Migrating vCenter 4.0 to 4.1 (part 1)

When vSphere 4.1 was released earlier this year, I was mildly excited. Our ESX servers are still running 4.0.0 and I had been planning to upgrade to 4.0u1 for a while. When 4.1 came out it seemed to have vindicated my procrastination: now I could just upgrade to 4.1 and take advantage of whatever new features there were (I read something about memory compression… whatever).

I assumed the upgrade procedure for vCenter itself would be pretty simple: uninstall 4.0 and install 4.1. Well, it turns out that’s not the case! I sat down one day to create my game plan for the upgrade and right away I learned this was going to be a lot more work than I’d guessed. From VMware’s KB:

vCenter Server 4.1 is supported only on 64bit operating systems. There is no in-place upgrade path for vCenter Server installation on 32bit operating systems. If your vCenter Server is installed on a 32bit operating system, you need to migrate to a 64bit operating system where vCenter Server 4.1 can be installed.

Boom. I’d either have to setup a machine in parallel running 64-bit Windows, or back everything up, format the existing machine, install 64-bit Windows on it, and restore it. Either way it looked like it was the same procedure.

I currently run vCenter in a VM, but not within the ESX cluster itself. I know it’s considered acceptable to do so, but somehow it just never sat well with me to have the VM managing the cluster reside inside the cluster it’s managing. So, the way I have it setup currently is there’s one machine running CentOS running VMware Server (the free one), and inside that is the Windows VM running vCenter. This is kind of a weird setup, but it works and if we ever want to move vCenter into the ESX cluster, it’s already in a VMDK, so it should be relatively easy to move it in.

Since vCenter is already running in a VM, I opted to go for a second Windows VM running in parallel with the original. I am pretty averse to procedures that require you to back a machine up, wipe it, and restore to it, since once you format the old computer you don’t have much of a rollback procedure. When you set things up in parallel you can usually just bring the “old” service back up if the migration fails. If you’re racing across a bridge, do you want to blow it up behind you? I don’t, if I can avoid it.

I created a new VM running Windows 2008r2 x86_64 and started installing vCenter server 4.1, but then I read KB 1022137 which includes this great YouTube video demonstrating use of the migration tool. I cancelled my installation of 4.1 and began the backup procedure on the 4.0 (source) vCenter server.

The first bump I hit in this procedure was an error thrown when attempting to dump the SQL Server 2005 Express database. This is addressed in VMware KB 1024490. Step 5.c. resolved it for me:

On the Protocol tab, notice the value of the Pipe Name item. If the value contains an entry similar to \\.\pipe\MSSQL$SQLEXPRESS\sql\query , rename the entry to \\.\pipe\sql\query .

After changing that and restarting the SQL service, the backup ran to completion.

I then attempted to install vCenter server on the new VM, which looked like it was going ok, until I got “Error 25060: Setup failed to execute sqlcmd.exe.” Google took me to this post on the VMware forums which said I needed to download & install some stuff from Microsoft:

I’m working through this now … and the answer you are actually looking for

You need to download:
Microsoft SQL Server Native Client
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Command Line Query Utility

I downloaded sqlncli_x64.msi and SQLServer2005_SQLCMD_x64.msi. After installing both, I was able to complete the installation of vCenter 4.1. I then restored the database from the 4.0 vCenter installation as per the video (run install.bat) and that appeared to work without incident.

I installed the vSphere 4.1 client on my desktop, connected to the new vCenter 4.1 server and… it was blank. It had appeared to restore successfully, but vCenter doesn’t show any of the imported data. I installed SQL Server Management Studio Express, browsed the database, and… it was empty. I tried deleting the databases that appeared to be related to vCenter and running install.bat again, but that failed with the same error:

[INFO] Starting vSphere 4.1 migration installer script...
[INFO] Checking prerequisites...
[INFO]   Migration data directory: C:\datamigration\data
[INFO] Checking vCenter Server migration data...
[INFO] vCenter Server is already installed on this system
[WARNING]   vCenter Server migration  data or system does not meet prerequisite

[INFO] Checking VMware vCenter Update Manager migration data...
[INFO] VMware vCenter Update Manager is already installed on this system.
[WARNING]   VMware Update Manager backup data or system does not meet prerequisi

[INFO] Checking vCenter Orchestrator prerequisites...
[WARNING]  vCO already installed on this machine
[WARNING]   vCenter Orchestrator backup data or system does not meet prerequisit

[WARNING]   vCenter Server will not be installed
[INFO]   VMware Update Manager will not be installed
[INFO]   vCenter Orchestrator configuration will not been imported


Well, I’ve been writing this post as I go, and right now I’m somewhat stumped. I’m going to uninstall vCenter and Update Manager and see if I can start over. For now, I’ll post this while I ruminate.

3 Replies to “Migrating vCenter 4.0 to 4.1 (part 1)”

  1. When you set things up in parallel you can usually just bring the “old” service back up if the migration fails. If you’re racing across a bridge, do you want to blow it up behind you? I don’t, if I can avoid it.

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