vSphere 5.1 has been out for a while now seems to be well supported by most applications and operating systems currently in use. This relatively minor release still brings a number of features to help simplify management of your virtual infrastructure.
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These features include:

  • vCenter Single Sign On: centralized credentials for many of the products throughout the VMware line of products such as vCloud, required for vCenter 5.1 upgrade
  • Larger VM support: up to 64 vCPUs, 1 TB of RAM per VM
  • New Virtual Hardware version 9
  • VMWare Tools upgrade will no longer require a VM reboot
  • Storage DRS improvements
  • vShield Protect for Endpoints now included for ESXi

With the addition of the Single Sign On feature the install process actually got a little more complex. This feature requires its own database so for those keeping score at home in a typical vCenter install you are now up to three separate databases to maintain; vCenter itself, SSO, and Update Manager. Further VMware seems to be move to a model where you are going to be using the vSphere Web Client more than the VI Client, with some of the new features (mostly licensing) being available in the Web Client only. Going forward I would expect to see more features go this way until the Web Client is all you have.

Upgrade to VMWare vSphere 5.1

VMware vSphere 5.1

In our case, we are doing an upgrade from 5.0. If you are running vCenter 4.x or 5.x you can do a direct upgrade, otherwise you are going to have to step through one of these versions, most likely 4.

VMware provides you the ability to distribute the various components (SSO, vCenter, Inventory Service, Web Client, Update Manager) to various servers. For most of us including myself this really isn’t necessary, you can run all the components on the same box or VM. The only major decision most of us need to make is if we are going to run the components using the included SQL Server Express for the databases or if we are going to farm the database services out to a separate SQL server. In this case because this is our R&D environment I’m going to go ahead and use the SQL Server Express included with vCenter.

Unfortunately because this is an upgrade, the vCenter Simple Install is not available to us, so we’re going to have to do this step by step. The upgrade order is as follows:

  1. Install Single Sign On
  2. Upgrade vCenter Server
  3. Upgrade Inventory Service
  4. Install/Upgrade the Web Client
  5. Install/Upgrade Update Manager

Finally, it will do so when you first try to run it but you may want to go ahead and install the vSphere Client and the PowerCLI while you’re at it. The vSphere client is included in the same installer, PowerCLI which gives you access to large number command line options to manage your hosts is available from VMware.

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