AverageJoe
Contributor
Contributor

How to upgrade from the free version?

Hi:

I'm running a single Dell 2950 with the free version of ESX 3i u3 with 4 guest vm's. I am going to puchase Infrastructure Foundation for this server. What is the proceedure for doing this upgrade?

Can it be done inplace or do I need to move the vm's from the ESX server to a second host running VI?

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14 Replies
atbnet
Expert
Expert

This can be done in place in various ways depending on your storage and spare servers for migration if needed.

First setup your vCenter server and the license server with it.

Are you going to be running ESX rather than ESXi or both?

You could then setup your new ESX server or license your existing ESXi server.

If going to ESX server you could just attach the storage to the new server, use converter or just copy the vmdk files. All kinds of options.....

Andy, VMware Certified Professional (VCP),

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penghaug
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Hi,

I guess that once you have created your licence from your VMware account, you have to connect to your host (inplace) with the VMware Infrastructure Client and apply a host based licence.

Or if you're going to use vCenter you must download a centralized license to VC and then add your host to it.

If i'm wrong someone will correct me I hope Smiley Wink

-Pål-André
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AverageJoe
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks. I'm new at this so please bear with me.

The current server and the guest vm's are self contained, they do not connect to a SAN or are part of a farm, very simple setup. I will not be running ESXi after I purchase VI (I can get 2 VI licenses if I need to), and have spare servers for migration if needed and for vCenter.

Can an inplace upgrade still be accomplished?

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VMmatty
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

You say that you won't be running ESXi after you purchase VI, correct? If that is the case then I'm not sure how an inplace upgrade can be accomplished. You can't convert ESXi into full ESX so you'll need to migrate the VMs to the new server if that is your intention.

You can also simply apply your VI Foundation license to your ESXi installation and keep running on the same server. As another poster said, simply apply it as a host based license on your ESXi host. Or if you're going to be using VirtualCenter and a License Server, install and configure both and then point the ESXi host to the license server. This way you keep your existing setup without any downtime and have ESXi fully licensed with VI Foundation. You can apply any VI license to your ESXi host, whether it be Foundation all the way up to Enterprise.

Hope this helps.

Matt | http://www.thelowercasew.com | @mattliebowitz
Texiwill
Leadership
Leadership

Hello,

In general you will have to 'upgrade' from the Free ESXi to the for fee ESXi, it is not a simple license change. The code base is slightly different. However, this is an in place upgrade.

If you do purchase a license you can either stay with ESXi or go to ESX. Both will be available to you.


Best regards,

Edward L. Haletky

VMware Communities User Moderator

====

Author of the book 'VMWare ESX Server in the Enterprise: Planning and Securing Virtualization Servers', Copyright 2008 Pearson Education.

Blue Gears and SearchVMware Pro Blogs: http://www.astroarch.com/wiki/index.php/Blog_Roll

Top Virtualization Security Links: http://www.astroarch.com/wiki/index.php/Top_Virtualization_Security_Links

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Edward L. Haletky
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AverageJoe
Contributor
Contributor

Okay, so it sounds like I can do an inplace upgrade. Can I do this without affecting the guests or moving them back and forth?

Others are suggesting I could keep using the free version and run it under vCenter, but wouldn't that limit the functionality of VI? I was under the impression that the free version was just the hypervisor, and you had to upgrade to VI and not simply change the licence, to use Vi and vCenter features.

Thanks a lot for your time and answers, I really appreciate it.

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VMmatty
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

You can keep your existing ESXi installation and build, you will not need to reinstall ESXi or move VMs around. I just confirmed in my lab that I can download and install the free ESXi and then change it to point to a license server and activate the advanced features all while a VM was running. In your case you'll need to install VirtualCenter and use a License Server to host your licenses first and then you can add your ESXi host and change its license source to the new License Server.

