VMware documentation on the upgrade can be found here.
In this part I will describe how to update virtual machine hardware and VMware Tools on your virtual machines individually and automatically with Update Manager.
VM hardware version 8 was introduced in vSphere 5.0 and provides a lot of benefits like 32 vCPUs per VM, 1TB of vRAM per VM, better performance andmore. Version 9 came with vSphere 5.1 and offers 64 vCPUs, support for 3D acceletation in View, etc.
You should upgrade VMware Tools on your VMs as a part of regular maintenance in order to provide your VMs with best performance and out of bugs and security holes.
1. Manual upgrade
After your all hosts are upgraded to 5.x you can upgrade you virtual machines hardware version to 8 or 9. You can upgrade several machines at time by selecting them all with presses Ctrl key. Just right-click on a machine and select Upgrade Virtual Hardware…
Upgrading VM(s) manually from vsphere client
You should not do it however if you’re planning to run these machines on 4.x hosts. Click Yes to continue
Check if the VMs that are to be updated will not have to run on 4.x in the future
and wait for the upgrade to finish.
Manual upgrade of VMware Tools is also very simple. Select one ore more VM as before, right-click and select Guest > Install / Upgrade VMware Tools.
Upgrading VMware Tools manually
Mind that in order to complete the upgrade your VM will need to be rebooted. However, if you are upgrading VMware Tools on ESXi 5.1 this will be the last reboot necessary when upgrading VMware Tools – all other upgrades in the future will not require VM reboot.
2. Upgrade with Update Manager
To use Update Manager on virtual machinnes change the view to Inventory > VMs and Templates. Click on Update Manager tab.
Update Manager tab
If you have not created any baseline for VMs before, the window will be empty.
In the upper-right corner click on Admin View… Click on View Baselines for VMs/VAs button.
Showing existing baselines for VMs / VAs
As you can see there are three predefined baselines and at this moment we are interested in two of them:
VMware Tools Upgrade to Match Host (will upgrade VMware Tools the the highest level available on the host your VM is located on)
VM Hardware Upgrade to Match Host (the same but for virtual machine hardware, if the hosts are 5.1 that will be version 9)
Go back to Inventory > VMs and Templates to Update Manager tab. In the left listig select a VM / folder / datacenter with VMs you’d like to upgrade. Right click and attach one or both baselines mentioned above.
Attaching the baselines
In the example below I use a VM with Windows 7 created on ESXi 5.0 using version 7 of virtual machine hardware and VMware tools from ESXi 5.0.
When the baselines are attached, click on Scan… and confirm what you’d like to scan for.
Scanning for VMware Tools and VM hardware version
As one can see, the VM’s VMware tools and virtual machine hardware version are up-to-date.
The VM is compliant with both baselines
Then I moved the VM to a 5.1 host, attached again the baselines and scanned the machine.
The machine is incompatible for the virtual machine hardware part just because VMware Tools are not updated. I will apply VMware Tools baseline to the machine.
VMware Tools are not up-to-date on this host
On the schedule page you can see an interesting setting called Upgrade VMware Tools on power cycle that does basically what it says – upgrades the Tools when the machine reboots or powers off.
Delay VMware Tools upgrade till power cycle
You can also set different schedules for VMs in different states:
Schedule your upgrade or run immediately
It is also possible to take a snapshot of VMs before remediation. When you start the upgrade process and connect to the VM you will see that the upgrade is really in progress. When done, the guest will be shut down and restarted.
Automatic snapshot creation
VMware upgrader process running
VM was restarted
When the remediation process is completed you will see that gues is compliant with the VMware Tools baseline.
VMware Tools were updated
Let’s scan it again for VM hardware. Incompatible changes to non-compliant. The remediation process for VM hardware is almost identical except for the fact that there is nothing to be installed on the guest OS level and the guest will be shut down at once. After a while this is the result:
The summary tab of the VM reports the same:
Hardware version 9 and current VMware Tools