vSphere Upgrade Best Practices

How do you upgrade the vSphere 5.1 environment to vSphere 5.5?

This is one of the question that you might be asked when you would have attended the Interviews for one of the VMware Positions. Lets keep the Interview thing aside and lets try to understand how do we upgrade the current vSphere 5.x to 5.5 environment.

Having the deeper knowledge and good understanding of the vSphere Upgrade process helps you to migrate the current version of vSphere to the latest version with no hiccups and so the Upgrade process go smoothly. Please refer to the Compatibility matrix before you make any changes to the current environment like, ESXi hardware support matrix , vCenter upgrade per-requisites. Proceed when everything is in place and are good to go.

So with that lets get started!!!

VMware recommends the certain process & steps to upgrade it to vSphere 5.5 and in general it is a Five-step process:

Step 1: vCenter Server Upgrade
Step 2: VMware Update Manager.
Step 3: Upgrading the ESXi
Step 4: Virtual Machine’s (Hardware & VMware Tools)
Step 5: VMFS File System

Step 1: vCenter Server Upgrade

  • Run “vCenter Host Agent Pre-Upgrade Checker” to validate whether you can successfully upgrade the current version of vCenter 4.x/5.x to vCenter 5.5. “vCenter Host Agent Pre-Upgrade Checker” comes with the vCenter 5.5 Installer.
  • you can perform in-place upgrade for the existing vCenter 4.x to vCenter 5.5 if they are installed on the 64-bit OS which is compatible for the Installation.
  • Refer the vCenter Support matrix for its compatibility with the vCenter 5.5
  • Windows Server 2003, windows 2008 and windows server 2008 SP1 are no longer supported for the vCenter 5.5
  • When you install vCenter on Windows Server make sure that you follow the following request to install the
    • SSO
    • Web client
    • vCenter Inventory Server
    • vCenter Server

(vCenter 5.5 doesnt need any SSO database and VMware Admiins can remove the existing SSO database, if they have a SSO in-place on vCenter 5.x.)

Step 2: VMware Update Manager:

  • You can upgrade VUM 4.x/5.x to Update Manager 5.5 if that has been installed on the 64-bit Operating systems.
  • If the VUM is installed on the 32 bit operating system then you can use the data migration utility to migrate it to VUM

Step 3: Host Upgrade

  • Check the ESX Hardware version and refer to the compatibility guide before you proceed with the ESXi upgrade.
  • Download the ISO image and create a baseline in VUM and update it through the Update Manager (or) do the clean installation for the ESX hosts. When I install the host with VUM it retains the old configuration related settings like HA/DRS cluster settings, vMotion, dvSwitch settings, etc. 
  • Can perform the in-place upgrades from ESXi 4.x/5.0.x/5.1.x to ESXi 5.5

Step 4: Virtual Machines

  • Speak to the customer ask for a down-time and upgrade the VMware Tools and Hardware version and reboot your machine. Thats it. Your VM will now has the latest Tools installed and with the Supported Hardware version 10.
  • VMs with Hardware version 10 can not be managed using the vSphere client, meaning that you have to use the Webclient to make any configuration changes to the Virtual Machines.
  • Don’t forget to upgrade the dvSwitch too.

Step 5: VMFS File System

  • Perform the upgrade from VMFS-3 file system to the latest version of VMFS-5.
  • VMware recommends creating the new file system instead of upgrading the VMFS file system as VMFS file system rewritten and lot has got changed in the VMFS-5 version.

Thats it.. we are done with the Upgrade.

I hope this is informative for you and thank you for reading.

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