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Upgrading to vCenter Server 5.1 best practices (2021193)

Purpose

This article provides information about upgrading to vCenter Server 5.1

Note:
  • This article assumes that you have read the vSphere Upgrade Guide. This guide contains definitive information. If there is a discrepancy between the guide and this article, assume that the guide is correct.
  • Because each environment is different, many upgrade decisions require knowledge and understanding beyond the scope of this article. For more detailed information about your installation, see the vSphere Upgrade Guide.
  • Review the VMware vSphere 5.1 Release Notes for known issues or special installation notes.

Resolution

 

vCenter Single Sign On

vSphere 5.1 introduces the vCenter Single Sign On service as part of the vCenter Server management infrastructure. This change affects vCenter Server installation, upgrading, and operation.

Authentication by vCenter Single Sign On makes the VMware cloud infrastructure platform more secure by allowing the vSphere software components to communicate with each other through a secure token exchange mechanism, instead of requiring each component to authenticate a user separately with a directory service like Active Directory.

When you upgrade to vCenter Server 5.1, the upgrade process installs vCenter Single Sign On first, then upgrades vCenter Server.

For more information on the affects of vCenter Single Sign on vCenter Server installation and upgrades, see: Comparing behaviour of vCenter Single Sign On with earlier versions of vCenter Server (2032135).

For information about configuring vCenter Single Sign On, see the vSphere Security Guide.

Hardware Requirements for vCenter Server, vCenter Single Sign On, and Inventory Service

The vCenter Server system can be a physical machine or virtual machine with access to a supported database. The vCenter Server system (vCenter Server, vCenter Single Sign On, and Inventory Service) must meet the following hardware requirements.

Note these points before upgrading:

  • VMware supports in-place upgrades on 64-bit systems from vCenter Server 4.x and vCenter Server 5.0.x to vCenter Server 5.1.

  • vCenter Server 5.1 does not support directly migrating an existing vCenter Server to a new machine during an upgrade to 5.1.
    You can migrate an existing vCenter Server to a new machine during an upgrade to version 5.0, then perform an in-place upgrade from version 5.0 to version 5.1. See Upgrading to vCenter Server on a Different Machine in the vSphere Upgrade Guide.

  • vCenter Server 5.1 can manage ESX/ESXi 4.x and ESXi 5.0.x hosts in the same cluster with ESXi 5.1 hosts. vCenter Server 5.1 cannot manage ESX 2.x or 3.x hosts.

  • vSphere 5.1 introduces the vCenter Single Sign On service as part of the vCenter Server management infrastructure. For more information, see Comparing behaviour of vCenter Single Sign On with earlier versions of vCenter Server (2032135)

  • When you upgrade to vCenter Server 5.1, the upgrade process installs vCenter Single Sign On first, then upgrades vCenter Server. You must install or update these components in this order: vCenter Single Sign On, Inventory Service, and vCenter Server.

  • Create a vCenter Single Sign On database, unless you plan to install the bundled database. For further information, see Methods of Upgrading to vCenter Server 5.1 (2021188).
  • In upgrades to vCenter Server versions earlier than vCenter Server 5.1, both the local operating system users and Active Directory users that are registered with vCenter Server before the upgrade continue to work with the upgraded vCenter Server. This behavior changes in vCenter Server 5.1

    Note: In vCenter Server 5.1, if vCenter Single Sign On is running on a virtual machine or physical machine that is in the same domain as Active Directory, Single Sign On will automatically discover the existing Active Directory domain and join it automatically during the Single Sign On installation process. If Single Sign On is not running on a virtual machine or physical machine that is in the same domain as Active Directory, you must use the vSphere Web Client to log in to vCenter Server and add the Active Directory domain to Single Sign On. For further information, see Comparing behaviour of vCenter Single Sign On with earlier versions of vCenter Server (2032135).

vCenter Single Sign On, Inventory Service and vCenter Server hardware requirements

vCenter Single Sign On, Inventory Service and vCenter Server can be installed on the same host machine (as with vCenter Server Simple Install) or on different machines.
 
Minimum Hardware Requirements for vCenter Single Sign On, Running on a Separate Host Machine from vCenter Server lists the hardware requirements for vCenter Single Sign On, assuming that Single Sign On runs on a different host machine from vCenter Server. If vCenter Server and vCenter Single Sign On are installed on the same host machine, the Single Sign On memory and disk storage requirements are in addition to the requirements for vCenter Server. See Minimum Hardware Requirements for vCenter Server.

Minimum Hardware Requirements for vCenter Single Sign On, Running on a Separate Host Machine from vCenter Server

vCenter Single Sign On HardwareRequirement
ProcessorIntel or AMD x64 processor with two or more logical cores, each with a speed of 2GHz
Memory3GB.

