I looked at the compatibility matrix and a direct upgrade is supported. Now, my 7.1.3a is running on a dedicated physical server. I want to upgrade it to a 8.6.1 running on vmware. I have my own copy of Hypervisor ESXi 4.1 (the one you downloaded free from vmware).
Now, my plan is to backup my 7.1.3a using DRS, install Hypervisor ESXi in that same server which will wipe out everything in that server. After ESXi is installed, this is where it is a bit muddy for me....
1)Do I install a clean copy of 8.6.1 and restore the backup I made on my 7.1.3a?
2)install 71.3a in my server now running Hypervisor ESXi and then restore my backup and then upgrade it to 8.6.1?