Upgrading my home vSphere 4 cluster to a vSphere5 cluster (Part 1)

Today I had the first day of the vSphere5 what’s new training bij Eric Sloof. I went especially to his training because I know that he always gives a outstanding course. The first part of the day was about upgrading your vSphere4 and vCenter4 host to version 5. And because today VMware released vSphere 5 I thought lets upgrade my home lab tonight.

First a little bit about my home lab. My home lab consist of 2 HP Pavilion workstations with a Intel Q9300 Quad core processor and 8 GB of RAM. Both servers have 2 Intel NICs. One for Virtual Machines and VMkernel management and the other one is for shared storage witch is a Qnap TS-439 II pro configured as a NFS storage. Al my virtual machines (including vCenter) reside on that shared storage. On this same storage a have another NFS share for ISO file. This NFS share called esx-iso has the vCenter5 ISO.

Upgrading my home vSphere 4 cluster to a vSphere 5 cluster consist of 4 steps:

  1. Upgrading vCenter
  2. Upgrading Update Manager
  3. Upgrading vSphere
  4. Upgrading VMFS3 to VMFS5
  5. Upgrading Virtual Machines

For every step I will create a separate blog post.

Of course before we upgrade to vSphere 5 we want to check on the VMware website if our hard- and software is supported. If we have done that it’s time to start!

Part 1: Upgrading vCenter

  1. Before I start with upgrading my vCenter server is to take a snapshot of it. It’s a virtual machine so why not! If your vCenter server is a physical machine you want to backup you vCenter database and SSL certificates.
  2. Attach the ISO file to the CD-ROM player of the virtual machine. If you are using the ZIP file provided by VMware you have to make sure this ZIP file is unpack on your vCenter server.
  3. On the vCenter DVD there is a autorun.exe file. If it want start automatically start it by double clicking on it.
  4. The VMware vCenter Installer will start. This is a menu where you can start the different type of installations. I this case we want to start the upgrade of vCenter, so we click under VMware Product Installers on vCenter Server and than on the bottom right on Install.

  5. Select your installation languages, in my case English.
  6. The installer will start and will present the Welcome screen. On this screen it will say that the installer has found a earlier version of vCenter server and that this version will be upgraded to vCenter server 5.0. Because this is what we want, we click on Next.
  7. Next screen is al about End User Patent Agreement. Read it 😉 and click on Next.
  8. Than the License Agreement. Again read it, select that you agree to the license agreement (If you do) and click on Next.
  9. Give your User Name and Organization. If you have a valid license key for vCenter you can provide it now or later in vCenter.
  10. In my case I’m using the embedded MS SQL server who is configured with Windows authentication. If you have configured otherwise you will have to provide the Database Username and Database Password.
  11. Because Update Manager is installed on the same server, I’m getting a warning that this extension is not compatible. We will have to upgrade this after the upgrade of vCenter.
  12. Next I’m able to chose if I want to upgrade the exciting database or not. We select to upgrade the existing database and put a mark that we have taken the a backup of the vCenter database and SSL certificates.
  13. Whit vCenter version 5 all the ESX(i) host need to have a new vCenter agent installed on them. This can be done Automatic or Manual. Because my cluster consist only of 2 server I will to it automatic, but I can imaging that if you have  a large environment and want to have more control you want to do it manually.
  14. If you vCenter Service doesn’t run under the privileges of the SYSTEM account you will have to provided the password of the user where the vCenter service runs under.
  15. Next you can alter the Destination folders for vCenter Server and Inventory Service if you want.
  16. You are provided a screen with the TCP port used by vCenter. If you want, you can alter them to a different port. Most of the time you will go with the default ports.
  17. Same goes for the Inventory Service Ports
  18. For inventory you can alter the maximum memory used. You can choose between small, medium and large deployment. Select the right one for your installation. In my case Small.
  19. I you need it (only when you want to power up more than 2000 VMs simultaneously) you can increase the number of ephemeral ports.
  20. And then finally we can click on Install and the installation will start.
  21. After about 15 minutes the installation is finished and we can try to login with our vSphere client. Of course we will get a pop-up saying we have to upgrade our vSphere client. Click on Run the installer and let it do it’s work.
  22. Now we can connect to our new vCenter 5 server.

About Michael
Michael Wilmsen is a experienced VMware Architect with more than 20 years in the IT industry. Main focus is VMware vSphere, Horizon View and Hyper Converged with a deep interest into performance and architecture. Michael is VCDX 210 certified, has been rewarded with the vExpert title from 2011, Nutanix Tech Champion and a Nutanix Platform Professional.

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