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.

Training Video:

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

Time To Upgrade:

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 Upgrade:

1 vCenter Server Application - Splash Screen

You can upgrade 5.1 U3 or the 5.5 version of the vCSA. I will be upgrading version 5.5. If you have one of these versions click Ok:

2 vCSA Upgrade - Supported Upgrades

Accept the EULA and click Next:

3 vCSA Upgrade - License Agreement

Enter the information of a ESXi host which this appliance will be deployed to. Click Next:

4 vCSA Upgrade - ESXi host target

Didn’t rename the original vCSA: Enter what you want the appliance name to be. If you want the appliance name to be the same as your current vCSA installment and get this message, click Back, then rename your current vCSA in the vCenter inventory before proceeding:

5-1 vCSA Upgrade - Appliance Name Already Exists

In my case I want the name of this new vCSA 6.0 appliance to take over the name of my 5.5 appliance.

Check the box if you want SSH turn on now. Click Next:

5-2 vCSA Upgrade - Appliance Name Correct

Fill out all the fields. If you want to migrate the performance and metric data check the box. It will take a bit longer for that data to migrate depending on how big your environment is. Click Next:

Note: If you do not know the SSO password for your current vCSA, check out this blog post by William Lam:

6 vCSA Upgrade - Appliance Setup

On the previous screen, if you entered a IP address instead of the FQDN for the current vCenter appliance you will get this message. If you deployed your orginal appliance using FQDN I would recommend going back and entering that.

6-1 vCSA Upgrade - Entered IP Address

6-2 vCSA Upgrade - Entered IP Address

This is what it will look like if you used the FQDN. Click Yes:

7 vCSA Upgrade - Entered FQDN

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:

8 vCSA Upgrade - Appliance Size

Select the datastore on which to deploy the appliance to. Note: If you are deploying this as the same name as your current appliance you will need to select a different datastore.

You can also check the box for Thin provisioning. For best performance it is recommended to leave the box unchecked for Thick Eager Zero. I’m checking the box since this is my home lab with limited storage. Click Next:

9 vCSA Upgrade - Select Datastore

Missing Standard Switch: If you do not have a standard switch created on your selected host, the Temporary Network field will be blank. Click Back then create that switch.

10-1 vCSA Upgrade - Temporary Network - No standard switch

Select the standard switch network you want to use and enter a temporary IP address. It will migrate data using this IP address and once finished will assume the IP address of your current vCSA. Click Next:

10-2 vCSA Upgrade - Temporary Network - Standard switch existed

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

11 vCSA Upgrade - 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 Upgrade - Progression

And it’s finished! Click Close:

13 vCSA Upgrade - Migration Completed

The old vCSA will be powered off and the new vCSA 6.0 appliance is ready for use.

14 vCSA Upgrade - Upgraded vCSA

Now you can delete the old vCSA VM from disk.

15 vCSA Upgrade - Clean Up

While the upgrade installer can be finiky at times, it did work as advertise. Leave your comments below with the results of your upgrade! Did you run into any issues?

Additional Reading:

VMware vCenter Server 6.0 Deployment Guide:

12 thoughts on “vCenter Server Appliance Upgrade from 5.x to 6.0”

  1. Nice article but please add the following to “Before you start” :
    The ESXi host which you are using to host your VCSA 5.x has to be LICENSED

    I try a lot of time to migrate from vcsa 5.5 to vcsa 6.0 whre vcsa 5.5 are running at a free ESXi. Every time I got an error “Migration failed” After I took a ESXi License number it works perfect!


  2. Hello,
    A nice article, but I have a question, because I did not find this Information.

    Actually, I have some distributed switches, running on my VCSA 5.5. Will the switches also be migrated and how long will it take (approximately) until the switchover (old environment to the new)
    I need to schedule the downtime.



    • Hi Mirco, your vDS will be migrated to the new appliance! It will be immediately available once the migration is complete. It took about 25 minutes for the migration in my home lab but it is quite small.

      • Thank you. But i Stuck on the Validating Process . I have wave over 30 Minutes. No Succes. Do have any Idea, where the Problem is?

  3. Micro:
    I have the same problem, the solution is: regional settings MUST be United state, I have regional settings Bosnia and that was be problem, wen I switch regional setting to Unites state everything is OK

  4. I will have to migrate 5.5 u3 vCSA appliance to 6.0 u1 in the comming weeks and my question is : if the upgrade fail or if we have an impact on other products (Veeam Backup, vShield, etc…) what is the rollback process ? Simply stop the new vCSA 6 appliance and start the old 5.5 ?

    Thanks for you help

    • Hi Plouf!

      The upgrade process does not destroy the original vCenter Appliance, only copies data and shuts it down. If you need to rollback you would simiply power off the new VCSA and power on the old VCSA. When updating from VCSA 6.0 to Update 1 or 2 it is now a true upgrade patching process, no migration needed.

      • Thanks for your answer
        I will migrate my VCSA 5.5u3 to VCSA6 last version next week and will let you know the result

  5. I’ve run through this like 5 times, but I keep getting a migration failure with error “Internal error occurs during export.” I’ve found reports of this error with causes such as using a non-ephemeral distributed vSwitch, but that doesn’t apply since I’m using a standard vSwitch.

    Any ideas??

  6. @cornelius: how many DNS server have you registered, comma separated? Never use more than one… it’s a big bug!

    @all: why in the hell I can’t choose tiny or small deployments? Only medium and large are available… 🙁

  7. While migrating from vcnter 5.5 u2 Appliance to 6. error is “internal error occures during import vmware vcenter inventory service” Could you please help me on this.

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