VMware vSphere, the industry leading virtualization platform, provides a powerful, flexible, and secure foundation for business agility that accelerates the digital transformation to cloud computing and success in the digital economy.

vSphere 6.5 supports both existing and next-gen apps through its (1) simplified customer experience for automation and management at scale; (2) comprehensive built-in security for protecting data, infrastructure, and access; and (3) universal app platform for running any app, anywhere. With vSphere 6.5 customers can now run, manage, connect, and secure their applications in a common operating environment, across clouds and devices.

Learn the top 10 reasons to upgrade to vSphere 6.5.

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Why You Should Upgrade: 

Advanced Processor Support: 

Increased scale enables support for any application. vSphere 6.5 supports the latest x86 chip sets, devices, drivers and guest operating systems.

Modern User Interface:

HTML5-based vSphere client for fast performance and ease of use.

Comprehensive Built-In Security:

vSphere Encryption and encrypted vMotion protects data at rest and in motion. Secure Boot prevents hypervisor and guest operating system tampering. Audit-quality logging provides superior forensic information to help understand who did what, when and where if security threats occur. Simplified security management uses a policy-driven approach to speed threat assessment.

Simplified Architecture, Streamlined Operations: 

vCenter Server Appliance capabilities enhance your efficiency with rest-based APIs for simple automation, Native vCenter Server Appliance high availability, file-based backup and recovery, one-step migration with our vCenter Server Migration Tool, and unified patching of OS, vCenter Server and database.

vSphere Integrated Containers:

Use vSphere integrated containers for the easiest way to bring containers into an existing vSphere environment.

Proactive Datacenter Management:

Predictive DRS learns your environment and, based on usage patterns, preemptively rebalances workloads in advance of upcoming demands and spikes – eliminating resource contention before it occurs. Proactive HA anticipates hardware failure and leverages vSphere vMotion to redirect workloads to servers in good standing before a failure occurs.

Compare vSphere Features and Capabilities across Releases

If you’re not on the latest version of vSphere, see which features have changed with each version.

Comparison between editions

Comparing vSphere 5.x to vSphere 6.0

See the highlights the new features/capabilities provided with each release in this PDF.

 

Learn more

UPGRADE

Understanding the vSphere Upgrade Path

The upgrade of your environment to VMware vSphere 6.5 is performed in a phased manner. The components that are upgraded in earlier phases are fully compatible with components whose upgrades have not yet occurred.

Phase 1: Perform the upgrade of the vCenter Server along with associated VMware Solutions

Before starting the upgrade of vCenter Server, note any other VMware solutions associated with your environment, such as Site Recovery Manager (SRM) or VMware NSX. Also, determine whether your current deployment uses an embedded or external architecture for SSO/PSC. Use the VMware Product Interoperability Matrix and review Knowledge Base article 2147548 to identify versions of these solutions that are compatible with vSphere 6.5. Refer to Knowledge Base article 2147289 for the sequence to use when upgrading solutions and vCenter Server (and its components).

Upgrades to vCenter Server 6.5 are supported from vCenter Server 5.5 and above. A migration tool is also available to convert your deployment from vCenter Server for Windows to the vCenter Server Appliance. See the vSphere Upgrade Guide for more information.

 

Additional Resources:

Phase 2: Upgrade your vSphere hosts to VMware ESXi 6.5

This may be done in a rolling manner, with individual hosts in a cluster successively updated after virtual machines are migrated using vSphere vMotion to the other operational hosts. A rolling approach allows you to upgrade vSphere hosts while avoiding virtual machine downtime. In-place host upgrades to ESXi version 6.5 are supported from vSphere hosts running ESXi 5.5 or later. Upgrade methods for upgrading your vSphere hosts include using the ESXi Installer, the ESXCLI command from within the ESXi Shell, vSphere Update Manager, and Auto Deploy.

 

Additional Resources (Still valid for vSphere 6):

Phase 3: Install or Upgrade vRealize Log Insight for vCenter Server and vRealize Operations

The final step is to install or upgrade additional management solutions that integrate with vCenter Server and provide capabilities for monitoring and planning. Consult the product documentation for vRealize Log Insight and vRealize Operations to see how to deploy these products and refer to Knowledge Base article 2147289 for the exact sequence for upgrading these solutions.

 

Additional Resources :

Post-Upgrade Considerations: Complete the upgrade of your virtual machines, Distributed Switches, and datastores.

vSphere 6.5 allows previous versions of VMware Tools and virtual hardware to continue running in a supported configuration on newer versions of ESXi. This extended support matrix facilitates vSphere upgrades by allowing you to immediately upgrade your vCenter Server, ESXi hosts and associated VMware solutions – followed by a phased upgrade of virtual machines. In most cases, upgrades to a virtual-machine compatibility version is required only when introducing new capabilities. VMware Tools should be updated as needed to benefit from security and reliability patches.

Virtual machines must be powered off to be upgraded. Plan appropriate outage windows for this step. You can perform an orchestrated upgrade of virtual machines with vSphere Update Manager, which allows you to upgrade both VMware Tools and virtual hardware. Refer to the vSphere compatibility matrix for more information.

vSphere environments that use distributed switches are versioned to correspond with vSphere releases. Older versions of the switch may be used safely on newer vSphere editions, but upgrading is required to benefit from enhanced capabilities or performance improvements.

