VCP 5 Objective 1.3 Plan and Perform Upgrades of vCenter Server and VMware ESXi

For this objective I used three documents:

  • vSphere Upgrade Guide
  • vSphere Storage
  • vSphere Networking

Objective 1.3 – Plan and Perform Upgrades of vCenter Server and VMware ESXi


Identify upgrade requirements for ESXi hosts

Hardware Requirements

  • Supported server platform – Check the Hardware Compatability List (HCL)
  • ESXi 5. 0 will install and run only on servers with 64-bit x86 CPUs
  • ESXi 5.0 requires a host machine with at least two cores
  • ESXi 5.0 supports only LAHF and SAHF CPU instructions
  • Known 64-bit processors
  • 2GB RAM minimum
  • One or more Gigabit or 10GB Ethernet controllers – Again check the HCL
  • Any combination of one or more of the following controllers
    • Basic SCSI controllers
    • RAID controllers
  • SCSI disk or a local, non-networked, RAID LUN with unpartitioned space for the virtual machines
  • For Serial ATA (SATA), a disk connected through supported SAS controllers or supported on-board SATA controllers

– ESXi 5.0 supports installing and booting from the following storage devices

  • SATA disk drives – SATA disk drives connected behind supported SAS controlles or supported on-board SATA controllers (See page 12 of the vSphere Upgrade Guide for full listing)
  • Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) disk drives
  • Dedicated SAN disk on Fibre Channel or iSCSI
  • USB Device – Check the HCL for supported devices

Identify steps required to upgrade a vSphere implementation

– Since each perspective enviroment is unique, the vSphere Uprade documentaiton outlines several example upgrade scenarios. The scenarios include:

  • Upgrading environments with Host Clusters
  • Upgrading environments without Host Clusters
  • Moving virtual machines using vMotion during an upgrade
  • Moving powered off or suspended virtual machines during an upgrade with vCenter Server
  • Upgrading to vCenter Server on a new machine
  • Migrating ESX 4.x or ESXi 4.x hosts to ESXi 5.0 in a PXE-booted Auto Deploy installation
  • Upgrading vSphere components separately in a VMware View environment

These examples are discussed in full detail on pages 159 thru 165 of the vSphere Upgrade documentation

Upgrade a vNetwork Distributed Switch

  1. Within the vSphere Client from the Home screen select Networking from the Inventory section
  2. In the left hand pane select the virtual Distributed Switch to be upgraded
  3. Under the Summary tab in the right hand pane click Upgrade next to Version
  4. The wizard Upgrade vDS to newer version will launch
  5. Select the vSphere Distributed Switch version to upgrade to

Note – Depending on what version you currently running your upgrade options maybe different

Option Description
vSphere Distributed Switch Version: 4.1.0 Compatible with ESX/ESXi versions 4.1 and later
vSphere Distributed Switch Version: 5.0.0 Compatible with ESXi version 5.0 and later

6. Click Next

The upgrade wizard lists the hosts associated with the vDS and whether or not they are compatible with the upgraded vDS. You can only continue with the upgrade if all hosts are compatible

7.Click Next

8.Verify that the upgrade information listed is correct and click Finish

For further information read pages 24 thru 25 of the vSphere Networking documentation

Upgrade from VMFS3 to VMFS5

– Prerequisites

  • If you use a VMFS2 datastore, you must first upgrade to VMFS3 prior to upgrading to VMFS5
  • All hosts accessing the datastore must support VMFS5
  • Verify that the volume to be upgraded has at least 2MB of free blocks available and 1 free file descriptor

– Procedure

  1. Within the vSphere Client select a host and click on the Configuration tab
  2. In the left hand pane under Hardware select Storage
  3. In the right hand pane select the VMFS3 datastore you wish to upgrade
  4. Click the link that says Upgrade to VMFS5 in the lower right
  5. Click Ok on the Upgrade to VMFS-5 dialog box
  6. Verify that the Upgrade VMFS task has completed
  7. Rescan all hosts that are presented the datastore

For further information read pages 120 thru 124 of the vSphere Storage documentation

Upgrade VMware Tools

– Since VMware supports several client operating systems, I will only be covering the process for upgrading VMware tools on Windows based guest. For further examples and instructions for other operating systems refer to pages 137 thru 158 of the vSphere Upgrade documentation.

– Prerequisites

  • Make sure that the VM is powered on and booted into the operating system
  • Verify the current running version of VMware tools on the Summary tab of the VM

– Installation

  1. Within the vSphere Client select the VM you wish to install VMware Tools
  2. Right click on the VM and select Guest -> Install/Upgrade VMware Tools
  3. Select if you would like to do an Interactive Tools Upgrade or a Automatic Tools Upgrade. For this example we will be selecting Interactive Tools Upgrade
  4. Once the VMware tools ISO has been mounted connect to the system via console or RDP
  5. If autorun has not been enabled, manually lunch the CD-ROM
  6. Click Next on the VMware Tools welcome screen
  7. After the installer has completed click Finish
  8. Click Yes if now is a good time to reboot the system. If not click No
  9. After the system reboot verify that the upgraded version of VMware Tools is displayed on the Summary tab of the VM

Upgrade Virtual Machine Hardware

– Hardware version 8 is the newest version in ESXi 5. VMware recommends that all VM’s running on a ESXi 5 host run hardware version 8.

– Prerequisites

  • Create a backup or snapshot of the virtual machine. If you have a snapshot of the VM it is possible to reverse the upgrade if there are issues
  • Upgrade VMware Tools first. On Microsoft Windows VM’s if you upgrade the hardware prior to upgrading VMware Tools, networking settings maybe lost
  • Verify that all .vmdk files are available to the ESX/ESXi hosts on a VMFS3, VMFS5, or NFS datastore
  • Determine the current version of the virtual hardware by selecting the VM’s Summary tab and checking the VM Version value

– Installation

  1. Within the vSphere Client select the VM you wish to upgrade
  2. Power down the VM
  3. Right click on the VM and select Upgrade Virtual Hardware
  4. Click Yes on the Confirm Virtual Machine Upgrade dialog box
  5. Verify the upgrade task has completed and power on the VM
  6. For Windows operating systems upon boot up new hardware devices will be detected requiring another system reboot.
  7. Within the vSphere Client select the VM and verify on the Summary tab that the VM Version has been updated

For further information read pages 154 thru 156 of the vSphere Upgrade documentation

Upgrade an ESXi Host using vCenter Update Manager

– This is a long section to discuss. In the effort of saving time and space be sure to read pages 92 thru 103 of the vSphere Upgrade documentation


  • VMware vSphere Basics Guide
  • vSphere Installation and Setup Guide
  • vSphere Upgrade Guide
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