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ESX 5.0 to 5.5

ESX 5.0 to 5.5

(OP)
Well the time has come. I have now been tasked with upgrading our ESX5.0 hosts to ESX5.5. Currently I have 10 ESX hosts but 6 of them are pretty old so im looking at introducing 4 new blades with 256Gb of ram and 2 x 6core CPU's and decomm the oldest ones.

Im going to pretty much keep the config of things like the vSwitches the same, we use DRS and our HA is ok. I want to take down the older ESX hosts one by one.. rebuild to 5.5 and update all the firmware etc on those hosts.

My question is... what would be the best way forward? New Environment and migrate or inplace upgrade?
One thing to point out though, I have a need to separate 3 of the hosts and manage them with a seperate vCenter Server (which i have a license sorted for and just need to build a new server) due to some external third party licensing issues.

I know its going to be a big job and I would really appreciate the assistance/guidance.

RE: ESX 5.0 to 5.5

First suggestion, talk to your VMWare vendor about VSOM or VMWare's current Optimization Check promotion. You could get a good deal on your licensing to get 5.5 AND get a licensed copy of Operations Management. If your VMWare vendor has a technical group, you might be able to get the optimization check for free.

Doing an upgrade into a whole new environment does make things a little easier since you have nothing in your way for validation. It is my standard practice to perform a validation of a cluster before putting any production systems on it. When it is a new cluster, the validation is quick and easy since i can simply run through all the tests with out any worry. This would mean you are buying all new servers and maybe a new SAN. BTW, if there is a concern about licenses during the upgrade, I have "borrowed" licenses (good for 60 days) from VMWare before to complete an upgrade into a new system.

The first thing your going to upgrade though will be vCenter. You can upgrade your current vCenter server (as long as it meets 5.5 requirements), or you can replace it. If you have a medium to large dvSwitch setup, using Resource objects, or have a lot of folder organization, than you might want to retain your SQL database. You can do an inplace upgrade to make this easier, or you can migrate the SQL database. In your case, it would make things easier if your SQL server is something other than the vCenter server it's self (if your using SQL express for some reason, get off of it before you have issues). If you have just a simple cluster using no Resource objects, no dvSwitch, and not very invested in the folder setup, than you can simplify the upgrade by building a new vCenter server from scratch. Does not take much to disconnect hosts from the old vCenter and connect to the new vCenter.

Last note, since you will have two vCenter servers in the end, look into Linked mode.

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Brent Schmidt Senior Network Engineer
[color red]Keep IT Simple[/color red] http://www.kiscc.com
Novell Platinum Partner Microsoft Gold Partner
VMWare Enterprise Partner Citrix Gold Partner

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