vCenter Server Appliance Upgrade from 5.x to 6.0

The upgrade process of vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) version 5.x to 6.0 isn’t truly a upgrade but more of a migration. You are basically deploying a second vCSA that will migrate the hosts/inventory/IP address from the old to the new. You can only upgrade vCSA versions 5.1U3 and 5.5. The 6.0 vCSA is still based on SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 and now has the the same mins/max as the Windows installed version.

vCenter 6 Appliance vs Windows

Before You Start:

There is some prep work you need to perform before doing the migration:

  • Pick a host and ensure it has a standard switch with a vmnic uplink. Because Distributed Switches is a vCenter function it wants to perform the upgrade on a standard switch.
  • Rename your current vCenter VM in the inventory so the new VM can be created as the same name. Otherwise the vCSA folders on the LUNs will not match.
  • Have at least two available LUNs, one for your current vCSA and one for the new vCSA. Since you will want to deploy the new one with the same name they have to be on different LUNs
  • The installation media is a .ISO instead of a .OVA. You will need to burn it to a disc, extract it, or mount it.

Read more…vCenter Server Appliance Upgrade from 5.x to 6.0

vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 – A Fresh Install

The VMware vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) is a security hardened SUSE Enterprise 11 operating system baked with the vCenter server function. With vSphere 6.0 the appliance now has the same mins/max as the Windows installed version. This makes it very appealing to move over to the appliance!

vCenter 6 Appliance vs Windows

Before You Start:

  • Pick a host and ensure it has a standard switch with a vmnic uplink. Because Distributed Switches is a vCenter function it wants to perform the upgrade on a standard switch.
  • The installation media is a .ISO instead of a .OVA. You will need to burn it to a disc, extract it, or mount it.
  • If you want to upgrade your environment instead of fresh deployment, check out my posts Upgrading Windows based vCenter 5.x to 6 and vCenter Server Appliance Upgrade from 5.x to 6.0


PluralSight has amazing video courses on VMware vSphere. If you haven’t checked out PluralSight it’s an amazing service! Highly recommended!


The VCSA is no longer a .OVA but instead a .ISO image so burn/extract/mount it on your computer. First we need to install the VMware Client Integration 6.0 Plugin. In the vcsa folder there is the executable named VMware-ClientIntegrationPlugin-6.0.0.exe.  The installation is simple, once installed proceed to the next step:

Install the VMware Client Integration Plugin 6

Now the plugin is installed, open the vcsa-setup.html in the root of the ISO. This will launch the vCSA installer splash screen:

1 vCSA Upgrade - Mount the ISO

Click Install:

1 vCenter Server Application - Splash Screen

Accept the EULA and click Next:

2 vCSA Install - License Agreement

Enter the FQDN or IP address and root credentials of the ESXi host for the VCSA to be deployed on. Click Next:

VCSA 6 - Connect to ESXi host

Enter the name that you want to call your appliance and set a root account password. Click Next:

4 vCSA Install - Name the appliance

For a small environment/lab, you will want to stay with the embedded platform services controller. If you are in a large environment that has multiple vCenters you may want to separate vCenter from the platform services controller. If you want to read more about separating them read about it in the VMware vCenter Server 6.0 Deployment Guide. Click Next:

5 vCSA Install - Platform Services Controller

If you have a SSO domain already enter the information below. Otherwise create a new SSO domain. Click Next:

Note: Do not use the same Active Directory domain name as your SSO domain. You will have major issues!

6 vCSA Install - Set SSO information

Here you can pick how much resources your vCSA will get.

