Somehow, this didn't come as a surprise ;). This has been discussed before on the VMWare forums (here and here), but I post it here because I did not immediatelly find a step-by-step walkthrough.
The problem was in fact twofold, the solution rather simple:
- Renaming SQL servers is a bad idea in general (so it appears). For my small, nonproduction environment, I use SQL Server 2005 Express edition that comes with the VirtualCenter installation. If you rename a SQL server, you need to internally update the system tables using a set of stored procedures in order to make everything consist again. This is done by installing the "SQL Server Management Studio Express" and then executing the following TSQL statements:
sp_addserver 'VIRTUALCENTER\SQLEXP_VIM', local
SELECT @@SERVERNAME, SERVERPROPERTY('ServerName')
The first statement removes the old server instance (replace W2K3-VC with your old server name), the second statement adds the new server instance (replace VIRTUALCENTER with your new server name). The sp_helper and SELECT statement query the internal database and variables for the actually recognized SQL server instances. You need to perform a reboot in order to get the proper instances with the last two statements.
- Secondly, the System ODBC connection that is used by VMWare required an update to point to the new SQL Server instance. This was of course done using the familiar "Data Sources (ODBC)" management console.