Memory requirements might be higher if the vCenter Single Sign On database runs on the same host machine. If vCenter Single Sign On runs on the same host machine as vCenter Server, see Minimum Hardware Requirements for vCenter Server.
Disk Storage2GB. Disk requirements might be higher if the vCenter Single Sign On database runs on the same host machine.
Network Speed1Gbps

Minimum Hardware Requirements for vCenter Inventory Service, Running on a Separate Host Machine from vCenter Server

HardwareRequirement
ProcessorIntel or AMD x64 processor with two or more logical cores, each with a speed of 2GHz.
Memory3GB. If vCenter Inventory Service runs on the same host machine as vCenter Server, see Minimum Hardware Requirements for vCenter Server.
Disk StorageAt least 60GB for medium- to large-sized inventories (more than 100 hosts or 1000 virtual machines).

If vCenter Inventory Service runs on the same host machine as vCenter Server, see Minimum Hardware Requirements for vCenter Server.
Network Speed1Gbps

Minimum Hardware Requirements for vCenter Server

HardwareRequirement
CPUTwo 64-bit CPUs or one 64-bit dual-core processor.
Processor2.0GHz or faster Intel 64 or AMD 64 processor. The Itanium (IA64) processor is not supported. Processor requirements might be higher if the database runs on the same machine.
MemoryThe amount of memory needed depends on your vCenter Server configuration.
  • If vCenter Server is installed on a different host machine than vCenter Single Sign On and vCenter Inventory Service, 4GB of RAM are required.
  • If vCenter Server, vCenter Single Sign On and vCenter Inventory Service are installed on the same host machine (as with vCenter Simple Install), 10GB of RAM are required.
Memory requirements might be higher if the vCenter Server database or vCenter Single Sign On database runs on the same machine as vCenter Server.

vCenter Server includes several Java services: VMware VirtualCenter Management Webservices (tc Server), Inventory Service, and Profile-Driven Storage Service.
 
When you install vCenter Server, you select the size of your vCenter Server inventory to allocate memory for these services. The inventory size determines the maximum JVM heap settings for the services. You can adjust this setting after installation if the number of hosts in your environment changes. See the recommendations in JVM Heap Settings for vCenter Server.
Disk StorageThe amount of disk storage needed depends on your vCenter Server configuration.
  • If vCenter Server is installed on a different host machine than vCenter Single Sign On and vCenter Inventory Service, 4GB of RAM are required.
  • If vCenter Server, vCenter Single Sign On and vCenter Inventory Service are installed on the same host machine (as with vCenter Simple Install), at least 40-60GB of free disk space are required after installation, depending on the size of your inventory. 100GB are recommended, to allow for future growth of your inventory.
Disk storage requirements might be higher if the vCenter Server database or vCenter Single Sign On database runs on the same machine as vCenter Server.

In vCenter Server 5.x, the default size for vCenter Server logs is 450MB larger than in vCenter Server 4.x. Make sure the disk space allotted to the log folder is sufficient for this increase.
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express diskUp to 2GB free disk space to decompress the installation archive. Approximately 1.5GB of these files are deleted after the installation is complete.
Network Speed1Gbps

JVM Heap Settings for vCenter Server

vCenter Server InventoryVMware VirtualCenter Management WebservicesInventory ServiceProfile-Driven Storage Service
Small inventory (1-100 hosts or 1-1000 virtual machines)1GB3GB512MB
Medium inventory (100-400 hosts or 1000-4000 virtual machines)2GB6GB1GB
Large inventory (More than 400 hosts or 4000 virtual machines)3GB12GB2GB

vCenter Server operating system requirements

vCenter Server 5.1 requires a 64-bit operating system and cannot be installed on a 32-bit operating system. When performing an install you must ensure that your operating system is 64-bit capable. For a list of supported operating systems, see the VMware Compatibility Guide.

VMware recommends that vCenter Server be installed on a system that is dedicated to managing your virtual infrastructure environment. 3rd party and other applications on the same system may utilize the same shared system resources, impacting performance and support.

Pre-upgrade software requirements

vCenter Server requires Microsoft .NET 3.5 SP1 Framework. If it is not installed on your system, the vCenter Server installer installs it for you.

Note: The Microsoft .NET 3.5 SP1 installation might require Internet connectivity to download and update files during the installation procedure.

If you plan to use the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express database that is bundled with vCenter Server, Microsoft Windows Installer version 4.5 (MSI 4.5) must be installed on your system. You can download MSI 4.5 from the Microsoft Web site. You can also install MSI 4.5 directly from the vCenter Server 5.1 CD/DVD-ROM.

Network prerequisites

Verify that DNS reverse lookup returns a fully qualified domain name when queried with the IP address of the vCenter Server. When you upgrade vCenter Server, the installation of the web server component that supports the vSphere Client fails if the installer cannot look up the fully qualified domain name of the vCenter Server from its IP address. Reverse lookup is implemented using PTR records. To create a PTR record, see the documentation for your vCenter Server host operating system.

If you use DHCP instead of a manually assigned (static) IP address for vCenter Server, make sure that the vCenter Server computer name is updated in the domain name service (DNS). Test this is by pinging the computer name. For example, if the computer name is host-1.company.com, run this command in the Windows command prompt:

ping host-1.company.com

If you can ping the computer name, the name is updated in DNS.

Ensure that the ESXi host management interface has a valid DNS resolution from the vCenter Server and all vSphere Clients. Ensure that the vCenter Server has a valid DNS resolution from all ESXi hosts and all vSphere Clients.

