With the release of vSphere 6.5 there is really no reason anymore to stick with the old school Windows vCenter; finally the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) has become a first class citizen and the preferred implementation solution for the most important vSphere infrastructure compnent. This was already made clear by VMware when in 2016 they released a tool to easily migrate a Windows vCenter 5.5 to VCSA 6.0 U2 and with vSphere 6.5 the migration from an older Windows vCenter server is one of the officially supported upgrade paths.

Although not new – it was inherited from v 6.0 – one of the best features of the VCSA 6.5 is it’s ease of upgrade. I tested it myself in the homelab taking advantage of the first maintenance release (6.5a) which was released last week bringing support to NSX 6.3.

In my homelab I only have one VCSA with Embedded PSC, so the upgrade process was extremely simple, if you have an environment with external PSCs and multiple vCenters (typical in Enetrprise environments) you should first update your PSCs and only after your vCenters as per VMware’s official documentation.

As with version 6.0, there are two ways to update the VCSA: using the Patches ISOs (offline update) or through the online repository. Unless your PSC/vCenters are prevented to access the Internet, the repository option is the simplest and recommeded.

Let’s see how it is done, but before starting, take a snapshot of the VCSA VM. Just in case…

In a Web browser, go to the vCenter Server Appliance Management Interface, which usually responds at this URL: https://appliance-FQDN:5480 and log in as root.

Click on the Update button in the left hand Navigator menu:

then click on “Check Updates” in the top right corner and select “Check Repository”:

If the online repository is reachable and a new update is available, it will show up in the “Available Updates” section. Available patches can be either FP (Full Product patch – VMware and 3rd party fixes) and TP (Third Party patch – containing only fixes for 3rd party components, e.g. Java, Tomcat etc):

Now click on the “Install Updates” drop down menu and select “Install All Updates”;

and finally accept the EULA terms.

The update will go through different stages: staging, running of pre-install scripts, updating.

Once completed – it took me less than 4 minutes – you will be asked to reboot. To do so, click on summary in the Navigator menu and finally on the Reboot button on the top right.

Allow 5 to 10 mins to the reboot to complete and all the services to start properly then enjoy your bleeding edge VCSA!

And don’t forget to remove that snapshot!

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