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Methods of upgrading to ESXi 5.0 (2004501)

Purpose

This article provides high-level information that may be useful when upgrading to ESXi 5.x.
 
This article does not include the steps for upgrading to ESXi 5.0. For more information about upgrading from ESX/ESXi 3.x or 4.x, see Best practices for upgrading to ESXi 5.0 (2005102).
 
Note: This article assumes that you have read the documentation for the update you are applying. For more information, see the VMware ESXi 5.0 Release Notes and the vSphere Upgrade Guide. The documentation contains definitive information. If there is a discrepancy between the guide and this article, assume that the guide is correct.

Resolution





Methods to upgrade

vSphere Update Manager

vSphere Update Manager is robust software for upgrading, migrating, updating, and patching clustered hosts, virtual machines, and guest operating systems. Update Manager orchestrates host and virtual machine upgrades. If your site uses vCenter Server, VMware recommends that you use Update Manager.
 
For instructions on conducting an orchestrated host upgrade, see Using vSphere Update Manager to Upgrade or Migrate Hosts in the vSphere Upgrade Guide. For instructions on conducting an orchestrated virtual machine upgrade, see Perform an Orchestrated Upgrade of Virtual Machines with vSphere Update Manager in the vSphere Upgrade Guide. For complete documentation about Update Manager, see Installing and Administering VMware vSphere Update Manager.

Note
Update Manager 5.0 does not supports upgrading ESX hosts to a later version of ESX (e.g. ESX 4.0 to ESX 4.1). It only supports upgrading from ESX/ESXi 4.x to ESXi 5.0.

Upgrade or migrate interactively using an ESXi installer ISO image on CD/DVD or USB flash drive

You can run the ESXi 5.0 installer from a CD/DVD or USB flash drive to do an interactive upgrade or migration. This method is appropriate for a small number of hosts. The installer works the same as for a fresh installation, but if you select a target disk that already contains an ESX/ESXi 4.x installation, the installer upgrades the host to 5.0, and gives you the option, when possible, to migrate some existing host settings and configuration files, and preserve the existing VMFS datastore.
 
For more information, see Upgrade or Migrate Hosts Interactively in the vSphere Upgrade Guide.
 
Scripted upgrade
 
You can upgrade or migrate hosts ESX/ESXi 4.x to ESXi 5.0 by invoking an update script. Scripted upgrades provide an efficient way to deploy multiple hosts. You can use a script to upgrade ESXi from a CD, DVD, or USB flash drive, or by PXE-booting the installer. You can also call a script from an interactive installation.
 
For more information, see Installing, Upgrading, or Migrating Hosts Using a Script in the vSphere Upgrade Guide.
 
vSphere Auto Deploy
 
Auto Deploy is a new feature in vSphere 5.0. Working with hosts managed by vCenter Server, Auto Deploy loads the ESXi image directly into the host memory, rather than installing it on the host hard disk. You cannot use Auto Deploy to upgrade or migrate ESX/ESXi 4.x hosts to ESXi 5.0, because ESX/ESXi 4.x hosts are deployed by the traditional method of installing the software on the host hard disk. After a host is deployed with Auto Deploy, you can use Auto Deploy to upgrade or apply patches to the host. To do this, you reprovision the host by rebooting it with a new image profile that contains the ESXi upgrade or patch, a host configuration profile, and, optionally, third-party drivers or management agents provided by VMware partners. You can build custom images by using ESXi Image Builder CLI. See Using vSphere Auto Deploy to Reprovision Hosts.
 
esxcli (Command-line interface)
 
You can update and apply patches to ESXi 5.0 hosts using the esxcli command-line utility for ESXi. You cannot use esxcli to upgrade ESX/ESXi 4.x hosts to ESXi 5.0. This utility requires the vSphere CLI.
 
For more information, see Upgrading Hosts by Using esxcli Command in the vSphere Upgrade Guide.

Note: The esxupdate and vihostupdate utilities are not supported for ESXi 5.0 upgrades.
 
