Upgrading vCenter 5.1 to 5.5 (+OS)

I was finally bitten by the vCenter 5.1 Single Sign On (SSO) bug. Yikes, that was bad. I had to restart the SSO service nearly everyday in order to login to vCenter. I was just leaving the vCenter Client open all the time to avoid it. Well, I finally upgraded vCenter to 5.5 to fix it, and it looks like it has so far (knock on wood).

However, in order to upgrade vCenter to 5.5 I first needed to get it off the Windows 2003 box it was on. vCenter 5.5 doesn’t support 2003. Also, I wanted to virtualize the machine. So how do I go from a physical Win2k3 box running 5.1 to a virtual Win2k8R2 box running 5.5? Actually, it’s easier than you think. (A big thank you to Murali M. at vmware. He walked me through this.)

  1. Build up the new VM.
  2. Install SQLExpress (we have a small deployment so Express is more than adequate.)
  3. Use SMSS to backup and restore the db’s from the old sqlexpress instance to the new one.
  4. Create an ODBC connection on the new server to the vCenter db.
  5. Do a custom install for vCenter 5.5. Install each component separately and in order: SSO, Webclient, Infrastructure. The installer will walk you thru it. Skip vCenter Server for now.
  6. Shut down vCenter Server service on the old server.
  7. Install vCenter Server on the new server and use the ODBC connection to use the restored db. This will upgrade the 5.1 db to a 5.5 db.

If anything goes wrong, just shutdown the new server, turn on the old vCenter service and we’re back.

My first plan was to just install 5.1 on the new box, migrate the db’s and then do an in-place upgrade. This new method is cleaner, simple, and quite easy.