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What vCenter Server upgrade options does vSphere 6.5 offer?

VSphere 6.5 offers three different options for upgrading vCenter Server; which option you choose depends upon your environment's architecture.

What are your options for a vCenter Server upgrade in vSphere 6.5?

When it comes to performing a vCenter Server upgrade in vSphere 6.5, you have three options and your choice will likely depend on your current architecture. You can upgrade from vCenter Server Appliance 5.5 or 6.0 to vCenter Server Appliance 6.5, from Windows vCenter 5.5 or 6.0 to vCenter Server Appliance 6.5, or from Windows vCenter 6.0 to Windows vCenter 6.5.

Which version of vCenter Server upgrade you choose depends on whether you're already using Windows-based vCenter or vCenter Server Appliance.

For the first time in virtualization history, VMware vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) 6.5 has more features out of the box than Windows vCenter, including improved scalability, integrated backup and native high availability.

Before planning a migration, you should first make sure that your backup and replication tools and monitoring software are supported in vSphere 6.5, and that your hardware is included in the VMware Hardware Compatibility Guide.

Let's take a look at one migration to get a better understanding of these vCenter Server upgrade options.

Migrating from Windows vCenter 6.0 to vCSA 6.5

For the first time in virtualization history, VMware vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 has more features out of the box than Windows vCenter.

Migrating from Windows vCenter 6.0 to vCSA 6.5 is a relatively straightforward process. Before launching the VMware vCSA 6.5 Migration Assistant, first go to the Windows-based vCenter migration assistant. This is a command-line interface tool that allows the GUI migration to operate.

Once you've launched the GUI assistant, click Migrate to begin. The GUI assistant will ask for your source vCenter Server IP address or your fully qualified domain name and single sign-on password. Next, enter information for the vCSA 6.5 you intend to deploy; you'll need to provide both network information and the name that you want to give to the VM.

After that you can choose the size of the VCSA 6.5 VM depending how large your environment currently is or how large you want it to be. As you can see in Figure A, you can choose between Default, Large and X-Large. Once you've done this, follow the assistant to choose a data store and configure network settings.

VM size options.
Figure A. Choose the size of your vCSA 6.5 VM.

So, what can you migrate? Pretty much anything: distributed switches, hostnames, certificates and more. The new vCSA 6.5 VM is deployed and connects to a temporary network where data transfer takes place. The original Windows vCenter instance will remain unchanged.

The new vCSA 6.5 behaves in much the same way as Windows vCenter Server. VCenter Server 6.5, which includes both Windows-based vCenter and vCSA, no longer supports the Windows C++ client, which works only for individual hosts, allowing them to manage limited sets of features. Until the HTML5 client is ready for full production, the Windows C++ client will be replaced by the Flash-based vSphere Web Client.

Next Steps

VCenter Server Appliance 6.5 installation made easy

The benefits of upgrading to vCSA 6.5

Choosing between Windows vCenter and vCS

This was last published in February 2017

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Which vCenter Server upgrade option is the right fit for your architecture?
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