vCenter 5.5 – Host migration and version upgrade

I’ve seen a few posts in the VMware Communities recently asking about host migrations, rebuilds and re-installations of vCenter. I’ve answered a few of them as best I can with stock answers that could relate to any environment. I thought that this might be an interesting blog for future users to refer to. I decided to run through this in my lab with the following prerequisites:

  • vCenter Host migration (2008 R2 to 2012 R2)
  • Maintain the same SQL database (SQL 2008)
  • Upgrade vCenter from 5.5 (U1c) to 5.5 (U2d)
  • Do not backup maintain existing configurations E.G:- SSL Certificates, SSO Configuration, Inventory Service, Plugins, etc.

This guide could also be used to migrate an existing install of 5.5 to another host on the same O/S, I’m just choosing to upgrade my O/S and vCenter at the same time!

Key points to consider:

  • Be aware of your environment (Login Credentials, DNS, IP’s).
  • Take a backup of the existing SQL Database and ODBC connection information.
  • Do you want to back up your SSO configuration and Inventory Service?
    Backup vCenter DB Blog
    VMware KB on SSO Backup
  • Build new host and re-create ODBC connection.
  • Shutdown old server (causes a vCenter outage whilst you re-install).
  • Install latest vCenter version using the existing DB.
  • Complete install and check components.
  • Reconfigure any components and test.


The Process:

1) Firstly I checked that my vCenter server was working as intended with no issues. I made sure I knew my: administrator@vsphere.local password, SQL ODBC connection details and my host/IP information.


Logged in and everything is working as expected. Check!


Found my ODBC details and recorded them.


Checked I knew the password and can connect to the DB.


My host name and IP details recorded.

2) Next I took a backup of my vCenter Database, just in case!


3) I then rebuilt a brand new 2012 R2 server, patched it and configured it exactly how I wanted it.


4) I then shut down my old vCenter Server (VC).

5) I configured my new vCenter Server (VC2012) with the same IP address of my old one, for simplicity, and ensured that DNS records were all correct.


6) I then re-installed the SQL Server Native Client on my new server and reconfigured my ODBC connection to my SQL DB Server and tested it.



7) At this stage, I inserted the vCenter 5.5 U2 media into the server and began the installation process, ensuring all of the following components were installed as per a usual install (I’ve not included all screenies here as they can be found and depend on your environment).


8) The key part in this entire process was when installing vCenter Server. Selecting existing DB and choosing to upgrade.


This is the ODBC as selected in step 6.


Upgrade the DB as we are moving from 5.5 U1 to 5.5 U2 in this process!


Ensure that vCenter automatically upgrades the latest host agent.

9) At this point let the installation process complete and ensure you have also got the latest vSphere client. Do a check of all services to make sure they are started and everything is running as expected.


10) Finally log in and check your vCenter is working as intended with the latest version!


To conclude:

Migrating/upgrading/re-installing  vCenter is really not difficult. In this example I migrated to  a new host and also did an upgrade at the same time. This was a slightly more straightforward example as I was not maintaining certain configurations which might add a little extra complexity. From this point on, you can consider other things such as updating your VUM Server and upgrading your ESXi hosts to the latest version too!

The most important thing to take home is that the database is key!


  1. james

    Great article. Thanks for sharing.

    Can I ask you about permissions? I did not think they were backed up in SQL. I need to move from VCenter 5.5up3b to v6.5U1

    • Ryan Harris
      Ryan Harris


      Apologies for the slow reply. I am really terrible at keeping track of comments!

      This article is fairly old now but as far as I know the permissions should be present and backed up on the DB. I assume you are upgrading a Windows vCenter to 6.5 U1? It’s been a while since I’ve done this so am a bit rusty though. If in doubt I’d raise a case with GSS to assist. What was the specific issue you have seen or are you just trying to prepare your environment?


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