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Overview of upgrading from VMware Infrastructure 3.x to vSphere 4.x (1021101)

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Careful considerations should be made when planning to upgrade your VMware Infrastructure environment. This article provides a quick overview of steps and links to information that you need for upgrading your VMware Infrastructure 3.x (VirtualCenter 2.x, ESX 3.x) environment to vSphere 4.x (vCenter  Server 4.x, ESX 4.x).


The first consideration to be made when performing your upgrade is the priority in which your VMware Infrastructure 3.x environment is upgraded. Typically the order is: 
  1. Database Server (necessary when VirtualCenter 2.x is using a database that is not supported in vCenter Server 4.x)
  2. vCenter Server, Update Manager, and Converter.
  3. ESX hosts
  4. VMware Tools on all virtual machines
  5. Virtual hardware on all virtual machines
Consider these points and refer to the appropriate documentation:
  • Ensure that the hardware of your ESX host is compatible with vSphere 4.x, as ESX is now only supported on a 64 bit platform. This information can be found in the Hardware Compatibility Guide. If it is not in the Hardware Compatibility Guide, you cannot upgrade to vSphere 4.x until the hardware is replaced.
  • Details on upgrading to vSphere 4.x can be found in the vSphere Upgrade Guide. Read this guide carefully because it has more detailed information on any prerequisites that may need to be done to your database, as well as requirements for hardware.
  • If you need to upgrade your database server so that it is compatible with vCenter Server 4.x (for example, if you are using SQL Server 2000), ensure that you consult your database vendor for information about performing a server upgrade.
  • If you have any custom SSL certificates for vCenter Server, back these up prior to performing the upgrade.
Windows Server 2003 the files should be located at:
C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware Virtual Center\SSL
Windows Server 2008 the files should be located at:
C:\ProgramData\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter\SSL
  • For information on upgrading your virtual machine's virtual hardware when you have upgraded vCenter Server and your ESX hosts, see Upgrading an ESX 3.x virtual machine to ESX 4.x (1010675).

    Note: Virtual machines created in an ESX 3.x environment run fine on ESX 3.x and 4.x hosts. However, when you upgrade the virtual machine's virtual hardware it can only run on ESX 4.x. If you have a mixed environment of 3.x and 4.x hosts, then do not upgrade the virtual hardware until all ESX hosts have been upgraded to 4.x. If the virtual hardware is upgraded prior to upgrading your ESX 3.x hosts, then your virtual machines are only able to reside on your 4.x hosts.

Update History

07/23/2010 - Updated for vSphere 4.1.

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  • 34 Ratings