Moving an ESX host from VC 2.5 to VC 4.1 fails with "Failed to install the VirtualCenter Agent Service"

One time, I was preparing to do some testing on upgrading of ESX 3.0 to ESX 4. I had three hosts (ESX 2.0 - ESX 3.0) to be removed from the existing VC2.5 and joined to our new VC4.1. Two of them completed successfully, but one failed during the process and VC showed the error message "Failed to install the VirtualCenter Agent Service".

Turns out that an important directory needed for agent installation was missing. Once it was added, the host could be added successfully to VC4.1. An article on VMwolf describes this.

In case you are wondering, I tried to upgrade one of the 3.0 hosts using the vSphere Host Update Utility, but failed. The console showed errors trying to find some device UUIDs, which I could not trace in the host. Initially I thought it could be due to phantom SAN connections. Luckily I could still bootup the old ESX 3.0 OS, so I removed all the SAN connected datastores and even unplugged the FC connections, but the upgrade still failed.

I tested another 3.5 host to upgrade and it works, so it is really weird that the 3.0 host cannot be upgraded. The vSphere Upgrade Guide lists the upgrade possible using Host Update Utility in pg 77.
"You can use vSphere Host Update Utility to upgrade ESX 3.x hosts to ESX 4.0."

Maybe it is just this particular host having problems. Looks like I will find time to test with another 3.0 host.

  • Joining an ESX host to VC fails with "Failed to install the VirtualCenter Agent Service"
  • The ESX host may/may not have been connected to another VC previously

To resolve
  1. Login to the ESX host via ssh client or at the console using "root"
  2. type -> cd /tmp
  3. type -> mkdir vmware-root
  4. reconnect the ESX host to VC again


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