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VMware vCenter Server 5 Upgrade and Service Accounts

When upgrading our vCenter Server instances, I encountered an annoying quirk in the vCenter Server installer, which may or may not depend on the way the database backend is configured. At least in our case, with the transition from a local SQL Express instance to a separate SQL database server, the installer didn’t allow to choose the account to be used to run vpxd and tomcat. Obviously, running the service under the personal account of the user who happened to be installing the service is a bad idea. So here’s a quick recipe for changing the service account:

  • Create the database per http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/techpaper/vSphere-5-Upgrade-Best-Practices-Guide.pdf, pg.20. Run SQL Management Studio under the AD account that you will later use to install vCenter Server, make sure first to give it sufficient privileges in SQL Server to create the database (you can even make it a sysadmin – it’s temporary, so you can drop the privileges later). When creating the database, leave the owner default.
  • On the system where you’ll install vCenter Server, create a DSN (see same document), make sure to specify Windows Authentication.
  • Run vCenter Server installer.
  • After the installation is finished, install vCenter Client, confirm that everything works.
  • Stop VirtualCenter Server and Web Management services.
  • Go into these services’ properties and specify a special account you want to use for this purpose on the Log On tab.
  • Go to SQL Management Studio again. Create a regular user associated with the same AD account, then execute the following query on VCDB: “ALTER AUTHORIZATION ON DATABASE::VCDB TO <useraccount>”. This will change the database’s owner to this user.
  • Start the two vCenter services.

It seems there’s also a similar issue with VUM: its service gets installed with local SYSTEM account, but your default DSN configuration will most likely use Windows Authentication and therefore require a proper AD account. So, go to the service’s properties, change its account to the same one you used for vCenter, and restart the service. This issue is sufficiently widespread to have earned itself a KB article: http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1011858.

Update 10/19/12 (something that wasn’t a problem until upgrade to 5.1 where we had to start using vSphere Web Client): use the same account to run Inventory Service and Profile-Driven Storage Service.

Categories: Virtualization
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