vSphere 6.0 has many options for upgrading your vSphere deployment. For a successful vSphere upgrade, you must understand the upgrade options, configuration details that impact the upgrade process, and sequence of tasks.

The two core components of vSphere are VMware ESXi™ and VMware vCenter Server™. {ESXi is the virtualization platform on which you can create and run virtual machines and virtual appliances. vCenter Server is a service that acts as a central administrator for ESXi hosts connected in a network. You use the vCenter Server system to pool and manage the resources of multiple hosts.

You can upgrade the vCenter Server system on a Windows virtual machine or physical server, or upgrade vCenter Server Appliance. vCenter Server Appliance is a preconfigured Linux-based virtual machine optimized for running the vCenter Server system and the vCenter Server components.

Starting with vSphere 6.0, all prerequisite services for running vCenter Server and the vCenter Server components are bundled in the Platform Services Controller. Depending on the details of your existing vCenter Server configuration, you can upgrade to the vCenter Server system with an embedded or external Platform Services Controller. For details about vCenter Server 6.0 upgrade options, see About the vCenter Server 6.0 for Windows Upgrade Process and About the vCenter Server Appliance Upgrade Process.

For information on ESXi upgrade support, see Upgrade Options for ESXi 6.0.

When you upgrade to vSphere 6.0, you must perform all procedures in sequence to avoid possible data loss and to minimize downtime. You can perform the upgrade process for each component in only one direction. For example, after you upgrade to vCenter Server 6.0, you cannot revert to vCenter Server 5.x. With backups and some planning, however, you can restore your original software records. For information on the overall vSphere upgrade sequence, see vSphere Upgrade Process.