vSphere 6.5 Basics – Part 5 – Upgrade vCSA 6.0 to vCSA 6.5

This is part 5 of the vSphere 6.5 Basics, detailing the upgrade of vCSA 6.0 to vCSA 6.5, including the cleanup and rollback processes.

This is a 6 part series, describing the installation basics of vSphere 6.5:

  1. vSphere 6.5 Basics – Part 1 – ESXi Install
  2. vSphere 6.5 Basics – Part 2 – vCenter Server Appliance Install
  3. vSphere 6.5 Basics – Part 3 – vCenter Server Install with Windows Server 2016 (with vSphere Update Manager option)
  4. vSphere 6.5 Basics – Part 4 – Migrate vCenter Server 6.0 on Windows to vCSA 6.5
  5. vSphere 6.5 Basics – Part 5 – Upgrade vCSA 6.0 to vCSA 6.5
  6. vSphere 6.5 Basics – Part 6 – Build a vCenter HA cluster

This post has been constructed using the vCenter Server 6.5.0a (Build 4944578) release.

WARNING – Currently, upgrading from vCSA 6.0 U3 (must be U2 variant or earlier) to vCSA 6.5 is not supported. If you try this the upgrade will fail with the error message “A problem has occurred. The source vCenter Server might have been Powered Off during this process. Click on Messages for more information.” and the detailed error message “Internal error occurs during Export of vSphere ESX Agent Manager”. Check the VMware Product Interoperability Matrices – Upgrade Path for the latest information.

The vCSA upgrade process is not an “in-situ” upgrade, a new vCSA 6.5 instance is deployed with a temporary IP address, data is copied from vCSA 6.0 to vCSA 6.5 and then imported into the vCSA 6.5 instance. At the end of the migration you will be left with the vCSA 6.0 instance powered off and the vCSA 6.5 instance running as the upgraded vCSA instance with the original IP address and hostname. Do not power on both at the same time, otherwise you will have a duplicate vCenter Server conflict. The vCSA 6.0 instance should only be powered on if you need to rollback.


  • You have a functioning source vCSA 6.0 instance that you want to upgrade.
  • You have the vCSA 6.5.0a ISO image.
  • You have a Windows 10/Windows Server 2016 instance that can be used to remotely install the vCenter Server Appliance.
  • You have an ESXi host that has enough resources to host the new vCenter Server Appliance.
  • You have an Ephemeral Portgroup (with vDS – vSS does not support this) configured on the destination ESXi host for the vCenter Server Appliance to connect to.
  • Functioning NTP and DNS servers with existing populated FQDN for the source vCSA.
  • Temporary IP Address for the target vCSA instance to use during the migration.
  • If the same vCenter Server or ESXi host is to be used, a new VM name to use (eg. If you are using vcsa.<domain> then consider using vcsa65.<domain>). This can be reclaimed during the cleanup process.

Deploy vCSA to a remote ESXi host (Stage 1)

  1.  Access the Console of the Windows instance and browse to the mounted ISO image.
  2. Browse to the “vcsa-ui-installer/win32” path.
  3. Double click on the “installer.exe” file.
  4. On the vCenter Server Appliance Installer page, press the “Upgrade” button.
  5. In the “Introduction” window, press “Next”.
  6. In the “End user license agreement” window, accept the EULA and press “Next”.
  7. In the “Connect to source appliance” window, enter the FQDN or IP Address of the source vCSA 6.0 instance, the appliance HTTPS port, the SSO credentials and the root password. Then enter the FQDN or IP Address of the ESXi host or vCenter Server that manages the source vCSA 6.0 appliance, the HTTPS port, the root credentials and press “Next”.
  8. Press “Yes” to the Certificate Warning.
  9. In the “Appliance deployment target” window, enter the FQDN or IP Address of the ESXi host or vCenter Server where the target vCSA 6.5 instance will be deployed, the HTTPS port, the root credentials and press “Next”.
  10. Press “Yes” to the Certificate Warning.
  11. In the “Set up target appliance VM” window, enter the VM name of the vCenter Server Appliance, set the OS root credentials and press “Next”.
  12. In the “Select deployment size” window, select “Tiny, Small, Medium, Large or X-Large”, the Storage size (Default, Large or X-Large) and press “Next”.
  13. In the “Select datastore” window, select the target datastore, Enable Thin Disk Mode and press “Next”.
  14. In the “Configure network settings” window, select the Network (Portgroup must be ephemeral or vSS), IPv4/IPv6, IP assignment, temporary IP address, Subnet mask, default gateway, DNS servers and press “Next”.
  15. In the “Ready to complete stage 1” window, review the settings and press “Finish”.
  16. The process of deploying the vCenter Server Appliance to the remote ESXi host or vCenter Server will begin.  Be patient, this takes 30 minutes or more.
  17. You can use the Embedded Host Client to monitor the install progress and assist in resolving any issues you may have.
  18. When the message “Deployment complete” appears, record the vCSA hyperlink and then press “Close” or “Continue” (if the Windows instance can connect to the vCSA instance).
  19. You can now proceed to Stage 2.

