Last week VMware released its latest update to vSphere 5.0.  This is basically a bug fix release without a whole lot of added features.  To see what was updated please check out the release notes here.  Please also read the compatibility guides and known issues before you perform any upgrades.  This particular blog was written while updating from vSphere 5.0, so if you’re still on a version prior to that, you may want to research VMware’s documentation.

I started by updating vCenter 5.  You will need to download vCenter from the VMware site on your vCenter server to do this part of the upgrade.  While this is downloading you’ll want to take note of the name of the DSN you’re currently using and the username and password being used to access it.  After the download completes, just click on the Autorun.exe to start the install.  A window will appear with multiple upgrade options and a pre-check.  You may want to run the pre-check just to make sure this install will be compatible with all your hosts.  If you pass that, go ahead and run the actual install.  This will take you through a very simple wizard which you can basically click through.  The only exception is that you’ll need to pick the proper DSN and enter the credentials.  When this is done, vCenter will be upgraded and you can then upgrade your vSphere client as well by either using the link on the original Window or opening a browser and going to the vCenter IP.  You can download the vSphere client here if you’re working on a remote computer.

Now it’s time to upgrade the ESXi hosts using vSphere Update Manager by following these steps:

  1. Open the vSphere client
  2. Highlight one of your ESXi hosts and click on the Virtual Machines tab.
  3. Right click a VM guest and click on migrate to migrate the VM to another host.  You can also do a shift-click to select multiple VMs and do a mass migration.  I stick to only migrating a few at a time as I’ve run into some issues when trying to migrate any more than 5 or 6 at a time.
  4. Right click on the name of your cluster in the left pane and click on Edit Settings.  Disable HA if you have it enabled.
  5. Once all your VMs have been migrated off your first host, right-click it and select Enter Maintenance Mode.
  6. Now go to the Update Manager tab.  This assumes that you have the Update Manager plug-in installed.  If not, just install it under the Plug-Ins area.
  7. While under the Update Manager tab click on the Compliance View link if you’re in Admin View.
  8. Click on the Scan link and scan for both Patches and Extensions and Upgrades.  This will give you an accurate picture of the updates this host needs.
  9. There is a pre-defined Baseline called “Critical Host Patches” under Attached Baselines.  If you don’t see it there, click on the Attach link in the upper right corner to go through the wizard to attach this Baseline.  Now click on the Critical Host Patches Baseline.
  10. Depending on the last time you did patches you may see several patches listed in the bottom pane under the Patches heading.  If you click on Details it will tell you which patches they are.
  11. At this point you can either stage the updates for that host or just go straight to remediation.  Staging will allow you to download the patches on the host without actually installing updates and rebooting the host.  This can help reduce remediation time and will also prevent obsolete patches from being downloaded.  If you choose to stage first, just click the Stage button and the bottom.  In the wizard, put a checkmark next to the Critical Host Patches Baseline, then Next through the wizard.  There are various options that you can select as well, but often aren’t necessary.  *Make sure the proper host is getting the updates while you’re in the wizard as well!
  12. When staging is done, click the Remediate button at the bottom.  Again, put a checkmark next to the Critical Host Patches Baseline.  You can either Next through the wizard or schedule the remediation or choose some of the options given (like scheduling the update for a later time).  This will reboot the host, so you will see it disconnect from vCenter for a short period of time and then reconnect.
  13. When remediation is done, right-click the host and Exit Maintenance Mode.
  14. Now repeat these steps for all of the other hosts in your cluster.  When you’re finished, be sure to re-enable!

Of course, now your VMware tools will all be out of date.  So you’ll need to go through and update VMware tools on your VM guests as well.  You can do this manually or by using vCenter Orchestrator (check out vCenter Orchestrator if you haven’t before…lots of cool automation stuff).  Upgrading VMware Tools will require a reboot of your Windows servers.

I only ran into one issue while doing this.  When I re-enabled HA it gave me an error saying that an SSL certificate is required.  I found the answer to this issue in the KB article found here

It seems like there are a ton of steps, but it’s actually pretty easy once you get comfortable with the Update Manager interface.  Good luck with your updates!