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Upgrading to vCenter 5.0

VMware vCenter is a Management Server application from VMware which helps us to centrally manage, monitor and administrate multiple ESX/ESXi Servers in our environment. First step in upgrading your virtual environment is to upgrade your  vCenter Server & vSphere Update Manager Server so that the latest version of ESXi Servers can be managed.

vSphere Upgrade is a step by step process and has to be carried out in the specified order as indicated below :

  • Upgrade to vCenter 5.0 & vSphere Update manager 5.0
  • Install & Configure vCenter Server Components
  • Upgrade existing ESX/ESXi  4.x to ESXi 5.0
  • Upgrade VMware Tools & VMware Hardware
Also , when sizing hardware for the new vCenter 5.0 server , please take into account the following new capabilities and features that has been built into vCenter Server 5.0.
  • VMware vSphere Web Client
  • VMware ESXi Dump Collector
  • VMware Syslog Collector
  • VMware Auto Deploy
  • VMware vSphere Authentication Proxy
Supported upgrade path for vCenter :
Upgrading from vCenter 4.0 / vCenter 2.5 U6 to vCenter 5.0 :
Data Migration Tool : 
Please note that vCenter 5.0 is supported only on a 64 bit Operating System. Data Migration Tool that is available as part of vCenter Server Installation media can be used to Upgrade and Migrate existing vCenter Server running on a 32 bit Operating System to vCenter 5.0 Server on a 64 bit OS Platform. Data migration tool supports migrating the database as well only if the existing vCenter Server  uses the bundled SQL Express database else data migration tool would help migrate the configuration of vCenter Server alone.
Upgrading from vCenter 4.1 to vCenter 5.0 :
vCenter 4.1 was supported only on a 64 bit Operating System and Administrators who are already running vCenter 4.1 can carry out an in-place upgrade of the vCenter Server to vCenter 5.0. For some reason if there is a requirement to upgrade and migrate the vCenter Server 4.1 to a different server , Please note that data migration tool cannot be used since it is unsupported. We will have to depend on traditional manual backup & Restore of database and SSL files.
vCenter Host Agent Pre-Upgrade Checker :
Administrators can make use of  this tool that comes as part of the vCenter 5.0 Installation media and do a validation on all hosts managed by existing vCenter Server and ensure that VPX Agent Software can be upgraded. This would ensure the manageability of existing ESX/ESXi hosts by vCenter Server 5.0.It is highly recommended that administrators run this tool before starting the upgrade process and ensure that all hosts pass the tests.
Pre-Installation Requirements :
  • First and foremost , Please go through the release notes and the known issues
  • There is no in-place upgrade path for vCenter Server installation on  32 bit operating systems.If your vCenter Server is installed on a 32 bit operating system, you need to migrate to a 64 bit operating system where vCenter Server 5.0 can be installed.
  • Ensure that the Operating System and database is supported by vCenter Server 5.0
  • Please check if the the Plug-ins used in existing vCenter Server are supported in vCenter 5.0
  • Also please note that vSphere Update Manager still uses 32 bit DSN.
  • Ensure you have the license keys for vCenter 5.0. You cannot use the license keys of vCenter 4.x. Please login to VMware portal and upgrade your license keys to vCenter 5.0
  • vCenter Server FQDN name should be less than 15 characters.
  • Please ensure that the vCenter Server has proper DNS name resolution.
  •  Remember that Upgrade and Migration to vCenter 5.0 using Datamigration tool is supported only if the vCenter Server is Virtual Center 2.5 Update 6 or vCenter 4.0
  • Please note that vCenter 5.0 can manage hosts that are running ESX/ESXi 3.5 or above only.
  • If your environment still has ESX 3.x hosts , Please install and configure license server.
  • Please ensure a full backup of the existing vCenter 4.0 database and vCenter Update manager database
  • Please ensure to backup vpxd.cfg
  • Please ensure a backup of existing vCenter 4.0’s SSL folder. Default location of the SSL certificates is “%allusersprofile%\Application Data\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter”
  • Would highly recommend to use Static IP Address for the vCenter Server.
  • Please note that any local user / group that was used in the vCenter 4.0 has to manually migrated to the new vCenter 5.0 Server
 Post Installation Tasks :
  • Please ensure that all host agents has been upgraded and all hosts are connected and available online in the new vCenter Server Console.
  • Please install vSphere Update Manager Plug-in
  • Specify the License Server details in case your environment has ESX/ESXi 3.x hosts.
  • Verify and ensure the right IP address is displayed in the vCenter Managed IP Address settings that is available in vCenter Server settings –> Runtime Settings
  • Ensure to configure backup for the database’s in the new server
It is also worth to mention that all VMware vCenter Services have been set to Delayed Start and hence would take a lit bit longer for the Service to come online post restart and so don’t panic !! This is a good move considering that this will ensure that the database would come online before vCenter Service.
Reference Links for the Upgrade :
VMware KB / Articles on vCenter / vSphere Client Upgrade issues



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