For the vCenter Single Sign On installer to automatically discover Active Directory identity sources, verify that these conditions are met:
  • The Active Directory identity source must be able to authenticate the user who is logged in to perform the Single Sign On installation.

  • The DNS of the Single Sign On Server host machine must contain both lookup and reverse lookup entries for the domain controller of the Active Directory. For example, pinging mydomain.com should return the domain controller IP address for mydomain. Similarly, the ping -a command for that IP address should return the domain controller hostname. Avoid trying to correct name resolution issues by editing the hosts file. Instead, make sure that the DNS server is correctly set up.

  • The system clock of the Single Sign On Server host machine must be synchronized with the clock of the domain controller.

 

Ensuring that your database is ready to be installed/upgraded

Make sure your database requirements and patch levels are compliant. For more information, see VMware Product Interoperability Matrixes and vCenter Server Database Configuration Notes in the vSphere 5.1 Documentation Center for the most up to date list of database versions supported with vCenter Server. See also Supported Database Upgrades in the vSphere 5.1 Documentation Center.

If you are performing an upgrade, configuration and per-requirements may have already have been done with a previous installation of vCenter Server. Contact your DBA if you are unsure if these procedures have been completed.

vCenter Server databases require a UTF code set.

The vCenter Server system must have a 64-bit DSN. This requirement applies to all supported databases. You also need to ensure that you have created a full backup of your database before proceeding with the vCenter Upgrade.

Notes:
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express is intended for use with small deployments of up to 5 hosts or 50 virtual machines.
  • IBM DB2 database is only supported for vCenter Server. There is no support for IBM DB2 with Update Manager or with any plug-in that requires a database.
If your database is located on the same machine on which vCenter Server will be installed, and you have recently changed the name of this machine to comply with the name-length requirement, make sure the vCenter Server DSN is configured to communicate with the new name of the machine.

Changing the vCenter Server computer name impacts database communication if the database server is on the same computer with vCenter Server. If you changed the machine name, you can verify that communication remains intact. The name change has no effect on communication with remote databases. You can skip this procedure if your database is remote.

Note: The name-length limitation applies to the vCenter Server system. The data source name (DSN) and remote database systems can have names with more than 15 characters.

Check with your database administrator or the database vendor to make sure all components of the database are working after you rename the server.

When configuring vCenter Server to communicate with a database, make sure that:
  • The database server is running

  • The vCenter Server computer name is updated in the domain name service (DNS). To test the connection, ping the computer name. For example, if the computer name is host-1.company.com, run this command in a Windows command prompt:

    ping host-1.company.com

    If you can ping the computer name, the name is updated in DNS.

Note: For further recommendations on preparing your vCenter Server Database, see Preparing for the Upgrade to vCenter Server in the vSphere Upgrade Guide.

Bundled Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 Express Database Package

The bundled Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express database package is installed and configured when you select the bundled database during vCenter Server installation or upgrade.

To install the bundled Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Express database, Microsoft Windows Installer version 4.5 (MSI 4.5) is required on your system. You can download MSI 4.5 from the Microsoft Web site. You can also install MSI 4.5 directly from the vCenter Server autorun.exe installer.

Pre-upgrade considerations and recommendations

Before upgrading, consider these points:
  • Prepare for the vCenter Server installation by recording the values that the vCenter Server system requires. For further information, see Required Information for Installing or Upgrading vCenter Single Sign On, Inventory Service, and vCenter Server in the vSphere Upgrade Guide.

  • If you do not intend to use evaluation mode, make sure that you have valid license keys for all purchased functionality. License keys from vSphere versions prior to version 5.0 are not supported in vCenter Server 5.x. If you do not have the license key, you can install in evaluation mode and use the vSphere Client or vSphere Web Client to enter the license key later.

  • Close all instances of the VMware Infrastructure Client, the vSphere Client, and the vSphere Web Client.

  • Before you install or upgrade any vSphere product, synchronize the clocks of all machines on the vSphere network. See Synchronizing Clocks on the vSphere Network in the vSphere Upgrade Guide.

  • In-place upgrade to vCenter Server 5.1 is not supported on Microsoft Windows XP.

  • Ensure that your vCenter Server 5.1 is capable of running on a 64-bit operating system.

  • Ensure that you have made a backup of your vCenter Server database.

  • If the vCenter Server upgrade fails, no automatic rollback occurs to the previous vCenter Server version.

  • The data migration tool is not supported for vCenter Server 5.1. You cannot directly migrate an existing vCenter Server to a new machine during an upgrade to version 5.1. You can migrate an existing vCenter Server to a new machine during an upgrade to version 5.0, and then perform an in-place upgrade from version 5.0 to version 5.1.

  •  Ensure that NetBios over TCP/IP is enabled in TCP/IP v4 settings on the Windows server.

  • Ensure that all domains that are to be added as Identity sources are added to the DNS suffix list of the NIC. 

Additional Information

See Also

Update History

02/15/2013 - Added additional points to the Pre-upgrade considerations and recommendations section

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