vSphere upgrade: Start over or upgrade hosts?

How do you prefer to upgrade your vSphere hosts?

I’ve been spending some time this week with a group of virtualization pros in San Jose, CA at an event called Virtualization Field Day (part of the Tech Field Day series).  Last night over dinner, a few of us had what I thought was an interesting discussion about how we handle upgrades to new versions of vSphere as they become available.  The people in the small discussion group were split down the middle on these two methods:

  • Use VMware’s included host upgrade tools and upgrade to the latest version when ready.
  • Place the host to be upgraded into maintenance mode to evacuate the VMs and then simply remove the host from the pool and install the new version of vSphere from scratch and then rejoin the host to the cluster.  The reasoning by the people choosing this option: I always have a clean environment and never (rarely) run into possible upgrade hassles.  Personally, I fall into this camp as well.

What are your thoughts?  Are there reasons that the second method is just plain stupid or is this a case of “to each his own?”

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