I recently purchased the VMWare Essential Plus package. I already have one server running ESXi 4.1 with five VM's on it. Another server (same hardware config as other server above) is still running ESXi 3.5 free. I want to upgrade this one to ESXi 4.1. I have read the documentation and know that there is no upgrade path from 3.5 free to 4.1 lic. so I was planning on re-installing using the 4.1 iso. The part that is fuzzy for me is how my existing storage setup will fare.
On both servers I am using local storage (long term I am looking into a shared NFS, but this won't help me now). On my 3.5 server I have the ESXi OS installed on a 80GB Raid 1 array and my VM's on a 400GB Raid 5 array; both Raid arrays are run from the same storage controller. I know that upgrade will obviously reformat my Raid 1 array where the OS is installed, but my concern is will it effect my Raid 5 array where my VM's are saved on?
My next question is related to backups of the VM's on the Raid 5 array. I have never been able to get backups of the actual VM's datastore (I know they used to make backup products for ESXi free, but these had disappeared by the time I started using ESXi). I am doing backups at the application level of my VM's, but would feel much better going into this if I had a backup of each VM. I know I can gain access to the console via SSH but don't know much linux (not to mention where everything is saved and how I would even begin getting it off). What are my options for backing up these VM's before I start this upgrade?