Migrate to the vSphere ESXi Architecture

VMware vSphere® 5.x is built on the VMware® ESXi™ hypervisor architecture, VMware’s most advanced bare-metal hypervisor architecture. The vSphere ESXi hypervisor is the only hypervisor purpose built for virtualization that does not depend on a general-purpose operating system. Thanks to its unique design, the ESXi hypervisor delivers unmatched reliability, security and performance while drastically simplifying hypervisor management. VMware will continue to provide technical support for the legacy VMware® ESX® hypervisor according to the VMware vSphere support policy.

Existing vSphere customers who are running the legacy ESX hypervisor architecture are encouraged to look into migrating to the new ESXi architecture. Here are the basic steps to help you plan your migration:

1. Start testing ESXi - We recommend that you start familiarizing yourself with the new architecture and leverage the content in this resource center to learn about the differences between the old and new architectures.

2. Familiarize yourself with remote command lines - The local COS command line that was available with ESX has been replaced with new and enhanced remote command line tools specifically designed for ESXi: vCLI and PowerCLI. These tools can be used to manage both architectures so you can start using them even before you fully migrate.

3. Ensure your backup and systems management products integrate with the New vSphere ESXi Hypervisor Architecture - ESXi leverages an API-based partner integration model to reduce the management overhead associated with installing and managing agents in the COS. VMware has worked closely with our partners to transition all partner products to the API-based integration model. As a result, the majority of systems management, back up and hardware monitoring vendors in the VMware ecosystem support the ESXi architecture today. If you are using an agent-based partner solution that requires installing agents inside the COS, please check with your vendor to see if a newer version of the product supports ESXi.

4. Plan an architecture migration as part of your vSphere upgrade - The easiest time to migrate to the new ESXi archtiecture is when upgrading to the latest version of vSphere. During the migration process hosts running the ESX architecture can be migrated to use the new ESXi architecture using either the vSphere installer or Update Manager.

5. Take a free training course on ESXi - VMware Education Services team has made available a new, FREE e-learning course dedicated to the ESXi architecture titled "Transition to ESXi Essentials," the course is a self-paced three-hour online training that provides the knowledge necessary to make fundamental design decisions to successfully deploy and to take advantage of all of the new architecture. The training is ideal for system administrators, consultants and engineers responsible for managing and supporting a vSphere environment.

For detailed information on how to upgrade to vSphere 5.1 to include migrating to the new architecture, visit the VMware vSphere Upgrade Center.

VMware vSphere Migration Guide

Learn how to plan and perform your migration the new vSphere hypervisor architecture.

VMware Upgrade Center