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Blackberry BES - virtualised and now problems upgrading from 4.1 to 4.7

Posted on 2010-09-16
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Last Modified: 2012-06-21
Recently, as part of a virtualisation project, the server running our single BES was virtualised.  As a physical box its spec was:

Windows Server 2003 SP2
BES 4.1.2.25
Exchange 2003

and it had run without too many problems for the 12 users for a number of years.

It was virtualised using VMWare vSphere 4.0 and users started to complain they could no linger access the internet a few days later.  Mail services were unaffected.  Error messages on the Blackberry devices showed there was no connection to the MDS service and checking on the BES there was absolutely nothing under the MDS Connection.

After calling to our service provider, T-Mobile UK, we were told that the RIM recommended configuration for a virtual WK2003 machine running BES 4.1 under vSphere 4.0 was with the BES upgraded to SP7.  I downloaded besx_upgrader_4.1.7 and ran the install program.

During the Pre-install check it reported that Java Runtime Environment v6 Update 15 wasn't detected but that it would be installed as part of the upgrade to 4.1.7.  The server is currently running JRE v6 Update 21.  

I took all the default options during the upgrade and the settings were:

Data Directory:      C:\Program Files\ Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL\Data
Backup Directory:      C:\Program Files\ Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL\Backup

A dialogue box asked me if I was sure I wanted to upgrade the database and I agreed.  The blue progress line advanced about a fifth of the way across its box and then this error message appeared:

'An attempt to upgrade the database was unsuccessful.  An error occurred while executing an SQL statement."

I ok'd and canceled the upgrade.

My questions are - what's gone wrong and how is it fixed?  Can the BES server remain virtualised or will we have to revert to a physical box?

Thank you.
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Question by:swaman
15 Comments
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:kumarsundaram
ID: 33691725
Hi Swaman...  To my knowledge BES officially became compatible to run as a VM beginning version 5.0.  Anything before that does not support a Virtual platform.  We were in the same scenario before and running it in a physical box up until they released version 5.0.  Now the latest version of BES is running fine on a VM in an ESXi enviroment.
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Expert Comment

by:SysExpert
ID: 33695209
I would contact support from RIM, since that error is extremely common and may not be related to the VM at all.

I hope this helps !
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LVL 42

Expert Comment

by:kevinhsieh
ID: 33696651
I agree with SysExpert, I highly doubt that it's related to virtualization. I ran BES 4.x for years under MS Virtual Server and Hyper-V.
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Author Comment

by:swaman
ID: 33699280
Thanks for the replies.  The problem has finally been referred back to RIM by T-Mobile so I'll update here as to what happens.
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Expert Comment

by:John_Dorian
ID: 33705675
Odds are the account you were logged in as did not have permissions to SQL. Check the setup.log file it will quote the exact SQL error it threw. That will be the root cause of this.

Is the SQL running on MSDE, or a remote SQL server somewhere?
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Author Comment

by:swaman
ID: 33714838
RIM have looked at the SQL logs and and suggested I apply SP4 to BES and then try SP7.  They sent me SP4 but when I ran it an error message came up saying

'Cannot upgrade to older version'

I'm now waiting to see what their response is.
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Expert Comment

by:Iain MacMillan
ID: 33723387
i can confirm that BES 5.0 works well under vSphere 4.0, but we upgraded to BES 5.0 while we still had a physical box last year, but wasn't aware the v4.x wouldn't work under VM.

as a wee suggestion, could you not isolate the physical server, and try to make another cold clone, to test on VMware (isolated network) and try and do a BES 5.0 upgrade (T-mobile would need to provide the d/l and codes, and you will need to transfer your CALs).  i went from 4.0.7 to 5.0 very easily, but i had a local SQL DB - but you can practice this and see if it works, if so, then you can turn off you current VM and test the isolated one.
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Expert Comment

by:Iain MacMillan
ID: 33723401
oops, scratch the testing......you have BES and Exchange on the same server, unfortunately RIM guidelines stipulate that you really shouldn't have them on the same server, always better to have BES on its own server.

you could try to do a new virtual server build, server 2003 (or 2008 if your ready) with BES 5.0 and do a user/handset migration, plenty of documentation on this, that way you can assign plenty of VM resources, without affecting your exchange server.  also will make it easier to upgrade from Exchange 2003 to 2010 (that's my current task/project) if they are separate.
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Author Comment

by:swaman
ID: 33752119
Hi lainNix

Nope  - we have Exchange and BES on separate servers but here's the latest update:

Upgrading the SP from 2 to 7 didn't work (despite advice saying that this was ok to do).  RIM's solution was to apply SP4 and then SP6 and then SP7.  However in applying SP4 the error described above appeared.

Logs from the failed upgrade showed 'Installer is reporting:  "Invalid column name 'DisplayVersion'

RIM's response:

The "Display Version" Table was introduced to the BESMgmt DB in SP6 and above, so the reason the customer is getting this error is because after upgrading straight to SP7 from SP2, the Installer cannot find this table in the DB as it doesn’t exist in the current  4.1.2 Schema that the customer has.

To fix this they sent instructions on how to manually change the .cfg file and run the SP updates sequentially.  Unfortunately this too failed and I've now had to send the BES SQL databases off to RIM for further analysis of the problem.  They've said we might need a webex session to fix it.

This could run and run.

The option of upgrading to BES 5.0 has been investigated but we're being asked for £3k to do so.  Sounds and expensive fix to me.

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Expert Comment

by:Iain MacMillan
ID: 33770660
yes the BES 5 upgrades are costly.....your getting a bargain, the first price Vodafone tried to charge me was £4k, and they were told where they could stick that.  eventually got it for £2k, as its in their best interests to keep you happy, especially if your going to add more handsets/CALs.

looks like there has been an issue with the SQL database, which is tricky to fix at the best of times, and I am no expert.  I assume the BES is non-operational just now, is that so?

if it is, you may want to do a restore from backup to before you tried the failed upgrade, and see if you can recover that way and then do the incremental SP updates. if it still workign then you may wish to leave alone, else run the risk of killing it completely.

alternative would be to rebuild/install the BES server, and go direct to 4.1.7.
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Author Comment

by:swaman
ID: 33797060
I said this would run and run........

After a bit of prodding, RIM provided a SQL script to clean up the database and allow a phased upgrade to BES SP7.  They even arranged a conference call to discuss how to run the script and make the upgrades.  Unfortunately when I ran the script it didn't behave exactly as their instructions said it would so I had to ask for more clarification.

During the conference call I was also advised that the best way to resolve this was to make a clean install of BES 5 and then migrate the user data from the current BES 4.  A further chat with T-Mobile revealed new, much lower pricing for BES 5.  As soon as they confirm this price in writing, I'll get BES 5 loaded up!

Update to follow.
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Expert Comment

by:Iain MacMillan
ID: 33797468
some good news at last, amazing what a bit of prodding can do....hopefully we can welcome you to the BES 5 club soon enough!!
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Accepted Solution

by:
swaman earned 0 total points
ID: 34100729
Just to finish this off.......

Still had plenty of hoops to jump through getting this sorted but we are now having a RIM consultant come and install BES 5 for us and then migrate all the BES 4 databases across.  It should happen next week and could be the end of it - finally!.

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Expert Comment

by:Iain MacMillan
ID: 34100772
pity you had so many issues, but at least its sorted now and you can now get some sleep!!

:)
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Author Closing Comment

by:swaman
ID: 34134480
This was a very complicated issue made even worse by poor information from T-Mobile and RIM.  The original question was never resolved and only by starting from scratch with a fresh installation of BES 5 on a new virtual server was our full Blackberry service restored.
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