VMWare ESXi 4.1: Copy virtual machine from one server to another & SCP

Hi all,

I'm working with an org who is considering having a couple of ESXi servers running on low end machines.  The budget is non-existent, hence the free ESXi and old machines.  Nothing that I can do there.

Everything should theoretically work, but I'm looking for information on transfering VM's from one esxi server to another.  I don't see them having to do this frequently, but it may happen as drives start to fail, power supplies show signs of weakness, etc.

I've read disappointing information that transferring from ESXi to ESXi is slow, capped at 10MB/s.  That won't be workable with 100gb vm's.
for example read this: http://community.spiceworks.com/topic/105842

I initially thought that I'd just transfer using SSH/SCP.  Questions/issues:

1) On a test box, I tried to SCP in using Filezilla from a windows box.  I get an error 128.  Any idea there?  SSH is enabled and I can get in fine using ssh directly.

2) I'm looking for ideas for ways to transfer vm files from ESXi to ESXi.  10MB/s isn't going to cut it.  Thoughts?

2a) I was thinking about setting up an iSCSI vm.  Then I'd copy from the datastore to a datastore on the iSCSI, then copy from that iSCSI to the other ESXi server.  Anyone have any experience with this?  I'd be using a gigabit network, dedicated to iSCSI.

2b) Veeam FreeSCP - anyone have info on speed there?

3) Looking for alternatives to get the vm files from an ESXi datastore to a windows machine so that I could run them in VMWare workstation to test or temporarily in an emergency if a server is failing.


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Berkson WeinTech FreelancerAsked:
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In my experience, Veeam's FreeSCP is much faster, but still not a speed demon.

 I find, oddly enough, that doing a P to V conversion from one VM to another is the fastest way.  Just install the VMware converter on the source VM and convert it to the new server.  (I prefer using the standalone VMware converter to "push" the conversion because it seems to work more reliably than "pulling" the conversion from the destination server.

Berkson WeinTech FreelancerAuthor Commented:
Thanks Thalarctos.
The problem with physical to virtual conversion of the vm's is that it's a manual process.  Looking for something that's automated.
Really interested on thoughts about datastore machine 1 to iSCSI then iSCSI to datastore on machine 2.
What is the purpose of the copy? Is it for backup - or just to be able to run it on the other host?

If the latter - why not just keep the vm on the iSCSI - then you would be able to shut it down and remove from inventory on the first host, then add to inventory and bring it up on the 2nd host. No actual file movement would be required.
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Berkson WeinTech FreelancerAuthor Commented:
It's both for backup and to be able to run elsewhere.  I've thought about running from iSCSI, but am afraid of throughput bottleneck with just a single gigabit connector to the iSCSI server.
I just tested the Veeam FastSCP 3.03 against a Dell R710 Free ESXi 4.1 - downloaded a 40 GB vm in 8 min 30 sec @ 80 MB/s

Hope this helps

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Note that the disk speed on your "low end" servers may dictated your speed... I am working another thread where the user is having trouble getting over 34 MB/s disk transfer speed...
Berkson WeinTech FreelancerAuthor Commented:
Thanks bgoering.
On your 80MB/s transfer, what was the other machine?
1 server has a 3gbps controller, the other is sata I, so 1.5gbps...  Many multiples faster than what people are reporting with Veeam.
For the test the target machine was my laptop - HP Pavilion dv8. Specs are Intel Core i7 Q 840 (quad core with hyperthreading, 8 logical processors), 8 GB RAM, SATA HD. The source server has integrated Perc6/i controller with 5x500 GB SATA in RAID 5 with 1 hot spare. It gets (according to Disk Bench) around 200 MB/s disk read performance in a 2008 R2 guest.

Write performance on Notebook is actually better (330 MB/s) than my observed read performance on ESXi server, but there are about a dozen lightly loaded VMs running in my ESXi environment competing for resources.

Connectivity is Gig ethernet through a Cisco SLM2024 small business switch.

Hope this helps
Berkson WeinTech FreelancerAuthor Commented:
Hmm ok, that's a decent enough transfer rate, considering the theoretical max of gigabit is 125MB/s.
Still, that's not an ESXi to ESXi copy, if taking that method, I'd need to copy it again from the pc to the other ESXi machine.  Is there a direct ESXi datastore to ESXi datastore solution?
Yes, Veeam FastSCP supports ESXi to ESXi copy as well. But I am testing this in my home environment and don't have a 2nd ESXi to copy it to. I would however, expect it to perform as well (or possibly better) between two server class machines.
I believe however, that this test should remove your concern about transfers being capped at 10 MB/s
Berkson WeinTech FreelancerAuthor Commented:
thanks all.  Bgoering: what's that other thread.  I'd love to take a look.
Here is the thread on disk performance: http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/VMWare/Q_26544588.html

Glad to be of help - thanks for the points
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