Some 4 years ago we got the free vSphere Hypervison 5.0 (ESXi) directly from the VMWare for installation on a donated IBM x3650 M3 server. Basically, we are novices in both IBM server management as well as vSphere, but somehow we managed to install this thing and throw in some 5 VMs. We also installed the free license and all went fine. With upgrading over the last years, server is now on vSphere 5.1 update 1.

After having to examine a possible disk fault on the disk mirror, we updated the various firmware of the box. In the process though, we discovered that IBM provides versions of vSphere/ESXi that include customizations for its server systems (see http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/x/os/vmware/ ).

The questions here are:

  1. Can one upgrade from the "vanilla" vSphere 5.1 update 1, to the equivalent IBM version without reinstalling from scratch?
  2. If it can be done, are there any documentation on how to go about it? Is it a safe procedure?
  3. Finally, will this change void the license key of the free version we are using?

Thank you in advance for any info provided.

  • I'm not sure if you can to an "upgrade" from the same version to the same version for [OEM], but if you were to upgrade to a higher version at the same time as going over to the ESXi for IBM version, it would be exactly the same as a normal upgrade. Jun 24, 2014 at 12:00
  • I would assume that if such documentation exists, that IBM support would know where to find it. If not, they would be the go-to source for, well, support :-) Jun 24, 2014 at 12:50

1 Answer 1


Yes... Just as with HP or Dell, you can safely upgrade to a newer version (with hardware-specific extensions) on a standalone host by using the vendor-provided .ISO.

HP and Dell also allow you to download and install the handful of additional .VIB software packages to bring a generic ESXi installation to a version with vendor hardware support. IBM only seems to allow this through the vSphere Update Manager, which you wouldn't have on a single host setup.

There are no licensing implications here.


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