My vSphere 5 Upgrade – Notes and Lessons

vSphere 5 box shot
vSphere 5 box shot
With the release of VMware vSphere 5, I decided to upgrade my lab from 4.1.  The process was pretty painless for the most part, but I thought I would right a few notes about the experience and a couple of things I did to help my scenario along.

I upgraded 3 vSphere 4 (ESXi) hosts and a virtual vCenter Server.

vCenter Server 5: I did an in-place vCenter Server upgrade from 4.1 to 5.0.  I wanted to migrate vCenter to a new server using the data migration utility included with vSphere, however the tool said my version was not compatible.  Instead of going into troubleshoot mode, though I did try a few things like using the migration utility from the 4.1 install media, I decided to upgrade in-place and move vCenter Server later.

The in-place upgrade went almost flawlessly, but toward the end of the upgrade I got an error.  The error: Error 1923. Service Vmware VirtualCenter Server (vpxd) could not be installed.  Verify that you have sufficient privileges to install system services.  The account used to run the service must be valid and have the ‘logon as service’ privilege.

Error 1923. Service VMware VirtualCenter Server (vpxd) could not be installed.
Error 1923. Service VMware VirtualCenter Server (vpxd) could not be installed.
I was running as a local admin so I know the permissions are available, so next I rolled back the installation (automatic after you cancel the installer) and rebooted the machine.  The reboot seemed to clear the error and I was able to complete the installation on the second try.  Things to note, it will appear to be a fresh install on the second go ’round since the vCenter service was removed during the prior install.  Make sure to use the database that is already in place, and do NOT overwrite your data.  The installer is pretty self-explanatory and will give you the opportunity to point to a DSN that points to your current data, if you should encounter error 1923.

ESXi 5: I was booting ESXi 4 from local hard drives on each host and wanted to change that to USB memory sticks.  I picked up 3 Sandisk Cruzer 4GB USB memory sticks, which were on sale at Best Buy for $6.99 each and moved ahead.  The problem with changing install locations, at least in the way I’m doing it, there’s no upgrade.  It’s a fresh install.  Which means your settings are lost, including your distributed vswitch settings.  I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to rebuild the wheel if I don’t have to.  I decided to follow a little pattern that I hoped would allow me to do what I wanted to do in the simplest of fashions.  BTW… I’m not saying this is the only way or even the best way, but it is the way I went, and it worked out successfully.

The better you know your environment, the easier this will be, but at a minimum I do the following…
  • Make sure I know my host configuration settings for installation and setup including which NICs are for what.
  • I use the VIClient to get host ‘networking’ and ‘network adapter’ info (see table below for data I collected).
  • Put the host in Maintenance Mode
  • Generate a ‘Host Profile’.  My hosts aren’t 100% exact matches on hardware or NIC counts, so I generated a separate profile for each host.
  • Remove the host from vCenter.  You have to delete connections to distributed virtual switches.
  • Before powering down the host, I plug in the USB stick and installation CD
  • Reboot the host going into the ‘Setup’ utility changing the main boot device to the USB stick
  • Then boot the machine, via the CD – install media, and set the install location to the USB stick
  • Configure host from the GUI on the host, comparing mac addresses to your original configuration just in case your vmnic numbering has changed.  Make sure that you compare mac addresses against all of your NICs in this interface as you may need this information in a later step.
  • Add the host to vCenter
  • Put the host into Maintenance mode
  • Edit your Host Profile specifically checking for vmnic entries to make sure that they are numbered correctly.  In my case, I had changed host NICs while running vSphere 4 so my NICs were not numbered correctly, ie. vmnic0, vmnic1, vmnic3, vmnic4.  Notice that vmnic2 is skipped.  It will not be skipped in your new install so you will need to change your Host Profile’s NIC entries, changing vmnic3 to vmnic2, and vmnic 4 to vmnic 3.  This worked like a charm in the host profile and allowed me to Apply the profile in an upcoming step.  Make sure that you are mapping these by mac address, in my case vmnic 3 at mac address ending in 57:e4 became vmnic 2.  When editing the host profile, look under Networking configuration > Physical NIC Configuration and Networking configuration > vSphere Distributed Switch.  Check your vmnic entries there.
  • Associate the profile with the host, then apply the profile to the host.  You’ll have to enter vmkernel ip addresses that match what you viewed earlier.  You’ll get the chance to review your configuration changes before applying them.
  • Check your configuration.  I had to re-add my iSCSI storage targets but everything else came in properly and as expected.
  • Exit maintenance mode.
  • Check vmotion / etc…
  • Leave a comment here and move on to the next gag if everything worked out right. 🙂
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I used this as a quick migration chart / mapping chart for my NICs:

Host vmnic old vmnic new dvSwitch WOL MAC VMKernel Notes
10 Vmnic0 Vmnic0 Lab * 1d:4a
Vmnic1 Vmnic1 Internal * 10:10
Vmnic3 Vmnic2 Internal 57:e4 dvMgmt <ip>
Vmnic4 Vmnic3 Ext * 10:d1 dvVMotion <ip>
This allowed me to change the install location of ESXi without having to manually reconfigure everything.  I can now do away with my local storage, redistribute it, or use it for the Virtual Storage Appliance.  🙂 

Each host upgrade took less than 20 minutes of downtime

Hope this helps someone save a little time.

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2 thoughts on “My vSphere 5 Upgrade – Notes and Lessons”

  1. Thank you so much for this post, this save me a lot of time and meet a deadline during vCenter upgrade.

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