Upgrade vCSA (Stage 2)

  1.  Open a browser that can connect to the vCSA instance and enter the vCSA URL (https://<Temp IP Address>:5480/) recorded in Stage 1. If you clicked “Continue” at the end of Stage 1, the installer will connect automatically and jump to step 5.
  2. Accept any SSL Certificate exceptions.
  3. On the Getting Started page, press the “Set up vCenter Server Appliance” icon.
  4. Enter the root password configured during the installation process.
  5. In the “Introduction” window, press “Next”.
  6. The “Connect to source vCenter Server” window will automatically execute and then proceed to the next step.
  7. In the “Select upgrade data” window, select the data to be upgraded (Configuration, Configuration/Events/Tasks or Configuration/Events/Tasks/Performance Metrics) and press “Next”.
  8. In the “Configure CEIP” window, set the Customer Experience Improvement Program policy and press “Next”.
  9. In the “Ready to complete” window, review the settings, acknowledge the “source vCenter Server” backup statement and press “Finish”.
  10. Press “OK” to the source vCenter Server Shutdown Warning.
  11. The three stage process of upgrading/migrating to the vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 will begin.  Be patient, this takes 45 minutes or more.
  12. When the message “Complete” appears with the three green ticks for each stage, record the vSphere Web Client and Appliance Getting Started Page hyperlinks and then press “Close”.
  13. Open another tab of the browser and enter the URL of the vSphere Web Client (https://<IP Address>:443/vsphere-client/).
  14. Enter the original SSO Administrator credentials and press “Login”.
  15. The vSphere Web Client will open to the “Home” screen.
  16. Verify that all of the services that depend upon vCenter Server are functioning correctly. If all is well, execute the Cleanup process tasks below, otherwise consider the Rollback process below.
  17. NOTE: From the Appliance Getting Started Page, you can access the HTML5 vSphere Client, which is partially functional.

Rollback to vCSA 6.0

  1. Verify the upgrade was a failure and you want to rollback to vCSA 6.0.
  2. Power-off the vCSA 6.5 instance.
  3. Power-on the vCSA 6.0 instance.
  4. Verify the rollback was completely successful and all services that rely on vCSA 6.0 are correctly functioning.
  5. Delete the vCSA 6.5 instance.

Cleanup the vCSA 6.0 instance

  1. Verify the upgrade was completely successful and all services that rely on vCSA 6.5 are correctly functioning.
  2. Delete the vCSA 6.0 instance.
  3. Change the name of the vCSA 6.5 instance to match the system hostname (eg. from vcsa65.<domain> to vcsa.<domain>).
  4. Perform a storage vMotion to another Datastore. This will change the name of the VM Folder and VM files back to the system name. If you want to use the original Datastore, storage vMotion the vCSA instance back to the original Datastore.
  5. If you do not have a second Datastore, you can power off the vCSA instance and rename the Folder and VM files manually, but you will also have to edit the VMX file accordingly (advanced task).

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Chief Enterprise Architect and Strategist, 4xVCDX#133, NPX#8, DECM-EA.

One thought on “vSphere 6.5 Basics – Part 5 – Upgrade vCSA 6.0 to vCSA 6.5”

  1. Thank you for this article and it’s helped me lot to upgrade my VCSA.

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