Archive for the ‘vSphere5’ Category

Cannot upload ESX 4.x Images in vSphere Update Manager 5

November 8, 2011 2 comments

Everyone knows by now that ESX 3.x to ESXi 5.x upgrade is not supported and Administrators has to upgrade their existing ESX 3.x hosts to ESX  4.x and then upgrade the host to ESXi 5.x. Please note that vCenter 5.0 can still manage ESX 3.x hosts provided License Server is configured to manage the ESX 3.x hosts licenses.

But for some reasons , ESX 3.x to ESX 4.x upgrade cannot be carried out using vSphere Update Manager 5 since vSphere Update Manager 5 does not support ESX 4.x Images. Without ESX 4.x images , we might not be able to do in-place upgrade of ESX 3.x hosts to ESX 4.x hosts using vSphere Update Manager.

You would receive error message as shown below

” The Uploaded upgrade package cannot be used with VMware vSphere Update Manager”

This can be confirmed from the vSphere Update Manager Release notes that can be found here. Please find a snapshot of the Interoperability and Software Requirements section which clearly indicates that VUM 5 supports Host upgrades of ESX / ESXi 4.x to ESXi 5.0

People who have already upgraded to vCenter 5.0 & vSphere Update Manager can use the good old vSphere Host update utility to upgrade their existing ESX 3.x hosts while Customers who have not yet upgraded yet to vCenter 5.0 can try and upgrade all hosts to ESX 4.x and then upgrade the existing vCenter 4.x to vCenter 5.x.

Categories: VMware, vSphere5 Tags: ,

Configuring Dump Collector & Syslog on ESXi 5.0

October 12, 2011 3 comments

What is the usage of Dump Collector ?

A core dump is the state of working memory in the event of host failure and by default is saved to local disk.The Dump Collector enables us to redirect ESXi host core dumps onto a network server. Installation of the Core dump server is straight forward. Dump Collector comes as part of the vCenter Server 5.0 Installation media and we have the option of either installing the Dump Collector separately or integrate Dump Collector with vCenter Server.

Configuration of ESXi host for Dump Collector

  • Download and Install vSphere Power CLI
  • Use the below command to verify the Current Dump Collector Settings

esxcli –server–username root system coredump network get

  • Use the below command to configure Core Dump Collector

esxcli –server–username root system coredump network set –interface-name–server-ipv4–server-port

  • Once configured , We can enable Dump Collector using the below command

esxcli –server–username root system coredump network set –enable true

What is the usage of Syslog Server ?

Syslog Server helps us to capture and move ESXi host logs on to a Network server. Syslog Server also comes as part of vCenter 5.0 Server Installation media . Again we have couple of options for the Installation wherein we can either go for a Separate Server or go in for a vCenter integrated Syslog server.

Configuration of ESXi host for Syslog Server

  • Select the host that needs to have Syslog Server configured.
  • Navigate to Configuration –>Advanced Settings
  • Specify the IP Address of the Syslog Server in the below format under the parmater “” available under Syslog.


  • Please allow Syslog in the ESXi firewall by navigating to Configuration –> SecurityProfile

Upgrading to ESXi 5

October 11, 2011 9 comments

VMware ESX and VMware ESXi are bare-metal hypervisors that are part of VMware’s Enterprise software hypervisors for servers that run directly on server hardware without requiring an additional underlying operating system. Starting with vSphere 5.0, VMware has discontinued ESX edition and is available only as ESXi. Administrators have to plan and upgrade their existing ESX/ESXi Servers into ESXi 5.0. Also , Administrators can upgrade both ESX 4.x & ESXi 4.x versions of hypervisor to ESXi 5.0.

