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Windows vCenter Server to vCenter Server Appliance with vSphere 6.0 Update 2m

Migrating from one vCenter Server to another traditionally has been a daunting task. Deploying and configuring a completely new vCenter Server while maintaining your existing one and coming up with a migration plan can be challenging. There are many factors to consider, including but not limited to the size of your environment, number of solutions that use vCenter Server as an endpoint, and how your physical and virtual networks are configured. In addition, determining a plan of attack for migrating an entire virtual infrastructure from one vCenter Server to another can take some manpower and many late nights. Those days are now over! I’m happy to announce the release of vSphere 6.0 Update 2m (Migration). vSphere 6.0 Update 2m is an automated end to end migration tool from a Windows vCenter Server 5.5 to a vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 Update 2.

The manual migration approach, which has been done by many, is the most error prone and time consuming. While the scripted approach reduces time, effort, and minimizes human error it still has its faults like the manual approach. It can be time consuming if the scripting expertise is not currently in-house, learning PowerCLI, and testing to ensure all the moving pieces migrate over correctly. These migration approaches are the same whether migrating to a Windows vCenter Server or the vCenter Server Appliance.

With vSphere 6.0 there are now more compelling reasons than ever to use the vCenter Server Appliance. Some examples of those reasons are feature parity with its Windows counterpart, quick provisioning, no requirement for an operating system or database license, and one click patching. Even with all of these great features, there has been one major roadblock preventing customers from adopting the vCenter Server Appliance. The reason is that, up until this point, there has not been an end to end migration tool that would automatically deploy a new vCenter Server Appliance, migrate the vCenter Server configurations, inventory, historical data, and identity from a Windows-based vCenter Server.

During 2013, VMware released the VCS to VCVA Converter Fling based on a winning idea from the annual Fling contest. The VCS to VCVA Converter Fling allowed customers to migrate their entire Windows vCenter Server 5.5 which included configuration, inventory, historical data, and identity to a vCenter Server Appliance 5.5. While the VCS to VCVA Converter Fling was able to address our needs for an end to end migration tool, it was released with a subset of features. This allowed for quicker availability of the Fling and customer feedback. VMware took its learning from the VCS to VCVA Converter Fling improving and adding more features, resulting in vSphere 6.0 Update 2m.

End to End Migration Tool

The Download

vSphere 6.0 Update 2m is different from previous update releases. There are no updates or patches, just the Migration Tool. Customers who are interested in migrating from their current production Windows vCenter Servers on 5.5 (any update) to a vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 Update 2 should download and use this tool. The vSphere 6.0 Update 2m download is an ISO consisting of the Migration Tool and vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 Update 2, roughly about 2.8GB in size. Compared to the size of the vSphere 6.0 Update 2 ISO which is roughly 2.9GB, vSphere 6.0 Update 2m has a few differences. First, the vcsa-setup.html has the most noticeable difference. The vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 Update 2 ISO setup has two options, “Install” and “Upgrade”, while vSphere 6.0 Update 2m ISO has only one option “Migrate”.

vSphere 6.0 update 2 Installer Compared vSphere 6.0 U2m

The next distinction is the Migration Assistant directory that will be used to kick of the migration process. The Migration Assistant is incredibly important as it serves two purposes. The first is pre-checks of the vSphere environment, displaying current configuration, registered extensions, destination configuration, and migration settings. The other is the data transport mechanism between the source Windows vCenter Server 5.5 and the target vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 Update 2. We’ll get into the migration process specifies in a future blog post.  Finally, the CLI installer directory has templates similar to its respective installer.  vSphere 6.0 Update 2 ISO has templates for “Install” and “Upgrade” for vCenter Server 5.1 and 5.5, while vSphere 6.0 Update 2m has templates only for “Migrate” for vCenter Server 5.5.

Migration Assitant

What’s Supported

Now that we’ve had a look at the ISO let’s talk about what is supported when using the vSphere 6.0 Update 2m Migration Tool:

  • Migration from a Windows vCenter 5.5 ( any update) to a vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 Update 2.
    • Previous versions of Windows vCenter Server will need to upgraded to vCenter Server 5.5 prior to migrating.
  • All databases types currently supported with vCenter Server 5.5 will be migrated to embedded vPostgres.
  • Virtual and Physical Windows vCenter Server 5.5 are supported.
  • vCenter Server 5.5 both Simple and Custom deployment types are supported.
  • VMware Update Manager (VUM)
  • VMware and 3rd party extension registrations are migrated, but may need to be re-registered.
  • If you are currently on Windows vCenter Sever 6.0 and looking to get to the vCenter Server Appliance stay tuned!
  • Configuration, inventory, and alarm data will be migrated automatically, historical and performance data (stats, tasks, events) is optional.
  • Easy rollback due to no changes being made to the source Windows vCenter Server 5.5.

Somethings that are worth mentioning prior to starting a migration are:

  • We preserve the personality of the Windows vCenter Server which includes but not limited to IP Address, FQDN, UUID, Certificates, MoRef IDs.
  • Changing of your deployment topology during the migration process is not allowed.  For example, if your vSphere 5.5 Windows vCenter was deployed using the Simple deployment option, then your Windows vCenter Server 5.5 will become an embedded vCenter Server Appliance 6.0.
  • During the migration process the source Windows vCenter Server will be shutdown, plan accordingly for downtime.
  • The migration tool will also be performing an upgrade, standard compatibility and interoperability checks will still apply. Please use the interoperability matrix to make sure all VMware solutions are compatible with vSphere 6.0. Also talk to your 3rd solution vendors to make sure those solutions are also compatible with vSphere 6.0.

Next Steps

Now that vSphere 6.0 Update 2m is available, it’s time to start planning your migration and I will have plenty of blog posts and other content to guide you along the way. Here are a few that will get you started:

Knowledge Base Articles

Release Notes

Download Link

Documentation

About the Author

Emad Younis

Emad Younis is a Senior Technical Marketing Engineer working in the Cloud Platform Business Unit at VMware. He currently focuses on vCenter Server Appliance and vCenter Migrations. Previous to VMware he worked as a virtualization architect designing and implementing large enterprise vSphere environments both as a customer and partner. Get notification of new blog posts and more by following Emad on Twitter @Emad_Younis.