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I'm planning the upgrade of an existing VMware Infrastructure 3 (Virtual Center 2.5 + ESX 3.5) to vSphere 4.1, and I'm stuck at upgrading the Virtual Center server and its back-end database.

vSphere 4.1 is only released as a 64-bit software, so it needs a x64 O.S.; this rules out an in-place upgrade of the existing server.

The plan is to install a new Windows Server 2008 R2 server, with SQL Server 2008 (or 2008 R2 if supported), migrate the database and install vCenter 4.1 on the server.

The question: how do I migrate the database?

When performing an in-place upgrade of Virtual Center to vCenter 4.0, the database is automatically upgraded; but this is not the case when installing a new server.

VMware provides an utility to dump the existing database and import it into a new server, but it only works for SQL Server Express (which according to VMware itself should not be used in medium/large production environments); so this is not an option.

I'm unable to find a supported procedure to perform this migration.

Can anybody please help?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Firstly, when I checked the docs 2 weeks ago, SQL Server 2008 R2 was not supported, so stick with SQL Server 2008. Secondly, what's you're requirement for running SQL Server on the same OS as vCenter. Not necessarily a bad plan (it's what we do in our environment), but there should be reasoning for it. Lastly, for our upgrade, we kept the same vCenter server name, so your vCenter service will be down for a while.

  1. Stop vCenter services on the old server
  2. Backup the vCenter SQL server databases
  3. Backup the vCenter certificates (Can't remember the exact directory, refer to the upgrade guide for the location)
  4. Shutdown vCenter server
  5. Createnew vCenter server on 2K8 R2
  6. Install SQL Server 2008 (Best to slipstream SP1 w/ CU7 into the installation as SQL server 2008 RTM does not install onto 2K8 R2)
  7. Restore the ESX databases
  8. Create the 64-bit ODBC connection for vCenter
  9. Create the 32-bit ODBC connection for Update Manager
  10. Install vCenter 4.1
  11. Restore the vCenter certificates

There's a little more to it than that, but that's the general process. You can also Upgrade the vCenter databases from SQL version 8 (2000) to 10 (2008) after you do the restore.

Before you do anything though, take a few hours, and read through the upgrade guide to verify the process that you want to go through.

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Fine, my doubt was about using the migration tool with a database other than SQL Server Express, but it seems you only need to manually backup and restore the database in this case, and the tool will take take of anything else. –  Massimo Sep 16 '10 at 17:47
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