 

Additional Resources (Still valid for vSphere 6):

LICENSING

Upgrading VMware vSphere License Keys

You must obtain new licenses to deploy VMware vSphere 6.5. Existing VMware vSphere 4.x and vSphere 5.x licenses will not work on vSphere 6.5.

 

Upgrade Eligibility

Licenses will be upgraded to the new version according to these rules:

  • Only licenses, or portion of licenses, that have active support and subscription contracts as of the day when VMware vSphere 6.5 becomes generally available (in the following known as "the GA date") will be eligible for upgrade. If a subscription has expired or will expire prior to the GA date you will retain access to any existing VMware vSphere licenses, but you will not be eligible to upgrade to VMware vSphere 6.5 license keys.
  • If your support and subscription has expired prior to the GA date you can choose to reinstate it later. If you do so, you will be eligible to upgrade to VMware vSphere 6 licenses at that time.


How to Get Your vSphere 6.5 Licenses

To upgrade a product to the new version:

  • Log into My VMware using your VMware.com account credentials.
  • Go to Accounts > License Keys. Alternatively, when you receive an alert for subscription upgrade, click Upgrade Licenses in the alert. This takes you to the License Keys page. If the alert is not appearing in the Alerts Overview, click View all Alerts to see the complete list of alerts.
  • Select Upgrade License Keys from the “I want to” dropdown. Note: If no folders or products appear, you may not have permissions to upgrade license keys on any of the folders or there may not be any license keys available for upgrade.
  • Select the folders you have access to from the folder list. All products that you are entitled to upgrade display. When you select the product you want to upgrade, you see all of the licenses for that particular product.
  • To filter the data, expand the filter and input the order number, contract number, license key, or other search criteria, and click Apply Filter. The related product that is eligible for upgrade displays in the results.
  • Enter the quantity of licenses to upgrade. You can select all or a few licenses. This number should be one or more and up to the total number of upgradeable license keys.

The system deactivates your current license for you. The new licenses are delivered in the same folder as the original license key. If any quantities of the current key remain un-upgraded, new licenses keys are generated for the remaining portion of the current product and be displayed in the confirmation process.

 

The ability to upgrade a license key depends on:

  • The permissions associated with the folder where the license key sits.
  • Eligibility of license entitlement for subscription upgrade (associated to the license key).
  • The date the new product version becomes available.

If you cannot upgrade, contact the Super User associated with that particular account or VMware Support.

 

Expected Timeframe to Receive Your vSphere License Keys

Upgrades will be available on the portal shortly after VMware vSphere 6.5 becomes generally available. All license keys with active support and subscription contracts with an end date on or after General Availability are eligible for an upgrade.

 

Preparing for Your License Upgrade

To ensure a problem-free license upgrade, VMware requests your cooperation in verifying that your license and subscription data are correct. Please take the time to review your account and contact Support if the information is not consistent with your expectation. If corrections are needed it is preferable to make them prior to the delivery of your VMware vSphere 6.5 licenses.

 

1. Review Your Support Contracts

Go to Support Contract History under Account after logging into My VMware and, using the same login, review your support contracts. Review the status and end-dates of all contracts that contain vSphere 5.x and vCenter 5.x components. If some contracts are expired or have an end-date before the General Availability (GA) date for vSphere 6.5, you will not be eligible to upgrade your licenses to VMware vSphere 6.5 for the quantities on those contracts. To request a renewal or reinstatement of contracts, use the Request Quote button in the Support Contract Details page.

vpshere Support Contract Screenshot

2. Verify Your Role

Go to Account > User & Permissions after logging into My VMware and verify your permission on each of the folders.

The ability to upgrade a license key depends on:

  • The permissions associated with the folder where the license key sits.
  • Eligibility of license entitlement for subscription upgrade (associated to the license key).
  • The date the new product version becomes available.

On the date a new version of a product becomes available, you will receive an alert that you are entitled to the new version of your current product. (see Upgrade Eligibility above). The Super User of the account has the ability to grant and remove permissions on the folder.

User and permissions screenshot

Version Downgrade

 

Downgrading from vSphere 6.5 to a previous version of vSphere

  • Log into My VMware using your VMware.com account credentials.
  • Go to Accounts > LicenseKeys.
  • Select Downgrade License Keysfrom the “I want to” dropdown. Note: If no folders or products appear, youmay not have permissions to downgrade license keys on any of the foldersor there may not be any license keys available for downgrade.
  • Select the folders you haveaccess to from the folder list. All products that you are entitled to downgrade display. When you select the product you want to downgrade, yousee all of the licenses for that particular product.
  • To filter the data, expandthe filter and input the order number, contract number, license key, orother search criteria, and click Apply Filter. The related product that iseligible for downgrade displays in the results.

Enter the quantity of licenses you want to downgrade. You can select all or a few licenses. This number should be one or more and up to the total number of license keys that are eligible for downgrade.  

 

Further Licensing Questions

For additional questions related to licensing, contact Support.