Learn about the prerequisites of the upgrade process and different resources that will be useful in the upgrade process.
- [Instructor] So, you want to do an upgrade. I've seen all too many times a junior admin run and grab the latest software, and rush to install it into a production environment. The first thing that always comes to my mind in this situation is look before you leap. Now in this lesson, we are going to be talking about some of the prerequisites to upgrading your environment. The first thing you should do when facing an upgrade, is to do your research. Find out any problems that could arise during an installation before they happen.
In order to do that, you have to determine what are the best resources for that information. First and foremost would be the documentation center that VMware provides. Now, VMware has provided a documentation center for ESXi versions since I first started. It goes all the way back to 4.X. If I were you, I would even have the version you are using, that documentation center, bookmarked on your browser toolbar. Now, the documentation area is located in the support section of VMware's website.
It contains things like release notes, configuration maximums, different guides such as installation, known issues, basically anything related to your version of ESXi. Other sources of information worth paying attention to are the vendor websites. Now, these are useful for determining any specific issues that may arise with specific third-party software. Another resource you could use are VMUG groups, now these are groups of people who are VMware professionals just like you, and they may even have specific issues that are similar to your environment with the new version you're installing, so it is definitely worth visiting the VMUG forums prior to an upgrade.
Now, one of the most important things you will find in the documentation center is the hardware compatibility list. This is an interactive table that lets you determine if the existing hardware you have will be supported by the new version of ESXi. Remember, just because you do an upgrade and it works does not mean it will be supported by VMware itself. Now, this could burn you later on down the road, so it is important to ensure that all the hardware is supported for the new version you're upgrading to.
For 6.5, I recommend that everyone takes a look at this. Now, I know for sure that one older but very popular line of processors is not supported in 6.5 even though it was support in 6.0. Now, although we don't have time to dive into all the different hardware requirements and what's supported and what isn't, the list is just too long, we can go through some general hardware requirements for ESXi 6.5.
Now first, we are going to need at least two CPU cores, and the manufacturing date on those cores should be at least 2006, but be careful here, there are some versions and models of different processors that are no longer supported in 6.5 that I know for a fact were manufactured after 2006. Now, the processor should also have the NX/XD bit enabled, and it should support 64 bit processing.
There is at least four gigabytes of RAM that are required, we will need storage of some type, and at least one gigabit of networking speed. Now, obviously, if we're going to be running high end virtual machines, we are going to need much more hardware resources to do that, so remember, these are the minimums, you should actually use quite a bit more in a production environment. We have checked the hardware side, so what will we need on the software side? Well, we're going to need a copy of ESXi 6.5 or 6.0, whatever we're upgrading to, and we're also going to need a vCenter server or vCenter server appliance software.
We are also going to need any third-party software that is approved for the version we are running. Now, if an essential third-party software isn't approved for the new version we're going to upgrade to, we need to wait until it is. Otherwise, we could cause major problems within our production environment. We will also need some type of delivery mechanism for the software. Now, we are going to dive into each part of the installation in depth, but I thought we should do a sweeping arc of the process for upgrading.
The first thing we do is to test the new ESXi version in a lab environment. Does it work with everything? Are there any problems? Is the hardware okay? We're going to test these things in our lab environment so it doesn't fail in production right before our eyes. Now, while we are doing that, now might be a good time to check and maintain our backups. If you are using incremental backups, now might be a time to do a full backup just in case. Now, personally, I've never seen a problem with an upgrade, but I know people who have, so it's better safe than sorry.
Next, if you are in a decent sized environment and you finished testing, it's time to upgrade your vCenter server or your vCenter server appliance. This is our management service, so doing this now can save us time when we're actually upgrading the rest of the host. Lastly, we will upgrade our VMs, appliances, and datastores. It is important that datastores are done last, or you may actually lose connectivities to hosts. That would be a pretty awkward explanation to your boss, datastore five is gone because we upgraded it.
- Manually performing ESXi host and virtual machine upgrades
- Configuring a custom download source for Update Manager
- Importing ESXi images
- Creating baselines or baseline groups
- Attaching baselines to vSphere objects
- Upgrading an ESXi host using vCenter Update Manager
- Upgrading VMware tools, VM hardware, and Update Manager
- Performing vCenter server upgrades