vSphere upgrade from ESX4.0 to ESXi 5.1. Moving vCenter


I’m looking for some guidance for one of the up-gradation on vSphere 4.0 to 5.1. Here is the setup:

5x ESX 4.0, vCenter 4.0 on Windows 2003 32-bit, Database running on remote SQL 2008 32-bit server, 100+ VMs

As the ESX hosts were previously upgraded from ESX 3.5, upgrade to 5.1 will not support on this because of incompatible partition layout. I’m building a new VM for vCenter on 2008 R2 and going to do fresh install of ESX – one by one (without any downtime) and to keep the DRS and other settings. Here is the upgrade plan:

  1. Backup vCenter, VUM – VM, Database, SSL
  2. Built 2x VM for vCenter and SQL windows 2008 R2–
  3. install SQL 2008 R2 and use export and import the DB from the old server
  4. install vCenter 5.0, VUM 5.0 and point to the new DB
  5. will down ONE ESX into maintenance mode and do fresh install – (before that, note down the settings from the old ESX 4.0 host), move VMs and install all other hosts
  6. once everything is completed and tested on v5.0, I can then do in place upgrade to v5.1

Few things I need some help:

  1. can I setup “new name” for vCenter,  Remote SQL server and ESXi servers
  2. any other tools available for migrating SQL server DB (32-bit) from old to new (other than SQL management studio)
  3. how does the upgrade of database works, from W2k3 32-bit to W2k8 64-bit
  4. will the new vCenter retain all/few settings of DRS and other settings (as we don’t want to have any downtime)
  5. is it advisable to do fresh install on vCenter, ESXi?



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A lot of the complication in such a migration will depend on answers to the following:

1) When you say no downtime, what do you mean? To switch from Virtual Center on one server to virtual center on another you will require an outage on Virtual Center (the ESX hosts can remain running).

2) Do you require any data from the current virtual center database? If not I recommend completing a completely fresh install of Virtual Center and VUM, then migrating the hosts to this virtual center. This means you can setup the new servers in the parallel, mirror all settings currently in place and complete an organised online cutover (esx hosts can be moved online or between the virtual centers).

3) It is not possible to have an upgraded database with new vCenter online at the same time as the current database and vCenter as the both vCenters will try to control the ESX hosts (remember vCenter itself holds very little data), all data is held in the database.

The methodology is laid out in the following documents:





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