My vSphere 6.7 homelab upgrade experience

vSphere 6.7 was released several months ago, and I’ve been meaning to upgrade my homelab for a while now. vSphere 6.5 has been pretty rock-solid, but it’s time for me to keep up with the Joneses. This post covers my upgrade process and experiences.

vCenter Migration

My original vCenter server was built straight on to version 6.5 when that first launched, way back when. In theory there was nothing wrong with it, except for a deployment decision that I was no longer happy with. When I deployed my vCenter previously, I configured it with an external Platform Services Controller (PSC) as I wanted to mess about with load balancing PSCs at the time. The messing around didn’t take long and I moved on to other things. Problem is, you cannot (currently) go from an external PSC to an embedded one and the external PSC was an extra piece of complexity that I just didn’t need anymore.

That pretty much left me with one option: migrate to a new vCenter.

Deploying vCenter is a doddle, and I won’t cover how that works. What I will mention though is how I moved my hosts and VMs across. The first step was to liberate one of my 6.5 ESXi hosts from the original cluster and add it to the new vCenter. At this time, I didn’t upgrade the host itself to 6.7 for reasons that will be apparent in a minute or two.

Secondly, I went through the VMs that I had registered in my original vCenter and weighed up whether or not I still needed them. Things like old distributed vRA deployments to a quick trip to the virtual bin, other things like AD, jumphosts, remote access solutions etc were powered down and removed from the inventory before being re-added to the new vCenter.

Before long, there wasn’t much left and what little is left will probably be left idle for a couple of weeks before I bin it completely.

So far, so good.

ESXi Host Upgrade

Ordinarily, I’d just use Update Manager to bring the hosts up to version 6.7 one by one. Just one problem though, my host CPUs are no longer supported. The release notes for vSphere 6.7 list the CPU families that are no longer supported and, as you can see below, my CPUs are on that list:

Luckily, there is (for now) an unsupported workaround.

Rather than use Update Manager or try a fresh installation, both of which would be blocked, the host can be updated from the command line. The first step is to download the offline bundle for ESXi 6.7:

 

And upload it to a datastore accessible by the host. My hosts all have a local disk that I rarely use:

The next step is to connect to the host directly via SSH and update the host’s software profile using the following command (note: make sure that the datastore path matches your environment, the depot name is correct as is the profile name):

At this point, cross your fingers and wait…

After a few minutes, I received the following:

Reboot required, eh? Ok… Time for a cup of tea.

Just one small issue, I had to disable my cluster’s EVC setting to enable the host to be readmitted. This isn’t currently a problem as my CPUs are all from the same generation.

Rinse and Repeat

Now it’s just a matter of repeating for my other hosts and my upgrade is complete. Just remember, what I’ve done here is unsupported and for my lab only.