Poll: VMware vCenter Database Requirements and Issues

What Windows OS and database platform is your virtual infrastructure running on? Please answer this question in a poll below the article. Thanks.

With over 20 database software platforms, numerous OSes, it would be very hard not to run into problems and incompatibility issues. I’ve had an opportunity to deal with one of those issues over the last few days. At one of our clients, vCenter 4.1 was running on Windows Server 2008 R2 with SQL Express edition, everything was working as it should until the VMware vCenter services started failing, vSphere client would not authenticate and log system admins into management console, so in other words, major problems as server provisioning and deployments were delayed! The cause of the issue is pretty obvious because SQL Express editions (free SQL editions) come with certain limitation on the size (4GB or 10GB in some cases) of the database.

Personally, I do not like to upgrade a live database before testing so I decided to purge old information from the database using the VCDB Purge MSSQL V2.X.zip tool from VMware and shrink the database. It freed up some space but not as much to last a week or even till the weekend! At this point upgrading the SQL server software became a necessity. The server already has Server 2008 R2 running on it, obvious SQL version would be 2008 R2 as well. I installed SQL Server 2008 R2, configured it, restore database from the backup, test connections, everything looks great. I decided to make changes to the vCenter installation but it would not allow me to reconfigure the DSN so I uninstalled vCenter and started the installation again, recreated the DSN, but for some reason vCenter 4.1 installation always got stuck at the same point with same error: please make sure sql server agent service is running on the database server

I must have installed SQL Server 2008 R2 and vCenter 4.1 enough times to do it in my sleep but it turns out vCenter 4.1 does not work with SQL 2008 R2, at least there is no documentation from VMware or anywhere else that it does. People who claim that it does are either just claiming based on a theory that if it works with 2005 or 2008, it must also work with R2 version… which is fine but surprisingly, they use SQL server 2005 screenshots for the “how-to” on their blogs and some are just out dated. Its not their fault as we are all busy with day to day system administrations so much so that its hard to update these how-to guides.

After utter frustration and hours of troubleshooting, I decided to opt for my second choice and installed SQL Server 2005 64bit, which worked after the first install and configuration! Unfortunately, we had to recreate the vCenter database from scratch but I am pretty confident that at least, we won’t have to deal with this database size limit issue again.

Please take a minute to vote in the poll below so we can see which environment is more prevalent.

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I hope this article helps you better plan and decide on which database software you are going to use with vCenter. Please share your thoughts and opinions in our Virtualization Forum.