Upgrade Advice - Best Practice - Esxi 4.1.0 GA 260247 to Esxi 6.0 U1

I have two production servers that I would like to upgrade from 4.1.0 GA 260247 to 6.0 U1. One is a Dell PE R910 and the other a PE R710, both of which are on the HCL for 6.0. I'm running the Essentials version, have Vcenter installed on a standalone computer, but haven't really done much in VCenter. As of the 4.1 version VCenter seemed overly complex for what I was using VmWare for. It was easier to perform day to day tasks just using the VSphere client. Over the years, after reading so many articles about problems with ESXI upgrades failing, I decided to forego the updates unless there was a business reason to do so. Version 4.1.0 GA of ESXI has been rock solid for me and runs for months on end without a reboot.

Now I need to upgrade some servers to Windows Server 2012 R2. Although I can get by with 5.x, it seems silly to spend the labor time, when I can future-proof to a degree with 6.x and end up with a speed-improved web client. I'm also hoping that USB 3.0 support for portable hard drives will finally be available and reliable as I use a physical server for guest OS and data backup employing portable drives instead of tape.

I know I need to perform the upgrade in two stages, 4.1 to 5.x, I assume 5.5 U2,  then 5.x to 6.o U1. I'm not concerned with upgrading VCenter as there isn't much in that database due to my not using it. A fresh install of VCenter would be in order. For obvious reasons, I haven't found a definitive guide to upgrading 4.x to 6.x. I don't use a SAN, any optional features or plug-ins. All drives are local. I'm not sharing any datastores between guests. Both host servers boot from built-in SD card sockets. Could you point me in the right direction to accomplishing this task?
pbalounDirector of ITAsked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Are you sure, you want to perform an upgrade, we would not recommend it and carry all that baggage.

One thing you must do, is UPDATE the FIRMWARE on your Dell Server with the latest firmware DVD from Dell.

We would advise downloading the OEM version of ESXi 6.0.0 GA from Dell, and completing a fresh installation of ESXi on your servers.

and then later performing an update from 6.0.0 GA to 6.0 U1.

Performing a new installation, will detect the existing VMFS datastore where the VMs are resident and stored, and ask to preserve it, you select yes, and later you can browse the datastore and add the VMs back to the inventory.

You will need to ensure you have full backups of your VMs.

see my EE Articles

HOW TO: Install and Configure VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.0 (ESXi 6.0)

HOW TO: Connect to the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.0 (ESXi 6.0) using the vSphere Client (C# client)


As for vCenter Server, you have two options of either installing vCenter Server for Windows or vCenter Server Appliance (Linux), which is quicker to get up and running, and configured, and I've got articles on that two.



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pbalounDirector of ITAuthor Commented:
Sorry for the late reply. I was on vacation and swamped when I came back. Upgrading via a new install makes sense and is what I'll do, since I can go straight to 6.0.0 GA amd then upgrade to 6.0 U1. Thanks for your invaluable advice.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
no probs.
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