Upgrading VMware EXSI Hosts using Vcenter Update Manager Baseline (6.5 to 6.7 Update 2)

Update Manager is bundled in the vCenter Server Appliance since version 6.5, it’s a plug-in that runs on the vSphere Web Client.  we can use the component to

  • patch/upgrade hosts
  • deploy .vib files within the V-Center
  • Scan your VC environment and report on any out of compliance hosts

Hardcore/Experienced VMware operators will scoff at this article, but I have seen many organizations still using ILO/IDRAC to mount an ISO to update hosts and they have no idea this function even exists.

Now that’s out of the way Let’s get to the how-to part of this

In Vcenter click the “Menu” and drill down to the “Update Manager”

This Blade will show you all the nerd knobs and overview of your current Updates and compliance levels

Click on the “Baselines” Tab

You will have two predefined baselines for security patches created by the Vcenter, let keep that aside for now

Navigate to the “ESXi Images” Tab, and Click “Import”

Once the Upload is complete, Click on “New Baseline”

Fill in the Name and Description that makes sense to anyone that logs in and click Next

Select the image you just Uploaded before on the next Screen and continue through the wizard and complete it

Note – If you have other 3rd party software for ESXI you can create seprate baselines for those and use baseline Groups to push out upgrades and vib files at the same time 

Now click the “Menu” and Navigate Backup to “Hosts and Clusters”

Now you can apply the Baseline this at various levels within the Vcenter Hierarchy

Vcenter | DataCenter | Cluster | Host

Depending on your use case pick the right level

Excerpt from the KB 

For ESXi hosts in a cluster, the remediation process is sequential by default. With Update Manager, you can select to run host remediation in parallel.

When you remediate a cluster of hosts sequentially and one of the hosts fails to enter maintenance mode, Update Manager reports an error, and the process stops and fails. The hosts in the cluster that are remediated stay at the updated level. The ones that are not remediated after the failed host remediation are not updated. If a host in a DRS enabled cluster runs a virtual machine on which Update Manager or vCenter Server are installed, DRS first attempts to migrate the virtual machine running vCenter Server or Update Manager to another host so that the remediation succeeds. In case the virtual machine cannot be migrated to another host, the remediation fails for the host, but the process does not stop. Update Manager proceeds to remediate the next host in the cluster.

The host upgrade remediation of ESXi hosts in a cluster proceeds only if all hosts in the cluster can be upgraded.

Remediation of hosts in a cluster requires that you temporarily disable cluster features such as VMware DPM and HA admission control. Also, turn off FT if it is enabled on any of the virtual machines on a host, and disconnect the removable devices connected to the virtual machines on a host, so that they can be migrated with vMotion. Before you start a remediation process, you can generate a report that shows which cluster, host, or virtual machine has the cluster features enabled.

Link to KB on Remediation

Moving on; for this example, since I have only 2 hosts. we are going apply the baseline at the cluster level but apply the remediation at host level

Host 1 > Enter Maintenance > Remediation > Update complete and online

Host 2 > Enter Maintenance > Remediation > Update complete and online

Select the cluster, Click the “Updates” Tab and click on “Attach” on the Attached baselines section

Select and attach the baseline we created before

Click “Check Compliance” to scan and get a report

Select the host in the cluster, enter maintenance mode

Click “REMEDIATE” to start the upgrade. (if you do this at a cluster level if you have DRS, Update Manager will update each node)

This will reboot the host and go through the update process

Foot Notes –

You might run into the following issue

“vCenter cannot deploy Host upgrade agent to host”

Cause 1

Scratch partition is full use Vcenter and change the scratch folder location


Creating a persistent scratch location for ESXi  – https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/1033696

Cause 2

Hardware is not compatible,

I had this issue due to 6.7 dropping support for an LSI Raid card on an older firmware, you need to do some foot work and check the log files to figure out why its failing

Vmware HCL – Link

ESXI and Vcenter log file locations – link

MS Exchange 2016 [ERROR] Cannot find path ‘..\Exchange_Server_V15\UnifiedMessaging\grammars’ because it does not exist.

So recently I ran into this annoying error message with Exchange 2016 CU11 Update.

Environment info-

  • Exchange 2016 upgrade from CU8 to CU11
  • Exchange binaries are installed under D:\Microsoft\Exchange_Server_V15\..
Microsoft.PowerShell.Commands.GetItemCommand.ProcessRecord()". [12/04/2018 16:41:43.0233] [1] [ERROR] Cannot find path 'D:\Microsoft\Exchange_Server_V15\UnifiedMessaging\grammars' because it does not exist. 
[12/04/2018 16:41:43.0233] [1] [ERROR-REFERENCE] Id=UnifiedMessagingComponent___99d8be02cb8d413eafc6ff15e437e13d Component=EXCHANGE14:\Current\Release\Shared\Datacenter\Setup
[12/04/2018 16:41:43.0234] [1] Setup is stopping now because of one or more critical errors. [12/04/2018 16:41:43.0234] [1] Finished executing component tasks.
[12/04/2018 16:41:43.0318] [1] Ending processing Install-UnifiedMessagingRole
[12/04/2018 16:44:51.0116] [0] CurrentResult setupbase.maincore:396: 0 [12/04/2018 16:44:51.0118] [0] End of Setup
[12/04/2018 16:44:51.0118] [0] **********************************************

Root Cause

Ran the Setup again and it failed with the same error
while going though the log files i notice that the setup looks for this file path while configuring the "Mailbox role: Unified Messaging service" (Stage 6 on the GUI installer)

$grammarPath = join-path $RoleInstallPath "UnifiedMessaging\grammars\*";

There was no folder present with the name grammars under the Path specified on the error

just to confirm, i checked another server on CU8 and the grammars folder is there.

Not sure why the folder got removed, it may have happened during the first run of the CU11 setup that failed,


My first thought was to copy the folder from an existing CU8 server. but just to avoid any issues (since exchange is sensitive to file versions)
I created an empty folder with the name "grammars" under D:\Microsoft\Exchange_Server_V15\UnifiedMessaging\

Ran the setup again and it continued the upgrade process and completed without any issues...¯\_(ツ)_/¯

[12/04/2018 18:07:50.0416] [2] Ending processing Set-ServerComponentState
[12/04/2018 18:07:50.0417] [2] Beginning processing Write-ExchangeSetupLog
[12/04/2018 18:07:50.0420] [2] Install is complete. Server state has been set to Active.
[12/04/2018 18:07:50.0421] [2] Ending processing Write-ExchangeSetupLog
[12/04/2018 18:07:50.0422] [1] Finished executing component tasks.
[12/04/2018 18:07:50.0429] [1] Ending processing Start-PostSetup
[12/04/2018 18:07:50.0524] [0] CurrentResult setupbase.maincore:396: 0
[12/04/2018 18:07:50.0525] [0] End of Setup
[12/04/2018 18:07:50.0525] [0] **********************************************

Considering cost of this software M$ really have to be better about error handling IMO, i have run in to silly issues like this way too many times since Exchange 2010.