How to upgrade Windows vCenter 5.5 to the 6.5 Appliance

In this blog post I will be upgrading (migrating) a Windows vCenter 5.5 deployment to a vCenter Server 6.5 Appliance. VMware vSphere 6.5 finally went general availability on November 15th 2016 (Read GA announcement here). There are many new features and changes in 6.5. The first noticeable change is the thick C# vSphere client is not available with the introduction of the HTML5 vSphere client. Another feature addition is the VCSA now has VMware Update Manager fully integrated. No need for an additional Windows Server to run VUM!

To read more about vSphere 6.5 check out the followings resources:

Before you Start:

  • The migration supports going from 5.5 and 6.0 on Windows to the VCSA 6.5 appliance
  • You will need workstation not counting your Windows vCenter server (in case its physical)
  • Ensure you have the SSO password of your Windows vCenter deployment
  • If you are going to deploy the VCSA on a ESXi server make sure it has a Standard Switch port group that can talk on the same IP as your existing vCenter
  • Take a snapshot of your Windows vCenter VM before the upgrade
  • Rename your Windows vCenter VM with a -old at the end. When you deploy the VCSA you can use the original name
  • If your Windows vCenter is named after the installed version (Example: take a look at the last paragraph in VMware KB 2040354 (Blog post about this coming soon!)
  • Ensure your backup solution and vCenter plugins are compatibility with vCenter 6.5

The migration is a two stage process. The first stage consist of the deployment of the VCSA. The second stage is the migration of the Windows vCenter data to the newly deployed VCSA.


Let’s get started!

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Enable SSH Service on ESXi hosts using PowerShell

I found myself wanting to enable the SSH service on my ESXi hosts. I could use Host Profiles to enable it but I decided to PowerShell script it! To enable SSH there are three parts to it:

You will need to start the SSH service and set it to Start and Stop with Host:


And you will need to suppress the SSH is enabled warning message:


This script does all of the above to an entire cluster. Let’s see it in action!

# Start SSH Service, change Startup Policy, and Suppress SSH Warning #
$vCenter = ""
$Cluster = "Nested ESXi Cluster"
### Start of Script
# Load VMware Cmdlet and connect to vCenter
Add-PSSnapin vmware.vimautomation.core
connect-viserver -server $vCenter
$VMHost = Get-Cluster -Name $Cluster | Get-VMhost
# Start SSH Server on a Cluster
ForEach ($VMhost in $Cluster){
Write-Host -ForegroundColor GREEN "Starting SSH Service on " -NoNewline
Write-Host -ForegroundColor YELLOW "$VMhost"
Get-VMHost | Get-VMHostService | ? {($_.Key -eq "TSM-ssh") -and ($_.Running -eq $False)} | Start-VMHostService
# Change Startup Policy
ForEach ($VMhost in $Cluster){
Write-Host -ForegroundColor GREEN "Setting Startup Policy on " -NoNewline
Write-Host -ForegroundColor YELLOW "$VMhost"
Get-VMHost | Get-VMHostService | where { $_.key -eq "TSM-SSH" } | Set-VMHostService -Policy "On" -Confirm:$false -ea 1
# Surpress SSH Warning
ForEach ($VMhost in $Cluster){
Write-Host -ForegroundColor GREEN "Setting UserVar to supress Shell warning on " -NoNewline
Write-Host -ForegroundColor YELLOW "$VMhost"
Get-VMhost | Get-AdvancedSetting | Where {$_.Name -eq "UserVars.SuppressShellWarning"} | Set-AdvancedSetting -Value "1" -Confirm:$false
### End of Script

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Operation Jumbo Frames – MTU 9000 for VMware Networking

Wanted to make a quick post about enabling Jumbo Frames in my VMware environment! My switches (Cisco SG-200 & SG-500) support Jumbo Frames so I thought why not? It would surely help push more data through the network for faster for VSAN and vMotions. I’ll do some speed tests later to compare!

Hardware Requirements:

Before you start out on this quest ensure your physical switch support jumbo frames. When enabling it on my Cisco switches a switch reboot was required:

1 Cisco SG Series - Jumbo Frames

The next step is to ensure the NICs in your servers support jumbo frames. If they are server NICs then they should. My Dell T620/R520 both have Broadcom NetXtreme 5709 which in fact support Jumbo Frames.

