggs that weren’t making it into the omelette, or cracking and cooking with the shell and all of that makes any sense.

The net-net of HCX N-3 from a release lifecycle perspective was this:
every 5th oldest HCX R-release was out of support (each new R-release had a span of about 8 weeks ).

By around year mid-2020, HCX N-3 policy remained , but the team moved into into a monthly release cadence (releases lifecycle window extended from ~8 to ~16 weeks).

Sometime in early 2021, VMware HCX transitioned from the HCX N-3 above into a standard VMware N-2 lifecycle policy.

Now – to circle back to my recent customer conversations. Possibly due to the similar lifecycle policy names, there are lingering misconceptions. Here’s how things work today:

  1. Whenever you see an HCX version, it always has a major/minor/maintenance identifier. With this HCX 4.2.2 release.
    4 = Major version
    2 = Minor version
    2 = Maintenance (when this digit is 0, it refers to a release with new features)
  2. Any time we release a new Major or a Minor release like 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 or 4.4. We generate a new entry in the VMware Product Lifecycle Matrix.
  3. This entry contains a General Availability date and End of General Support date 1 year after the GA date. This is a fixed window and different from the sliding window of support in the previously mentioned HCX N-3 lifecycle policy.

    As an example, HCX 4.3 is fully supported until the end of its one year lifecycle (towards the end of this year), and while you may receive a strong recommendation to adopt new capabilities in the next minor release, you are fully entitled to continue running it until the End of Support date. For HCX 4.3 that date is towards the end of the year.
  4. Maintenance releases don’t have their own GA/EoGS date, they inherit whatever applies to the broader major/minor version.
  5. There is a standing recommendation to run the latest maintenance release for any deployed HCX system for the best experience and maximum stability.
    This means we will strongly recommend everyone running 4.4 to be using 4.4.2 OR anyone running 4.3 to use 4.3.3 for the best possible stability.
  6. There is no Technical Guidance period (or extended support options) in the VMware N-2 lifecycle policy or for HCX releases.

    As an example, HCX 4.2 systems ran their course from August 2021 to last month, and that is it, it is no longer supported. If these are upgraded to 4.4.2, they are officially good to go into July next year without another upgrade.

This is how it is – hopefully this clarifies that. If not, here is a comparison.

HCX N-3 Policy (no longer applies)
– Variable 8 ~ 16 weeks release lifecycle.
– R Code releases.
– New features & functionality every release.
– 10 previous versions tested for upgrades.
– No Network Extension HA or ISSU when this policy applied 🤕.

VMware N-2 (currently applies)
– Fixed 52 weeks lifecycle (major/minor).
– Semantic Versioned releases.
– New features with Major & Minor.
– Maintenance releases for stability.
– Interop Matrix Upgrade Path
– No Technical Guidance phase.
– Network Extension ISSU and HA for hitless upgrades.

Looking forward to the next one – happy Friday!


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