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It's probably overloaded Vmware and SAN can be very slow if they are not optimised and have enough resources - worth going through the Enterprise Best Practice doc and seeing if you can improve the performance of the server - things like removing AV scanning on SBDATA. reduce sync frequency etc.
A reboot solved the issues here. Memory consumption went from 1.3 G to 560Mb.
Seems to run OK now. Did not catch at this time what used the additional memory here.
We are in progress of running recomendations from the best practice guide....
We actually have a very similar setup as yourself with regards to VMware/SAN etc.
When we first implemented safeboot 5.1.3 about 9 months ago we were having a very similar problem however details escape me now.
I wasn't able to get to the bottom of what was causing it but as a 'fix' I edited the properties of the database service so that when it did crash then windows would attempt to restart the service.
This seems to have worked fine for us as I have never had to revisit this but I know it is a work around rather than a fix.