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VMware ESX 3.5 and 4.1 interoperability

Posted on 2010-09-17
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Good morning!

We currently have our VMware environment running on ESX 3.5.  Moving forward with our colocation project, we are setting up an additional VMware infrastructure, and probably going to use ESX 4.1.  I'm assuming that there is no issues with interoperability between the two platforms.  Will machines that are exported from the 3.5 environment be able to be imported into the 4.1 environment?  Will I be able to add our 3.5 ESX hosts to the 4.1 vCenter, and vice-versa?

Thanks in advance!

Nick
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Question by:pgetchell
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LVL 19

Expert Comment

by:vmwarun - Arun
ID: 33701424
vCenter v4.1 is 64-Bit only, please make a note of it when planning about compatibility.

ESX 3.5 VMs support only hardware version 4, while ESX 4 and above VMs support both hardware versions 4 and 7, 7 supporting more features when taking into consideration the number of vCPUs, NICs,etc.

Please note that the process of converting from version 4 to version 7 is a one-way process and cannot be reverted unless you have a complete backup of the virtual machine.

As far as licensing is concerned, vSphere does not have the Flex LM licensing which was used till v3.5.
If you want to manage a mix of both ESX 3.5 and 4 hosts, make sure that you have a licensing server installed for managing ESX 3.5 licenses.
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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:simonseztech
ID: 33701451
Hi,You will be able to use vCenter 4.1 to manage your 4.1 and 3.5 ESX host. You will be able to migrate your ESX 3.5 VM to 4.1 (if you want to do the inverse don't update virtual machine hardware - but you will lose all the hardware version 7 features).You will not be able to manage your esx 4.1 environement from your 3.5.
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LVL 3

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by:BijuMenon
ID: 33701469
You can get the VMs from 3.5 working on 4.1 but you may need to update VMware Tools on them. You can manage 3.5 ESX on vCenter 4.1 but do not pool ESX 3.5 with vSphere 4.1 Hosts as HA and DRS will not work. You can create a seperate Datacenter and cluster and pool your 3.5ESX or you want to pool it with 4.1 then update the hosts.
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LVL 28

Expert Comment

by:bgoering
ID: 33701547
Actually HA and DRS will work fine in a mixed 3.5 / 4.1 cluster. The key is (as noted earlier) not to upgrade the virtual hardware to level 7. As long as you leave the hardware as version 4 all will be good.

I am doing that now on my development cluster as I wait on new equipment. This cluster has two ESX 4.1 hosts, and still has two ESX 3.5 hosts because those older servers were dropped from the HCL for 4.1.

Also let me reinforce you need to upgrade Virtual Center 2.5 to vCenter Server 4.1 (requires 64-bit Windows) in order to manage your mixed environment. The "vice-versa" won't work.

Good Luck
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Accepted Solution

by:
VMwareGuy earned 500 total points
ID: 33707943
Here is what you need:

1)  vCenter 4.1 supports 3.5.x hosts, but not vice versa, your 3.5.x environment will not support 4.1 hosts or VMs with version 7 virtual hardware

2)  you must use the 4.1 client to access vCenter inventory and 4.1 host inventory, no other client will work

3) 4.1 VMs with hardware version 7 will not run on 3.5.x hosts, hence if you want any vmotion or HA clustering to work you can't uprade the 3.5.x hardware (version 4) to vSphere hardware (version 7)

4) vCenter 4.1 does require 64bit OS.  and be sure that all of your plugins, like Vmware update manager (VUM), are at the same version, when you upgrade vcenter you must upgrade VUM too and you can install Update Manager 4.1 only on a 64-bit machine - see VUM 4.1 guide.    


vsp-vum-41-admin-guide.pdf
vsp-41-esx-vc-installation-guide.pdf
vsp-41-upgrade-guide.pdf
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