When a new version of VMware vSphere comes out, one of the critical components you will have to upgrade is VMware vCenter Server.  You must upgrade VMware vCenter Server before you upgrade ESXi, and vCenter can even help you upgrade to the latest version of ESXI VMware.

Let’s take a look at what is involved in a vCenter server upgrade.

Getting Ready for Your vCenter Upgrade

Before you start your vCenter upgrade, there are a couple of things you should do.

First and foremost, don’t forget to look at the VMware Interoperability Matrix.  This matrix shows you compatibility between VMware products, so it is important to check it for the version of vSphere you want to upgrade to, and any other VMware products you are using in your environment, like anything you are using from the vRealize suite, or NSX.

You will also need to know some details of your vCenter Server Appliance like:

  • Root login and password
  • IP address and DNS Name
  • Current vCenter/ESXi VMware host information
  • Desired vCenter/ESXi VMware host information
  • Temporary IP address

Then you need to head on over to the VMware site and download the vCenter server ISO.

This will be a big file, and you are about to learn why.

The Upgrade ESXI VMware vCenter Process

The vCenter Upgrade Process is a two step process when you use the VCSA installer.

  • Stage 1 – Deploy new VCSA
  • Stage 2 – Copy configuration to new VCSA

This is a pretty simple process, but during the vCenter upgrade process a nice, new, fresh VCSA will be installed and given a temporary IP address.

During Step 2, your old VCSA configuration will be copied over to the new VCSA, and the new VCSA will assume the personality of your old VCSA.

Upgrading the VCSA With the vCenter Installer

If you have ever installed the vCenter Server Appliance, you are ready to perform a vCenter upgrade, since you use the same installer.

Here is what I see once I launch the installer for the version 7 of the VCSA.

vcsa 7 installer upgrade vmware vcenter server

As you can see, you can do a lot more than just installing vCenter Server with this!

From the installer, we can also upgrade our VCSA, Migrate to the VCSA from Windows, or restore our VCSA from a backup, all very handy things.

Click Upgrade, and run through the Installer.  It is very straight forward, and will ask you for the information on your environment we talked about above.

When you have finished Stage 1, you will see a message about Stage 2:

vcsa upgrade stage 1 complete stage 2 start

This is the temporary IP address I assigned for the upgrade.  Head on over to that URL to begin Stage 2 of the update process.

Stage 2 is a matter of connecting to the original VCSA to copy over the configuration data.
vcenter upgrade stage 2

Once stage 2 has been completed, you are finished with your VCSA upgrade.

You can then long into the vSphere Client like you normally would.  We don’t need that temporary IP address any longer.

Upgrading ESXi VMware Using vCenter Server

Did you know you can upgrade ESXi using vCenter Server?

Previously, this feature of vCenter was called vSphere Update Manager.  As of vSphere 7 it is now known as vSphere Lifecycle Manager.

Don’t miss these detailed directions on how to Upgrade ESXi to vSphere 7 with Lifecycle Manager.

The VMware vCenter Server upgrade is one of the most critical upgrades when you go to a new version of vSphere, since vCenter controls so much!  After you have verified the version of vSphere you are going to is supported by other VMware products, the vCenter upgrade could not be easier using the VCSA installer.  After you upgrade vCenter, you can then easily update your ESXi hosts to the latest version of ESXi.