Successful upgrade a vSphere Environment – Part 1 Risk factors

I’m in the consultant business for almost 8 years and saw a lot of failure when it comes to an upgrade of an existing vSphere environment. I’m maybe not so experienced in bigger environments like other great guys out there (Chris Wahl, Gregg Robertson, Magnus Andersson, to name a few), but however I’ll try to share the experience I acquired by doing this consultant job by a day to day basis. This blog series should help people who are new to the virtualization consultant business. Maybe some expert will find some information which is also useful for them.

I split this series into 6 parts, which will be the following:

Part 1: Risk factors

Part 2: Backup Solutions

Part 3: Hardware (Server, Storage)

Part 4: Other VMware Products

Part 5: VMware Licensing

Part 6: Microsoft Licensing


In this series I’m not speaking of actually doing the vSphere upgrade but rather of planning it and getting the prerequisite information.

If you have any feedback (positive or negative) on this series please let me know.

Successful upgrade of a vSphere Environment – Part 1: Risk factors

From my experience, there are 3 factors/situations which can put a successful vSphere upgrade at risk:

  • No Communication between Sales and Consultant (Sales thinks that they know more than the Technical Consultant or Technical Consultant is not involved from the beginning)
  • Inexperienced Technical Consultant
  • Inexperienced Customer

Let’s start with the first situation and a small example. My team leader sends me information on a project for a customer to upgrade his current vSphere environment from 4.1/5.0 to 5.5. The project description and customer offer only contains vague information on the customer’s current and future hardware or software.

In the beginning of my consultant career I went to the customer’s site and found out that I couldn’t accomplish what was described in the project because of several constraints (hardware not supported with vSphere version, wrong OS version for vCenter, no Backup solution for new vSphere version, etc.).

In this situation the customer is not happy, you are not happy and it doesn’t show the company in a very favorable light.

This could happen when Sales doesn’t communicate with a Technical Consultant or when they think they know everything better. I don’t think this is an Austrian problem, but please correct me if I’m wrong.

In the second situation communication between Sales and Consultant is just perfect, but the consultant is inexperienced, because he is new to the business or topic. A consultant who has good knowledge about vSphere but no or less knowledge about Interoperability between VMware products, will also fail a vSphere upgrade. This is not because of the upgrade itself but rather another solution isn’t working correctly afterwards (SRM, View, etc.).

The third and last situation is rather the exception than the rule. It happens when an inexperienced customer wants to upgrade to the latest version of vSphere but forgets to consider the dependencies between VMware or 3rd party products (Backup etc.).

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