My ramblings about all things technical


Upgrading from vSphere 4.1 to vSphere 5

Yep the time has yet again come round that the bi yearly mass upgrade of all of my VMware environments needs upgrading to the latest version. Thankfully this upgrade process hasn’t been too difficult but seeing as so many people said they found my posting all about the upgrading of my environments from 4 to 4.1 helpful I thought I’d keep the idea going and do one for my upgrading to 5 and give people some hints on things that slowed me down and things to plan for before doing the upgrade

  • First is the upgrade notes, I would recommend reading through this and following it step by step and using it as a reference guide as it really does flag up all the things you need to think about and know before during and after the upgrade.
  • Second is the Licencing. If you haven’t upgraded your licencing then i would recommend going to the licencing page where you can get all the answers to your licencing questions and concerns.
  • Next is the checklist to make sure you have planned for everything and you won’t get any nasty surprises
  • Make sure you run the vCentre Host Agent Pre-Upgrade Checker to make sure all your hosts are compatible
  • The upgrade follows the same steps as previous upgrades with:
    • Upgrade the vCentre Server: I already have my vCentre on x64 etc so there was no need for major changes this time if you do need to follow the steps then I covered them in my upgrade from 4 to 4.1 posting)
    • Upgrade your VMware Update manager Server: This was straightforward to do and is really helpful to do prior to the upgrading of your hosts, as there are already two patches for ESXi 5.
    • Upgrade your hosts to ESXi 5: This can be done in numerous ways, the one major snag I hit was that 80% of my hosts needed their BIOS updated to the latest version to be able to run ESXi 5. Not sure when they added this as ESXi 5 beta worked on them so they must have changed something last minute before GA but I wrote about all my steps in my posting PSOD while trying to install vSphere ESXi5 on a Dell PowerEdge 1950 and OMSA 6.5 installation. As the title states there is also a currently unsupported version of OMSA for ESXi 5 (OMSA 6.5) which I would highly recommend installing prior to upgrading your host and the new variable to allow you to connect to the host via the Dell Management Console (DMC). Also don’t forget to verify your hosts so that HA is enabled, i spent a bit of time scratching my head wondering why the HA agents were failing on my hosts until i remembered the step to verify them, Administration->vCentre Server Settings-> SSL –> verify the hosts in the bottom box clip_image001
    • Upgrade your Virtual Machines: This also follows the same steps of update all the vmtools on your virtual machines, then upgrade the hardware version to version 8 on all of them. If you have machines you don’t want to take down then it’s not a train smash as vSphere 5.0 fully supports running virtual machines with VMware Tools version 4.x as well as versions hardware versions 4 and 7. So you’ll have plenty of time to plan for that outage upgrade window to do the work at a later date.
    • Upgrade your Datastores : Personally, I’m waiting this out as we change datastores relatively often so when the time comes to make a change I’m going to upgrade them to VMFS 5. The steps to do it are really simple and vSphere supports VMFS 3 up so you can take your time upgrading your datastores, although obviously, the new VMFS does have all the new features and capabilities so don’t wait too long.
  • There are two videos created by VMware detailing how to upgrade you hosts to ESXi 5 with the installer and with VUM which are really great to watch before you do the upgrades and give you the peace of mind you’re doing it correctly.
  • Also there is the VMware upgrade community which is a great place to see problems people have had and the fixes they found for them if you hit any problems or if you just want to have a look and see if there is anything that may apply to you and will save you having the same problem

That’s my list and how I’ve done my upgrades. Apart from the need to have a large number of my hosts on the latest BIOS revision, the process was fairly simple in my opinion.


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PSOD while trying to install vSphere ESXi5 on a Dell PowerEdge 1950 and OMSA 6.5 installation

This blog has been sitting in my drafts for a while and I have edited it a number of times while I tried to work out my problems and then my trying of multiple different paths to fix the problems I kept encountering.

First was my attempt to install ESXi5 onto my test lab Dell Poweredge1950 server which had ESXi5 beta installed on it already. The server booted fine off on the disc but once it reached “loading /tools.t00” it would give me a PSOD as shown in the two screen shots below.



After making sure it wasn’t my disc I went to the place I really should have looked at first (VCP4 101 Gregg…) and looked to make sure my server was actually supported on ESXi5 by going to the VMware HCL . As shown below the server is supported but requires the latest BIOS revision, which is a real pain as this server as i mentioned, had the ESXi5 latest beta on it so obviously this requirement has only been implemented in the GA release.



The fun part of all of this is my servers are remote to me as they are sitting in one of EMC’s corporate Datacentre’s. Now here is the part where the steps I followed to get my BIOS updated has been changed a number of times as I tried booting off the system Build DVD and updating the BIOS that way but this requires a formatted USB stick/key with the BIOS software on it which is fine for my one server but not for the future upgrades I need to do. So I followed the Open Manage route. After speaking to Kong Yang at Dell via twitter, he pointed to me to the currently unsupported but the latest available OMSA package for ESXi5 and steps of how to do it. The difficulty for me originally was that OMSA 6.4 didn’t work for me on ESXi5 beta and the unsupported version isn’t on the dell website or FTP site due to it not being supported yet. The steps of how to install OMSA on ESXi 5 via ESXCLI are here:

Also as mentioned, the VIB for OMSA 6.5 isn’t available via FTP.DELL.COM so you need to download it from this link:

The page Kong pointed me to with the above two links is here:

Next is another snag I hit as now the old process of managing your dell server via openmanage on port 1311 isn’t supported for ESXi and Dell recommends you use the Dell Management Console, which requires a distributed web server, installed on a Windows server. Also you have to licence the Dell management Console.Due to my  desperate need for my test server to be upgraded to the Ga version on ESXi5 I did the BIOS upgrade for my test server by quickly installing Windows 2008 and just running the BIOS upgrade application so as to make sure ESXi5 did install once the BIOS was at the correct version and it does install perfectly.

But for my future servers I expressed my amazement at this requirement to pay for a licence for the DMC to allow me to do something I used to be able to do for free on twitter and Jonathan Medd replied to me with a blog posting he has done with a work around (What a Legend). This route does work if your servers are ESX/i 4.x and then you can use OpenManage to update your BIOS.

For me installing the latest OMSA on my ESXi5 beta and now GA test server didnt bring up the UserVars.CIMoemProviderEnabled parameter unfortunately and so I  created a VMware Communities posting looking for a way to connect to OpenManage by using OMSA6.5 and ESXi5 to allow me to manage all my future ESXi5 servers.  I got a number of responses and as mentioned in the thread it looks like the new variable is now UserVars.CIMvmw_OpenManageProviderEnabled