Aggrofish
Contributor
Contributor

VMware ESX 4.1.0 502767 upgrade

Good morning all,

I need to start planning the upgrade of our current VMware infrastructure which is now running quite an old version - ESX 4.1 502767.  We have 4 hosts running this version with a vCentre server running 4.1 also.  My plan is to perform the following steps in order to move towards vSphere 5.5

  • Build a brand new vCentre server with 5.5
  • Backup the existing database
  • Import the database to the new vCentre server
  • Add the existing 4.1 hosts to the new vCentre server
  • Build the new Esxi hosts
  • Add these to the new vCentre server
  • Migrate virtual machines from the old hosts to the new
  • Perform VMware tools upgrades on the virtual machines

I appreciate this is quite a simple plan but is my line of thinking correct or is there another upgrade path I should follow?  Any advice is very much appreciated.

Thanks,

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5 Replies
yezdi
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

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MKguy
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

Your plan looks good, but unless you really need to retain older performance data or such I wouldn't bother with keeping the old database. Besides you can't just easily import the database after installation, you would have to do an in-place vCenter upgrade that upgrades the database at installation time.

Just build a new vCenter from scratch with a clean database, disconnect the existing hosts from the old vCenter and add them to the new one. The VMs on a host will be imported automatically once the host is added and you just need to sort them into the VM folder structure.

Do you have distributed vSwitches on your existing hosts? If yes, then you may want to temporarily migrate one of the uplinks to a standard vSwitch for migration purposes since the old dvSwitch your hosts are carrying won't be recognized by the new vCenter. This method is described here:

http://virtualkenneth.com/2012/10/19/migrate-to-new-vcenter-server-while-using-dvswitches/

You can add the new hosts to your new vCenter before adding existing older hosts.

Besides VMware Tools you may want to upgrade the virtual hardware as well, but think twice about upgrading to the 5.5 virtual hardware version 10:

http://www.v-front.de/2014/02/how-to-uprade-your-vms-virtual-hardware.html

http://www.v-front.de/2013/09/how-to-update-your-standalone-host-to.html

Also check the vSphere 5.5 upgrade guide:

http://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-55/topic/com.vmware.ICbase/PDF/vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-551-upgrad...

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Aggrofish
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks for your reply MKguy, really helpful.

I've been reading a little more about this today and to be quite honest I don't see the need for me to retain the historical data in the old database.  It just complicates the migration process and isn't really necessary.

It's also good to know for certain that I can add new hosts to the vCentre before adding the old ones.

In terms of virtual switches we have vSwitches for iSCSI, LAN and service console but we do not have any distributed switches.  I take it this means I don't have to follow the steps you mention about migrating to a standard vSwitch?

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Aggrofish
Contributor
Contributor

And just to clarify the old hosts running ESX 4.1 are not being upgraded to 5.x.  The reason for this is the hardware is now quite old and I want to build brand new hosts running 5.x and run these alongside the old ones for a short time.  After migrating the VM's from old to new the old hosts will be disconnected from vCentre.

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MKguy
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

In terms of virtual switches we have vSwitches for iSCSI, LAN and service console but we do not have any distributed switches.  I take it this means I don't have to follow the steps you mention about migrating to a standard vSwitch?

Correct, this procedure only applies to distributed vSwitches.

And just to clarify the old hosts running ESX 4.1 are not being upgraded to 5.x.  The reason for this is the hardware is now quite old and I want to build brand new hosts running 5.x and run these alongside the old ones for a short time.  After migrating the VM's from old to new the old hosts will be disconnected from vCentre.

Yeah, this makes sense. Just create a cluster of only new hosts with the most recent EVC baseline available for your hardware and keep the older hosts separate. You can then vMotion VMs to the new hosts without downtime (as long as the usual vMotion requirements are met, like presenting the Datastores to all hosts, old and new hosts have the same CPU vendor etc. obviously).

Just be aware that you won't be able to vMotion VMs from the new hosts back to the old ones if they have been power-cycled on the new hosts after migration, because that would apply the newer CPU features.

Another thing to remember: After all old 4.x hosts have been decommissioned you can (online-)upgrade the VMFS volumes to VMFS5.

-- http://alpacapowered.wordpress.com
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