This is the time to upgrade VMware ESXi 7.x to 8.x. No reason to tell you that you should fulfill certain requirements before the actual upgrade. Your environment with your backup/monitoring applications should be fully compatible with VMware ESXi 8.0 and vSphere 8.0. Your hardware should be on VMware HCL etc. You should also do a configuration backup of your ESXi so you can restore that config (just in case things goes wrong). The configuration backup can be done via CLI and we'll show you how in a minute.
If you're starting clean (doing a greenfield deployment) the options are pretty simple as you don't have to worry about this backwards compatibility. More often than not, in case you're in presence of an older infrastructure that cannot be upgraded to the latest release because the hardware does not supports it, the only option is to install new vSphere 8.0 and ESXi 8.0 side by side with an older infrastructure, then after a phase of a test, slowly migrate the workloads to the new infrastructure or keep less important workloads running on the older infra for some time.
If your VMs are living on a shared storage, this can be done pretty quickly. If you changing storage (a new SAN device), then you'll have to migrate the VM disk files (VMDKs) as well and this might be a bit lengthy. For some scenarios, most likely than not, you won't have storage vMotion so tools like Veeam Backup and Replication can be handy as you can migrate to production your backups with an incremental option so the cut-off will be pretty quick.
Now, the reason for upgrade is simple. You can't stay on outdated hypervisor and at the same time to benefit from the latest security patches and support. The updates stops after a certain time period. Software vendors are moving forward with newer versions so old versions are no longer maintained. FYI, the end of general support for ESXi 6.7 was 22 Oct 2022 and the end of general support of ESXi 7.0 is 2 April 2025. There is time, sure.
How to backup ESXi 7.x configuration
We've talked about the possibility to backup the ESXi config. Here it is.
Step 1: First, you'll have to enable Secure Shell (SSH), and connect to your ESXi host via SSH (use free Putty software – link)
Step 2: Then once connected, synchronize changed configuration (this is backed up on hourly basis) with your persistent storage.
Step 3: Backup the ESXi config.
You'll get a link that you can copy and paste to your browser. The * character should be replaced by the IP address (or hostname) of your host.
So you should end with something like this within your browser's adress bar:
You can than save it to your hard drive.
There are two conditions which need to be satisfied:
- The destination build number of the host matches the build from which the backup was taken.
- The UUID of the host remains the same.
There is also a way to backup your ESXi configuration via PowerCLI or via vSphere CLI, but we won't cover those today.
How to upgrade ESXi 7.x to 8.x via ISO
One of the most simple ways to upgrade, if it's a standalone host, not managed via vCenter is to upgrade via ISO. And also, if this host is not connected to the internet which is likely within a secure environments. If the host has a CD tray, you'll have to burn the ISO into the physical CD and then launch the upgrade process.
If the host can be accessed via ILO, DRAC or other hardware based remote access. Back in a day I had a SuperMicro based lab so I had this option and it was great. (no license). IPMI – Intelligent Platform Management Interface is a standardized computer interface also accessible remotely, traditionally, via Java applet, but recently more and more via pure HTML. It allow you to launch remote management and monitoring access to server's BIOS.
IPMI is a way to manage a server that may be powered off or otherwise unresponsive by using a network connection to the hardware rather than to an operating system or a keyboard physical / screen login shell. The IPMI server standard was introduced by Intel and nowadays supported by more than 200 computer vendors i.e. – Super Micro, Hewlett Packard, Cisco, Dell etc.
Plug in the CD, reboot the host by specifying the CD as a boot option in BIOS, then follow the upgrade steps:
First, the installer loads.
Then you'll se an option to install ESXi and choose between Upgrade or Install. The install option will wipe all the data from the selected storage device. It's not what you want if you're running your existing VMs there -:).
Then follow the assistant and continue the upgrade process. At the end, reboot the host.
Upgrade ESXi 7.x to 8.0 via CLI
To upgrade VMware ESXi 7.x to 8.0 from the command line, a fairly simple process.
Step 1: connect via SSH and enter the following command:
esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e true -r httpClient
Step 2: then list all the profiles within the depo with:
esxcli software sources profile list -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml
This will list all the different versions of ESXi that are within the VMware online depot. If you scroll down, you'll see the latest ESXi 8.0a …
So then you just enter this and append the profile that you'll want to use for the upgrade (the “-p ESXi-8.0a-20842819-standard”)
esxcli software profile update -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml -p ESXi-8.0a-20842819-standard
And after a while you should see the confirmation of successful upgrade. So after this long moment (depending on the speed of your Internet connection) you'll see this screen inviting you to reboot your host.
Note: The esxcli software profile update command brings the entire content of the ESXi host image to the same level as the corresponding upgrade method using an ISO installer. However, the ISO installer performs a pre-upgrade check for potential problems, such as insufficient memory or unsupported devices.
You can also update via CLI offline by uploading the upgrade bundle to a datastore visible by your ESXi host, but I might cover that in another article.
Another method of easier upgrading your host(s) and especially with larger environment is obviously via vSphere Lifecycle Manager (previously vSphere Update Manager). We'll cover that also in another post.
More posts from ESX Virtualization:
- vSphere 8.0 Page (NEW)
- VMware vSphere 8.0 Announced – Here are some of the details
- vSphere 8 – How to move from Host Profiles to vSphere Configuration Profiles
- Patch your ESXi 7.x again
- VMware vCenter Server 7.03 U3g – Download and patch
- Upgrade VMware ESXi to 7.0 U3 via command line
- VMware vCenter Server 7.0 U3e released – another maintenance release fixing vSphere with Tanzu
- VMware vCenter Converter Discontinued – what’s your options?
- How to upgrade VMware VCSA 7 Offline via patch ISO
- vSphere 7.0 U3C Released
- vSphere 7.0 Page[All details about vSphere and related products here]
- VMware vSphere 7.0 Announced – vCenter Server Details
- VMware vSphere 7.0 DRS Improvements – What's New
- How to Patch vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) – [Guide]
- What is The Difference between VMware vSphere, ESXi and vCenter
- How to Configure VMware High Availability (HA) Cluster