By default, the upgrade process upgrades the ESXi hosts in all clusters in a domain in parallel. If you have multiple clusters in the management domain or in a VI workload domain, you can select which clusters to upgrade. You can also choose to update the clusters in parallel or sequentially.

If you want to skip any hosts while applying an ESXi update to the management domain or a VI workload domain, you must add these hosts to the file before you begin the update. See Skip Hosts During ESXi Update.

To perform ESXi upgrades with custom images and async drivers for clusters in a workload domain that uses vSphere Lifecycle Manager baselines, see Upgrade ESXi with Custom ISO or Async Drivers.

If you are using external (non-vSAN) storage, the following procedure updates the ESXi hosts attached to the external storage. However, updating and patching the storage software and drivers is a manual task and falls outside of SDDC Manager lifecycle management. To ensure supportability after an ESXi upgrade, consult the vSphere HCL and your storage vendor.


  • Download the VMware Software Update bundle for VMware ESXi. See Download Bundles.
  • Ensure that the VI workload domain for which you want to perform cluster-level upgrade does not have any hosts or clusters in an error state. Resolve the error state or remove the hosts and clusters with errors before proceeding.
  • For clusters in a workload domain that uses vSphere Lifecycle Manager images, you must have a cluster image set up that includes the ESXi version that you want to upgrade to. The ESXi version must match the version in the bundle you downloaded. See Cluster Image Management.
  • To add or upgrade the firmware on clusters in a workload domain that uses vSphere Lifecycle Manager images, you must have the vendor Hardware Support Manager installed. See Adding Firmware and Components to a Cluster Image.


  1. In the navigation pane, click Inventory > Workload Domains.
  2. On the Workload Domains page, click the domain you are upgrading and then click the Updates/Patches tab.
  3. Run the upgrade precheck. See Perform Update Precheck.
  4. In the Available Updates section, select the target release.
  5. Click Update Now or Schedule Update for the ESXi bundle.
  6. If you selected Schedule Update, specify the date and time for the bundle to be applied.
  7. Select the clusters to upgrade and click Next.
    The default setting is to upgrade all clusters. To upgrade specific clusters, click Enable cluster-level selection and select the clusters to upgrade.
    You can upgrade a maximum of five clusters in parallel. If you select more than five clusters, the additional clusters are upgraded sequentially.
  8. If you are upgrading a VI workload domain that uses vSphere Lifecycle Manager images, the Assign Images tab appears.
    1. In Step 1, select one or more clusters. If you select multiple clusters, they must include hosts from the same vendor.

      Select clusters for vLCM-enabled workload domains.

    2. In Step 2, select the image to be assigned to the selected clusters. The ESXi version, vendor add-ons, components, and Firmware and Drivers Addons for the selected image are displayed.

      Select the cluster image and firmware and driver add-ons.

    3. Select the Firmware and Drivers Addon for the selected clusters (optional).

      Note that the cluster image is not updated with the firmware.

    4. Click Apply Image and then click Next.
  9. Select the upgrade options and click Next.
    By default, all clusters are upgraded in parallel. To upgrade clusters sequentially, select Enable sequential cluster upgrade.
    Click Enable Quick Boot if desired. Quick Boot for ESXi hosts is an option that allows Update Manager to reduce the upgrade time by skipping the physical reboot of the host.
  10. Click Finish.
  11. Monitor the upgrade progress. See Monitor Updates.