vCenter Server 8.0 provides many options for upgrading your vCenter Server deployment. For a successful vCenter Server upgrade, you must understand the upgrade options, the configuration details that impact the upgrade process, and the sequence of tasks.

The two core components of vSphere are VMware ESXi™ and VMware vCenter Server™. ESXi is the virtualization platform on which you can create and run virtual machines and virtual appliances. vCenter Server is a service that acts as a central administrator for ESXi hosts connected in a network. You use the vCenter Server system to pool and manage the resources of multiple hosts. vCenter Server appliance is a preconfigured virtual machine optimized to run vCenter Server.

You can upgrade existing vCenter Server deployments that include either an embedded or an external Platform Services Controller to a deployment consisting of a vCenter Server appliance.

Overview of the vSphere Upgrade Process

vSphere is a sophisticated product with multiple components to upgrade. Understanding the required sequence of tasks is vital for a successful vSphere upgrade.

Figure 1. Overview of vSphere Upgrade Tasks
High-Level Overview of vSphere Upgrade Tasks

Upgrading vSphere includes the following tasks:

  1. Read the vSphere release notes.
  2. Verify that you have backed up your configuration.
  3. If your vSphere system includes VMware solutions or plug-ins, verify that they are compatible with the vCenter Server appliance version to which you are upgrading. See VMware Product Interoperability Matrix at http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/sim/interop_matrix.php.
  4. Upgrade vCenter Server.

    For detailed instructions, see vCenter Server Upgrade

  5. Upgrade your ESXi hosts. See Overview of the ESXi Host Upgrade Process.
  6. To ensure sufficient disk storage for log files, consider setting up a syslog server for remote logging. Setting up logging on a remote host is especially important for hosts with a limited amount of local storage.

    See Required Free Space for System Logging and Configure Syslog on ESXi Hosts.

  7. Upgrade your VMs manually or by using vSphere Lifecycle Manager to perform an orchestrated upgrade.

    See Upgrading Virtual Machines and VMware Tools

Overview of the ESXi Host Upgrade Process

VMware provides several ways to upgrade ESXi hosts with earlier versions to ESXi version 8.0.

The details and level of support for an upgrade to ESXi 8.0 depend on the host to be upgraded and the upgrade method that you use. Verify that the upgrade path from your current version of ESXi to the version to which you are upgrading, is supported. For more information, see the VMware Product Interoperability Matrices at http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/sim/interop_matrix.php.

You can upgrade an ESXi host to version 8.0 by using an interactive upgrade from a CD, DVD, or USB, a scripted upgrade, ESXCLI, or vSphere Lifecycle Manager. When you upgrade an ESXi host that has custom VIBs to version 8.0, all supported custom VIBs are migrated. For more information, see Upgrading Hosts That Have Third-Party Custom VIBs.

Figure 2. Overview of the ESXi Host Upgrade Process
You can upgrade an ESXi host by using an interactive upgrade from a CD, DVD, or USB, a scripted upgrade, ESXCLI, or vSphere Lifecycle Manager.

The following high-level steps are for upgrading ESXi.

  1. Verify that your system meets the upgrade requirements. See ESXi Requirements.
  2. Prepare your environment before upgrading. See Before Upgrading ESXi Hosts.
  3. Determine where you want to locate and boot the ESXi installer. See Media Options for Booting the ESXi Installer. If you are network booting the installer, verify that your network boot infrastructure is properly set up. See Network Booting the ESXi Installer.
  4. Upgrade ESXi. See Upgrading ESXi Hosts
  5. After upgrading ESXi hosts, you must reconnect the hosts to the vCenter Server and reapply the licenses. See After You Upgrade ESXi Hosts.
The following methods are supported for a direct upgrade to ESXi 8.0.
  • Use the interactive graphical user interface (GUI) installer from a CD, DVD, or USB drive.
  • Perform a scripted upgrade.
  • Use ESXCLI.
  • Use vSphere Auto Deploy. If the ESXi host is deployed by using vSphere Auto Deploy, you can use vSphere Auto Deploy to reprovision the host with a 8.0 image.
  • Use the vSphere Lifecycle Manager.
Graphical User Interface (GUI) Installer
You can upgrade interactively by using an ESXi installer ISO image on a CD, DVD, or USB flash drive or by network booting the installer. This method is appropriate for deployments with a few hosts. If during the installation process, you select a target disk that contains an ESXi installation, the installer upgrades the host to ESXi version 8.0. The installer also gives you the option to migrate some existing host settings and configuration files and to preserve the existing VMFS datastore. See Upgrade Hosts Interactively.
Perform a Scripted Upgrade
To do a scripted upgrade, you can use the ESXi 8.0 installer from a CD, DVD, or USB flash drive or by network booting the installer. This method is an efficient way to deploy multiple hosts. For more information, see Installing or Upgrading Hosts by Using a Script.
ESXCLI
You can use ESXCLI to upgrade ESXi 6.7 hosts or ESXi 7.0 hosts to ESXi 8.0 hosts.

vSphere 8.0 introduces configuration files, components, base images, and add-ons as new software deliverables that you can use to update or patch ESXi 8.0 hosts. For information about managing components, base images, and add-ons on ESXi, see ESXCLI Concepts and Examples.

To use ESXCLI commands, you must install Standalone ESXCLI. For more information about installing and using ESXCLI, see the following documents.

  • Getting Started with ESXCLI
  • ESXCLI Reference
See Upgrading Hosts by Using ESXCLI Commands.
vSphere Auto Deploy
If an ESXi host is deployed with vSphere Auto Deploy, you can use vSphere Auto Deploy to reprovision the host and reboot it with a new image profile or a configuration that you manage on a cluster level. An image profile contains an ESXi upgrade or patch, a host configuration profile, and optionally, third-party drivers or management agents that are provided by VMware partners. То add ESXi hosts to a cluster that manages ESXi configuration at a cluster level, you create a rule in Auto Deploy that assigns such a cluster as the host location for newly added hosts, which inherit the same settings and do not require manual configuration.You can build custom images by using vSphere ESXi Image Builder CLI. For more information, see Using vSphere Auto Deploy to Reprovision Hosts.
vSphere Lifecycle Manager
vSphere Lifecycle Manager is a vCenter Server service for installing, upgrading, and updating ESXi hosts. By using images and baselines, vSphere Lifecycle Manager enables centralized and simplified lifecycle management for multiple ESXi hosts at a cluster level. For more information about performing orchestrated installations, upgrades, and updates, see the Managing Host and Cluster Lifecycle documentation.

Upgrading Virtual Machines and VMware Tools

After you upgrade an ESXi host, you can upgrade the virtual machines on the host to take advantage of new features.

You have the following tools for upgrading virtual machines.

vSphere Client
You can use the vSphere Client to upgrade a virtual machine step by step. For more information about upgrading virtual machines, see the vSphere Virtual Machine Administration documentation.
vSphere Lifecycle Manager
You can use the vSphere Lifecycle Manager to upgrade the virtual machine hardware and VMware Tools versions of the virtual machines in your environment. The vSphere Lifecycle Manager automates the upgrade process and verifies that the steps occur in the correct order. For more information, see the Managing Host and Cluster Lifecycle documentation.