Working for a service provider with a large footprint of customer owned VM servers running on ESXi 5.5 hosts and looking to get and idea of the how to best handle guest VMware Tools and HW updates. In many cases we do not have an understanding on guest application dependencies and as these HW require reboots it is difficult to schedule and automated way to introduce these updates to our guest OSs. Any suggestion would be appreciated.
If you really want understand the virtual machine dependencies in a automated way, try using the vRealize Infrastructure Navigator, that will map automatically this dependencies for you... and once you know this dependencies, you can try schedule this upgrades using the Update Manager.
One thing to take in consideration is when you upgrade HW version it can happen the server will lose its IP configuration. It will definitely lose the notwork configuration if you go from HW version 4 to 10. I would recommend upgrading the HW version only if you have problems with the vms just because it takes time and can create more problems than it solves. Some backup applications need the HW version to be certain version to be able to do a snapshot. The VM tools you can just schedule so they upgrade with reboot of the VM with VUM. Only had problems with VM tools upgrades on maybe 1 of 300 machines and then its usually because the os are old like windows 2000 and later