I had the pleasure of working with a couple teammates today upgrading our ESX lab from 3.5 to vSphere. I enjoy the times we are able to get together and share our knowledge with one another…anyway, the basic upgrade process is as follows:

1. Upgrade to vCenter 4.0
2. Install the vSphere Client
3. Upgrade vCenter Converter
4. If in use, upgrade to the latest version of vCenter Guided Consolidation
5. Upgrade vCenter Update Manager
6. Upgrade the ESX Hosts (we used the vCenter Host Update Utility)
7. Upgrade the VMware Tools on the VMs
8. Upgrade the licenses

Before upgrading to vCenter 4.0, you must ensure that Virtual Center and its database are in order. I’ve abbreviated the prerequistes list a little, but the full list can be seen in the vSphere Upgrade Guide, found here. The prereqs in bold represent those we needed to resolve in our lab upgrade.

vCenter Server Prerequisites

– VirtualCenter Server 2.x installed on a machine that supports vCenter Server 4.0.

– VMware vCenter Server 4.0 installation media.

– The installation path of the previous version of VirtualCenter must be compatible with the installation requirements for Microsoft Active Directory Application Mode (ADAM/AD LDS). For example the installation path cannot have commas (,) or periods (.). If your previous version of VirtualCenter does not meet this requirement, you must perform a clean installation of vCenter Server 4.0.

Make sure the system on which you are installing vCenter Server is not an Active Directory domain controller, primary or backup.

– Make sure that the computer name has no more than 15 characters.

vCenter Server 4.0 uses TCP/IP Ports 80 and 443 for the VMware vSphere Web client. You cannot run vCenter Server on the same machine as a Web server using TCP/IP port 80 (HTTP) or port 443 (HTTPS) because doing so causes port conflicts.

– If you use vCenter Guided Consolidation Service in the VirtualCenter 2.x environment, complete the consolidation plan before you upgrade to vCenter Server 4.0. The upgrade to vCenter Server 4.0 does not preserve or migrate any data gathered by the vCenter Guided Consolidation Service. After the upgrade, all of the data is cleared, and you cannot restore it.

– Back up the SSL certificates that are on the VirtualCenter 2.x system before you upgrade to vCenter Server 4.0.

Database Prerequisites

If your database server is not supported by vCenter Server, perform a database upgrade to a supported version or import your database into a supported version.

– You must perform a complete backup of your VirtualCenter 2.x database before you begin the vCenter Server upgrade. The VirtualCenter 2.x database schema is not compatible with vCenter Server 4.0. The vCenter Server 4.0 installer upgrades your existing VirtualCenter Server database schema with extra fields, thus making the database unusable by VirtualCenter 2.x.

– You must have login credentials, the database name, and the database server name that will be used by the vCenter Server database. The database server name is typically the ODBC System data store name (DSN) connection name for the vCenter Server database.

– To use a newly supported SQL database, such as Microsoft SQL 2008, you do not need to perform a clean installation of vCenter Server if your existing database is also Microsoft SQL Server. For example, you can upgrade a Microsoft SQL Server 2000 database to Microsoft SQL Server 2005 or Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and then upgrade VirtualCenter 2.x to vCenter Server 4.0.

– If you are upgrading from VirtualCenter 2.0.x and you are using the previously bundled demonstration MSDE database, you must perform a clean installation of vCenter Server. VirtualCenter 2.0.x with the demonstration MSDE database has no supported upgrade path to vCenter Server 4.0.

– If you have a Microsoft SQL database and you are upgrading from VirtualCenter 2.0.x, make sure that bulk logging is enabled. You can disable it after the upgrade is complete.

If you have a Microsoft SQL database, your system DSN must be using the SQL Native Client driver.

Limited Lab Resources

At the time the lab was originally built, our resources we a bit scarce, thus we had to maximize the responsibilities of each server we had. Unfortunately, this means our current VirtualCenter server was also our lab domain controller, IIS Server, and SQL 2000 Database server. I’m sure you can see where this is headed. The first two steps in our upgrade were:

1. Run “dcpromo” to demote vCenter to a member server
2. Upgrade SQL 2000 (for no particular reason, we upgraded to SQL 2005)

vSphere’s supported databases include:

○ Supported Microsoft SQL Server Databases:
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express (limit its use to 5 ESX Hosts and/or 50 VMs)
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Standard edition (SP2)
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise edition (SP2)
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise edition (SP2) x64
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition (x64)

○ Oracle Database Support:
Oracle 10g Standard edition (Release 1 [])
Oracle 10g Enterprise edition (Release 1 [])
Oracle 10g Standard edition (Release 2 [])
Oracle 10g Enterprise edition (Release 2 [])
Oracle 10g Enterprise edition (Release 2 []) x64
Oracle 11g Standard edition
Oracle 11g Enterprise edition

Well, I think that’s enough on the prerequisities, we’ll jump into the vCenter install on the next post.