Migrating VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3 HA Cluster to vSphere 4 – Stage 1: vCenter Upgrade

Written by Sam McGeown
Published on 11/11/2009 - Read in about 3 min (509 words)

I’m currently in the process of migrating a 2-host High Availability cluster of ESX 3.5u4 servers to vSphere 4. This is going to come in 3 distinct stages: Stage 1 is to upgrade VirtualCenter Server 2.5 to vCenter 4, which I am going to cover today. Stage 2 is to upgrade each host, and will be covered as I do it. Stage 3 is the upgrade of the Virtual Machines to the latest VMware Tools and then the new VM hardware.

So to start, I’ll outline the process:

  • Download the vSphere vCenter 4 installer from VMware (~1.8GB).
  • Download your updated licensing for vSphere.
  • Back up your VirtualCenter server.
  • Run the installation.

I’m not going to run through the download of the installer or licensing, if you’re not sure how to do that, probably best not to do the rest.


Backing up VirtualCenter Server

My VirtualCenter server is installed on a Virtual Machine, so this makes things a lot simpler – I’ll just take a snapshot to start. Being a belt-and-braces kind of situation (live HA cluster), I’m also going to do the database and configuration backup too.

Databases - I’m using SQL Server 2005 express which is supported for vSphere vCenter, so there will be no database upgrades, however the schema will be changed. First off, I’ve connected to SQL with SQL Management Studio and run a full backup. As I have VMware Update Manager installed too, I’m backing up that database as well.

Configuration file – Make a copy of your vpxd.cfg file, which is stored in the C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter folder.

SSL Certificates – In the same folder as the vpxd.cfg file there’s a folder called SSL, which you’ll want to backup too.

If you’re not using integrated authentication for the database access, you need to ensure you have the user name and password for the DB access.

Once all that’s gathered together and safely backed up, you can move on to the installation.

Installing vSphere vCenter

Open services.msc and stop the VMware VirtualCenter Server service.

Insert your vCenter installation CD, the installer pops up:

vCenterInstall1 Click vCenter Server.

vCenterInstall2Notice it’s detected the earlier version of vCenter server and is going to upgrade.

vCenterInstall3  Enter license details.

vCenterInstall4Enter DB user details, or leave blank if you’re using integrated authentication like me.

vCenterInstall5 If you have any plug-ins installed (e.g. VirtualCenter Update Manager, or Converter) it will let you know that they need to be up to date too.

vCenterInstall6Select to upgrade the vCenter Server database, and tick that you’ve backed up the database and SSL folders.

vCenterInstall7  Select the account that you want to use to run the vCenter Server service.

vCenterInstall8Configure some ports, I’ve left them as defaults.

vCenterInstall9  Finally, install.vCenterInstall10 It will run a DB upgrade, and various other uninstall/upgrades.

At this point I sat and waited…and waited…and waited. SQL server was chewing 70-80% processor, it was progressing, just slowly.

Eventually, it finished and the server settled down. I ran through the upgrade of Update Manager and Converter Enterprise, all click and go.

Stage 1 complete!


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