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.

Planning and Reading:

  • Make sure you follow the VMware Update Sequence as some products in your environment could need updating before vCenter.
  • Your current vCenter and ESXi hosts need to be on version 5.x. vCenter Server 6.0 can manage ESXi 5.x and higher hosts.
  • Ensure you have the minimum hardware requirements, the tiny environment (up to 10 hosts, 100 virtual machines) is 2 vCPU and 8 GB RAM and need at least 15 GB of free space. For the full list of requirements read the vCenter Server for Windows Requirements sections in the vSphere 6.0 Documentation located here.
  • You need the credentials of your current vCenter installation such as the SSO password and the vCenter user account password.
  • Backup your server/database before upgrading.

Training Video:

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

Upgrading your vSphere Environment: 5.X to 6.0

What’s New in VMware vSphere 6

vCenter Server for Windows – Upgrade 5.x to 6:

EDIT: 4/27/2015 – Added Syslog and Dump Collector upgrade information.

I did have a few minor error messages when I went through the upgrade process and documented them below. The installer has logic  and performs checks which is a nice upgrade from 5.x installer. Let’s get started!

Launch Autorun in the root of the VIM ISO:

1 Mounted VIMSetup ISO

All components for vCenter are contained in a single install item. Under vCenter Server for Windows click Install:

2 vCenter Install Splash Screen

Click Next:

3 Welcome to vCenter 6 Installer

Warning Message: My OS was 2 months out of date, the installer performed a check and advised the below KB update. I went ahead and ran Windows updates before proceeding. If you didn’t get this message then it passed the check.

4 Warning - Reboot & tcpip

Read and accept the EULA. Click Next:

5 EULA Agreement

Error Message: The resources for vCenter 6 have increased. The installer performs a check to ensure it meets the requirements of 2 vCPU and 8 GB of memory. This is my lab and had a small vCenter hardware footprint. You cannot proceed until the server has these numbers:

6 vCenter Install Hardware Check

Enter the SSO password for your current vCenter installation, click Next:

7 SSO & vCenter Server Creds

A change with vCenter 6 is the standalone installation database no longer runs on SQL Express but a VMware vPostgres database. Click Ok to migrate:

8 SQL Database will be migrated to vPostgres

Here you can change ports if applicable (not recommended). Click Next:

9 vCenter Server Ports

You can change the directory of the installation files. Click Next:

10 vCenter Installation Directory

Error Message: Here is another check, the installation wants 15 GB of free space. Since I only had 9 GB it gave me this error message. Resolve the issue and continue:11 Error - Disk Space Check

Ready to install! For safety there is a check box at the bottom that you have to check before you and click Upgrade.  If you want and have a backup click Upgrade:

12 vCenter Ready to Upgrade

If everything goes smoothly you will get the Setup Completed screen. You can launch the Web Client now or launch manually by using this URL:


Click Finish:

13 Setup Completed

VMware Syslog Collector:

In vSphere 5.x the Syslog Collector was a seperate install but for vSphjere 6 it is included in the vCenter installation. The above upgrade also upgraded/installed Syslog Collector and it operates the same way as with vSphere 5. VMware created a KB article on how to modify Syslog Collector settings: KB2021652

Dump Collector:

Dump Collector is in the same boat as Syslog Collector. It is included in the vCenter 6 installation/upgrade and operates the same way as with vSphere 5. VMware created a KB article on how to modify Dump Collector settings: KB2002954

vSphere Client Installation:

The installation of the thick client is very straight forward, you shouldn’t have any problems.

14 vSphere Client Install

vSphere Update Manager Upgrade:

VUM Splash Screen

If you want to use 2012 express check the box. If you want to use a full SQL server uncheck the box. Click Install:

1 VUM Installer

Select your language, click Ok:

2 Language Selection

The vCenter 5.5 installer used SQL Server Express 2008. For vCenter 6 it will upgrade to SQL Server Express 2012.

2 Upgrading to SQL 2012

Stating VUM is already installed and will be upgraded. Click Ok:

3 Upgrade VUM

Click Next:

4 Welcome to VUM Installer

Accept the license agreement and click Next:

5 EULA Agreement

I unchecked the Download updates box as i’d rather do it later. Click Next:

6 VUM Support Information

Enter the credentials to your vCenter user account. Click Next:

7 VUM Enter vCenter Information

Since I am using SQL Express I don’t have anything to change here. If you are using a full SQL server you will have to pick from what you have configured in your ODBC. Click Next:

8 VUM Database Information

Change the selection to upgrade the database. Click Next:

9 VUM Database Upgrade

Click Next:

10 VUM Port Settings

Change destination folder if applicable. Click Next:

11 VUM Destination Folders

If you are ready to proceed, click Install:

12 VUM Ready to Install

Since this is an upgrade the VUM service is running. Change to Automatically close and click Ok:

13 VUM Files in Use

Installation complete. Click FInish:

14 VUM Install Complete

In the thick client, you will need to enable the plug-in to install the new version of VUM.

vSphere Update Manager – Download Service (UMDS):

Update Manager Download Service (UMDS) is an optional component when deploying update manager. It main purpose is to be used when the server that VUM is installed does not have access to the internet. UMDS will download updates and patches from VMware to be used by VUM and cannot be installed on the same box as the VUM Server. I won’t cover it in this post but wanted you to be aware of what it does.

2 VUMD Install Screen

Upgrading vCenter and VUM to version 6 has been easy and straight forward on the multiple i’ve done so far. Each environment is different with its own variables and would love to see your upgrade results. Post below how your upgrade went and any issues that you had!

Additional Reading:

Understanding the vSphere Upgrade Path: http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/upgrade-center/upgrade?src=vmw_so_vex_sbori_1079

6 thoughts on “Upgrading Windows based vCenter 5.x to 6”

  1. Hi
    I am just started migration of the vCenter server from 5.5 to 6.0, in this process below error got popup.

    Displaying message: “Error: Incompatible version of Auto Deploy(5.1) registered with vCenter Server(5.5).
    Resolution: Ensure a compatible version of Auto Deploy is registered with vCenter Server or unregister Auto Deploy prior to attempting an upgrade.”


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