VCP6–Objective 4.1–Perform ESXi Host & Virtual Machine Upgrades

For this objective I used the following resources:

  • vSphere Upgrade Guide
  • vSphere Virtual Machine Administration Guide
  • vSphere Networking Guide

Objective 4.1 – Perform ESXi Host and Virtual Machine Upgrades

Knowledge

Identify Upgrade Requirements for ESXi Hosts

Minimum hardware and system resources for ESXi 6.0:

  • Supported server platform (Refer to VMware Compatibility Guide)
  • At least two CPU CORES
  • 64-bit x86 processor released after September 2006
  • Requires the NX/XD bit to be enabled for the CPU in the BIOS
  • Minimum of 4GB of physical memory (RAM). Recommended at least 8GB
  • To support 64-bit virtual machines, support for hardware virtualization (Intel VT-x or AMD RVI) must be enabled on x64 CPUs
  • One or more Gigabit or faster Ethernet interfaces
  • SCSI disk or a local, non-network, RAID LUN with unpartitioned space for the virtual machines
  • For SATA a disk connected through supported SAS controllers or supported on-board SATA controllers

Minimum storage resources:

  • 1GB (or larger) boot device
  • 5.2GB (or larger) when booting from local disk, SAN or iSCSI LUN (4GB is used for scratch partition)
  • If smaller disk or LUN is used, the installer attempts to allocate a scratch region on a separate lock disk. If a local disk cannot be found the scratch partition, /scratch, is located on the ESXi host ramdisk.

Upgrade a vSphere Distributed Switch

Supported upgradeable versions of the vSphere Distributed Switch or version 5.x or later (sorry vSphere 4.x folks). The upgrade to version 6.0 allows the vDS to take advantage of new features:

  • Network I/O Control – Support for per-VM Distributed vSwitch bandwidth reservations to guarantee isolation and enforce limits on bandwidth.

The upgrade to an existing vDS is non-disruptive requiring no outages for ESXi hosts or VM’s. As a prerequisite the vCenter Server needs to have been upgraded to version 6.0 as well as all hosts connected to the vDS need to be running ESXi 6.0.

            • Log into the vSphere Web Client with administrative privileges
        • From the Home screen in the vSphere Web Client, select Networking in the right hand navigation
        • In the left hand pane select the vSphere Distributed Switch you want to upgrade
        • Right click on the vSphere Distributed Switch and select Upgrade, then Upgrade Distributed Switch
        • From the Upgrade wizard select the version of vSphere Distributed Switch you want to upgrade to (in the pic below I have version 5.0 vDS that I am upgrading to version 6.0)
        • Review host compatibility
        • Complete the upgrade configuration and click Finish

vDS_Upgrade

 

Upgrade VMware Tools

VMware Tool upgrades can be completed either manually, configure virtual machines to check for new versions, or use VMware Update Manager to automate and “bulk” update virtual machines to the latest version. Section 12 in the vSphere Virtual Machine Administration guide covers the install/upgrade process for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and finally Solaris virtual machines.

The below screenshots are quick grabs of how you can configure an individual virtual machine to check for VMware Tools upgrades on power on, as well as the pre-defined VMware Update Manager virtual machine baseline, VMware Tools Upgrade to Match Host.

Virtual Machine Settings

Tools_VM_Settings

VMware Update Manager

Tools_VUM

 

Upgrade Virtual Machine Hardware

Virtual machine hardware determines the compatibility and “hardware” presented to the virtual machine. The virtual hardware includes the BIOS, virtual PCI slots, maximum number of CPU’s, maximum amount of memory, and additional settings. The table below breaks down the current virtual machine compatibility levels (newest to oldest):