2 Dell T620 Physical Network Adapters

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Deploying VMware Update Manager 6.0 Update 2

With the release of vSphere 6.0 Update 2 I needed to update my hosts! VMware Update Manager [VUM] makes updating and patching your environment very easy. It can also be used to upgrade VMTools and VMHardware versions on your virtual machines. In this post I will be installing VUM on Windows Server 2012 R2 VM using the SQL Express database and attaching it to my VCSA 6.0 U2 appliance. Once installed then I will use VUM to update my environment!

VUM Getting Started


  • Must have a vCenter.
  • Software: .NET Framework 3.5 needs to be installed on the VUM server. For two install methods click here and here.
  • Hardware: 2 GB of RAM if separated from vCenter. 8 GB of RAM if installed on a Windows vCenter.
  • Storage: VMware recommends at least 120 GB of free space for the patching repository. Sizing Estimator for vSphere Update Manager 6.0.
  • Database:
    • SQL Express: If you have a small environment (VMware says 5 hosts and 50 virtual machines or less) then the embedded SQL Express database is just fine.
    • External: If you have a larger environment then you will want to use a external database. Click here and here to read more about having a external database.
  • For a full of requirements check out the VMware Update Manager 6.0 Update 2 Release Notes.
  • Click here for all VMware Update Manager documentation.

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Updating vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 to Update 2

In this post i’ll go through how to upgrade the vCenter Server Appliance [VCSA] 6 to Update 2. To read about all the new features Update 2 adds check out my post VMware vSphere 6.0 Update 2 is available!

There are two sets of instructions, one if you already upgraded your VCSA to Update 1 and the other is if you are still running the initial 6.0.0 release. When scrolling down I made each upgrade type a super large header so you shouldn’t miss it!

In my environment I have the Platform Services Controller [PSC] embedded with the VCSA. If you deployed an external PSC separately from vCenter then this post will still work for you! The upgrade procedure is the exact same on both the vCenter and PSC just upgrade the PSC first before vCenter. To upgrade the PSC scroll down and use the second update method.

How to Upgrade if you are on VCSA 6 Update 1 or 1b:

If you already have your VCSA updated to 6.0 Update 1 then the upgrade is super simple! Log into the appliance Management User Interface [MUI] by opening a web browser and entering the following:

HTTPS://<fqdn or ip>:5480

Login with your root username and password.

Update VCSA 1 - Log into the AMU

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VMware vSphere 6.0 Update 2 is available!

It’s finally here! VMware vSphere Update 2 released on March 16th, 2016 and is available for download. With it comes many new features and of course bug fixes.

What’s New with vCenter 6.0 U2:

Download VMware vCenter Server 6.0 U2

  • Two-factor authentication for vSphere Web Client: Protect the vSphere Web Client using the following form of authentication:
    • RSA SecurID
    • Smart card (That is the UPN based Common Access Card)
  • Support to change vSphere ESX Agent Manager logging level: This release supports dynamic increase or decrease of vSphere ESX Agent Manager (EAM) logging levels without restarting EAM.
  • vSphere Web Client support: vSphere Web Client now supports Microsoft Windows 10 OS.
  • vCenter Server database support: vCenter Server now supports the following external databases:
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 3
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Service Pack 1
  • Resolved Issues: This release of vCenter Server 6.0 Update 2 addresses issues that have been documented in the Resolved Issues section.
  • Read the full release notes here.

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Updating vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 to Update 1 & 1b

VMware released vSphere 6.0 Update 1 on September 10th, 2015 and Update 1b on January 7th, 2016. In this post i’ll go through how to upgrade VCSA 6.0 to Update 1 & 1b.

In my environment I have the Platform Services Controller [PSC] embedded with the VCSA. If you deployed an external PSC separately from vCenter then this post will still work for you! The upgrade procedure is the exact same on both the vCenter and PSC just upgrade the PSC first before vCenter.

vCenter Server Appliance 6.o Update 1 Release Notes:

