VMware V2V Migration: Importing Virtual Machines into VMware ESXi Part 2

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In How to Import a Virtual Machine into ESXi Part 1: P2V Migration, I described cold and hot migrations, the difference between physical-to-virtual (P2V) and virtual-to-virtual (V2V) migrations, and how to perform a P2V migration using VMware vCenter Converter. In the second half of this two-part series, I'll explain how to import an existing virtual machine (VM) into an ESX/ESXi Server.

VMware vCenter Converter supports several different kinds of virtual machines. It can import into ESX/ESXi virtual machines created in a VMware application or in a competing product. It's important to note, however, that not all virtualization products use the same virtualization method when running guest machines. VMware Workstation, VMware Player, VMware Server, VMware Fusion, Parallels Desktop, Microsoft Virtual PC and Microsoft Virtual Server -- all of which are compatible with vCenter Converter -- use hosted virtualization.VMware ESX/ESXi Server and Microsoft Hyper-V Server, on the other hand, use bare-metal virtualization to run VMs. The former group of software runs on top of an existing operating system, while the latter group runs on top of the host hardware.

These differences mean little once vCenter Converter has completed the conversion process, but virtual machines created in hosted virtualization software require different migration steps from virtual machines created in bare-metal virtualization platforms.

Just about all V2V migrations are cold migrations, which require that the source system be powered off during the conversion process. It is, however, possible to perform a hot migration of a virtual machine using the hot migration method as described in How to Import a Virtual Machine into ESXi: Part 1. After installing vCenter Converter Standalone to the virtual machine, launch the Conversion wizard. Select "Powered-On Machine" from the drop-down menu, click "Local Machine," and then follow the same steps as described in the section P2V: Hot Migration.

One thing to keep in mind before performing a hot migration, however, is that, in some instances, vCenter Server can interfere with the migration process. If the source system is inside a Distributed Resource Schedule (DRS) cluster that vCenter Server controls, DRS Power Management (DPM) will turn off the ESX/ESXi host that vCenter Converter is working with. Change DPM to Manual via the cluster's Settings screen before performing the hot migration. Once the migration is complete, revert Power Management to its previous configuration.

Although hot migrations have their purpose, they're only needed when a virtual machine is too important to be taken offline. In all other instances, you should perform a cold migration. The following steps detail the offline conversion process.

V2V: Cold Migration

1. Power down the source machine before proceeding. Select "Convert Machine" from the toolbar to launch the Conversion wizard.

See steps 2a and 2b to import a VM from a hosted virtualization platform; See steps 3a and 3b to import a VM from a bare-metal virtualization platform.

2a. Hosted Virtualization: Choose "VMware Workstation or Other VMware Virtual Machine" or "Backup Image or Third-Party Virtual Machine" from the Source Type drop-down menu, depending on which platform the source machine is using.

2b. Hosted Virtualization: Enter the full file or network path linking to the virtual machine. Supported third-party platforms include Microsoft Virtual PC and Microsoft Virtual Server (.vmc), and Parallels Desktop (.pvs). Use .vmx for virtual machines created in VMware. Note that if you're importing a VM from Microsoft Virtual PC, you should remove the Virtual PC Additions from the machine, as they can interfere with the conversion process.

Enter the login credentials for the server if accessing a network share, and then click "Next." Skip to step 4.

3a. Bare-Metal Virtualization: Select "VMware Infrastructure Virtual Machine" or "Hyper-V Server" from the drop-down menu on the Source System screen. If vCenter Converter is not installed to Hyper-V Server, a prompt will appear requesting permission to install the application to the system. Confirm the installation of the software to proceed with the conversion.

Enter the server address and login credentials for the ESX/ESXi or Hyper-V Server. Click "Next" to go to the Source Machine screen.

3b. Bare-Metal Virtualization: Search through the inventory to locate the source system. If you're accessing ESX/ESXi through vCenter Server, choose "Hosts and Clusters" or "VMs and Templates," depending on where the source machine is housed.  Select the virtual machine to import into the ESX/ESXi Server, and then click "Next."

4. Select "VMware Infrastructure Virtual Machine" from the Select Destination Type drop-down menu. Enter the address, user name, and password for ESX/ESXi Server into the required fields. Click "Next" to go to the Destination Virtual Machine screen.

5. Enter a new name for the destination machine or use the default name. Select a destination location for the VM if managing ESX/ESXi through vCenter Server. Click "Next" to go to the Destination Location screen.

6. Select a host, resource pool, or cluster to accommodate the virtual machine; select a datastore where the files associated with the virtual machine should be stored (optional); and then select the virtual hardware version from the drop-down menu (optional). Use Version 4 for machines running ESX/ESXi 3.x, Version 7 for machines running ESX/ESXi 4.x, and Version 8 for machines running ESX/ESXi 5.x. Click "Next" to go to the Options screen.

7. Click "Edit" to make changes to a hardware device. If you're importing a virtual machine based on the Microsoft Windows operating system, select "Advanced" from the middle pane to view the Post-Conversion tab. Uncheck "Remove System Restore Checkpoints on Destination." Check "Reconfigure Destination Virtual Machine" to personalize the OS (e.g., create a unique name and password, enter a new product license, or change the workgroup or domain settings). Click "Next" after making the desired changes.

8. Review your selections on the Summary screen; then click "Finish" to begin importing the VM.

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Petra Jorgenson

Petra Jorgenson is a professional writer with over six years of IT experience. She specializes in computer architecture, operating systems, networking, virtualization and web design. She has written support documentation for a leading BSS/OSS system and has over 100 published articles addressing a multitude of technology-related topics. Jorgenson is working on obtaining her MCITP certification.