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
Prerequisites for upgrading to ESXi 5.0:
  • Please ensure that the vCenter Server and vSphere Update Manager has already been upgraded to vCenter Server 5.0 and vSphere Update Manager 5.0
  • Please ensure that necessary licenses are available for ESXi 5.0. Understand the licensing changes that has been introduced as part of the vSphere 5 before upgrading hosts.
  • In case of VM’s hosted on local disks , Please ensure that backup of VMs hosted on the ESX / ESXi Server that would be upgraded is taken before proceeding with the upgrade.
  • Please note that when ESXi is installed , the boot disk gets repartitioned and any existing data on the boot disk will be lost.  If you have VMs or templates on the boot disk datastore you need to either migrate them onto shared storage (using Storage vMotion), or perform a reliable backup so they can be restored afer the migration.
  • Please note that Service Console Port Group & Local User / Groups on local ESX / ESXi would not be carried during the upgrade.
  • Please note that ESXi is a 64 bit hypervisor and can be installed or upgraded only on Server with 64 bit x86 CPU’s. Also please ensure that Intel VT should be enabled in BIOS
  • Please check VMware Systems Compatibility Guide and ensure that the Server / IO Cards / Storage Components is supported for ESXi 5.0.
  • If you are running ESX / ESXi 3.x in your environment , the hosts have to be upgraded to ESX/ESX4.x first and then upgraded to ESXi 5.0.
  • Please ensure that upgrade is carried out from a supported version of ESX / ESXi ( ESX / ESXi 4.x and above is only supported )
  • Please ensure to perform a host configuration backup before starting the migration
  • Please ensure that the ESX / ESXi Server that would be upgraded has Static IP Address
  • Please ensure that sufficient free space is available on the VMFS datastore for upgrade to happen. VMware recommends a minimum of 50 MB free space. There is also an additional requirement of 350MB free space in the “/boot” partition which would be used as a temporary staging area where Update Manager will copy the ESXi 5.0 image and required upgrade scripts
  • If SAN is connected to a host, Please detach fibre cables before beginning the upgrade
Understand Lopsided Bootbanks:
Please find below extracts from the ESXi Chronicles blog explaining Lopsided bootbanks. You can read the complete post here.
ESXi implements a dual-image architecture wherein the boot disk includes two partitions on which the ESXi image is stored; these partitions are referred to as boot banks.  One boot bank will have the active  image, referred to as the primary boot bank, and the other will have the previous image, referred to as the alternate boot bank.  Anytime you update your image or deploy a new image, the active image is copied from the primary boot bank to the alternate boot bank and the new image is installed into the primary boot bank.
Where lopsided boot banks come into the picture is when upgrading from ESXi 3.5 to ESXi 4.x.  In ESXi 3.5 the size of the boot banks is 48MB.  In ESXi 4.x the size was changed to 250MB.  However, when a host is upgraded from ESXi 3.5 to ESXi 4.x only the size of the primary boot block is grown from 48MB to 250MB.  The size of the alternate boot block is left at 48MB.  This condition of having one boot bank larger than the other is referred to as having “lopsided bootbanks”
The implication of having lopsided boot banks is really pretty minor.  It’s largely transparent and the only limitation is that you won’t be able to use Update Manager to upgrade the host to ESXi 5.0.  Update Manager assumes the boot banks are both at 250MB.  If it detects one boot bank is smaller than the other it will report an invalid boot disk and won’t even try to upgrade.  If this happens you can still upgrade the host using the ESXi 5.0 Installer.   Another option would be to first apply some patches/updates to the host to resize the alternate partition and then upgrade the host using Update Manager.
Understand differences between a fresh installation of ESXi 5.0 & Upgrading to ESXi 5.0
  • Upgraded hosts retain the legacy MSDOS-based partition label and are still limited to a physical disk that is less than 2TB in size
  • Upgraded hosts do not have a dedicated scratch partition. Instead, a scratch directory is created and mounted off a VMFS volume. Aside from the scratch partition, all other disk partitions, such as the boot banks, locker and vmkcore, are identical to that of a freshly installed ESXi 5.0 host
  • The existing VMFS partition is not upgraded from VMFS-3 to VMFS-5. You can manually upgrade the VMFS partition after the upgrade. ESXi 5.0 is compatible with VMFS-3 partitions, so upgrading to VMFS-5 is required only to enable new vSphere 5.0 features
Supported Upgrade Methods 

There are 3 supported upgrade methods to upgrade hosts from ESX/ESXi 4.x to ESXi 5.0. They are as follows:

  • vSphere Update Manager
  • Interactive CD/DVD Upgrade
  • Scripted Upgrade

Point to Consider before Upgrading to VMFS-5

  • VMFS-5 upgraded from VMFS-3 would continue to use the previous file block size which may be larger than the unified 1MB file block size.
  • VMFS-5 upgraded from VMFS-3 continues to use 64KB sub-blocks and not new 8K sub-blocks.
  • VMFS-5 upgraded from VMFS-3 continues to have a file limit of 30720 rather than new file limit of > 100000 for newly created VMFS-5.
  • VMFS-5 upgraded from VMFS-3 continues to use MBR (Master Boot Record) partition type; when the VMFS-5 volume is grown above 2TB, it automatically & seamlessly switches from MBR to GPT (GUID Partition Table) with no impact to the running VMs.
  • VMFS-5 upgraded from VMFS-3 continue to have its partition starting on sector 128; newly created VMFS5 partitions will have their partition starting at sector 2048.

Post Installation Tasks 

  • Ensure that licenses are applied for the upgraded ESXi 5.0 host
  • Ensure that the latest patches are applied for the host
  • Upgrade VMware Tools and VMware Hardware version of the VM’s that are part of the host. Easiest way is to orchestrate the process using vSphere Update Manager
  • Upgrade the datastore from VMFS-3 to VMFS-5
  • Based on requirement , Configure ESXi Dump collector and Syslog for the host.
Reference Links

Upgrading to vCenter 5.0

October 10, 2011 Leave a comment

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



Upgrading to vSphere 5

October 10, 2011 Leave a comment

On July 12th, VMware announced vSphere 5 and vSphere was available for general download from August 24 2011. So, It’s time again for the Administrators to plan and upgrade the Virtual Environment to vSphere 5 . Thankfully though there are whole bunch of resources from VMware and the blogosphere on upgrading the virtual environment. In a series of posts , I would post my experience on upgrading to vSphere 5 – Prerequisites , Gotcha’s & Reference links.

One of the major changes from the previous upgrades is that of the hypervisor itself. As announced , ESXi has been Standardized and ESX version of the hypervisor has been discontinued. As far as Virtual Center is concerned , if you have not yet upgraded to vCenter 4.1 , Please remember that vCenter 5.0 can be installed on a 64 Bit system/OS only.If you are planning to upgrade from vCenter 4.0 , Please plan for upgrade & migration to a 64 bit system. Additionally , VMware has released a Linux based vCenter Virtual appliance that can be downloaded , configured and used as vCenter.

Please understand the licensing changes that has been made with vSphere 5 . Details of the licensing changes introduced with vSphere 5 can be found here.

vSphere Environment Upgrade is a multi-stage process and has to be carried out in a specified order :

Please remember that every environment is different and one has to carefully plan , test and upgrade the environment.
Links for understanding all the new features & capabilities of vSphere 5 can be found here.
Categories: VMware, vSphere5 Tags: ,