Tiny: 2 vCPU , 8 GB memory , 120 GB disk space

Small: 4 vCPU , 16 GB memory , 150 GB disk space

Medium: 8 vCPU , 24 GB memory , 300 GB disk space

Large: 16 vCPU , 32 GB memory , 450 GB disk space

Pick your appliance size and click Next:

7 vCSA Install - Appliance Size

Pick a datastore to deploy the appliance to, click Next:

8 vCSA Install - Select Datastore

The vCSA supports using a external Oracle database. I want to continue using the embedded Postgres database. Click Next:

9 vCSA Install - Configure Database

Select the standard switch network you want to use, enter the IP address, FQDN, subnet mask, gateway, and DNS server. Check the box if you want to enable SSH (you can enable this later if you don’t check it now).  Click Next:

10-1 vCSA Install - Network Settings 10-2 vCSA Install - Network Settings

Look over the summary page. If everything looks correct click Finish:

11 vCSA Install - Ready to Complete

Once the VM is created you can monitor the console while it works. Nothing really happened but was neat comparing the console progress bar with the installation.

12 vCSA Install - Can monitor progression

And it’s finished! Click Close:

13 vCSA Install - Installation Complete

VCSA is ready for configuration!

Configuring the VCSA to use Active Directory:

Below is how to configure the VCSA to use Active Directory users and groups. First access the VCSA web client via https://FQDN or IP ADDRESS/vsphere-client/

Log in using the administrator SSO domain you configured above and password.

1 VCSA 6 - Login

On the home page click System Configuration

2 VCSA 6 - System Configuration

Click Nodes -> Your Node Name ( -> Manage -> Active Directory -> Join

3 VCSA 6 - Join to Active Directory

Enter your domain name and a user name/password that has at least SystemConfiguration.Administrators domain permissions

(More information about this step can be found here in the vSphere 6.0 Documentation:

4 VCSA 6 - Join AD Creds

Once you click OK and do not see an error, reboot your VCSA. It will not give you a success message.

To reboot right click your node name and click Reboot

5 VCSA 6 - Reboot

Once reboot log back into the web client. On the left menu click Administration. Now in Active Directory you should see your domain showing up with the Leave button enabled.

7 VCSA 6 - Successfully joined to domain

Now the VCSA is talking to the domain we need to configure it as a Identity Source. Click Home then on the left menu click Administration

6 VCSA 6 - Administration Menu

Click Configuration -> Identity Sources -> then the green + sign

8 VCSA 6 - SSO IdentitySource

Since we are configured the VCSA for Active Directory use the first option Active Directory (Integrated Windows Authentication)

Enter your domain name

Select Use Machine Account then click Ok

(More information about this step can be found here in the vSphere 6.0 Documentation:

9 VCSA 6 - Add Identity Source

Select your domain in the list and click Set as Default Domain

10 VCSA 6 - Set as Default Domain

(Default) will show up beside your domain. If your domain isn’t selected as the default I have had issues with the “Use Windows Session Credentials” option.

11 VCSA 6 - New default domain

Now that we have the Identity Source configured we are ready to assign permissions to a domain user.

On the left menu click Global Permissions -> Manage -> click the green + sign

12 VCSA 6 - Global Permissions

Click the Add button

13 VCSA 6 - Global Permissions - Add

Change the drop down menu to your domain, you can search or browse for users and groups, select them then click Add. Once finished click Ok

14 VCSA 6 - Global Permissions - Select Users and Groups

On the drop down menu select which role you want to assign the users/groups. Click Ok when finished.

15 VCSA 6 - Global Permissions - Finish

You now have a fresh install of the VCSA and configured it to use Active Directory users and groups for permissions.

If you did not deploy the latest version check out my post on Upgrading to Update 2!

Additional Resources:

VMware vCenter Server 6.0 Deployment Guide:

VMware vSphere 6.0 available for download!!

The wait is over!!! VMware vSphere 6, vSOM 6, vCloud Suite 6, SRM 6, and VSAN 6 are available for your downloading pleasure!! VMware has a notice message referencing KB2110293 with some scenario upgrade paths to get you started:

VMware Warning - KB 2110293

HP already has their customized ESXi 6 image available, however at the time of posting this Dell hasn’t released their version.

Watch for vSphere 6.0 documentation coming up right here in 🙂

Additional Reading:

– What’s New in VMware vSphere 6.0?

