In Part 1 of this series, I covered the steps needed to move your vCenter server over to vCenter 5.0, and outlined some points to consider or be aware of. For this post, I’ll be covering two different methods you can use to migrate your ESX(i) hosts over to ESXi 5.0. Which one you use really depends on how big your deployment is. For someone running a small deployment of just a few hosts, it may make more sense to manually upgrade each using an ISO. For others with larger environments, it would be prudent to use an automated method such as VMware Update Manager (VUM). I’ll be covering both methods over the next two posts (today and tomorrow), and will outline the process involved in each.
Manually upgrade ESX(i) 4.x to 5.0
This is a fairly straightforward process, and simply involves restarting each of your hosts in the cluster, one at a time and booting them off an ESXi 5.0 installer image. To start, you’ll want to prepare each ESXi host as you get to it, by entering it into Maintenance mode. This will migrate any VMs off and allow you to restart it safely with no VM downtime. Ensure all your VMs have vMotioned off before you begin. In my case, my ESXi hosts are virtual, so I simply mounted the VMware ESXi 5.0 installer ISO on each VM. For physical hosts, you’ll want to burn the installation ISO to CD/DVD and pop it into each host of course.
Once the Installer has loaded, choose the disk you would like to perform the upgrade on. All disks on the host that are VMFS should be marked with an asterisk for you to easily identify.
Press F1 to get the details of the disk you are going to upgrade during installation. The installer should detect your current version of ESX(i) as well as provide a bit of extra information in case you need to confirm you are upgrading the correct disk etc…
On the next step, you should get a few options relating to the type of action you want to take on the existing installation of ESX(i). For this type of upgrade, I’ll be choosing to Force Migrate my ESXi 4.1 host to ESXi 5 and preserve the existing local VMFS datastore.
After continuing, you may get a warning if there are any custom VIBs (VMware Installation Bundle) in your current ESX(i) installation that do not have substitutes on the install ISO. If there are, you should look into whether or not these will still be needed, or check that you have a contingency plan to re-install or reinstate the particular bit of software should you need to after the upgrade. I got a warning about some OEM VMware drivers, but I knew these were just related to the ESXi installation in a VM I am running, so I was happy to continue the upgrade process anyway.
Next up, you’ll just need to confirm you wish to Force Migrate to ESXi 5.0.0 on the specified disk you chose earlier. The installer will also inform you as to whether you will be able to rollback the install or not. Press F11 to continue at this point if you are happy.
Once the migration / install is complete you’ll get the below message. Press Enter to reboot the host.
At this stage, once the host has booted up again, you’ll want to log into it using the vSphere client, or check on it through your vCenter connection in the vSphere client. Make sure everything is configured as you would expect and that it is running smoothly on ESXi 5.0.0. That is all there is to it really – provided all went well, you should have a newly upgraded host ready to run VMs again. The upgrade process is quite quick and straight forward. Test it out by vMotioning a test VM onto the new host and check that there are no issues. Tomorrow, we’ll look at performing more of an autonomous upgrade for your hosts to ESXi 5.0.0 using VUM (VMware Update Manager).
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