Upgrading to IBM’s customized ESXi 5.0 with VMware Update Manager

IBM has released it’s customised ESXi 5.0 available here  (customized if US spelling!).  IBM’s customised ESXi 5.0 includes a number of additional management components (for Systems Director and IBM’s Upward Integration Module plugin for vCenter) and preloaded drivers for Emulex, Qlogic and LSI.   This packaged ESXi has been fully tested by VMware and by IBM on a large range of (newer) IBM Systems x servers.

Before you get started, ensure you make the following change on your BladeCenter IMM/AMM as outlined in KB 2006133.  I found if I didn’t make this change, VMware Update Manager would begin to perform the upgrade and then halt with the following error  “Error in ESX configuration file (esx.conf)"

Note:  You’ll also need to ensure you can access the server via your AMM/IMM, or have physical access to the server, you’ll find out below why this is important.

OK, begin by going to VMware Update Manager (VUM), selecting ESXi Images and importing the IBM  customised image ISO:

Once that’s done, create a new baseline group:

I also selected Critical Host Patches (so I could check/install these in the future):

Attach this baseline to a host or cluster.  I was a little concerned that the status was Incompatible, however after doing some research it looked like others had similar results from VUM.

Once the baseline is attached, select it in VUM and click Remediate…   I’ve listed the various screen’s you’ll see during the Remediate wizard below.

One item of note here, is that you might need to select “Disable High Availability admission control if this is enabled for any of the selected clusters” in your environment.

Once the remediation starts, you’ll see it progressing in the Tasks window.

Further along, you get some further info under Details

Further along the upgrade process, you start to see some things happening on the ESXi host too:

At the end of the upgrade I had the following message on the ESXi host.  So you have to press Enter for the host to restart.  Which is why you need AMM/IMM or physical access to the host to complete the upgrade.

After the host restarts, there’s a bit more time on vCenter whilst it finishes the upgrade and then it’s all done !

Now don’t forget,  ensure you re-enable Ethernet over USB as outlined in KB 2006133 above.

Let me know how you with your upgrade to IBM’s customized ESXi 5.0


  1. good to know that you have to disable/enable the Ethernet over USB option!

    btw: Do you know if (and when?) IBM will provide a online repository for VMware VIB’s (vSphere Installation Bundle) where I can create my own ESXi Images using ImageBuilder?

  2. There is another option to do these upgrades:

    – put the host in maintenance mode
    – start sshd if not done already
    – execute “esxupdate remove -b IBM-CUSTOMIZATION_UPDATE-BUNDLE_ESXI4.1” in an ssh session. (you could automate this with esxcli and/or powercli)
    – reboot
    – do the upgrade as usual through the VMware Update Manager

    As for the “pressing enter” to reboot part: if you wait long enough (10 – 15 minutes, the blade will reboot all by itself, even if no console is attached).

    So you don’t have to touch the AMMs when upgrading from vSphere 4 to 5 at all …

  3. Hi Darryl
    I’m trying to upgrade from esx 5.0.0 (ibm custom image) to esx5.0.1 but it looks like the ESXi5 image downloaded from the IBM site supports only upgrade from 4.0 and 4.1. In fact the upgrade fails… any ideas? Is there a special package to do the upgrade?

  4. Hi Darryl,
    I am also not able to upgrade from ibm customised vsphere 5.0 to ibm customised vsphere 5.1 using VMware Update Manager. I tested with plain (not cutomised) vsphere 5.0 to plain vsphere 5.1 and that upgrades without any problem. Any idea?

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