Before you upgrade the vCenter Server appliance, you must download the vCenter Server installer ISO file and mount it to a network virtual machine or physical server from which you want to perform the upgrade.

The computer from which you upgrade the appliance must run on a Windows, Linux, or Mac operating system that meets the operating system requirements. See System Requirements for the vCenter Server Installer.

Before upgrading a vCenter Server appliance, you must prepare the ESXi hosts in the inventory.

If the vCenter Server appliance uses an external Oracle database, you must determine the size of the existing database.

If vCenter Server appliance uses an external Update Manager instance, you must run the Migration Assistant on the computer running Update Manager.

System Requirements for the vCenter Server Installer

You can run the vCenter Server GUI or CLI installer from a network client machine that is running on a Windows, Linux, or Mac operating system of a supported version.

To ensure optimal performance of the GUI and CLI installers, use a client machine that meets the minimum hardware requirements.

Table 1. System Requirements for the GUI and CLI Installers
Operating System Supported Versions Minimum Hardware Configuration for Optimal Performance
Windows
  • Windows 10, 11
  • Windows 2016 x64 bit
  • Windows 2019 x64 bit
  • Windows 2022 x64 bit
4 GB RAM, 2 CPU having 4 cores with 2.3 GHz, 32 GB hard disk, 1 NIC
Linux
  • SUSE 15
  • Ubuntu 18.04, 20.04, 21.10
4 GB RAM, 1 CPU having 2 cores with 2.3 GHz, 16 GB hard disk, 1 NIC
Note: The CLI installer requires 64-bit OS.
Mac
  • macOS 10.15, 11, 12
  • macOS Catalina, Big Sur, Monterey
8 GB RAM, 1 CPU having 4 cores with 2.4 GHz, 150 GB hard disk, 1 NIC
Note: For client machines that run on Mac 10.15 or later, concurrent GUI deployments of multiple appliances are unsupported. You must deploy the appliances in a sequence.
Note: Visual C++ redistributable libraries need to be installed to run the CLI installer on versions of Windows older than Windows 10. The Microsoft installers for these libraries are located in the vcsa-cli-installer/win32/vcredist directory.
Note: Deploying the vCenter Server appliance with the GUI requires a minimum resolution of 1024x768 to properly display. Lower resolutions can truncate the UI elements.

Download and Mount the vCenter Server Installer

VMware releases the vCenter Server appliance ISO image, which contains GUI and CLI installers for the vCenter Server appliance.

With the GUI and CLI executable files that are included in the vCenter Server installer, you can:
  • Deploy the vCenter Server appliance.
  • Upgrade the vCenter Server appliance.
  • Converge older versions of vCenter Server with an external Platform Services Controller to the current version of vCenter Server.
  • Restore a vCenter Server appliance from a file-based backup.

Prerequisites

Procedure

  1. Log in to VMware Customer Connect.
  2. Navigate to Products and Accounts > All Products.
  3. Find VMware vSphere and click View Download Components.
  4. Select a VMware vSphere version from the Select Version drop-down.
  5. Select a version of VMware vCenter Server and click GO TO DOWNLOADS.
  6. Download the vCenter Server appliance ISO image.
  7. Confirm that the md5sum is correct by using an MD5 checksum tool.
  8. Mount the ISO image to the client machine from which you want to deploy, upgrade, migrate, or restore the appliance.
    Note: ISO mounting software that does not allow more than eight directory levels, for example, MagicISO Maker on Windows, is unsupported.

    For Linux OS and Mac OS, Archive Manager is unsupported.

    For Mac OS, you can use DiskImageMounter.
    For Ubuntu 14.04, you can use Disk Image Mounter.
    For SUSE 12 OS, you can use the terminal.
    $ sudo mkdir mount_dir
    $ sudo mount -o loop VMware-vCSA-all-version_number-build_number.iso mount_dir
    
    Important: Due to a security change in MacOS Catalina, you must modify the security settings on your computer until the vCenter Server deployment completes. If you attempt to run the installer under MacOS Catalina without modifying the security settings, the vCenter Server installer reports the error: ovftool cannot be opened because the developer cannot be verified. For more information, see KB 79416.