Compatibility Description
ESXi 6.0 and later This virtual machine (hardware version 11) is compatible with ESXi 6.0.
ESXi 5.5 and later This virtual machine (hardware version 10) is compatible with ESXi 5.5 and 6.0.
ESXi 5.1 and later This virtual machine (hardware version 9) is compatible with ESXi 5.1, ESXi 5.5, and ESXi 6.0.
ESXi 5.0 and later This virtual machine (hardware version 8) is compatible with ESXi 5.0, ESXi 5.1, ESXi 5.5, and ESXi 6.0.
ESX/ESXi 4.0 and later This virtual machine (hardware version 7) is compatible with ESX/ ESXi 4.0, ESX/ ESXi 4.1, ESXi 5.0, ESXi 5.1, ESXi 5.5, and ESXi 6.0.
ESX/ESXi 3.5 and later This virtual machine (hardware version 4) is compatible with ESX/ESXi 3.5, ESX/ ESXi 4.0, ESX/ ESXi 4.1, ESXi 5.1, ESXi 5.5, and ESXi 6.0. It is also compatible with VMware Server 1.0 and later. ESXi 5.0 does not allow creation of virtual machines with ESX/ESXi 3.5 and later compatibility, but you can run such virtual machines if they were created on a host with different compatibility.
ESX Server 2.x and later This virtual machine (hardware version 3) is compatible with ESX Server 2.x, ESX/ESXi 3.5, ESX/ESXi 4.x, and ESXi 5.0. You cannot create, edit, turn on, clone, or migrate virtual machines with ESX Server 2.x compatibility. You can only register or upgrade them.

Procedure

      • Log into the vSphere Web Client with administrative privileges
      • From the Home screen in the vSphere Web Client, select VMs and Templates in the right hand navigation
      • Select the virtual machines (either individually or by object, Datacenter, Folder, etc)
      • Power off the selected virtual machines
      • Select Actions –> All vCenter Actions –> Compatibility –> Upgrade VM Compatibility
      • Click Yes to confirm the upgrade
      • Select the ESXi version for the virtual machine to be compatible with (screen shot below)
      • Click OK

Hardware_Upgrade

Upgrade an ESXi Host Using vCenter Update Manager

Stage Multiple ESXi Host Upgrades

For ease of this write up I am combing both of these objectives together. While the process for leveraging VMware Update Manager to update your ESXi hosts hasn’t changed much between vSphere 5.x to 6.0, be sure to review Section 9, Upgrading Hosts in the vSphere Upgrade documentation. Below is quick list of things to keep in mind:

  • Both vCenter Server and vSphere Update Manager must have already been upgraded to vSphere 6.0
  • You can upgrade ESXi 5.0.x, ESXi 5.1.x, and ESXi 5.5.x hosts directly to ESXi 6.0
  • You cannot use VUM to upgrade hosts to ESXi 5.x if the host was previously upgraded from ESX 3.x or ESX 4.x
  • Hosts must have more than 350MB of free space in the /boot partition to support the Update Manager upgrade process

The following vSphere components are upgraded by VUM:

  • ESX and ESXi kernel (vmkernel)
  • Virtual machine hardware
  • VMware Tools
  • Virtual Appliances

Import Host Upgrade Image

  • Log into the vSphere Client (not Web) with administrative privileges
  • From the Home screen in the vSphere Client, select Update Manager under the Solutions and Applications section
  • On the ESXi Images tab click Import ESXi Image
  • On the Select ESXi Image page of the Import ESXi Image wizard, browse to the location of the ESXi image
  • Click Next
  • Wait for the ISO upload to complete, click Next
  • (Optional) Create a host upgrade baseline
  • Click Finish

Create a Host Baseline Group

  • Log into the vSphere Client (not Web) with administrative privileges
  • From the Home screen in the vSphere Client, select Update Manager under the Solutions and Applications section
  • On the Baselines and Group tab, click Create above the Baseline Groups pane
  • Enter a unique name for the baseline group and an optional description
  • Under Baseline Type, select Host Upgrade and click Next
  • Select the uploaded ESXi image
  • Click Finish

Below is a screen shot of my completed Host Upgrade baseline:

Host_Upgrade

Determine Whether an In-Place Upgrade is Appropriate in a Given Upgrade Scenario

As mentioned above, you can upgrade an ESXi 5.0.x, ESXi 5.1.x, ESXi 5.5.0, or ESXi 5.5.x host directly to vSphere 6.0. For additional details for supported upgrade options review the tables below, provided by Section 8, Before Upgrading Hosts in the vSphere Upgrade documentation.

Upgrade_Table1

Upgrade_Table2

Happy Studying!

-Jason

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