VMware Announced vSphere 6!!!

Not able to see the SD Card on HP Gen 9 during ESXi 5.5 Installation

When trying to install HP ESXi 5.5 customized image on a HP Gen 9 BL460 blade server I was not able to see the SD card to install on. After trying a few things I found that switching the USB 3.0 mode to Auto instead of the defaulted On allowed ESXi installation to see the SD card. The internal card reader goes over the USB bus so this appears to be a bug and hopefully HP will have a update soon to fix it. Below is what I did to get through this issue:

ESXi 5.5U2 Installation – If your not seeing the SD card, go ahead and reboot:

ESXi Install - Not seeing SD card

Hit F9 on the boot screen to enter System Utilities:

HP Gen 9 Boot Post

Hit Enter on the System Configuration:

HP Gen 9 - F9 Menu 1

Hit Enter on the BIOS/Platform Configuration:

HP Gen 9 - F9 Menu 2

Hit Enter on System Options:

HP Gen 9 - F9 Menu 3

Hit Enter on USB Options:

HP Gen 9 - F9 Menu 4

On USB 3.0 Mode, change the default value of Enabled to Auto. Now hit F10 to save and reboot.

HP Gen 9 - F9 Menu 5

Now on ESXi installer screen you should see the SD card:

ESXi Install - SD Card Ready for Installation

VMware announces vSphere 6!!!

Today VMware announced vSphere 6 and will be accompanied with other releases such as vCloud Suite 6, Virtual SAN 6, and vSphere with Operations Manager. vSphere 6 has over 650 new features and innovations which makes this quite a release. There are many new amazing features to talk about so i’ll start easy with some of the key features with links for additional reading. Expect lots of vSphere 6 write ups in the near future 🙂

vSphere 6 –  New Maximums:

5.5 vs 6.0 Maximums

Few of my Favorite Features:

  • Infrastructure Controller (IC): Service that will provide the following functions:
    • Licensing
    • Certificate Store
    • Certificate Authority
    • Service Registration
    • Single Sign-On
  • Enchanted Web Client: Faster web client vs vSphere 5 (still isn’t HTML5)
  • vMotion Improvements:
    • Long Distance vMotion: Increased network latency tolerance from 10 ms to 100 ms
    • vMotion across vCenters: vMotion across data center and vCenter boundaries that vSphere 5 had.
    • vMotion across virtual switches: Basically enables the above, can vMotion across Virtual Standard Switch (vSS) and  Virtual Distributed Switches (vDSs).
  • Fault Tollerance: Now supports 4 vCPUs, up from 1 vCPU.
  • vVols (Virtual Volumes): New storage feature that allows virtual machines to interact with the storage directly without the need of VMFS LUNs.
  • Content Library: Centralized management for VM templates, virtual appliances, ISO images, and scripts. (Wooooot!!!!)
  • vCenter Appliance: Now has the same scalability numbers as the Windows installed vCenter: 1,000 hosts and 10,000 virtual machines. Also supports linked mode!! (Post coming soon on how to convert)

Additional Reading:

What’s New in VMware vSphere 6.0?

What’s New in the VMware vSphere 6 Platform\

vSphere 6 Datasheet

What’s New in VMware Virtual SAN 6.0?

What’s New in VMware vSphere with Operations Management 6.0?

VMware – Don’t Miss Event – February 2nd

VMware announced an online event “that should not be missed” scheduled on February 2nd. There are many rumors floating around the net but I personally feel vSphere 6.0 will be announced.  Excited to see what is announced!! Register Here!

This event is so BIG that we’re offering broadcasts around the globe the entire week of February 2…and continuing the excitement throughout February. All event registrants will automatically receive access to additional content, engagement, and activities via our online event platform.

