I'm looking to upgrade our vSphere 5.1 host to 5.5, and I see numerous references to vCenter. The admin who setup our vSphere (no longer with company) either removed vCenter or never installed it.

Do we need vCenter to do upgrades or manage the host? (So far I've used vSphere client for everything I need).

If so, how do I add back the vCenter vm? I'm nervous about re-running vmware installer since I can't risk blowing away the company's (virtual) servers. Is there a vCenter image / vmdk I can simply download and copy to the host?

  • You may not have had a vCenter Server. Does your license entitle you to vCenter? – joeqwerty Jun 27 '14 at 15:00
  • Do we need vCenter to do upgrades or manage the host? - vCenter isn't required to upgrade or manage the host. If there is no vCenter Server then you can upgrade the host "directly". You can always implement vCenter Server after the fact. When you log into the host with the vSphere client do you get a popup message about the host being managed by a vCenter Server? If not, then there is no vCenter Server. – joeqwerty Jun 27 '14 at 15:01
  • I checked the configuration | license and it lists "vCenter agent for VMware host". There is no popup message when logging in using vSphere client. Would installing the vCenter guest make upgrading easier? – TSG Jun 27 '14 at 15:12
  • Can you post a screenshot of Configuration | Licensed Features? Make sure to obscure any license key that is showing. – joeqwerty Jun 27 '14 at 15:23
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    How did this all work out? – ewwhite Jul 31 '14 at 13:28
Do we need VCenter to do upgrades or manage the host?

No, you don't need vCenter to do those things. If you have multiple ESXi Hosts you want to manage centrally, you can use vCenter to do this (licensing involved).

If you just have one ESXi host running VMs and you need to upgrade to 5.5, you can do so by downloaded the appropriate version and copy to some media you can access from the physical host. When you run the installation over top of your existing server, it will upgrade, rather than over-write the ESX install. However, as with any changes to your systems, you should make sure you have good backups of your servers and have a plan in case something goes wrong.

If you have the equipment to do so, it would be a good idea to install 5.1 on another host, create some test vms, and test the upgrade prior to doing it on your production systems. Doing a test run should greatly improve your chance of success and confidence in the process.

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    Makes sense thanks. I don't understand 2 upvotes on the answer and 4 downvotes on the question.... – TSG Jun 27 '14 at 19:33

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