Using SQL 2005 Express as vCenter & Update Manager Database

I am preparing a migration from VMware 3.5 to vSphere 4.0.  Three new ESX 4 host servers will be installed into production.  The three 3.5 host servers currently being used will be upgraded to v4 and then moved to our off campus DR site.  We will end up with 3 host servers at each location.  The production location current has 18 VMs to be migrated to v4.  We are projecting 5 more servers will be p2v and 5 new guests will be added to the environment. Our projection is that in a year we will still have 3 hosts servers and be up to about 30 VM guests.

We will be using SRM to manage the VM failover between the production location and the DR location.  In a DR situation it is planned for all guests servers to be on line.  Otherwise the guest servers are in a standby mode.

We are having a “discussion” as to the location of the vCenter, Update Manager and SRM databases should be located.  The VM installation manual states that SGL 2005 Express can be used for a small VM environment.  5 hosts and 50 VM guests is considered to be a small VM environment.  We would like to use sql express to hosts the databases locally on each vCenter server.  Both the production and the DR site will have its on vCenter server.

The var is stating this is a bad idea.  They recommend that sql express should not be used in production due to its limitations.  If the environment grows the database would have to be moved to a sql server.  

Is it a bad practice to use sql 200 express in a production environment?
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Just like you say, vsphere (VIC 2.5) supports SQL Express up to 5 hosts and 50 guests. If you do not go any further and you do not want additional features (more logging) it is not nescesarry to go for SQL 2005.
This way you do not need to purchase an license for SQL 2005 and this will save money, if this will save you money in the future because the Express edition is not capable to support large databases or other things you want is the question.
If you need to replace your SQL installation afterwards it is possible, see the following ling:
SQL Server Express is perfect for small uses where it serves only one purpose therefore does not need more than 1 CPU anyway.  The 2GB size is more than adequate for the usage of VMware.
epmmisAuthor Commented:
Excellent responses; a few more questions before closing this question.

1.  How much more logging is capable with sql 2005, then is with sql 2005 express.  Or put another way, how much logging would not be captured using sql express.

2.  Will sql express adequately handle both the vCenter and Update manager databases?  

3.  Should the SRM database be co-located with the other 2 databases? Because it controls the DR of the VM environment, was wondering its optimum location.
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Other than CPU and RAM restrictions (and some enterprise restrictions like mirroring), the Express edition of SQL is as good as any other, so it can capture a full transaction log.

SQL Server express can handle all 3 databases- as long as each in itself comes under 2GB; the expected load here is minimal.  I would just put them all together.

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The restrictions of SQL 2005 express are (
  • Lack of enterprise features support
  • Limited to one CPU
  • One GB memory limit for the buffer pool
  • Databases have a 4 GB maximum size
So if feautures above are not needed and database is under 4 GB you do not need the full version. If your database is growing to 4 GB you should take measures.
Our new database (SQL, 8 ESX hosts, 89 VM's, two weeks up) is around 4 GB.
epmmisAuthor Commented:
Want to thank each of you for your sage advise.  I believe we will go with slq 2005 express because currently we have 3 hosts and 18 guest servers.  It will also be with the understanding there may come a time when the databases need to be moved to sql when our environment  grows.
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