Event Times:


Date: February 2, 2015
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 PM PST / 4:00 – 5:00 PM EST

Date: February 3, 2015
Time: 9:00 – 10:00 AM GMT / 10:00 – 11:00 AM CET

ASIA PACIFIC – ASEAN, Western Australia, Hong Kong
Date: February 5, 2015
Time: 10:00 – 11:00 AM SGT

ASIA PACIFIC – Sydney, Australia
Date: February 5, 2015
Time: 10:00 – 11:00 AM AEDT

ASIA PACIFIC – Mumbai, India
Date: February 5, 2015
Time: 10:30 – 11:30 AM IST

Guest customization runs on every boot

In our vSphere 5.1 update 2 environment we found that some of our Windows virtual machines were running guest customization every time they boot. This was causing them to loose their static IP address and take an additional 5 minutes to boot.


To fix this issue, boot to Windows and open regedit. Navigate to to the following location:

HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\

Regedit Key

Edit the BootExecute key and remove all sysprepDecrypter.exe lines. We had some VMs with up to 10 entries!

Regedit - edit key

Your key should now look like this:

Regedit - correct key

Click OK. Now the VM will not perform the guest customization on every boot.

To prevent future VMs you deploy from gaining this issue update your vSphere environment to at least 5.1 Update 5.

Multi-NIC vMotion

In vSphere 5 a new feature was added that many people may be overlooking. It is called Multi-NIC vMotion. If you have a environment where you have 2 or more dedicated uplinks reserved for vMotion you can double the total bandwidth available by using this option. Do I have your attention? 🙂

Normally you would have 1 port group with both of your vMotion uplinks set to active like this:

A Normal vMotion Port Group

What if I told you when you are vMotioning a VM, the VMkernal is picking one of those uplinks and basicly ignoring the other? According to the VMware KB article 2010877, “The VMkernel TCP/IP stack uses a single routing table to route traffic. If you have multiple VMkernel network interfaces (vmknics) that belong to the same IP subnet, the VMkernel TCP/IP stack picks one of the interfaces for all outgoing traffic on that subnet as dictated by the routing table.” If you want to use both uplinks for vMotion traffic and double your total bandwidth you have to create two vMotion VMkernals and assign each one a uplink. There was some issues with multi-NIC vMotions if you were running ESXi version before 5.0U2. As always try this out in your test enviroments first 🙂

Here is VMware KB2007467 walking you through these steps that compliment my steps below.

First we will create a new port group and rename the current vMotion port group to show them apart. In my case I will name one “vMotion-uplink3” and the other “vMotion-uplink4”.

New vMotion PortGroups

Now right click a port group, go to Edit Settings, then click on Teaming and Failover. You will take one of the uplinks and move it to standby so you do not loose redundancy. Do the same thing for the second vMotion port group but flip the uplinks. See screen shots below:


Now the port groups are set for the next step.

Go to Hosts and Clusters, click on a host, click on Configuration tab -> Networking -> vDS -> and Manage Virtual Adapters.

I have only 1 vMotion VMkernal configured using vMotion-uplink3. I want to add another VMkernal set for vMotion that will use vMotion-uplink4. Click Add:

Manage Virtual Adapters

Chose New virtual adapter and click Next:

Add Virtual Adapter

Click Next:

Virtual Adapter Type

Select the new vMotion port group and check the vMotion checkbox. Click Next:

Connection Settings

Give this new vMotion kernal a new, unused IP address, click Next:

Virtual Adapter IP

Now click Finish:

Virtual Adapter Finish

That is it. You have have multi-NIC vMotion configured. You will have to do this for each host that you want to enable this on. Put a host in maintenance mode and see if you get a increase in speed. You can also turn on jumbo frames if your switch supports it for a further speed increase! In our test environment that has two 1 GB vMotion uplinks, it reduced the time it took for a host to enter maintence mode from 40 minutes down to low/mid 20’s. Please leave a comment and let me know your results!!

VMware vSphere Beta Program

VMware announced on their blog that they are launching the vSphere beta program. While this is open for anyone to sign up it is still a closed beta, meaning NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement). For full details check out the link below:

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