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Upgrading from vSphere 5.x to vSphere 6.0 Best Practices (2130664)

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Purpose

This article provides information about upgrading from vCenter Single Sign-On 5.x, vCenter Server 5.x, vSphere Update Manager 5.x and ESXi 5.x to vSphere 6.0.

This article only covers a sub-set of the entire upgrade sequence across the entire VMware product portfolio.

Resolution

vCenter Server 5.x Simplified Sequence:

Platform Services Controller

vCenter Server / vSphere Update ManagerESXiVirtual Machines (VMware Tools and Virtual Hardware)VMFS
Update/Deployment Sequence12345
Notes
  • For customers running vSphere 5.0, this will require that you install or deploy a new Platform Services Controller (PSC) on a new Host OS, via the Appliance Deployment Wizard, or on the vCenter Server itself depending on your current infrastructure.

  • For customer running vSphere 5.1.x and 5.5.x, it is recommended to have vCenter Single Sign-On nodes external to the vCenter Servers before upgrading if you intend to use the new features of the Platform Services Controller such as Enhanced Linked Mode, multi-vCenter Server Tagging and Cross-vCenter vMotion
  • When upgrade vCenter Server Appliances, you must be running vSphere 5.1 Update 3 or vSphere 5.5.x. vSphere 5.0 is not supported. 

  • vSphere Update Manage must be upgraded to vSphere 6.0 in order to interoperate with vCenter Server 6.0. Once vSphere Update Manager is upgrade, it can only upgrade ESXi 5.x hosts to 6.0.
Review your ESXi hardware before upgrading to ensure it is compatible:

VMware Compatibility Guide
VMware recommends to upgraded your vSphere infrastructure, at a minimum, to Virtual Hardware version 10.
 

Before You Begin Upgrading to vSphere 6.0:

There can be quite a bit of planning required before you upgrade to vSphere 6.0. 

Interoperability: Before starting the upgrade phase of your existing vSphere environment, make note of the following interoperability: 
  • Any other VMware solutions associated with your environment, such as VMware vCloud Director (vCD) and VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM)
  • Any other third (3rd) party solutions associated with your environment, such as Backup/Restore applications, Monitoring applications, or any other services that interact.
  • Any databases (e.g. Microsoft SQL, Oracle) used with vCenter Server, vSphere Update Manager or any other VMware solutions associated with your environment and the database's current compatibility level. If using a compatibility level with your database, ensure that this level is supported.
Use the following to determine which versions of these VMware solutions are compatible with vCenter Server 6.0 and the sequence in which to upgrade. Additionally, use the following to ensure that the databases used by vCenter Server or any other VMware solutions are running a compatible editions, Versions and Service Packs. Contact your third party vendors in order to ensure that their products will work with vSphere 6.0.
In-place upgrades to vCenter 6.0, vSphere Update Manager 6.0 and ESXi 6.0 are supported for vSphere versions 5.0 and later.

Hardware: Before starting the upgrade phase of your existing vSphere environment, ensure that your hardware is compatible and you are not using any deprecated devices. Use the following to determine if the hardware used in your environment is compatible with ESXi 6.0:
VMware recommends to use the vendor-specific customized ESXi 6.0 ISOs where applicable when upgrading your ESXi hosts as they contain additional or specific drivers for your hardware.

Topology, your vSphere Domain, and VMware Validated Reference Designs (VVRD): Before starting the upgrade phase of your existing vSphere environment, review your vSphere topology. Although upgrade paths are possible and complete successfully, some resulting topologies may not be recommended by VMware. VMware recommends reconfiguring your vSphere domain topology before upgrading to vSphere 6.0. Use the following to determine if your vSphere environment is supported and approved by VMware: 
For more information about when to use the external or embedded deployment models see vCenter Server Deployment Models. Some of the services that were deployed independently of vCenter Server are migrated to either vCenter Server or Platform Services Controller during upgrade. For more information about how the vSphere 5.x services map to the new vSphere 6.0 servers, see Migration of Distributed vCenter Server for Windows Services During Upgrade to vCenter Server 6.0.

Microsoft Active Directory Integration: For customers intending to integrate their vSphere environment with their Microsoft Active Directory infrastructure, review your current functionality level.

Important Information and Release Notes: Lastly, before starting the upgrade phase of your existing vSphere environment, review the following documentation on the Release Notes and important information:

Beginning Your Upgrade to vSphere 6.0:

Each upgrade from vSphere 5.x to vSphere 6.0 has been custom tailored to match your current environment. The vCenter Server Upgrade wizard will review your existing environment and plan the best path to bring you to vSphere 6.0. For more information about the high-level upgrade workflows, see About the vCenter Server for Windows 6.0 Upgrade Process and About the vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 Upgrade Process. Additionally, use the following information below to understand the upgrade and what to expect. 
Refer to the Update sequence for vSphere 6.0 and its compatible VMware products (2109760) in the event that you are unsure of which component to upgrade next within your environment.

Platform Services Controller: This will be the first phase of your upgrade sequence. You will need to either upgrade your existing vCenter Single Sign-On infrastructure or freshly install depending on your current vSphere 5.x version. 
  • For customers upgrading from vSphere 5.0.x, it is recommended to deploy a new, external Platform Services Controller for use in your environment. See Install a Platform Services Controller on a Windows Machine or Deploy a Platform Services Controller Appliance for the deployment guidance.
    • If you intend to use the new features of the Platform Services Controller such as Enhanced Linked Mode, multi-vCenter Server Tagging and Cross-vCenter vMotion, all Platform Services Controllers that you deploy must be in the same vSphere domain.