In order to have ESXi managed by VirtualCenter you need to have at least a Foundation license. The free version of ESXi does not include a license for the VirtualCenter agent so it can't be managed by VirtualCenter. The following is from the FAQ for ESXi:

How do I use VirtualCenter to manage my ESXi hosts?

To manage an ESXi host with VirtualCenter, you must have a VirtualCenter

Agent licensed. VirtualCenter Agent licenses are included in all three

of the VMware Infrastructure 3 suites, Foundation, Standard and

Enterprise. Thus, your ESXi host must have a Foundation, Standard, or

Enterprise license for centralized management with VirtualCenter.

Remember that you can use a Foundation, Standard, or Enterprise license on either an ESX or ESXi installation. All of the features in VI Enterprise (VMotion, DRS, etc) are available in both ESXi and ESX. They simply need to be activated via a license.

Hope this helps.

Matt | http://www.thelowercasew.com | @mattliebowitz
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AverageJoe
Contributor
Contributor

Great, that gives me an excellent idea of what I will need to purchase and what I can do with ESXi, which I previously thought was nothing at all.

One last question...does vCenter require it's own physical server, as opposed to a vm or workstation, and can the license server live on the same machine, or does it have to be it's own physical server/vm?

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penghaug
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Hi,

We run our Virtual Center in a VM with license server/update manager etc etc, and that works great. The VC database is not on the same VM.

Remember that VC need's it's own license. But you know that already probably.

And read some doc's/papers about running VC in a VM there are some issues you should know about.

-Pål-André
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AverageJoe
Contributor
Contributor

Can you point me to documentation on how to do an in-place upgrade from ESXi to ESX?

I'm planning on using esXpress as a backup solution, and my understanding is that it won't work with ESXi.

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VMmatty
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

Upgrading from ESXi to ESX on the same server will require a complete reinstall of the hypervisor. I don't know of a way to retain the settings like hostname, vSwitch configs, etc. You may be able to perform an 'upgrade' install of the full ESX and select the option to "Keep existing VMFS partitions." That would reinstall full ESX overtop of the existing ESXi install but would leave the VMFS partition intact. It will of course require downtime of all of the virtual machines to perform the upgrade.

Again I have never tried this before so I can't say for sure that it will work. My guess is that at best you can do the upgrade and keep your VMs intact but you will lose all of your settings. I can try it in my lab if you like..

Matt | http://www.thelowercasew.com | @mattliebowitz
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AverageJoe
Contributor
Contributor

On my Dell 2950, I've got ESXi installed on mirrored set and the vm's living on a four disk RAID5 set. No other partitions. Downtime is not a concern in this case.

I've got a spare Dell 1950 (two mirrored drives), I think what I'm going to do is is set up a test server with two partitions. Install ESXi on one and create a Windows 2003 vm on the other. Maybe I'll install something like Sharepoint on it, something that can break fairly easily.

Then I will download the trial version of VI and install it over the ESXi partition and see what the results are. I'll post back after.

Thanks again!

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Dave_Mishchenko
Immortal
Immortal

If you psan to stick with ESXi, you can upgrade from the free license to VI licensing with just a license change. You won't have to reinstall. Going form ESXi to ESX would require a reinstall.

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VMmatty
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

I decicded to try this approach in a lab to see how it would go. It went pretty much as I thought - you can do an installation of ESX on top of ESXi and retain all of your virtual machines, though you will lose all of your settings. Just make sure to leave the VMFS partition alone when creating all of the partitions ESX requires and your VMs will be fine. When you get ESX up and running you can simply browse the datastore and right click on the VMX and select "Add to Inventory" to get your VMs back.

Is there a specific reason why you want to go from ESXi to ESX? You can get all of the advanced features of Virtual Infrastructure, whether it be VMotion, DRS, HA, etc, with either ESX or ESXi. The simplest solution for you would be to just apply the new license to your existing ESXi installation. That will require no downtime of your virtual machines. Do you have an application that you need to run that is not compatible with ESXi? Like a backup solution maybe?

Matt | http://www.thelowercasew.com | @mattliebowitz
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