VMGuru used to run on an “ESXi only” install with no extra management. It’s a single server in a data center in Amsterdam, so there never was a need for a vCenter Server. When the VMware Octopus Beta started in which we participated, the deployment of the Octopus appliance required a vCenter server. So, instead of installing a full blown SQL server, a Windows server  etc., we decided to use the vCenter appliance.

With the introduction of ESX 5.1, a new vCenter also was introduced. The functions in the new vCenter Server Appliance have improved much so an upgrade is the way to go. Now when I tried this in my home lab, it went south big time and I ended up throwing everything away and starting over with a brand new vCenter install. For our server in Amsterdam I decided to do the upgrade again to show that it can be done properly. Now, VMware has a how to procedure in their knowledge base, but it’s very compressed and skips a few small steps, so we decided to write it out including screenshots to make it more accessible to all the folks out there who like to upgrade their vCenter Appliance but don’t know how.

So, we’re assuming you have your vCenter Appliance 5.0 running.  First thing you need to do is download the new 5.1 appliance OVA file from MyVMware and deploy it in your infrastructure (indeed, during the upgrade you will have 2 vCenter Appliances running). Enter all the settings your infrastructure requires.























Remember you need an extra IP address during the transition. The appliance will request one using DHCP by default. After the old appliance is decommissioned, the new appliance will automatically be restarted with the IP of the old appliance, so you don’t need to change a thing.

Now launch your new vCenter appliance. After it’s running, it will show you the blue page with the correct IP address to connect to and the timezone. Make sure the timezone is the same as your old vCenter appliance. If not, change it so they match.

















Now open a browserwindow to the address displayed in the console, which looks like this: “https://<ip_of_your_vcenter>:5480”. Login with ‘root’ and ‘vmware’. Accept the EULA, in the next screen, select ‘Upgrade from previous version’.


















This also checks ‘Use default SSO configuration’. If you have external SSO configured, uncheck this and use the vcenter documentation on how to configure this.
















Press NEXT, you will be confronted with 2 appliance key’s, the remote and local appliance key. If all is well, the remote appliance key is blank.  Now, open a second browser window to the management page your old VCA, login in with your administration credentials

Your old VCA should look something like this:















Click on the Upgrade tab, goto This Appliance rol is: and select Source from the dropdown list. Then, click the Set Role Button.

Warning When you continue after this, your old vCenter will shut down!

When the role is set, click on the Establish Trust sub-tab.

Now you can exchange the appliance keys with your new appliance. Copy the local key from your new appliance into the ‘Remote Appliance Key’ textbox of your old appliance and copy the local appliance key from your old appliance into the ‘Remote Appliance Key’ of the new appliance.

Now, first click IMPORT on your OLD appliance. The screen wil state ‘Import Succesful’. Then click NEXT on your NEW appliance.
















After a short period, it should display the IP addresses of the ESXi hosts the old VCA was managing.  Check if they are all there, then press NEXT. Now the PreUpgrade Summary is displayed. If all is OK, it should display the correct amount of ESX hosts and 0 errors. If so, click NEXT again.
















The next screen warns you that you should have a recent backup or snapshot of your old vCenter appliance. Of course we have! Check the ‘I confirm’ box and click START.

FYI: This is the point of no return, unless you actually have that backup.

Now the new appliance is copying the configuration information from the old appliance and upgrading the information. This might take some time, depending on the size of your vSphere deployment.
















And, if all goes well, the stars are correctly aligned and you’ve received all your blessings, you should see this screen:
















When you press “close”, the new appliance reboots, the old appliance is already shut down and you can log in again to the management website using the old VCA IP address. You can now remove your old VCA from disk and start using the new VCA 5.1!