Upgrading virtual machines for vSphere implementation

When implementing vSphere, it's essential that you upgrade VMware tools and your customers' virtual hardware. Find out how you can do this manually or through the Upgrade Manager.

Read the first two steps you should follow when implementing VMware vSphere 4.
More resources on implementing and upgrading to vSphere:

Upgrading to VMware vSphere 4: Steps 1 and 2

Maximizing VMware vSphere 4 performance

Tuning vSphere 4 hardware for optimal performance

Cisco Unified Computing System vs. VMware vSphere 4

VARs see vSphere 4 as opening for managed services bid

3. Upgrade the virtual machines (VMs)

You will need two components to upgrade the VMs: the VMware tools and virtual hardware.

You can either manually upgrade the VMware tools and virtual hardware or you can use the Upgrade Manager. To use the Upgrade Manager, open the vCenter console and click on the Home page.

  • Click on the VMs and Templates button.
  • Click on the VM or the folder of VMs that you would like to upgrade, and then click on the Update Manager tab.
  • Right-click in the Attached Baselines window and choose Attach.
  • Choose the VMware tools and VMware Hardware upgrade baselines and click Attach.
  • Click on the Scan button to scan the VM(s).
  • Clear the check box for Patches and check the boxes next to VMware Tools Upgrade and VMware Hardware Upgrade and click Scan.
  • Click on the Remediate button.
  • Select the VMware Tools Baseline and check which VMs you would like to remediate and click Next.
  • Give the task a name and description, and choose when you would like this task to take place. Click Next.
  • Decide if you would like to snapshot the VM and how long to keep those snapshots. You can also give the snapshot a name and details and choose whether or not to snapshot the memory. After you have done this, click Next.
  • Click on Finish.
  • Once the systems finish upgrading the tools, you'll need to run the remediation task to upgrade the virtual hardware. Click on the Remediation button.
  • Click on the remediation baseline to upgrade virtual hardware and select the VMs you would like to remediate.
  • Give the task a name and description and choose when you would like this task to take place. Click Next.
  • Decide if you would like to snapshot the VM and how long to keep those snapshots. Again, you can also give the snapshot a name and details and choose whether or not to snapshot the memory. Click Next.
  • Click on Finish.

During this step of the upgrade process, you must update the VMware tools first. You'll also want to work with your customer because as you upgrade your tools and virtual hardware, your customer's VM will experience downtime.

To manually upgrade the VM, right-click on the VM and choose Guest and click on Install/Upgrade Virtual Tools. I recommend that you create a snapshot prior to starting the tools upgrade. When the wizard starts, click on the Automatic Tools upgrade button and click Ok.

To upgrade the virtual hardware manually, I recommend that you make a snapshot prior to upgrading the hardware. Once you've made the snapshot, you'll need to shut down the VM. Once the VM is shut down, right-click on the VM and select Upgrade Virtual Hardware. Click Yes to confirm that it's OK to upgrade the virtual hardware and power on the VM.

At the end of the upgrade process, be sure to go back into your vCenter Server and upgrade your vCenter and ESX licenses to the vSphere level.

About the expert
Jason Kappel is an infrastructure architect and virtualization expert at Avanade Inc. He specializes in enterprise infrastructure and data center optimization, virtualization and systems management. He has worked with some of the largest companies in the world to implement green data center solutions and has implemented several multinational server and desktop virtualization systems.


This was first published in October 2009
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