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Migration between ESXi servers using vCenter + trial

Posted on 2010-11-30
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All,

We use a vCenter, vSphere 4 environment in our enterprise across multiple offices.  One branch office of ours has a single server located overseas with a slow WAN link. This server runs as a Win 2003 DC, fileserver,  and Exchange 2007 server.

Our goal is to migrate these services to separate VMs using ESXi and upgrade the DC/services to 2008 at the same time. We have a license ready to go for this server once it is brought online using ESXi so we can connect it to our vCenter.

However, we have an issue in that we need to pull everything off and move everything back to the same server after ESXi is installed…

Here’s the general plan to be carried out onsite:

-      Install ESXi to a Laptop or desktop machine
-      Use a trial license on the ESXi laptop/desktop so it can be joined to our vCenter.
-      Configure VMs on this ESXi ‘trial’ laptop/desktop
-      Move all services/files off of current (non-esx) server and relocate them to VMs on the laptop/desktop
-      Reformat current (non-esx) server using ESXi.
-      Install actual license for this production server and connect to vSphere
-      Using vCenter, cold migrate the VMs and datastore off of the ‘trial’ ESXi desktop/laptop back over to the newly formatted ESXi production server
-      Bring down and disable/disconnect from vCenter the ‘trial’ ESXi desktop/laptop

Does this plan sound like the most efficient way to do things with minimal downtime/hassle?
Is it ok to do this from a license standpoint (use a trial for 2 days or so)? It seems like connecting both systems to vCenter makes for the cleanest migration.
Any other comments?

Thanks in advance for the help…
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Question by:garyttu
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bgoering earned 752 total points
ID: 34240334
It sounds like a plan. One thing I would recommend is set up a trial vcenter server locally in your overseas office and initially configure your environment there. I am assuming your current vCenter will be in your main office - if that is the case the storage vmotion to move the vms will be painfully slow as all your disk data will have to cross the wan link coming and going. After the move to your prod server is complete just disconnect it from the trial vCenter server and connect it to your main vCenter server.

Good Luck
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by:bgoering
bgoering earned 752 total points
ID: 34240344
And no - there is no problem using trial licenses - all the features are available.
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by:garyttu
ID: 34240421
Yes the vCenter is at the main office, overseas and over a slow link.

If I connect both servers to that vCenter, migration will move across the WAN link even if I set up both servers on their own site in vCenter?

Thanks for your help!
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by:bgoering
bgoering earned 752 total points
ID: 34240487
Unless you have some way of using shared storage the data files will have to be moved. If using storage vmotion I believe that passes through vCenter server network (I might be wrong on that for 4.x, am pretty sure it was that way for 3.5) when going from one esx local datastore to a 2nd esx local datastore. Alternatively you could use something like Veeam FastSCP on a workstation at your remote site to copy your vms (they must be powered off) between the two ESX servers at the remote location.
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by:Danny McDaniel
Danny McDaniel earned 248 total points
ID: 34243475
Another option would be to use Converter standalone to bring the VM images over to a windows system that is at that remote site, then build up your ESXi server and use converter to move the images back onto your new ESXi host.  Less work, but converter is slower at moving data.

I don't believe doing a cold migration requires the data to go through the vCenter server.  The VC just gets the operation going and then the hosts communicate with each other through the service console/management port.
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