vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 Upgrade

There is a new version of vSphere available, you can upgrade vCenter Server v5.5 or v6.0 to v6.5 by following vCenter Appliance 6.5 Upgrade.

VMware vCenter Server pools ESXi host resources to provide a rich feature set delivering high availability and fault tolerance to virtual machines. The vCenter Server is a centralised management application and can be deployed as a virtual appliance or Windows machine. This post gives a walkthrough on upgrading the vCenter Server Appliance from v5.5 to v6.0, the following guides are also available:

About VCSA

The VCSA is a pre-configured virtual appliance running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 Update 3 for VMware (x64), PostgreSQL, vCenter Server 6.0 and associated components. The embedded PostgreSQL database supports up to 1000 hosts and 10,000 virtual machines. The VCSA has now reached feature parity with its Windows counterpart, can be quickly provisioned and patched, and has no license requirements for operating system or database. There are a number of excellent VCSA additional features with the release of vSphere 6.5 and a migration tool for VCSA v5.5 to v6.5 will be released at a later date.

Upgrading VCSA involves the deployment of a new appliance and migration of all configuration and historical data using the upgrade installer. The new appliance uses a temporary IP address while migrating the data before switching to the IP and host name of the previous appliance. Once all settings are migrated the old VCSA is powered off.

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Software Considerations

  • The VCSA to upgrade must be running v5.5 or v5.1 U3 to upgrade to v6. All ESXi hosts connected must be running version 5.x. For other VMware products see the update sequence table.
  • You must check compatibility of any third party products and plugins that might be used for backups, anti-virus, monitoring, etc. as these may also need upgrading.
  • Should an external database be required then the VCSA supports only Oracle databases.
  • If you are unsure check the Product Interoperability Matrix.

Architectural Considerations

  • When implementing a new vSphere 6 environment you should plan your topology in accordance with the list of recommended topologies for VMware vSphere 6.
  • As we are upgrading an existing vSphere 5.x environment then we are pretty much limited to following the deployment model already in place:
    • If SSO was installed on a different machine from vCenter Server then the machines running SSO will become external Platform Services Controllers.
    • If SSO was installed on the same machine as vCenter Server then this becomes vCenter Server with embedded Platform Services Controller.
  • In this instance I will be upgrading a vCenter using the embedded deployment model.

Topology

Other Considerations

  • As we are upgrading an existing vCenter solution, I am working on the assumption that things such as FQDN resolution, database permissions and access to the licensing portal are all in place, as well as any required firewall rules configured and that you have access to the SSO administrator login details.
  • Data migration between the VCSA’s uses SSH, if you have any firewalls between the current VCSA and new VCSA ensure that communication is allowed through port 22.
  • During migration of VCSA in a mixed IPv4 and IPv6 environment only the IPv4 settings are preserved.
  • Make sure any server running a vCenter component is synchronized with the NTP server. The installation can fail or the vCenter Server Appliance vpxd service may not be able to start if the clocks are unsynchronized.
  • Ensure you have a good backup of the vCenter Server and the database.
  • A full list of pre-requisites including the minimum hardware requirements can be studied at the vSphere 6 Documentation Centre.

Process

Download the VMware vCenter Server 6.0 Appliance from VMware downloads.

The download will be an ISO, mount this on your computer and open vcsa-setup.html. If you haven’t already installed the VMware Client Integration plugin you will be asked to do so (this can be found in the vcsa folder). You will be prompted with the screen below, select Upgrade.

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Verify the version of VCSA you are using follows a compatible upgrade path and click Ok.

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Accept the license terms and click Ok.

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Enter the FQDN or IP address of the host upon which you wish to deploy the new VCSA (make sure the host is not in lock down mode or maintenance mode). Enter the credentials of an administrative or root user and click Next. The installer will validate access to the host, if prompted with an untrusted SSL certificate message click Yes to continue.

vcsa4

Enter the name of the appliance and confirm if you want to enable SSH, click Next and Yes to continue.

The installer will now ask for the details of your exiting VCSA, fill in the requested fields and ensure you tick the box to migrate performance and other historical data. Click Next.

Select the appliance size appropriate to your environment and click Next.

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Select the datastore to use when deploying the VCSA , you can select to thin provision the disks here if required, click Next.

Enter your temporary network settings and click Next. This configuration will be used for the initial setup and migration of data only, once the vCenter data has been fully migrated your new VCSA will use the network configuration of your existing VCSA.

Review the Customer Experience Improvement Program screen and click Next.

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Verify the details on the deployment summary screen, if everything is correct click Finish.

The new VCSA will now be deployed, once complete the old VCSA will be powered off. If you’ve ever connected to the VCSA console you’ll notice the interface is different and it now has more of an ESXi feel.

You can connect to your vCenter post install using the IP or FQDN of your vCenter, which has been migrated across, the temporary network settings are no longer in use. Verify the installed version is correct when selecting the vCenter under Hosts and Clusters, you can also go to Help > About.

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If you are using the vSphere Windows client you will be prompted to upgrade your client to the latest version.

You must apply a new vCenter license key within 60 days:

Web client: Click Hosts and Clusters and select the upgraded vCenter. Click Actions and Assign License. Select a license or use the green plus button to add a new license and click Ok.

Windows client: On the Home screen under Administration click vCenter Server Settings. Under licensing select a license or enter a new key under Assign a new license key to this vCenter Server and click Ok.

If you do not yet have a new license key you will need to upgrade the key through the My VMware portal:

Browse to https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/login and login using the account which holds administrative access to your license estate. Click Manage License Keys and change the drop down menu to Upgrade License Keys. Browse to the existing license for vCenter Server 5 and select the tick box next to the license key you wish to upgrade, click Continue.

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