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iforbes
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2 host ESXi 5.0 to 6.0 upgrade

Hi. Here's the scenario. My customer has a 2 node ESXi 5.0 cluster. vCenter has recently been upgraded to 6.0. The ESXi 5.0 hosts are part of a vDS 5.0 switch. Last evening I was back in to upgrade the ESXi hosts to 6.0. I placed one host in maint mode (all vm's migrated to second host) and performed an in-place upgrade via Update Manager. The ESXi host was succesfully upgraded to ESXi 6.0. Here's the issue,

The host came back into vCenter OK. When I take a look at the host networking the vDS switch is there, but there are no uplinks (vmnics) anymore that are shown connected to the switch. There's a message that states 'No physical adapters are connected to the vDS'. Keep in mind that the host is connected to vCenter fine, even though I have no visibility as to how. When I take a look at vCenter I notice that the issue is likely related to the fact that this host is now ESXi 6.0 and the VDS is at 5.0. So, the vDS doesn't support the ESXi 6.0 host obviously. This has placed the ESXi 6.0 host into a weird state of connected to vCenter but not really connected to the vDS 5.0.

This presents a problem because I cannot vMotion all of the vm's away from the 2nd host that is running ESXi 5.0 because vMotion complains that the ESXi 6.0 doesn't have any supported port groups (obviously due to the ESXi 6.0 host being in this weird state).

So, how should I approach upgrading that 5.0 host? I somehow need to either migrate all the vm's off this host, upgrade the ESXi 5.0 host and finally upgrade the vDS. I'm just figuring out the best way to approach this. Any suggestions?

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TheBobkin
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Hello,

You could temporarily migrate all networking from vDS to vSS, not sure if you can do that on the upgraded host but you should at the very least be able to configure a new vSS with all the basic networking elements available to migrate stuff over.

youtube.com/watch?v=3eU1lM9oWsI

baylyparker.com/2015/04/migrating-from-vmware-vsphere-distributed-switch-vds-to-vsphere-standard-switch-vss/

Another alternative would be to roll-back the upgrade of the 6.0 host (check current contents of altbootbank, this may be as simple as using SHift-R at boot if the 5.0 install still resides there) and then migrate everything temporarily to vSS for the upgrade.

Bob

iforbes
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Hi Bob. Thanks for the feedback. Your thinking is in line with mine. I'm gonna steal available uplinks from each port group and create standard vswitch on each host. Hopefully, that will allow me to vmotion vm's from the 5.0 host to the 6.0 host via the standard switches.

I tried the documented roll-back feature (SHIFT+R). While this rollback feature works going from say 6.0 to 5.5, when I enacted it, there was no option to roll back to 5.0. No idea why. It only allowed me to roll back to some other version of 6.0. Weird. Maybe it was because I used a vendor (Dell) ESXi image for the 6.0 upgrade? Dunno, but I have no option of going back to 5.0 at this point.

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TheBobkin
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Hello iforbes,

There are two boot.cfg files located at /bootbank/boot.cfg and /altbootbank/boot.cfg , my understanding of it is that if you make any changes to drivers etc. it will overwrite the previous (including ESXi version/build). Not sure of 6.0 images but I know some 6.5 Dell images have 2 reboots with different components installed/updated in each so looks like you have over-written both boot.cfg with 6.0 install (verified by Shift+R or inspection of the boot.cfg files).

You could always re-install a 5.0 image on this host (same as original preferably) - ensure to downgrade firmware etc. so that drivers are compatible and networking and storage function - and then plan what needs to be configured from network perspective to upgrade all without down-time.

Bob

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iforbes
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Hi Bob. Yah, it seems the bootbank somehow got overwritten during the upgrade process. I didn't even think there was 5.0 iso's any longer but it seems that there are. Is there an in-place downgrade option via Update manager? I would hope to retain the hosts configurations if possible - or do I have to perform a fresh install and reconfigure all settings?

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TheBobkin
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Hello iforbes,

While it is possible to back-up host configs, these need to be applied to the same host running the exact same build so not sure that will be of any use here (especially considering you will likely be making networking changes):

"the build number of the host must match the build number of the host on backup file and UUID"

kb.vmware.com/kb/2042141

Thus clean install and reconfigure may be only viable option of downgrading here.

Is there any other infrastructure available that you could migrate the running VMs to while you upgrade the remaining host instead of downgrade and reconfigure?

Bob

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iforbes
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So, I was hoping I could just kick off the in place host install (in this case downgrade from 6.0 to 5.0) via Update manager and the host configs like the vDS will be maintained after it returns to 5.0?

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TheBobkin
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Hello iforbes,

I am pretty sure you can't downgrade ESXi version with VUM in this manner, sorry.

It is possible to back-up (export) and restore (import) vDS setttings but only from 5.1 onwards (needs Web Client) so not sure if any use here:

kb.vmware.com/kb/2034602

docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/6.0/com.vmware.vsphere.networking.doc/GUID-BE48C292-F222-4095-BCF8-D6444A785E16.html

Bob