Home > VMWare > ‘Upgrading’ from ESX to ESXi – a multipart series – Intro

‘Upgrading’ from ESX to ESXi – a multipart series – Intro



Part 2 -Installation Options


Part2b – ESX Deployment Appliance

‘Upgrading’ from VMWare ESX 4.0 to ESXi 4.1(u1) – with as few button clicks as possible.

Anyone reading the official docs from VMware at : http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/esxi-and-esx/upgrade.html#c177045 is likely to be annoyed and frustrated at the lack of actual information as to how to manage the ‘upgrade’ (migration) from ESX to ESXi.

We all know that at VMWolrd 2010, VMware announced that we are on our last Major release of ESX.

There is no direct way to upgrade directly as the 2 products are effectively 2 different operating systems that behave in exactly the same way. (well not really, but they are installed totally differently and are managed slightly differently)

Anyway, we have about 80 ESX hosts to migrate to ESXi, so I decided to find the easiest method to do so.

A scour of the web found several great resources. – and some valuable information. It seems that nobody has yet delivered a full ‘upgrade’ solution, but several people have provided automated deployments of the core installation and several other people have created configuration scripts for the newly installed ESX. So I have decided to add an additional ‘information gathering’ step, then ‘borrow’ some of the work done elsewhere and put together an ‘upgrade’ solution.

Scratching my head, I have been working on a simpler way to manage the deployment / upgrade.

The way I see it, the ‘upgrade’ needs 3 parts:

1) Capture configuration from the existing ESX host that we will be replacing (we may need to interpret and reformat it for our new ESXi Host

2) Deploy new ESXi instance on the hardware(6 options below)

  • UDA (Ultimate Deployment Appliance) –
  • EDA (ESX Deployment appliance) – (0.90 in VMware appliance Marketplace, but 0.94 available)
  • VMware’s own ‘Auto Deploy’
  • SD / USB duplication
  • V-PXEServer
  • Manual installation (I will include this as a benchmark – remember ESXi requires very few clicks as is to get running, so manual may still be the way to go)

I will not recreate any posts that already exist to deploy any existing methods, though will highlight any tweaks I have found to make these smoother / easier and identify my preferred source for deployment.

3) Deploy captured config to our new ESXi host.

Whilst I realise that this probably will not be enough to make it a full ‘upgrade’ the idea is to get as much done as quickly as possible.

Coming up will be several posts, documenting comparisons of 6 methods of deployment, as well as some PowerCli code and a look into Host Profiles for easing this process.

On the off chance that one of the vendors that do ‘migration’ tools feel like offering me a free license to trial their tool and write up a process doc, I may even be inclined to review that for people with $$$ – but it is important that it is noted that I promise no allegiance to any tools, as would like this review to be fair and open to all. The end product of the series should provide a decision as to my preferred FREE method for doing the migration.

At the end of the series, I’ll create a comparison table comparing the various products, as a springboard for anyone who’ll soon be in the same situation as me.

For environments where there are only 2 or 3 ESX hosts, I’d consider building a solution like this going overboard, so I will make the assumption that readers of the series are people who have large numbers of hosts to upgrade and therefore will be wanting to work on ESX / ESXi rather than VMware workstation. As such, I will endeavour to get all tools working on ESXi and will highlight tweaks required (several of the tools I have tested so far were created on VMware workstation and therefore do not import directly to ESX hosts)

Products that I will be including in my review for the deployment include the 6 above – I will go through the options for the deployment of ESXi, before doing the capture and deploy steps above (I need a deployment workframe to work on, so it makes sense in this case) –

All tests for now will be run in my isolated lab, with the convenient luxury of the deployment servers being located on the same subnets etc as the Hosts I’ll be deploying to, but once I have selected a solution and start the migration of 80 ESX hosts to ESXi, I will of course post details of any further tweaks required for deployment.

Please note, all opinions and information posted will be post on my experience of the process and is open to debate. I will be quoting and using tools form several VMWare heavyweights (e.g Mike Laverick, Simon Long and so on)

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