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The storage part of a vSphere 5 upgrade path has two different steps: a firmware upgrade, that may be needed before start the vSphere upgrade (see the hardware part) and a modules/plugins/utilities upgrade, that is applied after the vSphere upgrade.

In my case, for an EqualLogic array, the minimum firmware version compatible with ESXi 5 is the 4.3 release (but I’ve tried also with a firmware 4.0.6 and it works), but you will need at least the 5.0 series in order to support VAAI and VASA (see vStorage API). New firmware works also with vSphere 4.1, so I suggest to apply the firmware upgrade before the vSphere upgrade, also if you have a supported firmware.

About the version, actually there are the 5.0.8 and the 5.1.2 versions. Both could be fine, but VMware HCL suggest the 5.1.x series and if you have a new EqualLogic model you will have this by default. Also if you add a new model in an existing group you must plan to upgrade all members to the 5.1.x versions.

If you are using the MEM multipath modules (provided by Dell) remember to disable it before the upgrade because the 1.0.x version is not compatible with ESXi 5. Some days ago, Dell has released the Version 1.1 Early Production Access (EPA) of MEM that is now compatible with ESXi 5, so after the upgrade you may choose to use this version (of course, you can have other multipath modules only with Enterprise and Enterprise+ editions). About the recommended multipath policy the HCL suggest the fixed policy, the Dell documentations the round robin… IMHO I suggest to use the fixed that is more conservative and build some Equallogic Volumes (to have different paths on different volumes). Also seems that with firmware 5.0.x some people have got some performance issue with the round robin policy.

For the VASA integration, it is provided by the new version of the Dell Host Integration Tools for VMware® (as described in a previous post) now update at the 3.1.1 version. This virtual appliance provide also a nice integration into vCenter Server to handle the Equallogic Volumes, the storage snapshots, the replicas, …

Finally I suggest to upgrade also the Dell SAN HeadQuarters utility (SAN HQ) to the latest version (2.2.0) in order to monitor the group and have nice information (this new version as also a simple capacity estimator feature that could be really useful).