ESXi 5.0 to ESXi 6.0 U1 – Installation, Configuration and Migration

Scenario

 

On one of our locations old server HP ML 350 G6 has become quite obsolete and we decided to upgrade local infrastructure. We bought new HP DL 380 Gen9 with 32 GB RAM one processor and 4 discs of 600GB. Also we have one virtual machine located off-site in the hosting provider’s Datacenter that we wanted to migrate to new server, so that application is located on the client’s premises.

 

Agenda

 

  1. Firmware upgrades of DL 380 (array P440, Bios etc..) prior installation of VMware
  2. Install new ESXi 6 U1 with Essentials license on DL 380
  3. Install vCenter 6.0 U1
  4. Migrate virtual machines from ESXi 5.0 (free edition) to ESXi 6.0 U1 (Essentials)
  5. Export virtual machine from Datacenter and import to ESXi 6.0 U1

 

Infrastructure

 

  • Local host with version ESXi 5.0 installed on ML 350 G6 (old one)
  • Local host with planned ESXi 6.0 U1 installation on DL 380 Gen9 (new one)
  • Cloud virtual machine located in hosting datacenter version Vsphere 5.5

 

 

1.    Firmware Upgrades of DL 380 Gen9

 

Before putting server in the production, it’s always smart to update firmwares of all the components in the box, like P440ar RAID controller’s firmware, Bios, Power Management and so on. The easiest way to do this on HP servers is to download HP Service Pack for Proliant. Now that’s a little bit tricky, you have to have active warranty for that server to download SP, and also login for HP pages. Register account if you don’t have it already and in the options of your IT environment link warranty of the server with your account. For warranty you’ll need S/N of the server. After that you should be able to download SP. If you run into any problems during download, registration or any HP related problems in global, I advise you to contact HP business support for which also you’ll need server’s S/N. I used chat support and was really satisfied with responsiveness, and suggestions from their technicians.

 

Ok, now on to the real work. After successful download we have to mount that ISO onto server. As ISO is 5,5 GB large the only way to do this is with USB or mounting ISO directly to virtual drive of server. We chose second option. For mounting ISO to the server you’ll need ILO configured and connected to the network and ILO advanced license. ILO by default is configured for DHCP so once you plug in network cable you are able to see ILO IP during boot. You can connect to ILO’s IP via internet browser, and login with default credentials that are usually written on the server’s tag. As for the license, we didn’t bought it, so I searched the net for evaluation and found it! On HP pages you can download ILO evaluation license that works for 60 days. Once you apply it you can use virtual drive. To mount ISO go to the Remote Console in the ILO management and start it. Once new browser window opens, in the top left corner you can chose option to mount ISO, and browse for the file that is somewhere locally on the network, accessible from the ILO’s IP. Chose Automatic update, if you want everything to be updated without selecting specific component.

 

The one thing that is most important, was not updated to the latest firmware, and that is RAID controller P440ar. So we downloaded offline update bundle from support pages, for this to apply to the server we first had to install ESXi! One other important thing that we noticed is that HP Smart Storage Administrator (HP SSA) was also not updated, and because of that it was lacking some very important options like expanding existing array. Scenario when you create array i.e. RAID 5, install all the things on it, and after you run out of free space you want to add additional disc to expand that array, was not possible!! We figured out that once you boot to ISO image HP Service Pack(virtual drive, remember:-) there is newer version of HP SSA and all the options were there! I asked HP support is it possible to update HP SSA so that we can boot from server, without image, they replied no. We didn’t investigate further is it possible or not. So you have two options after you deploy your server, if you are adding new disc to the array. Boot into newest HP Service Pack SSA (offline), or expand array via HP SSA cli on the ESXi (online), also there is posible third option but I didn’t try it, login to http:/serverIP:2301, I guess you’ll have to open firewall ports of ESXi. The last option is the web component of HP SSA.

 

 

2.    Install ESXi 6 Essentials on DL 380

 

If you have HP server the only right way to install ESXi is with HP ESXi Custom Image. That image contains prepared drivers for all the components, and besides that it also contains HP tools and utilities like HP SSA mentioned before. To use those tools you will have to have ESXi SSH access, and get familiar with the Command Line Interface reference guides of the tool you want to use.

