If you have not already heard, vSphere 6.7 has been released, and Update Manager is now available in the HTML5 based vSphere Client. If you want to upgrade ESXi to 6.7, Update Manager is the easiest way to do so. Update Manager, also known as VUM, has been integrated into the vCenter Server Appliance since vSphere 6.5 (link), so if you are using the VCSA you are ready to start using Update Manager. Using vSphere Update Manager 6.7, you can upgrade ESXi from 6.0 to 6.7 or ESXi from 6.5 to 6.7. If you are trying to upgrade vSphere 5.5 to 6.7 you can still use VUM, but it will be a two step process. You will first need to upgrade ESXi from 5.5 to 6.5 and then ESXi from 6.5 to 6.7. Now, let’s talk about what you need to get started with your ESXi 6.7 upgrade.
Getting Ready to Upgrade ESXi
Before you upgrade to ESXi 6.7, there are a couple of things you you need to do first:
- Have a vSphere 6.7 VCSA deployed. You can easily upgrade your existing VCSA or deploy a new one.
- Have the ESXi 6.7 ISO downloaded. You will need this to upgrade your ESXi hosts from vSphere 6.0 or 6.5.
- Verified your vSphere environment is compatible with ESXi 6.7. This includes your server hardware, your storage array, and anything else that directly touches your vSphere environment.
All of these steps are essential to your ESXi upgrade success!
Getting Used to vCenter 6.7 and the vSphere Client
If you have not used the HTML5 based vSphere Client, it is the client of choice in vSphere 6.7. You will notice things look a little difference once you navigate to your VCSA.
Once you are logged using the first option, the vSphere Client, you will notice things look a little different. Don’t worry, if you have not spent much time using the HTML5 based vSphere client, it as easy and intuitive to use as the vSphere Web Client was.
Finding Update Manager in vSphere 6.7
There are many, many ways to get to Update Manager in vSphere 6.7. Personally, I click Shortcuts under Home in the left navigation pane, then Update Manager in the right pane.
You will see that as you browse other vSphere inventory items, there is often a link for Update Manager Home. This will bring you to the same place.
Preparing Update Manager for ESXi Host Upgrades
Now that we have accessed VUM, we need to configure it in order to be able to upgrade our ESXi hosts. The first thing we are going to do is upload our ESXi image. It is important to do this first, as we will need to have it uploaded for later configuration steps. In the Update Manager screen, we simply need to click ESXi images on the right, then click IMPORT.
I hope you remembered where you downloaded that ESXi 6.7 ISO. Just browse to the location, and click Import. The import should go quickly.
Create A New Update Manager Baseline
A baseline is just a fancy term for the state you would like Update Manager to bring your vSphere environment to. Start by clicking Baselines, and select New Baseline. It is important that you have uploaded your ESXi image before performing this step.
There are three types of baselines in vSphere Update Manager. We are going to create an Upgrade baseline to upgrade ESXi. There is also a Patch baseline for installing ESXi patches, and an Extension baseline to add additional software to an ESXi host. Enter a name for your Upgrade Baseline and click Next.
Remember that ESXi image we imported? Select it, and click next.
Now our baseline is ready to complete. You will see a summary of the host upgrade baseline you have just created. Click Finish to create the baseline.
Attaching a Baseline to ESXi Hosts
The next step is to attach a Baseline to the ESXi hosts you would like to upgrade. There are many different ways to accomplish this. You can attach baselines to different objects within VMware vCenter Server. I prefer to attach them to vSphere clusters, but you can also attach them at the Datacenter or individual ESXi host level.
Click the vSphere cluster in Hosts and Clusters View. In the right pane, click Updates. Remember I said there were many ways to get to Update Manager? You will see you can click GO TO UPDATE MANAGER HOME to get to the Update Manager interface we were just using. Click ATTACH to attach to select which baseline to attach to the cluster.
That is it! We are now ready to upgrade ESXi.
Upgrading ESXi to 6.7
Fist and foremost, let’s take a look at one of the ESXi hosts we will be upgrading to ESXi 6.7.
As you can see, my host is running ESXi 6.5, and yes, it is virtual ESXi host. Now we are going to get this host running the latest and greatest version of VMware vSphere! I wish I was going to click a cool UPGRADE NOW button, but I will select REMEDIATE from the Update pane of our cluster.
Remediate is a nice way of saying make sure our host is compliant with its attached baseline. After we click REMEDIATE, we will be prompted to accept the VMware EULA. After we click accept the EULA, we will see exactly what is about to get upgrade in our environment.
Now, we simply click OK and off our hosts go! They will now be updated to ESXi 6.7. vCenter will cycle through the cluster, putting the hosts into maintenance mode and upgrading them as you can see here:
Now is a good time to step away and get a nice beverage while your ESXi environment upgrades itself. As you can see, our upgrade has been successful and we are now running ESXi 6.7! You will also see it is complaint with the attached baseline. This is another way of showing it is now running ESXi 6.7 since that is what the baseline was configured to do.
Congratulations! You are now running the latest version of VMware vSphere. I hope you are reading this article before you perform your upgrade, because there are a number of things to think about before hand. As I mentioned, it is important to make sure your environment is compatible with vSphere 6.7 before you perform your upgrade. Just because everything “works”, that does not mean it is supported!
In addition, a vSphere upgrade can also be an opportunity to fix some things in your environment that may not be optimal. Rebecca Fitzhugh and I presented a session at VMworld 2017 entitled Upgrading to vSphere 6.5 the VCDX Way. This methodology is still valid when upgrading to vSphere 6.7.
If you are still running vSphere 5.5, remember, end of general support is coming on September 19, 2018! It will be a two step upgrade from vSphere 5.5 to vSphere 6.7, so the time is now to start planning. You can find instructions for upgrading from ESXi 5.5 to 6.5 using Update Manager here.