Ive sort of got Update manager figured out. The problem is is that the server that runs the SQL database sits on one of the esxi hosts being updated. I don't want to create a entire new machine (bare metal or otherwise) just to run the SQL database.
Any way around it?
I don't see the problem. Or do you want to shut down your VMs while you update the hosts?
You can migrate the VM to another host before you upgrade. Sounds like you have no vMotion licensed? Then you can suspend the VM, move it to the other host and start it again.