By now you’ve probably heard all the hype around the 5.1 releases of VMware’s vSphere and vCloud platforms – and the vCloud 5.1 Suite, which bundles the latest versions of several VMware key IaaS-focused technologies and delivers a comprehensive cloud solution. The suite comes in 3 flavors – Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise.


If you’re an existing (active) customer of any of these products, there’s an upgrade and/or entitlement path to the suite for you – and it’s highly recommended that you take advantage of it. Or, at the very least, you can upgrade your individual products to 5.1 as you ponder the suite. Whether or not you choose to upgrade and take advantage of the latest and greatest features is up to you. But if you’re looking for increased scale, performance, efficiency, and capability while taking advantage of end-to-end advancements in VMware’s leading cloud technologies, then I would place upgrade at the top of your to-do list. (some of my peers suggest I’m drinking the Kool-Aid via fire hose….really?). Learn more about the suite here:
The attached guide will walk you through, in detail, the upgrade steps and procedures for moving to vCloud Suite 5.1.
Upgrade Overview
Speaking of upgrade – and to get back on topic – I thought it would be beneficial to publish a how-to guide of sorts to help with upgrading from previous versions of the core infrastructure stack to version 5.1, taking in consideration the many co-dependencies of an active cloud deployment (VMware’s pubs and guides cover the process for individual products with plenty of detail, but not so much as a whole solution…yet).
I’ll specifically focus on upgrading from previous (pre-5.1) versions to 5.1. The approach will go something like this (in this order):
  1. vCloud Director 1.5.x -> vCloud Director 5.1
  2. vShield Manager 5.0.x -> vCloud Networking & Security 5.1
  3. vCenter 5.0.x (windows) -> vCenter 5.1 + required add-ons
  4. vSphere (ESXi) 5.0.x -> ESXi 5.1
  5. vShield Edge (vSE’s) 5.0.x -> Edge Gateway 5.1
Note: Many issues encountered during the upgrade are contributed to lack of planning, upgrading components out of order, or skipping steps. To ensure a successful upgrade and continuity of services, it is critical that the steps highlighted in this document are followed closely. In other words, avoid shortcuts!
Things to Consider
Before we get started, let’s set expectations and discuss some caveats. At first glance, upgrading to a “dot” release doesn’t seem that significant, but if you have followed VMware’s versioning strategy in the past, you’ll know that a “.1” release is typically a major update that adds a significant set of capabilities and functionality. This one upgrade path is no exception. And with that comes several considerations…
  • Take advantage of snapshots – take one of every VM you’re touching and make sure you have good backups of the configs any associated databases.
  • Understand the implications of upgrading your vCenter server, especially in environments that of other products and 3rd-party solutions installed that depend on it (see: VMware View).
  • If you plan on migrating from vCenter Server on Windows to the vCenter Server Virtual Appliance (VCVA), this guide isn’t going to help you much. The upgrade procedure to follow is for a Windows-installed vCenter. But, by all means, download the VCVA and give it a run – works great. Just note that you can’t currently migrate from one platform to another.
  • vCenter Server 5.1 adds a significant set of new features, some of which that will require special attention during this upgrade…specifically for the new single-sign on (SSO) function. To ensure the upgrade goes smoothly, be sure the follow the installation steps IN ORDER. This ensures all service dependencies will be in place as new features are installed.
  • Be sure all vCenter certificates are valid before upgrading – if your vCenter server certificates have expired you’ll to renew them BEFORE the upgrade. More info can be found here:
  • vCloud Director 5.1 is backwards compatible with vSphere 5.0.x, but not the other way around. You can upgrade vCD and sub-components now and wait to get vCenter and ESXi up to 5.1 later…just understand this may limit some of the new features in vCD that depend of vSphere 5.1. See VMware’s compatibility matrix for more details:
  • The upgrade procedure for vCloud Director 1.5.x highlighted in this doc assumes a single instance (cell) is installed. As such, upgrading the only cell will result in a vCD outage (not the running vApps, just vCD UI access). See VMware’s guide, vcd_51_install.pdf, to upgrade a multi-cell environment…it’s just a few extra steps.
  • The new version of vCloud Connector (2.0) is not yet available (as of this writing). While the majority of the cloud suite’s components have been upgraded and converged on 5.1 versioning, the latest vCC 2.0 appliance is expected to go live by the end of the year. If you’re currently using vCC 1.x, upgrading to vCD 5.1 may break it. Stay tuned for the 2.0 release if this is something you depend on.
  • If you’re running vCenter Operations (vCOps) 5.0.x and are planning on upgrading the rest of your environment, you might as well take the time to update your appliance to version 5.0.3 to take advantage of some minor new enhancements that will compliment the vCloud 5.1 suite – vCenter Operations Suite 5.6 was announced at VMworld Barcelona and will be available for download/upgrade soon.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get upgrading! Upgrading to 5.1 is not difficult, but it does take some planning, cautions (see above), and an organized approach to ensure all goes well…especially in a production environment. Speaking of that, here’s my disclaimer:
DISCLAIMER: This document is not an ‘official’ VMware publication, nor are the author (that’s me) or VMware responsible for any outcomes, outages, late nights in the datacenter, or complete system meltdowns. This document and its forthcoming upgrade procedures were created as reference material to help you get your environment upgraded so you can enjoy all the wonders of the vCloud 5.1 Suite. As a precaution, do this in a test/dev environment prior to attempting the process in a production deployment. On the other hand, please feel free to share your successful upgrade stories!
Download the full guide here: vCloud Suite 5.1 Solution Upgrade Guide v1.1

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