How to move your VMware vCenter Server database (SQL)

 

My vSphere 5 lab at home had been feeling a little sluggish when it came to running the vSphere client and working with vCenter – I could see that the drive where my vCenter DB was running (SATA) was taking a bit of hit when I accessed Performance graphs and the like from vCenter. I had a little bit of free SSD storage on another drive (OCZ Vertex 2 SATA drive) that would be perfect for my vCenter DB size, so in the search of better performance in my lab, and a bit of a practise run at moving the vCenter SQL database, I set about moving just the SQL databases on the VM to a new, dedicated SSD-based VMDK. This also meant that I didn’t take up too much space moving the entire VM across to SSD storage, as this kind of storage comes at a premium!

 

This post will cover the process I followed for SQL Server 2005 Express. Most labs environments are likely to be running this edition, especially if you upgrade the lab from vSphere 4.1. The steps are quite similar for a SQL 2008 database, but there are differences, so just make sure you follow the correct KBs if you are on a different edition of SQL Server. Here is the high level overview of what was involved in the whole process.

 

High level overview: vCenter 5 steps on SQL Server 2005 Express

 

  • Shutdown lab and make a full clone of the vCenter VM. Power back up again afterwards – Always good to have a rollback plan!
  • Added a new disk to the VM, located on my SSD-based storage.
  • Backup all my SQL databases on the vCenter VM along with the System databases.
  • Noted down all credentials that vCenter uses to connect to the SQL database and checked I was familiar with all my ODBC settings just in case any of these needed changing or updating.
  • Stopped vCenter and VUM services
  • Performed database move steps carefully, verifying everything each step of the way.
  • Started vCenter and VUM services back up and check all was working as expected.
  • Note that there are some additional considerations if you are planning on moving a vSphere 4.x database. Refer to the VMware KB linked below for more info if you are on vSphere 4.x

 

VMware have a fairly high-level KB on moving your vCenter Server SQL database. You can take a look at it over here to see if you need anything else.

 

The Process

 

  • After making a clone of my vCenter VM, backing up all my SQL databases on the vCenter server, and stopping all my VMware specific services, I started with the Microsoft specific steps for moving a SQL 2005 database.

 

  • First off, you need to detach the VIM_VCDB database. Execute the following SQL query in SQL Server Management Studio:

 

use master
   go
   sp_detach_db 'VIM_VCDB'
   go

 

  • After this query completes successfully, move your VIM_VCDB.mdf and VIM_VCDB.ldf files to the new location (where you are moving the database to). Once moved, go back to Management Studio and execute the next query which will reattach the database. Of course you will need to specify the path your database is now going to be located in – the example below references the path I used.

 

use master
     go
     sp_attach_db 'VIM_VCDB','D:\VCDB_SQLDATA\VIM_VCDB.mdf','D:\VCDB_SQLDATA\VIM_VCDB.ldf'
  go

 

  • After this query is successful, you can run the next stored procedure, which should return the new location of your database, provided it has been moved and reattached correctly.

 

use VIM_VCDB
go
sp_helpfile
go

 

  • Now that the Database has been moved, you should be good to start your vCenter services back up again and do some testing to ensure everything is working as expected.

 

Extra steps

 

If you would also like to move your System databases, things get a little more complex. First off, you will need to make sure your management studio is set to only open up a SQL query window on startup. (Tools -> Options -> Environment -> General ->At Startup -> Open new query Window) this is so that when we enter single-user mode for the SQL Server service (part of moving the System DBs), we don’t get errors trying to run our scripts – as by default SQL Server Management Studio tries to make a SQL connection for it’s object explorer, as well as for your query when you execute it. This means you’ll get an error message as there would already be an active SQL connection using the Object Explorer before you can execute your queries to move the System DBs. The Microsoft KB does not explain this, and it took me a little while to realise that this was the problem, so don’t forget to change this before starting! The rest of the steps can be followed through in this MSDN Article on moving SQL Server System Databases. Just make sure the correct edition of SQL Server is highlighted at the top of the page before you begin.

 

The System Databases include:

 

  • Model
  • MSDB
  • Master
  • Resource
  • TempDB

 

Another tip when moving the System databases that was not mentioned in the Microsoft KB article, and will cause you to get stuck unless already configured, is to set the correct permissions on the new folder your SQL System databases are going to be sitting in. There is a local security group on your SQL server that needs to be assigned “Full Control” on your new System database location. If it doesn’t have this permission, then you will get errors when you try to start services up again. See screenshot below for the service name (the name of this security group depends on the name of your Server and SQL Service):

 

 

That should cover the whole process, as well as provide a few tips on the areas I initially got stuck on (that were not explained in the official Microsoft KBs). If you have a different edition of SQL Server, just switch the MSDN article to the relevant edition and take it from there. Good luck!

 

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