  • For customers upgrading from vSphere 5.1.x, your existing vCenter Single Sign-On nodes will be upgraded to the Platform Services Controller for your environment. It is recommended to have vCenter Single Sign-On nodes external to the vCenter Servers before upgrading if you intend to use the new features of the Platform Services Controller such as Enhanced Linked Mode, multi-vCenter Server Tagging and Cross-vCenter vMotion. See Upgrade vCenter Single Sign-On 5.1 for External Deployment for upgrade guidance.
    • If you have vCenter Single Sign-On nodes deployed but they are not in the same vSphere domain, it is recommend to re-install these nodes and then repoint or re-install the associated vCenter Servers if you intend to use the new features mentioned above

  • For customers upgrading from vSphere 5.5.x, your existing vCenter Single Sign-On nodes will be upgraded to the Platform Services Controller for your environment. It is recommended to have vCenter Single Sign-On external to the vCenter Server, and in the same vSphere domain, before upgrading if you intend to use the new features of the Platform Services Controller such as Enhanced Linked Mode, multi-vCenter Server Tagging and Cross-vCenter vMotion. See Upgrade vCenter Single Sign-On 5.5 for External Deployment for upgrade guidance.
    • If you have vCenter Single Sign-On nodes deployed but they are not in the same vSphere domain, it is recommend to re-install these nodes and then repoint or re-install the associated vCenter Servers if you intend to use the new features mentioned above
For customers using planning a large scale upgrade with multiple vCenter Servers and vCenter Single Sign-On nodes, refer to the Mixed-Version Transitional Environments in vCenter Server for Windows Upgrades which will guide you through the recommended steps. 

vCenter Server and vSphere Update Manager: This will be the second phase of your upgrade sequence. You will be upgrading your existing vCenter Server and vSphere Update Manager node(s). See the Upgrading to vCenter Server 6.0 best practices (2109772) for specific hardware and software requirements, upgrade guidance as well as any limitations when upgrading you Windows-based or Appliance-based vCenter Servers.

For the Appliance:

Note
: As of vSphere 6.0 Update 1, it is now supported to upgrade your vCenter Server Appliance configured in a distributed topology, with an external vCenter Single Sign-On node.
  • For customers upgrading from vSphere 5.0.x, this is not supported. Your vCenter Server Appliance must be upgraded to vSphere 5.1 Update 3 or vSphere 5.5.x in order to perform the upgrade.

  • For customers upgrading from vSphere 5.1.x, ensure your vCenter Server Appliance is version 5.1 Update 3 or later. See Upgrade the vCenter Server Appliance for upgrade guidance.

  • For customers upgrading from vSphere 5.5.x, See Upgrade the vCenter Server Appliance for upgrade guidance.

For Windows:

ESXi: This will be the third phase of your upgrade sequence. You will need to either upgrade your existing ESXi infrastructure or freshly install depending on your current hardware requirements and preference. There are multiple methods in which a customer can upgrade their existing infrastructure; this section will only cover the two most used operations. See the Best practices to install or upgrade to VMware ESXi 6.0 (2109712) for specific hardware and software requirements, upgrade guidance as well as any limitations when upgrading your ESXi hosts.
  • Upgrading via vSphere Update Manager: You can perform orchestrated upgrades of the ESXi 5.x hosts in your vSphere inventory by using a single upgrade baseline, or by using a baseline group. This workflow includes putting hosts into maintenance mode, importing an upgrade image of ESXi 6.0.x, creating a base line in which you'd like to upgrade your hosts and performing an upgrade. See Perform an Orchestrated Upgrade of Hosts Using vSphere Update Manager for guidance on this workflow from start to finish.

  • Upgrading you hosts Interactively: You can perform an interactive upgrade of the ESXi 5.x hosts in your vSphere inventory by booting into the ESXi 6.0.x install from a CD, DVD, USB flash drive, or ISO mount for more recent hosts. See Upgrade Hosts Interactively for guidance on this workflow from start to finish.

  • For other upgrade options for your ESXi 5.x inventory, see Upgrading Hosts in the vSphere Upgrade guide.

Virtual Machines: This will be the fourth phase of your upgrade sequence. Ensure that the above sequences have been completed successfully and your underlying infrastructure is stable before starting this phase. Although upgrading VMware Tools and the Virtual Hardware are optional, it is still highly recommended. The extended support is meant to facilitate upgrades and should not be seen as an excuse to avoid upgrading VMware Tools and Virtual Hardware. See the VMware Product Interoperability Matrix and  ESXi/ESX hosts and compatible virtual machine hardware versions list (2007240) for VMware Tools and Virtual Hardware interoperability with ESXi 6.0, respectively. VMware recommends to upgrade your vSphere infrastructure, at a minimum, to Virtual Hardware version 10.


VMFS : This will be the fifth phase of your upgrade sequence. Customers that are still using VMFS-3 can continue using these datastores on vSphere 6.0; however, VMware recommends that you upgrade them to VMFS-5 when time allows. Once you have upgraded to VMFS-5, you will no longer be able to mount these datastores to ESXi 4.x hosts. For guidance on reviewing and upgrading your VMFS datastores, see Upgrading VMFS Datastores and Upgrade a Datastore to VMFS5

After Complete Your Upgrade to vSphere 6.0:

Review the following documentation after completion to perform house keeping items as well as review documentation for new vSphere components:

House Keeping Items:
New Components and Feature Walkthrough:

Additional Information

See Also

Request a Product Feature

To request a new product feature or to provide feedback on a VMware product, please visit the Request a Product Feature page.

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