VMWare and HP Offline Bundles

I'm getting ready to upgrade 2 HP Proliant ML350 G6 servers from older versions of VMWare (4.1 and 5.1) to 5.5.  Currently these are standalone servers, but we're planning on adding VSphere Essentials as part of the upgrade.

I need to understand if the HP Offline Bundles are required with regard to doing this upgrade.  HP has a few offline bundles listed for this model of server for VMWare 5.5. However, it's a bit confusing because when you look at the description of the offline bundle it refers to Gen8 and Gen9 support. So, I'm not even positive that the bundles apply to these servers, since they're G6's.

One of my question is: do I install the HP offline bundle(s) before I upgrade to 5.5 or after, or does it matter?  It appears from the installation instructions that ESXi 5.5 needs to be installed first, but I would like some confirmation of that.  Also, I'm unclear as to exactly what functionality these offline bundles provide.  Do they add some functionality to VSphere Essentials that I won't have without the offline bundles?  Or is it simply a matter of having the most up to date versions of HP software and drivers?
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Hypercat (Deb)Asked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
You need to check if the G6 is on the HCL for ESXi 5.5, and I've checked for you the ML350 G6 is certified and on the HCL up to  5.5 U2.

I think it's just HP trying to get people to purchase later models, as the G6 is rather old!

Always use the HP OEM versions of ESXi 5,5, import these into Update Manager if using update manager.

vSphere is vSphere, the license dictates the VMware vSphere features.

HP OEM version, has specific drivers and enables the CIM, e.g. communicates with the hardware.

If you have a HP server, you should use the OEM HP version of ESXi.

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You can add hp vibsdepot as source for VUM and update hp drivers and hp agents using VUM
Hypercat (Deb)Author Commented:
Hi, Andrew.  Yes, I was planning on using the HP custom image to install ESXi 5.5U2.  By what you're saying, it sounds as if I don't need the HP offline bundle thing at all, which makes my upgrade process less complicated  I always like less complicated!

Do you also recommend getting the HP custom version of VSphere Essentials?
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There is nothing HP custom in pieces resold on HP site. If it comes cheaper than from vmware, sure buy it from HP

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Yes, always use the HP version!

You can upgrade either way offline or ISO.
You can try not using HP version, go to missing driver procedures once, and come out believer in HP custom image. If you have a day of time you can try to assemble ISO with drivers that works on HP server. Even if you fail you learn something.
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