Summary of ESXi 5.0 upgrade methods
 
This table summarizes ESXi 5.0 upgrade methods:
 
Upgrade methods Upgrade from ESX/ESXi 4.x to ESXi 5.x
vSphere Update Manager Yes
Interactive upgrade from CD, DVD, or USB drive Yes
Scripted upgrade Yes
vSphere Auto Deploy No
esxcli No
 

Supported upgrades to ESXi 5.0

In most cases, you can migrate an ESX 4.x or upgrade an ESXi 4.x host directly to ESXi 5.0.

The details and level of support for an upgrade or migration from ESX/ESXi 4.x to ESXi 5.0 depend on the host to be upgraded and the upgrade method that you use.
This table outlines the support for different upgrade scenarios:
 
Scenario for Upgrade or Migration to ESXi 5.0 Support

ESX/ESXi 3.x hosts

Not supported for direct upgrade.

You must upgrade version 3.x ESX and ESXi hosts to ESX or ESXi version 4.x before you can upgrade them to ESXi 5.0. See the vSphere 4.x upgrade documentation.

Alternatively, you might find it simpler and more cost effective to do a fresh installation of ESXi 5.0.

ESX 4.x host that was upgraded from ESX 3.x with a partition layout incompatible with ESXi 5.0

Not supported.

The VMFS partition cannot be preserved. Upgrading or migration is possible only if there is at most one VMFS partition on the disk that is being upgraded and the VMFS partition must start after sector 1843200. Perform a fresh installation. To keep virtual machines, migrate them to a different system.

ESX/ESXi 4.x host, migration or upgrade with vSphere Update Manager

Supported.
 
For more information, see Using vSphere Update Manager to Upgrade or Migrate Hosts in the vSphere Upgrade Guide and Installing and Administering VMware vSphere Update Manager.

ESX/ESXi 4.x host, interactive migration or upgrade

Supported.
 
For more information, see Upgrade or Migrate Hosts Interactively in the vSphere Upgrade Guide .
 
The installer wizard offers the choice to upgrade or perform a fresh installation. If you upgrade, ESX partitions and configuration files are converted to be compatible with ESXi.

ESX/ESXi 4.x host, scripted upgrade

Supported.
 
For more information, see Installing, Upgrading, or Migrating Hosts Using a Script in the vSphere Upgrade Guide.
 
In the upgrade script, specify the particular disk to upgrade on the system. If the system cannot be upgraded correctly because the partition table is incompatible, the installer displays a warning and does not proceed. In this case, perform a fresh installation. Upgrading or migration is possible only if there is at most one VMFS partition on the disk that is being upgraded and the VMFS partition must start after sector 1843200.

4.x ESX host on a SAN or SSD

Partially supported.

You can upgrade the host as you would a normal ESX 4.x host, but no provisions will be made to optimize the partitions on the disk. To optimize the partition scheme on the host, perform a fresh installation.

4.x ESX host, missing Service Console .vmdk file, interactive migration from CD or DVD, scripted migration, or migration with vSphere Update Manager

Not supported.

The most likely reasons for a missing Service Console are that the Service Console is corrupted or that the VMFS volume is not available, which can occur if the VMFS was installed on a SAN and the LUN is not accessible. In this case, on the disk selection screen of the installer wizard, if you select a disk that has an existing ESX 4.x installation, the wizard prompts you to perform a clean installation.

ESX/ESXi 4.x host, asynchronously released driver or other third-party customizations, interactive migration from CD or DVD, scripted migration, or migration with vSphere Update Manager

Supported with ESXi Image Builder CLI.
 
If a host contains customizations, such as third-party VIBs or drivers, upgrading with the standard VMware installer ISO results in the loss of those customizations, and possibly an unstable system. Use ESXi Image Builder CLI to create a customized ESXi installer ISO file that includes the VIBs or drivers. See the information builder information in the vSphere Installation and Setup documentation.
 

Additional Information

For more information on migrating to vSphere 5.0, see the VMware ESXi 5.0 Operations Guide.

To download vSphere 5.0, see the VMware Download Center.
 
For related information, see Methods of upgrading to ESXi 5.1 (2032757).

Tags

upgrade-host

See Also

Update History

11/10/2011 - Linked technical paper. 03/22/2012 - Added link to download vSphere 5.x

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