VSphere Essentials licensing and free version of ESXi

I'm in a bit of confusion about how to proceed with my VSphere Essentials 6 install.  I've installed the server software, but I have a few problems.  

First of all, the environment:  Two ESXi 5.5 hosts that have been running for some time, using the free version of the hypervisor without any VCenter Server software, and have been managed using the VSphere client.  We just purchased a license for VSphere Essentials 6 and I've installed it on one of our virtual hosts.  I can open the management tools, either VSphere client or the web console on the server with no problem.

So, my problems:

1.  I cannot open the web client successfully on my Windows 7 workstation in IE11.  It keeps asking me to install the client plugin, but when I try to install it again, the client plugin says it's already installed.  It doesn't show on the list of add-ins in IE. OK, I get it, no one like IE. However, I was able to install the plugin in Firefox, but I get a warning message every time I open it that the version of Firefox (26) that I'm running is too old and I must upgrade to 30.  Anyway, it seems to open, but I don't know if I'm missing some essential ("Essentials") functions.

2.  The big problem is with my host licenses.  I understand that since these were originally installed using the free hypervisor that I have to somehow license these hosts for the VSphere client agent.  When I try to add a host I get this message:  "The VMware vSphere 5 Hypervisor license for Host server.domain.org does not include vCenter agent for VMware host. Upgrade the license."

I didn't have this problem the last time I did a similar upgrade, but that was to VSphere Enterprise and it was version 5.5. Regardless of how much searching I do, I can't find the (what I would think would be very simple) instructions on HOW to upgrade the license.  These hosts were just upgraded to 5.5U2.  Do I have to upgrade them to 6.0?  How do I do that if I can't add them to the datacenter I've created in VSphere Essentials? Also, these servers are Proliant ML350 G6's and I don't think they're officially on the list as compatible with ESXi 6.

Any suggestions or instructions would be appreciated.
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Hypercat (Deb)Asked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
1. There is no reason to use the Web Portal unless you need to use the new features of vSphere 5.5 or later, in virtual machines 10 or 11. You can continue to use the vSphere Client (C#) and connect to vCenter Server in the usual manner.

Integration Client is only used for Console and/or uploading and downloading files.

Have you tried using Chrome?

2. Add your licenses, to vCenter Server, and then Assign them to the host, when you add the ESXi hosts. The reason you cannot add to vCenter Server, is because it's got a FREE ESXi license attached.

Ah, these our 5.5 U2 hosts, you will need to update them to 6.0, because the licenses you have are 6.0. and as you have to update to 6.0, you might as well, add the licenses, after update as well.

Okay, here is how you update them, lots of articles for you to read:-

lots of my EE Articles, these are step by step, hold you hand style with lots of screenshots and walkthroughs like a video game....

http://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/19219/HOW-TO-Upgrade-VMware-ESXi-5-1-and-ESXi-5-5-to-ESXi-6-0-with-VMware-Update-Manager-VUM.html

http://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/19279/HOW-TO-Update-Patch-VMware-ESXi-6-0-0-GA-to-ESXi-6-0-0b-with-VMware-Update-Manager-VUM.html

(make sure you patch to 6.0.0b!) do not run on 6.0.0 GA!

http://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/19159/HOW-TO-Install-and-Configure-VMware-vSphere-Update-Manager-VUM-6-0.html

http://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/18839/HOW-TO-Upgrade-VMware-ESXi-5-5-to-VMware-ESXi-6-0-using-an-ISO-image.html

http://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/18819/HOW-TO-Upgrade-VMware-ESXi-5-5-to-ESXi-6-0-in-5-easy-steps.html

http://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/18820/HOW-TO-Update-VMware-ESXi-6-0-0-GA-to-ESXi-6-0-0b-in-5-easy-steps.html

http://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/19181/HOW-TO-Add-VMware-vSphere-Hypervisor-ESXi-Hosts-to-VMware-vSphere-vCenter-Server-6-0.html

You have all the articles, and methods of updating to 6.0 from ISO, Offline file, and VUM, and also 6.0.0b.
Hypercat (Deb)Author Commented:
As usual, Andrew, lots of good stuff to read and absorb.  I'll review all and get back to you in a week or so with any additional questions.  Thanks!
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
You could also downgrade your ESXi 6.0 license for ESXi 5.5, but not sure, that's an option if you up-grade to 6.0 for the 6.0 features! (you can do that in the MyVMware Portal!)

for your information, when you upgrade 5.5 to 6.0, it automatically goes into Evaluation Mode, and you'll then need to apply a license after 59/60 days.

If you've never used or installed VUM, it's worth the effort to maintain your upgrades/updates!
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Hypercat (Deb)Author Commented:
Yes, so far I'm impressed with what I've seen from your article about the VUM.  Lots easier especially when managing things remotely from 50 miles away!

I'm not sure if I could do the downgrade thing, although it might be easier.  I purchased the license from HP not directly from VMWare, because it cost a bit less due to having all HP servers.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Install VUM, it will not take you long, follow the articles....

you'll be updated to 6.0.0b in no time, and then be able to apply new licenses, and then your all done.
Hypercat (Deb)Author Commented:
I've checked out all the articles and everything looks pretty straightforward.  My only concern is that the HP servers I have at this site are Proliant ML350 G6s.  These servers are not certified by HP or VMWare for VSphere/ESXi 6, only up to 5.5U2. I upgraded them a few weeks ago using a CD with the HP version of ESXi 5.5U2 on it, so that's what they're running now.

I did find one article online by someone who had successfully installed ESXi 6 on an HP Proliant ML110 G6. Any thoughts on that?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Quite simply, HP do not re-certify older servers because they want to sell you a new shiny server on the HCL.

So, it may work with ESXi 6.0, it may not, that is the risk, you must assess, also if not on the HCL, VMware Support will not support you if you have an OS issues.

So, you need to check the risk to your organization or company, personally we never  run any server in Production that is not on the HCL.

You could stay at 5.5 U2, unless you need the features of 6.0.

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