VMware vSphere 6.0 is the platform businesses depend on to deploy, manage and run their virtualized Windows and Linux workloads.
In this course
you will learn how to migrate source Windows and Linux workloads (installed operating systems on physical or virtual machines) to VMware vSphere infrastructure (ESXi hosts managed by vCenter Server) using VMware vCenter Converter.
P2V and V2V Migrations with vCenter Converter
This course covers one topic that all vSphere 6 vCenter administrators must know:
The skills you will acquire in this course will help you complete your server consolidation project and make you a more effective vSphere 6 administrator.
VMware vCenter Converter is a general purpose VM conversion tool that makes it easy to cope with diverse VM and image formats. Converter's job is to facilitate the migration of physical and/or virtual machines from one host to another.
When in doubt, simply boot the source machine and point Converter at it. When in doubt, tell Converter that the source is simply a Powered on machine.
Source for supported source machine images - VMware vCenter Converter 6 release notes.
Note: Not all features supported on all operating systems. Please see the Converter Standalone User's Guide on VMware's web site. Also check the product release notes:Legacy operating systems such as RedHat 7, 8, 9, RedHat Enterprise Linux 2 and Windows NT/2000 no longer
officially supported but may still work.
The key task completed by VMware vCenter Converter is the cloning of a source disk to a virtual disk. This can be performed either hot (while the source machine is running) or cold. Of the two, Cold cloning is more trustworthy (because the source disk isn't being changed while it is being cloned) but involves down time.
The result of cloning source disk(s) is a corresponding virtual disk on a datastore. Once the disk has been cloned, VMware vCenter Converter will build a VM around the virtual disk to match the hardware characteristics of the source machine.
Because the new virtual disk is a clone of the source machine's disk, there is a risk that booting the VM will cause an identity conflict with the source machine. While this isn't an issue if you have powered down the source machine, it is a concern if you are simply doing test migrations (to validate procedures, etc.) in preparation for a real migration. In this case, you can either:
VMware vCenter Converter goes through four steps to hot migrate a source machine to a virtual machine. While these are discrete steps, they are not executed sequentially – so you may find VMware vCenter Converter creating the new target VM while the source disk is still being copied.
VMware vCenter Converter needs administrative level credentials for the source machine. You can supply the local machine Administrator password or you can use any other credentials that would grant Converter full administrator rights to the system.
VMware vCenter Converter can P2V an active system... and will snapshot the system to quiesce local drives before copying the local volumes to new virtual disks. There are a couple of things to keep in mind during this process:
Quiet machines make for better conversions. If you can quiesce the local machine, then there is a much higher chance that the converted disks and the data they hold will be complete and usable. A simple way to do this is to wait for a maintenance window, shut down all applications, disable all unneeded services and then do the hot conversion.
There must be sufficient room on the local volumes for VMware vCenter Converter to create snapshot files. Converter needs space to accumulate pending disk updates (and snapshot files are used for this purpose). If you do not have sufficient space, then the conversion process will either fail to start or will fail when the local volume fills up. You should have a minimum of 500MB to 1GB of free space before attempting a conversion on an active machine.
You begin the P2V process by launching the Converter client:
Start > All Programs > VMware > VMware vCenter Converter Standalone Client
Before beginning a conversion, you should:
Next, select Import Machine... which launches the Import Machine Wizard.
Converter starts by extracting a profile of your machine including:
Converter uses this information to build a comparable virtual machine. As we will see later, right-sizing your new VM after conversion is an important step – that helps ensure your VM isn't over provisioned.
This step lets you set detailed properties for your target VM, including:
The result is that you have full control over the conversion process!
Note: you must click the Edit link beside each property to change their values
A lack of free space on the disk being converted can prevent you from doing hot conversions...
VMware vCenter Converter uses Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS) to quiesce the local disk. VSS needs between 500MB and 2+GB of free space on the disk being converted to hold snapshot files, converter agents, etc. If this space is not available, then Converter may not be able to hot convert your virtual machine.
If you encounter this problem, you should try to free up disk space and try again. You may be able to free up enough disk space to allow Converter to proceed. A great tool for freeing up disk space is CCleaner which is available for free. CCLeaner cleans up Windows patches, old temporary files, stale download files, browser cache files, etc.
To resize the target disk:
If your virtual disk size matches the source disk size, then Converter will perform a simple block by block copy of the source volume to the virtual disk. Depending on the size of the source volume, this copy could take a number of hours.
