VMware vSphere 6.0 Part 6 - P2V Migrations With Converter
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VMware vSphere 6.0 Part 6 - P2V Migrations With Converter

Learn how to install and use VMware vCenter Converter to successfully migrate Windows or Linux machines to vSphere VMs.
4.8 (21 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
632 students enrolled
Created by Larry Karnis
Last updated 6/2016
Current price: $10 Original price: $20 Discount: 50% off
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  • 1.5 hours on-demand video
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What Will I Learn?
Perform Physical to Virtual workload migrations
Perform Virtual to Virtual workload migrations
Install and configure VMware vCenter Converter
Resize target VM virtual hardware to suit your needs
Perform post-conversion checks to ensure your workload migrated successfully
View Curriculum
  • You should have a basic understanding of ESXi hosts and vCenter
  • You should be familiar with the virtual hardware layer of Virtual Machines
  • You should have knowledge and skills equivalent to our VMware vSphere 6.0 Part 1 and Part 2 courses

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:

  • One of the primary reasons for adding VMware vSphere virtualization to your IT infrastructure is to reduce capital costs. You do this by running many Virtual Machines on a small number of physical machines by running ESXi (and managed by vCenter). But, how do you get your existing Windows and Linux servers migrated over to your new vSphere environment? The answer is VMware vCenter Converter.
  • vCenter Converter can reach out to source Physical Machines (Windows or Linux installed on a PC Server) and clone-and-migrate the entire hardware state (CPU, Memory, Disk, Networking) to a new Virtual machine. This is called a P2V (physical to virtual) migration.
  • vCenter Converter can also reach out to source Virtual Machines (Windows or Linux running in a virtual machine) and clone-and-migrate the entire hardware state (CPU, Memory, Disk, Networking) to a new Virtual machine. This is called V2V (virtual to virtual) migration. Converter can migrate most virtual machine sources including VMs running on Hyper-V, VirtualBox, Parallels, VMware Player/Fusion/Workstation, etc.
  • You will learn how to install and configure vCenter Converter, how to reach out to a source machine and profile it, to locate and size a target VM to hold the converted source machine, to monitor the conversion process and what to watch out for as you conduct conversions. You will also learn VMware Converter Best Practices to help ensure a successful conversion - every time!

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.

Who is the target audience?
  • You should be comfortable administering Windows or Linux
Students Who Viewed This Course Also Viewed
Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 43 Lectures Collapse All 43 Lectures 01:29:42
VMware vSphere 6.0 Part 6 - Physical to Virtual Migration (P2V) with Converter
3 Lectures 03:33
VMware vCenter Converter
33 Lectures 01:16:35

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.

Preview 01:43

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.

Preview 01:29

What's New in VMware Converter Version 5.5.3

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:

  • Boot the new VM on a completely isolated virtual network to avoid any risk of identity clash, or
  • Use Guest OS Customization to assign a new identity to the new VM
Cloning and Updating Source Disks to Target Virtual Disks

Install and Enable Converter

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.

Seven Steps to a Successful VM Conversion

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.

Prepare The Source Machine For Conversion

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:

  • Get administrator level credentials on the source machine
  • Audit the source machine to ensure it is a good candidate for conversion
  • Verify that the source machine has room for a snapshot file for each disk

Next, select Import Machine... which launches the Import Machine Wizard.

Launching Converter

Converter starts by extracting a profile of your machine including:

  • Number of CPU cores
  • Provisioned RAM
  • Number of NICs
  • Number of NTFS volumes

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.

Profile the Source Machine

Specify The Conversion Target VM Platform

Specify The New VM Target Location

Specify The Target ESXi Host and Datastore

This step lets you set detailed properties for your target VM, including:

  • VM destination name and the folder it will live in
  • Target disk properties including their new size and type (thin or thick)
  • CPU count and memory size
  • The number of virtual NICs in the target VM and the port group used
  • Services running on the source VM that you may wish to disable on the Target VM (such as server health monitoring agents)
  • Advanced options such as; post copy disk synchronization, guest OS Customization, etc.

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

Setting The Target VM Properties

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.

