How to update an ESXi host Server from VMware 5.1 Update 1 to VMware 5.5 Update 2


We have 3 ESXi hosts using VMware 5.1 Update 1 and we just purchased a new ESXi host.  A new ESXi host is an HP ProLiant DL380 Gen9.  That new ESXi Host will not work with VMware 5.1 Update 1.

Hence, we must update our other ESXi hosts in order for all servers to be on the same version.  Every time I have worked on an upgrade with a consultant, the process has been mistake, try again, mistake try again, mistake try again.  BY the time we got it to work my head was spinning after the 5th attempt and I am not sure what actually worked.

My questions are:

1.  How can I collect the correct software and then install the new version on each ESXI host?

2.  Is there a backup that we should do?

3.  Will I need to recreate the Network card (VNics) on the ESXi host.
        a.  What is all involved?
PkafkasNetwork EngineerAsked:
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Phil DavidsonCommented:
What do you mean collect the correct software?  If the servers are Windows, I would use PowerShell's WMI cmdlets.  If the servers are Linux, you could try one of the following:

dpkg --get-selections
rpm -qa | less
apt --install list

Open in new window

or possibly a pip command

For upgrades like this, I don't see how you could justify not doing a backup shortly before upgrading.  

Why would you think you'd need to recreate NICs?

Have you seen this link for general information about what you are doing?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
The process of installing an update is shown in my EE Article

HOW TO: Upgrade from VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.1 to VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.5 for FREE

It's the same process above as applying an ESXi 5.5 update.

1. You download it from the VMware Patch Portal, or you can go here for the build you need

2. Make sure you have a Backup of all your VMs. There is a rollback procedure if the updater fails.

3. No need the OS will be upgraded.
Robby SwartenbroekxMSP engineerCommented:
I make the assumption your other servers are also HP's.

Steps to upgrade:
check if your backup solution supports vSphere 5.5. If not, see if there is an update for that software and do this first.
login to the vmware portal.
upgrade your keys from 5.1 to 5.5 (the old 5.1 keys will still work, so it won't stop anything)
If you now have a vSphere appliance, download the new vSphere 5.5 Update 2a Appliance from VMWare (I myself prefer this). If you have vSphere installed as an application on a Windows server, download VMware vCenter Server 5.5 Update 2 and modules. While you are on this site, I suggest you also download VMware vSphere Client 5.5 Update 2, but that can also be installed afterwards on the clients that need to administer the vCenter.
For the Windows server vCenter version, I do not know, but I guess it is just an upgrade install
For the appliance:
deploy the new applicance, just take a DHCP address, it will be overwritten later with the IP of the old vCenter
log in to the old vCenter appliance, go to the upgrade tab and get the upgrade key.
log in to the new vCenter appliance, to to the upgrade tab and past the upgrade key of the old one, and copy the key of the new one.
Now in the old vCenter appliance, past the upgrade key of your new one.
start the upgrade
At the end, you the new one will have the complete config of you old one and the old vCenter will be shut down.
Install and configure ESXi 5.5 on your new HP server. You can get the CD/DVD from the HP site. Do not use the one from vmware. The one from HP will have all HP drivers and tools in it.
If you have a SAN, you already have a cluster setup, join the new machine to it and your VMWare licenses allow it, you can now life migrate all servers from one old server to the new one.
If you do not have a SAN or your licenses do not allow it, you have to shutdown the machine and migrate it while powered off
If you do not have a cluster, but do have a SAN, create a cluster and add all ESXi machines in it.
you should now have one old machine completly empty, put the HP ESXi CD/DVD in it and do an upgrade (follow the steps).
If this machine comes back up, you can migrate machines from another old server to the upgraded old server and do this again (2x)
Everything upgraded. Now you only need to upgrade VMWare Tools on the guest machines, but they will lose (not long) network connection while the driver for the network card is upgraded. I suggest you configure them to do an upgrade of the tools while restarting them (in the options on each machine) and maybe do some other upgrading too (windows update for example)

Now if you have an essential license, you are limited to only 3 host, if you do not have a SAN and cluster, try to see if you can get demo licenses of a vCenter standard version to add the 4the host and cold-migrate the machines that way. If you do have a SAN and cluster, you can try to run everything on just 2 hardware machines (maybe poweroff some systems that can handle downtime (development/test environments, monitoring machines) without interupting the users). Once the new server is added, the worst is already passed. The new server probably can handle more load.
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PkafkasNetwork EngineerAuthor Commented:
Hello Phil Davidson:

1.  We have 2 Dell ESXi hosts and 2 HP ProLiant Servers.
         a.  I was told that one must download the correct software for the correct machine.

2.  Why would need to re-create the Vnics?
         a.  A consultant updated to version 5.1 update 1 and he blew away the existing data and that hard drives with the VMware OS.
         b.  We could not get the VM's to be on-line because the Vnics needed to be re-created.
         c.  Its a good thing that I had a screen shot of the previous configurations.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
1. You will need to download and use the original OEM versions, of the base software, Patches will update the code.

2. If you are doing an upgrade, you do not have to re-create the vSwitches.

a. He did not do an update, he created a new installation.
b. Do not know what the issue was here! Should not have been an issue.
c. Yes always or Backup of the configuration.
PkafkasNetwork EngineerAuthor Commented:
From my original questions:

My questions are:

1.  How can I collect the correct software and then install the new version on each ESXI host?
        a.  I mean to ask where shall I download the ESXi software 5.5 Update 2.
        b.  It appears that I should go to teh manufacturer's web site.
                  i. and

2.  Is there a backup that we should do?
        a.  I already make a backup of the VM, including Vcenter (Virtual machine).
        b.  Vcenter has already been updated to Version 5.5 update 2 and backups are working fine.
        c.  My question more specifically is should I make a backup of the VMware OS on the partition, Export something perhaps?  BEfore we update from 5.1 Update 1.

3.  Will I need to recreate the Network card (VNics) on the ESXi host.
        a.  What is all involved?
        b.  Like I said a consultant that did this before did a new installation for 5,1 Update 1 and that below away the previous VMware settings, so all of teh VNics needed to be manually recreated.
        c.  Its probably a good idea to document all of the settings before the update.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
a. VMware Patch Portal, though this has now been replaced, and is part of MyVMware.
b. The original installer is downloaded from Dell or HP.

a. okay - good.
b. okay good.
c. you cannot backup the OS, but you can backup the configuration of ESXi, and restore ESXi configuration to a blank ESXi if required.

see here


a. no.
b. That's because he installed a new version not an upgrade.
c. Correct, you should always have good documentation.

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