  • Customer Experience Improvement Program: The Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) provides VMware with information that enables VMware to improve the VMware products and services and to fix problems. When you choose to participate in CEIP, VMware will collect technical information listed below about your use of the VMware products and services in CEIP reports on a regular basis. This information does not personally identify you. For more details, see the vSphere Documentation Center.
  • Feature Enhancement: Suite UI is now enabled by default for the vSphere Web Client.
  • Support for SSLv3: Support for SSLv3 has been disabled by default.
  • vCSA Authentication for Active Directory: VMware vCenter Server Virtual Appliance (vCSA) has been modified to only support AES256-CTS/AES128-CTS/RC4-HMAC encryption for Kerberos authentication between vCSA and Active Directory.
  • Hybrid Cloud Manager: Hybrid Cloud Manager has been updated for vSphere, and can be accessed directly from the home page of vSphere Web Client.
  • FT-vSAN Interoperability: vSAN and FT work together.
  • Appliance Management user interface: Appliance Management has a new user interface, written in HTML5.
  • Backup and Restore with external PSC: vCenter Server deployments with external PSC, also called MxN have support for backup and restore.
  • Platform Services Controller UI: The Platform Services Controller now provides UI option to view, renew and replace certificates. For more details see Explore Certificate Stores from the Platform Services Controller Web Interface
  • Installation and Upgrade using HTML 5 installer: The following installation and upgrade scenarios are supported for vCenter Server using HTML 5 installer:
    • Installation using HTML 5 installer and target as vCenter Server is supported
    • Upgrade using HTML 5 installer and target as vCenter Server is not supported
    • Upgrade using command line and target as vCenter Server is supported
  • Resolved Issues: This release of vCenter Server 6.0 Update 1 addresses issues that have been documented in the Resolved Issues section.
  • Full release notes can be found here

vCenter Server Appliance 6.o Update 1b Release Notes:

  • ESXi 6.0 Update 1b enables support for TLS versions 1.1 and 1.2 for most of the vSphere components without breaking the previously supported compatibility/interoperability. Some of the vSphere components that still support only TLS version 1.0 are listed here:
    • vSphere Client
    • Virtual SAN Observer on vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA)
    • Syslog on vCSA
    • Auto Deploy on vCSA
    • Auto Deploy/iPXE

    The ESXi 6.0 Update 1b now supports all TLS versions 1.0, 1.1, and 1.2 with the exceptions listed above. See Knowledge base article 2136185 for the list of supported TLS protocols.

  • Support for the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with 128/256-bit key length is added for RPC header authentication in the NFS 4.1 Client.
    Note: See resolved Security Issues section for more information.
  • This release of ESXi 6.0 Update 1b addresses issues that have been documented in the Resolved Issues section.
  • Full release notes can be found here

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A General System Error Occurred: Cannot get user info

After a fresh deployment of the vCenter Server Appliance 6 (VCSA) I got the error below when using “Use Windows session credentials” check box on the thick and web client. After some searching I found VMware KB 2050701 which states this is a known issue affecting vCenter Server Appliance 5.1, 5.5, and 6.0.

1 VCSA 6 - Cannot get user info Error

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Deprecated VMFS volume(s) found on the host

One of my ESXi 6 hosts had the configuration issue message stating: “Deprecated VMFS volume(s) found on the host. please consider upgrading volume(s) to the latest version“. I only have two LUNs presented to my hosts and both are VMFS5:

Storage is VMFS

After some brief searching I found VMware KB article 2109735 which states the possible cause:

This issue occurs because at the time of initial detection, the version of the filesystem is not known. Therefore, comparing it against the list of valid filesystems does not return a match.

Looking through the hostd log I did find the entry mentioned in the KB article. It appears that after I renamed my StarWind LUN it did not report the filesystem to the host fast enough which caused the error to occur:


HOSTD Log Entry

The resolution was to restart the management agents on the host. I put the host in maintenance mode then restarted the management agents: restart restart

After the management services restarted the error cleared:

Error cleared

Leave comments below if you received this message and this KB article resolved your issue!


Upgrading Windows based vCenter 5.x to 6

For this post I will go through upgrading my Windows based vCenter from 5.5 to vCenter 6. VMware has really made the installer process lean. I would even go out on a limb and say “easy”! vCenter 6 introduces the Platform Services Controller which changes the architecture of vCenter down to two components. The graphic below shows my environment before the upgrade and after:

Upgraded Embedded Architecture

My setup is very simple as I have all vCenter 5.5 components on a single Server 2012 virtual machine. I have ran through the upgrade multiple times and have yet to run into anything major. To find what your environment will look like check out the VMware vCenter Server 6.0 Deployment Guide.

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