What to do next

Open the readme.txt file and review the information about the other files and directories in the vCenter Server appliance ISO image.

Synchronizing Clocks on the vSphere Network

Verify that all components on the vSphere network have their clocks synchronized. If the clocks on the physical machines in your vSphere network are not synchronized, SSL certificates and SAML tokens, which are time-sensitive, might not be recognized as valid in communications between network machines.

Unsynchronized clocks can result in authentication problems, which can cause the installation to fail or prevent the vCenter Server vmware-vpxd service from starting.

Time inconsistencies in vSphere can cause the first boot of a component in your environment to fail at different services depending on where in the environment time is not accurate and when the time is synchronized. Problems most commonly occur when the target ESXi host for the destination vCenter Server is not synchronized with NTP or PTP. Similarly, issues can arise if the destination vCenter Server migrates to an ESXi host set to a different time due to fully automated DRS.

To avoid time synchronization issues, ensure that the following is correct before installing, migrating, or upgrading a vCenter Server instance.

  • The target ESXi host where the destination vCenter Server is to be deployed is synchronized to NTP or PTP.

  • The ESXi host running the source vCenter Server is synchronized to NTP or PTP.

  • When upgrading or migrating from vSphere 6.7 to vSphere 8.0, if the vCenter Server appliance is connected to an external Platform Services Controller, ensure the ESXi host running the external Platform Services Controller is synchronized to NTP or PTP.

  • If you are upgrading or migrating from vSphere 6.7 to vSphere 8.0, verify that the source vCenter Server or vCenter Server appliance and external Platform Services Controller have the correct time.

Verify that any Windows host machine on which vCenter Server runs is synchronized with the Network Time Server (NTP) server. See the VMware knowledge base article at https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/1318.

To synchronize ESXi clocks with an NTP or a PTP server, you can use the VMware Host Client. For information about editing the time configuration of an ESXi host, see topic Edit the Time Configuration of an ESXi Host in the VMware Host Client in the vSphere Single Host Management - VMware Host Client documentation.

To learn how to change time synchronization settings for vCenter Server, see topic Configure the System Time Zone and Time Synchronization Settings in the vCenter Server Configuration documentation.

To learn how to edit the time configuration for a host by using the vSphere Client, see topic Editing the Time Configuration Settings of a Host in the vCenter Server and Host Management documentation.

Transferring Data from an Existing vCenter Server Appliance

You can transfer data from an existing vCenter Server appliance external database to the embedded PostgreSQL database in use by vCenter Server 8.0.

Both the Windows-based vCenter Server upgrade and vCenter Server appliance migration allow you to copy the minimum amount of data necessary to be operational, minimizing downtime. You can then copy the remaining data from the external database to the embedded PostgreSQL database in the background, preserving your deployment's historical event and performance data.

You can migrate the following types of data from an external database to the embedded PostgreSQL database in use by version 8.0 of the vCenter Server appliance.
Configuration data
The minimum type of data you must transfer from your existing vCenter Server appliance external database to upgrade or migrate to a functioning vCenter Server appliance. This data can be transferred in a reasonably short amount of time, minimizing downtime during the upgrade to vCenter Server 8.0.
Configuration and historical data
In addition to the configuration data, you can choose to transfer historical data such as usage statistics, events, and tasks. The vCenter Server installer gives you the option to copy both the configuration and historical data at one time, or to copy only the configuration data during the upgrade process. You can then choose to copy the historical data in the background after you start your new vCenter Server.
Attention: If you choose to copy all data at one time, you cannot start vCenter Server until all the data has been transferred to the embedded PostgreSQL database within vCenter Server 8.0.
Configuration, historical, and performance metrics data
The largest amount of data you can choose to transfer to vCenter Server. You can copy only the configuration data during the upgrade process, and then copy the historical and performance data in the background after the upgrade or migration to vCenter Server 8.0 finishes.
You can transfer historical data after the upgrade or migration from the following vCenter Server versions using external databases to the embedded PostgreSQL database within the vCenter Server appliance.
Note: You can only transfer data from external databases to the embedded PostgreSQL database in the background after upgrade or migration. Transferring data from an embedded PostgreSQL database to another embedded PostgreSQL database after upgrade or migration is not supported.
Table 2. vCenter Server Database Support for Data Transfer After Upgrade or Migration
vCenter Server Versions Databases vCenter Server Appliance 8.0 Support for Data Transfer
vCenter Server appliance 6.7 Embedded PostgreSQL database Not Supported
vCenter Server for Windows 6.7 External Oracle or MS SQL database Supported
Embedded PostgreSQL database Not supported
vCenter Server appliance 7.0 Embedded PostgreSQL database Not supported
vCenter Server for Windows 7.0 External Oracle or MS SQL database Supported
Embedded PostgreSQL database Not supported