Cloning Source Machine Disk(s)

To resize the target disk:

  • Click Edit beside Data to copy
  • To skip a disk, uncheck it from the disk roster
  • To change the target disk size (up or down), click the Destination Size field
  • To change the target disk datastore, click the Destination Datastore field
Resizing The Target Virtual Machine's Disks

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:

  • Make the new virtual disk of the declared size
  • Partition and format the virtual disk according to best practices for the target OS
  • Align all partitions correctly for efficient storage access
  • Copy all files/directories from the source volume to the virtual disk

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

  • Files are copied sequentially so the target disk is defragmented- The copy is faster because only disk blocks owned by files and directories are copied
  • The target disk size does not need to match the source volume
  • Overall copy speed for volume based cloning will be slower than for disk based cloning
Copying Disk Volumes

Synchronizing Disk Updates Made During Conversion

Post Conversion Tasks

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

  • Number of vCPU cores as pCPU cores
  • Memory size
  • Number of NICs (up to 10)
  • Number of virtual disks (subject to review and change)
  • USB ports

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.

Creating The New Virtual Machine

VMware vCenter Converter needs to update the operating system files on the newly converted OS disk. VMware vCenter Converter must:

  • Update the OS HAL and Registry of the virtual disk so that the OS is correctly configured to use VM virtual hardware
  • Install Guest OS drivers for VMware virtual hardware
  • Remove references to source machine drivers configured into the OS
  • Add VMware Tools to the Guest OS
  • etc.

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.

Virtual Machine Reconfiguration

Use Guest OS customization when you are performing test conversions (i.e.: testing Converter before performing the final conversion). By using Guest OS Customization, you can ensure that your freshly converted VM doesn't identity conflict with the source machine.
Target Virtual Machine Guest Operating System Customization (Optional)

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.

Post Conversion Source Machine Housekeeping

Perform a quick audit on the newly created VM. Review and adjust the virtual hardware as needed:

  • Check to see that you have a CD/DVD Drive 1 device. If not, add it
  • Check to see that you have a floppy 1 device. If not (and you need one) add it
  • Adjust the VM's RAM allocation up/down to suit the workloads RAM needs
  • Adjust the CPU count up/down to suit the VM's actual CPU needs; and to adjust for the speed differences between the old source machine and the ESXi host CPU speed
  • Remove any virtual COM and LPT ports present (unless you need them)
  • Etc.

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?

New Virtual Machine Post Conversion Housekeeping

When selecting source machines for conversion, review the machine and applications looking for configurations that would prevent Converter from doing it's job, including:

  • Hardware of a category that is not available with virtual hardware. Examples would include Voice cards, Fax modems, etc.
  • Workloads that require more hardware resources than a VM can deliver. Examples would be workloads that need more than 8/32/64 cores of CPU cycles, more than 1TB of RAM, etc.
  • Applications that require high end 3D accelerated graphics. It is possible to install a 3D hardware accelerated graphics card into an ESXi host and share it's display memory with VMs. To do this, you must: be using Windows 7 or Windows 8 VMs, (not Windows Server), must have a supported nVidia Quadro or AMD FireGL card, and be running the VM in a VMware View 5.2 or higher environment
  • Applications that are keyed to the source hardware (such as NIC MAC address, disk geometry, motherboard UUID), etc. You can copy the MAC address of the NIC in your source machine into your VM NIC (just Edit the VM's settings, select NIC1 and edit it's MAC address to match the source NIC MAC address)

USB devices can be carried over. To do this:

  • Add a USB controller to your VM
  • Plug the USB dongle into your ESXi host
  • Configure a USB device at your VM and map it to the physical USB port on your ESXi host
Converter Caveats (Things To Watch Out For...)

Workload Conversion In Progress

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).

Potential Trouble Spots

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:

  • Disk defragmentation tools
  • Partition alignment tools
  • Guest OS drivers for virtual hardware
  • Disk cloning tools
  • File copy tools
  • Sysprep files for W2k, Windows XP, W2k3 (all versions)
  • Many additional utilities.

A quick web search should help you find where you can download the P2V Admin ISO.

VMware Converter Best Practices

VMware vCenter Converter Lab

About the Instructor
Larry Karnis
4.5 Average rating
632 Reviews
2,496 Students
6 Courses
VMware vSphere Consultant/Mentor, VCP vSphere 2, 3, 4 and 5

Get VMware vSphere and View trained here... on Udemy!

What do you do if you need to learn VMware but can't afford the $4,000 - $6,000 charged for authorized training? Now you can enroll in my equivalent VMware training here on Udemy!

I have created a six courses that together offer over 32 hours of VMware vSphere 6 lectures (about 8 days of instructor lead training at 4hrs lecture per day). With Udemy, I can provide more insight and detail, without the time constraints that a normal instructor led training class would impose. My goal is to give you a similar or better training experience - at about 10% of the cost of classroom training.

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.

I hope to see you in one of my Udemy VMware classes... If you have questions, please contact me directly.



Larry Karnis