Upgrade vCenter Server 5.5 to vCenter 6.5 – vCenter for Windows


After releasing the vSphere 6.5 I was planning to migrate the old VMware vSphere 5.5 environment to vSphere 6.5 environment. There are lots of reading and searching involved and you can find all the information form VMware Documentation site.

There are few things to check before the upgrade existing environment and recommend to read the Moving from a Deprecated to a Supported vCenter Server Deployment Topology Before Upgrade or Migration. Also verify your existing hardware support to the upgrade in the VMware Compatibility Guide.

Verify the Hardware requirements according the environment that you are going to manage. Refer the VMware Documentation

I can show you my current setup and the new setup in the below diagram

Upgrading the Single Sign-on server

First, I’m going to migrate my external Single Sign on server to a external Platform Service controller.

As the best practice take a backup of your Single Sign On server before we start the upgrade process, you have to accept this as an option during the upgrade.

Mount the downloaded vCenter 6.5 iso to the Single Sign on server and run the installation. Select the “vCenter Server for Windows” and Click “Install” to begin the Platform Service Controller Installation. If you are noticing the components, there are only few components available as an external components, only Update Manager and Download Service is available as an external components in this version.

Click “Next” to continue the process

Accept the EULA and click “Next” to continue

Enter your Single Sign-on password for the Authentication

It will perform the pre-upgrade checks before start the upgrade process

The pre-upgrade checker performs checks for the following aspects of the environment:

  • Windows version
  • Minimum processor requirements
  • Minimum memory requirements
  • Minimum disk space requirements
  • Permissions on the selected install and data directory
  • Internal and external port availability
  • External database version
  • External database connectivity
  • Administrator privileges on the Windows machine
  • Any credentials that you enter

Change the required ports upon your requirements, I’m leaving the default ports and click “Next” to move forward

Select the the Installation,Store data and export data directories in the next step, click “Next” to continue

If you need you can join the “Customer Experience Improvement Program” here, I’m leaving the option unchecked.

Verify that You have backed up the Single Sign-on Server before the upgrade. That’s the option that I mentioned earlier. Click on “Upgrade” to start the upgrade process

This will complete the upgrade of your Single Sign-on to a Platform Service Controller. Click “Finish” once it completes the upgrade process

Upgrading the vCenter Server

Mount the vCenter 6.5 iso to the vCenter server and run the installer , select “vCenter Server for Windows” and click on “Install”

Click “Next” to continue

Accept the EULA

Type your Single Sign-on password, click “Next” to continue. It will run a pre-upgrade check again

Type the Single Sign-on password and verify the HTTPS port for the SSO service

Accept the SSO Certificate Validation

Syslog, Core Dump and Auto deploy ports can be seen in the next step. I leave them as defaults

You can see the directories for the Installation, Store the data and the Export the existing data

Accept the vCenter and DB backup requirement to start the upgrade, Click “Upgrade” to start the upgrading process.

Make sure take a backup of the vCenter and the DB for the safe side rather than checking the check box.

It will start the vCenter upgrade and you can access the vCenter in the web console. vCenter 6.5 does not support for the C# fat client.

Verify the upgraded vCenter server. Now your vCenter is upgraded to the vCenter Server 6.5

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Upgrade vCenter Server 5.5 to vCenter 6.5 – vCenter for Windows
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8 Responses

  1. Charitha Buddhika
    Charitha Buddhika at |

    5.5 vcenter old components wcs, inventory services need to be uninstalled finally.

  2. Aruna Lakmal
    Aruna Lakmal at |

    Decommissioning tasks can be carried out later as you wish anytime. Those components no longer required. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Bharat Patel
    Bharat Patel at |

    We have three ESXi 5.5 hosts and one Vcentre Server. Do we need to upgrade them one by one? Are we required to first free up one host and upgrade that to 6.5 and then move servers to the upgrade one. and free up the second host. Similar actions for the third host.
    What happens when one host is being upgraded? Can we continue working on the remaining two hosts for day to day work? Appreciate if you can advise.

  4. rishi
    rishi at |

    Hi Aruna,
    We have vcenter 5.5 environment ESXi 5.5. We are looking to upgrade to 6.5 however upgrading vcenter to 6.5 is impacting our citrix VDI which has a dependencies on vcenter and VDI stop working due to limited support for citrix .
    decommissioning citrix Vms on ESXi is on the radar but not any time soon.
    Any suggestion on the below options. is option 1 possible to deploy.

    Existing Setup
    Vcenter 5.5
    Prod cluster with 5 Esxi Nodes(all 5.5U2a) hosting all windows VM servers
    VDI Cluster with 4 ESXi Nodes hosting VDIs.

    option 1:-
    Install new 6.5 vcenter appliance in the existing setup with embedded setup by selecting one of the ESXi host from Prod cluster above. I.e during installation vcenter server appliance at install stage 1 Step 4: for details “Enter ESXi host or vCenter Server name”.

    once the vcenter is up, remove the ESXi host from the prod cluster from vcenter 5.5 above and connect to new vcenter 6.5.
    In this way we will have 2 vcenter for time being i.e vcenter 5.5 still holding VDI cluster and vcenter 6.5 with Prod cluster.

    Yes we do have a spare license for this.


  5. Karan
    Karan at |

    I was reading few articles alongside yours as well. Its really confusing as most of the articles suggesting t upgrade from vCenter server for windows(5.5) to vCSA(photon os ova).
    1.) Is it possible to upgrade to vCenter server for windows 6.5?
    2.) Benefits of upgrading to vCSA(non-windows based OR photon OS based)?
    3.) Currently we dont have PSC. How setting up PSC is different in above two cases?
    4.) we have 2 hosts for vCenter and 3 ESXI hosts. Sequence for upgrading them?


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