Monitor and Manage Historical Data Migration

You can monitor and manage the background migration of historical data using the vCenter Server Management Interface. You can perform the following data management tasks:
  • Monitor the progress of the data migration.
  • Pause the data import.
  • Cancel the data import.
    Important: If you cancel the data import, the historical data is not imported to the embedded PostgreSQL database. If you cancel the data import operation, you cannot recover the data. If you do cancel the data import, and want to import the historical data later, you must restart the upgrade or migration process from Stage 1 of the GUI installer.

See Monitor and Manage Historical Data Migration.

Prepare ESXi Hosts for vCenter Server Appliance Upgrade

Before upgrading to vCenter Server 8.0, you must prepare your ESXi hosts.

Prerequisites

To upgrade vCenter Server appliance, your ESXi hosts must meet the requirements for upgrade.

  • ESXi hosts must be at version 6.7 or later. For information on ESXi compatibility, see the VMware Compatibility Guide.
  • Your source and target ESXi hosts must not be in lockdown or maintenance mode, and not part of fully automated DRS clusters.
  • Review your environment's Certificate Authority (CA) signed SSL certificates. To learn about manually reviewing CA signed SSL certificates in a vSphere environment, see Knowledge Base article KB 2111411.

Procedure

  1. If you have Custom or Thumbprint certificates, see ESXi Host Upgrades and Certificates to determine your preparatory steps.
  2. If you have vSphere HA clusters, SSL certificate checking must be enabled.
    If certificate checking is not enabled when you upgrade ESXi hosts, vSphere HA fails to configure on the hosts.
    1. Select the vCenter Server appliance instance in the vSphere Client inventory tree.
    2. Select the Configure tab, and then under Settings select General.
    3. Click Edit.
    4. Select SSL settings.
      Verify that vCenter Server requires verified host SSL certificates is selected.

Results

Your ESXi hosts are ready for the vCenter Server appliance upgrade.

ESXi Host Upgrades and Certificates

If you upgrade an ESXi host to ESXi 6.7 or later, the upgrade process replaces the self-signed (thumbprint) certificates with VMCA-signed certificates. If the ESXi host uses custom certificates, the upgrade process retains those certificates even if those certificates are expired or invalid.

The recommended upgrade workflow depends on the current certificates.

Host Provisioned with Thumbprint Certificates

If your host is currently using thumbprint certificates, it is automatically assigned VMCA certificates as part of the upgrade process.

Note: You cannot provision legacy hosts with VMCA certificates. You must upgrade those hosts to ESXi 6.7 or later.

Host Provisioned with Custom Certificates

If your host is provisioned with custom certificates, usually third-party CA-signed certificates, those certificates remain in place during upgrade. Change the certificate mode to Custom to ensure that the certificates are not replaced accidentally during a certificate refresh later.

Note: If your environment is in VMCA mode, and you refresh the certificates from the vSphere Client, any existing certificates are replaced with certificates that are signed by VMCA.