 

Before installation, we had to create logical array. In HP SSA interface we created RAID 5 with all four discs and select maximum capacity. We mounted ESXi HP custom image via virtual drive, and booted to the installation.

 

After Installation of ESXi we encountered on interesting problem. Server didn’t boot. It was in constant loop saying “No bootable device were detected please attach a uefi bootable device”. We spent more than 2 hours on support with HP and investigating on our own. P440ar was not even in the boot devices in BIOS. Finally we figured out that the problem was option in the HP SSA, boot from logical volume was on NONE! We changed that to our newly created array and got it work!

 

Now that we have fresh install of ESXi 6 U1, we had to complete update of the P440ar firmware. We downloaded offline bundle from HP support pages,copied it to the ESXi server, enable SSH, started SSH deamon, and connected. Via esx cli we unpacked and installed firmware.

 

 

3.    Install Vcenter 6 U1

 

There are multiple scenarios of installing Vcenter, we decided to go with the Vcenter Appliance, which we deployed to a new DL 380 Gen9. You have to have VMware account connected to your license to acquire download.

 

After download of ISO image, first thing you should do is unpack it on the client machine from which you are performing deployment. In the ISO image there is Client Integration Plugin, which needs to be installed on the client machine from which you manage vcenter. After successful installation, start vcsa-setup.html, which will take you through the configuration of the Vcenter Appliance. Options are more or less basic and understoodable, I just want to point out one little catch that is good to know. Prior configuring vcsa, you should create A record in your DNS! In other words you should be able to ping vcenter. During installation when you’re asked for FQDN you should put vcenter.your.domain. Also one other thing to have in mind is, you have to remember you Master SSO password, because I didn’t found article how to reset it. And final hint, log in would be administrator@SSO.Domain with password that you entered during installation.

 

 

4.    Migrate virtual machines from ESXi 5.0 to ESXi 6.0 U1

 

Now that we have vcenter we can add our host to it so that we can easily migrate VMs. New ESXi 6 host is not the problem because we have license for Essentials, and also when you install ESXi you get 60 days trial so you have Vcenter Server Agents. But for adding the old one we had to do a little trick. As old one was free edition it didn’t had support for Vcenter. Our solutions was to acquire new trial license for ESXi 5 and apply it to the old host. You’ll have to search a bit on VMware pages to found old downloads, and get trial key, when you get it apply it to old host first by removing the following lines:

 

  1. /etc/vmware/vmware.lic
  2. /etc/vmware/license.cfg

 

and after that by applying new license trough Vsphere client.

 

Now that we had both hosts in the Vcenter we could easily move VMs from old datastore (local datastore!) on the old server to the new datastore (also local) on the new server. Yes we didn’t have shared storage. After successful migration we could reinstall old server 5.0 with new license that we bought 6.0 U1 Essentials and add the host server back to the Vcenter.

 

Just to point out that before this solution we tried a bit different approach. Copying VM files trough shell, with SCP. But because the nature of ESXi shell and limitation on resources that it uses we couldn’t get reasonable speed of copy from host to host. For comparison 30GB of data copying from host to host with SCP lasted cca 160min, migration from host (datastore) to host (datastore) within Vcenter lasted around 8min!

 

 

5.    Export virtual machine from Cloud Datacenter Vsphere 5.5 and import to ESXi 6.0 U1

 

One last thing that needed to be done is export virtual machine from vSphere 5.5 located in the Datacenter, and import it locally to the new infrastructure, Vcenter and two hosts.

 

To jump right to the point, on the one and only important thing that we learned the hard way. When you want to export VM to OVF or OVA, make sure that there is no ISO image attached in the VM’s virtual drive. Go to VM options and on the CD/DVD under Device Type choose Client Device! If you don’t do this your import will fail with the misleading error “Canceled By The User”. If you forgot to change the settings like we did, you can still get this fixed by tweaking the files. There is a good post on the VMware community pages dealing with this problem.

 

That’s it, thank you for reading!

 

The End.

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