If the virtual disk size is different from the source disk size, the Converter will:
File copies are used because that is the only way Converter can get the contents of the source volume to the new virtual disk. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach
As part of the P2V process VMware vCenter Converter will make a new VM on your designated ESXi host. VMware vCenter Converter tries to match the new VM's virtual hardware to the hardware profile of the machine being converted. As a result, unless you override the default settings, your new VM will have the same
It is important that you review the hardware configuration of your VM once the conversion process is completed. Over provisioning of physical hardware is one habit we do not want to carry over to our virtual world.
VMware vCenter Converter will download, install and use Windows agents to synchronize and snapshot local source volumes. These agents are activated once VMware vCenter Converter is told which disks will be converted (to virtual disks) and which disks will be left behind.
VMware vCenter Converter needs to update the operating system files on the newly converted OS disk. VMware vCenter Converter must:
These changes are made so that, when the VM first boots and performs a virtual hardware scan, it can recognize and use virtual devices. You should also be careful to remove any hardware specific health monitoring agents from the VM. Tools like HP's Insight Manager, Dell's Open Manage, or IBM's Director agents will complain bitterly when the hardware they were designed to monitor no longer exists (because the hardware is now virtual).
If this is a test conversion, you may also wish to perform Guest OS Customizations to assign a new identity to the converted VM. In this way, your new VM will not identity clash (duplicate license, IP, FQDN, etc.) with the source machine.
Once conversion has completed, vCenter will connect to the source machine one last time to remove the agents used during the conversion process. That way, there is no risk of residual Converter agents causing problems if the source machine is kept in service.
Before Converter agents are removed, VMware vCenter Converter will commit any snapshots on source disks. Once the commit has completed, VMware vCenter Converter will delete the associated snapshot files.
Perform a quick audit on the newly created VM. Review and adjust the virtual hardware as needed:
Once the VM boots, log in and check Device Manager. Remove references to no-longer present devices. Correct any hardware warnings you see.
Run Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs.
Check for server monitoring agents and remove any you find
Review Windows Services. Did all services start?
When selecting source machines for conversion, review the machine and applications looking for configurations that would prevent Converter from doing it's job, including:
USB devices can be carried over. To do this:
There are a couple of things that can slow down or stop a Converter P2V migration. You must open up the source machine's firewall sufficiently so that Converter can access the host on ports 137, 138, 139, 443, 445 and 902. You must not have software mirroring configured for the Windows boot volume (if you do, break the mirror, convert and then re-establish the mirror).
Converter works on most popular Windows releases and Linux, but not Solaris, BSD or NetWare, etc. If you need to P2V unsupported workloads, download VMware's stand alone Converter product or PlateSpin's Migrate product.
VMware vCenter Converter can migrate source Windows 2003/2008/2012, Vista and Windows 7, 8 machines without the need to reboot. This is because the Windows 2003 kernel can dynamically load and unload kernel level drivers. Windows XP lacks this feature so you must reboot these operating systems after the snapshot agents are installed and also after the conversion has completed (to remove the Converter agents from Windows).
VMware best practices Knowledge Base article for vSphere Converter is KB1004588
The P2V Admin ISO image is a great collection of tools that could come in very handy. It includes a number of tools (all free/open source) including:
A quick web search should help you find where you can download the P2V Admin ISO.
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I am an IT consultant / trainer with over 25 years of experience. I worked for 10 years as a UNIX programmer and administrator before moving to Linux in 1995. I've been working with VMware products since 2001 and now focus exclusively on VMware. I earned my first VMware Certified Professional (VCP) designation on ESX 2.0 in 2004 (VCP #: 993). I have also earned VCP in ESX 3, and in vSphere 4 and 5.
I have been providing VMware consulting and training for more than 10 years. I have lead literally hundreds of classes and taught thousands of people how to use VMware. I teach both introductory and advanced VMware classes.
I even worked for VMware as a VMware Certified Instructor (VCI) for almost five years. After leaving VMware, I decided to launch my own training business focused on VMware virtualization. Prior to working for VMware, I worked as a contract consultant and trainer for RedHat, Global Knowledge and Learning Tree.
I hold a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Math from the University of Toronto. I also hold numerous industry certifications including VMware Certified Professional on VMware Infrastructure 2 & 3 and vSphere 4 & 5 (ret.), VMware Certified Instructor (ret.), RedHat Certified Engineer (RHCE), RedHat Certified Instructor (RHCI) and RedHat Certified Examiner (RHCX) as well as certifications from LPI, HP, SCO and others.
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