Going forward, vCenter Server monitors the certificates and displays information, for example, about certificate expiration, in the vSphere Client.

Hosts Provisioned with Auto Deploy

Hosts that are being provisioned by Auto Deploy are always assigned new certificates when they are first booted with ESXi 6.7 or later software. When you upgrade a host that is provisioned by Auto Deploy, the Auto Deploy server generates a certificate signing request (CSR) for the host and submits it to VMCA. VMCA stores the signed certificate for the host. When the Auto Deploy server provisions the host, it retrieves the certificate from VMCA and includes it as part of the provisioning process.

You can use Auto Deploy with custom certificates.

Change the ESXi Certificate Mode

Use VMware Certificate Authority (VMCA) to provision the ESXi hosts in your environment unless your corporate policy requires that you use custom certificates. To use custom certificates with a different root CA, edit the advanced vCenter Server setting, vpxd.certmgmt.mode. After the change, the hosts are no longer automatically provisioned with VMCA certificates when you refresh the certificates. You are responsible for the certificate management in your environment.

You can use the advanced vCenter Server settings to change to thumbprint mode or to custom CA mode. Use thumbprint mode only as a fallback option.

Procedure

  1. In the vSphere Client, select the vCenter Server system that manages the hosts.
  2. Click Configure, and under Settings, click Advanced Settings.
  3. Click Edit Settings.
  4. Click the Filter icon in the Name column, and in the Filter box, enter vpxd.certmgmt to display only certificate management parameters.
  5. Change the value of vpxd.certmgmt.mode to custom if you intend to manage your own certificates, and to thumbprint if you temporarily want to use thumbprint mode, and click Save.
  6. Restart the vCenter Server service.
    See the vCenter Server Configuration documentation for information about restarting services.

Determine the Oracle Database Size and the Storage Size for the New Appliance

Before upgrading a vCenter Server appliance or migrating a vCenter Server on Windows that uses an external Oracle database, you must determine the size of the existing database. Based on the size of the existing database, you can calculate the minimum storage size for the new vCenter Server appliance database using an embedded PostgreSQL database.

You run scripts to determine the Oracle core table size, the events and tasks table size, and the statistics table size. The Oracle core table corresponds to the database (/storage/db) partition of the PostgreSQL database. The Oracle events and tasks and statistics tables correspond to the statistics, events, alarms, and tasks (/storage/seat) partition of the PostgreSQL database.

During the upgrade of the appliance, you must select a storage size for the new appliance that is at least twice the size of the Oracle tables size.

During the upgrade of the appliance, you can select the types of data to transfer to the new appliance. To minimize upgrade time and storage requirements for the new appliance, you can choose to transfer only the configuration data.

Prerequisites

You must have the vCenter Server database login credentials.

