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upgrade ESXi 3.5 to ESXi 4 that is installed on a USB Key

Posted on 2010-09-23
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Hi We have 3 IBM X-Series Diskless Servers that came with ESXi 3.5 pre installed. We would like to go to ESXi Version 4 (we have a license to do so).

Can we upgrade the USB Keys?

If so can it be done via the host upgrade option after VCentre Server has been upgraded using a zip file or does it need to be done directly from the host ?

Are there any gotchas with this sort of upgrade?
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Question by:PACSAdmin
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by:danm66
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you should be able to upgrade using the available supported methods, but ideally you should contact IBM to find out what their recommended process to upgrade is.  They take the code from VMware and add their own drivers and tweaks that they feel are necessary.
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Yup!

http://technodrone.blogspot.com/2009/05/esx3i-to-esx4i-update.html

This will walk you through it - the link references upgrading to 4, and I'm just guessing you'll want to go straight to 4.1.

You don't need to upgrade the USB stick - you just need to upgrade the contents on it.

The host update manager is your best solution, and the one 'gotcha' I can think of is the upgrade ZIP file is a massive pain in the butt to find - or rather, it was when I tried to find it.

http://www.vmware.com/download/download.do?downloadGroup=ESXi41

:)  You'll need a login (i.e. an active SnS subscription) to snag it - but that'll help.

Enjoy!
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by:vmwarun - Arun
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1.Are the 3 hosts part of a cluster ?

2.To answer your question on upgrade, the vSphere Host Update Utility can be used to upgrade the ESXi hosts.

3.I concur with danm66's opinion, where he requests you to check with IBM for their best practices in upgrading embedded ESXi hosts.

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by:vmwarun - Arun
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4.Another point to add is the vCenter server has to be first upgraded to either v4.0 U1 or U2 or v4.1 since without this the hosts cannot be managed.

5.If you are going to upgrade to v4.1, please be aware that the vCenter version is 64-bit only with this version. Check your hardware before upgrading vCenter and backup the SQL / Oracle DB prior to performing the upgrade of vCenter.
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by:PACSAdmin
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VCentre is currently running on a 32bit VM so will need to commision a new 64bit VM and migrate over which adds another level of complexity. anybody gone through this scenario?
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by:danm66
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yeah, the upgrade covers just such a scenario.  Basically, you copy over the datamigration folder from the vcenter server installation media to your old 32bit VC.  within that directory, run the backup.bat script from a command prompt.  Once it completes, copy the entire datamigration folder from the old VC to the new 64bit one and then run the other batch file (install.bat iirc) and it will install MS SQL express (if that's what you're using), restore your database to it, then install VC 4.1 and upgrade the database to work with it.

the doc is on http://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/vs_pages/vsp_pubs_esx41_vc41.html or is directly at http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vsphere4/r41/vsp_41_upgrade_guide.pdf
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by:PACSAdmin
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i am going to add another layer of complexity now.

What if i am using SQL 2005 and want the new database to be SQL Express (mainly a licensing cost saving issue as full SQL Database is overkill for our environment). I would like to free up a database license for another application.
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by:danm66
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I'm not aware of any guides for going to SQL express, vmware or otherwise.  It may be possible but it would probably be a lot of work; possibly more than it would be to just install a fresh copy of vcenter and add your host(s) into it.

All of the storage and network settings (except DVS) is stored on the hosts so you won't need to reconfigure them if you start from scratch with VC.  You will lose any custom permissions/roles, custom DRS/HA settings, FT vm's will need to be re-setup(probably don't have any) and all of your performance stats plus past event information will be lost.  The update manager database really doesn't hold much of interest unless you created your own baselines.

Keep in mind that the supported limit for SQL express is 5 hosts and/or 50 vm's.
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by:PACSAdmin
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Only have 4 Hosts and 20 VM's so i am within the limit. Have no custom roles/permissions
2 of the hosts are standalone at remote sites and will require no extra config so these i am comfortable to just add these.
2 are clustered for HA/DRS I am assuming i would need to set this up again. I am also assuming i would need to detach them from the existing VCentre beforehand.. is this correct and if so assume i need to break the cluster to do so.

I am assuming also that i can do this without affecting running of any of the VM's is this correct. I just would not be able to manage any of them until i have attached them to the new VCentre Server.
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by:danm66
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It won't affect the VM's running state in most circumstances.  The only concern is that when you add a host into a VC, it pushes out a new VC agent to the host.  If your hosts are newer than 3.5 Update2 then you should be ok, but either ways check that automatic startup/shutdown is disabled on each host (under the config tab for each host).  With some early releases without the right patch, it could cause the cause the VM's to get bounced as it thinks the host is going down when the mgmt service gets restarted to complete the installation of the VC agent.

You don't need to remove the hosts from the old VC prior to adding them into the new one.  They will just show up as 'not responding' on the old VC.  And yes, just recreate your Datacenter and Cluster on the new VC to setup HA/DRS.
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by:PACSAdmin
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thanks for the help
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