Procedure

  1. Log in to a SQL*Plus session with the vCenter Server database user.
  2. Determine the core table size by running the following script.
    SELECT ROUND(SUM(s.bytes)/(1024*1024)) SIZE_MB
      FROM   user_segments s
      WHERE  (s.segment_name,s.segment_type)
                    IN (SELECT seg_name, seg_type FROM
                             (SELECT t.table_name seg_name, t.table_name tname,
                               'TABLE' seg_type
                               FROM   user_tables t
                              UNION
                              SELECT i.index_name, i.table_name,
                              'INDEX'
                               FROM   user_indexes i
                             ) ti
                        WHERE  (ti.tname LIKE 'VPX_%'
                                OR ti.tname LIKE 'CL_%'
                                OR ti.tname LIKE 'VDC_%')
                            AND ti.tname NOT LIKE 'VPX_SAMPLE_TIME%'
                            AND ti.tname NOT LIKE 'VPX_HIST_STAT%'
                            AND ti.tname NOT LIKE 'VPX_TOPN%'
                            AND ti.tname NOT LIKE 'VPX_SDRS_STATS_VM%'
                            AND ti.tname NOT LIKE 'VPX_SDRS_STATS_DATASTORE%'
                            AND ti.tname NOT LIKE 'VPX_TASK%'
                            AND ti.tname NOT LIKE 'VPX_EVENT%'
                            AND ti.tname NOT LIKE 'VPX_PROPERTY_BULLETIN%');
    The script returns the database storage size in MB.
  3. Determine the events and tasks table size by running the following script.
    SELECT ROUND(SUM(s.bytes)/(1024*1024)) SIZE_MB
    FROM   user_segments s
    WHERE  (s.segment_name,s.segment_type)
                 IN (SELECT seg_name, seg_type FROM
                          (SELECT t.table_name seg_name, t.table_name tname,
                            'TABLE' seg_type
                            FROM   user_tables t
                           UNION
                           SELECT i.index_name, i.table_name,
                           'INDEX'
                            FROM   user_indexes i
                          ) ti
                     WHERE
                        ti.tname LIKE 'VPX_TASK%'
                     OR ti.tname LIKE 'VPX_EVENT%');
    The script returns the events and tasks storage size in MB.
  4. Determine the statistics table size by running the following script.
    SELECT ROUND(SUM(s.bytes)/(1024*1024)) SIZE_MB
    FROM   user_segments s
    WHERE  (s.segment_name,s.segment_type)
                 IN (SELECT seg_name, seg_type FROM
                          (SELECT t.table_name seg_name, t.table_name tname,
                            'TABLE' seg_type
                            FROM   user_tables t
                           UNION
                           SELECT i.index_name, i.table_name,
                           'INDEX'
                            FROM   user_indexes i
                          ) ti
                     WHERE
                        ti.tname LIKE 'VPX_SAMPLE_TIME%'
                     OR ti.tname LIKE 'VPX_TOPN%'
                     OR ti.tname LIKE 'VPX_TASK%'
                     OR ti.tname LIKE 'VPX_EVENT%'
                     OR ti.tname LIKE 'VPX_HIST_STAT%');
    The script returns the statistics storage size in MB.
  5. Calculate the minimum storage size for the new appliance that you are going to deploy during the upgrade.
    1. The size of the database (/storage/db) partition of the embedded PostgreSQL database must be at least twice the size of the Oracle core table returned in Step 2.
    2. The size of the statistics, events, alarms, and tasks (/storage/seat) partition of the embedded PostgreSQL database must be at least twice the sum of the sizes of the Oracle events and tasks and statistics tables returned in Step 3 and Step 4.
    For example, if the Oracle core table is 100 MB, the events and tasks table is 1,000 MB, and the statistics table is 2,000 MB, then the Postgres /storage/db partition must be at least 200 MB and the /storage/seat partition must be at least 6,000 MB.

Download and Run VMware Migration Assistant on the Source Update Manager Machine

During the upgrade of a vCenter Server appliance that uses an external Update Manager, the Migration Assistant must be running on the source Update Manager machine. This procedure describes how to download and run the Migration Assistant manually before the upgrade.

The Migration Assistant facilitates the migration of the Update Manager server and database to the new upgraded vCenter Server appliance. The Migration Assistant uses port 9123 by default. If port 9123 is used by another service on your Update Manager machine, the Migration Assistant automatically finds a different free port to use.

Alternatively, if you plan to upgrade the vCenter Server appliance by using the CLI installer, you can add the source.vum section section and run.migration.assistant subsection to your JSON template. For information about the CLI upgrade configuration parameters, see Upgrade Configuration Parameters for CLI Upgrade of vCenter Server Appliance.

Prerequisites

Procedure

  1. From the vCenter Server appliance installer package, copy the migration-assistant directory to the source Update Manager machine.
  2. From the migration-assistant directory, double-click VMware-Migration-Assistant.exe and the provide the vCenter Single Sign-On administrator password.
  3. Leave the Migration Assistant window open until the upgrade of the vCenter Server appliance finishes.

Results

When the pre-checks are finished and any errors are addressed, your source Update Manager system is ready for the upgrade.

Caution: Closing the Migration Assistant window causes the upgrade process to stop.