Vmware Server to VMware ESX Migration

Posted on 2011-04-18
Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Hi guys,

VM noobie looking for some help.  

I have an HP DL160G6 server with (4) onboard 500GB drives running RAID 10.  It has Win2K server 2003 and free VMware server installed on it.  The goal is to wipe the drive and start over with ESX 4.1

The question is, since I'm utilizing onboard storage, what is the process I need to take?  Would I need to offload the VM's onto another shared drive and wipe the server, build it from the ground up with ESX, then import/convert the VM's back to ESX?  What are the requirements for the shared storage.  Obviously it can't be a USB NTFS external HD.  

Any help is much appreciated.  

Question by:wrinklefree
    LVL 116

    Accepted Solution

    I've checked your server and it appears to be on the HCL for ESX 4.1. Which is a good start.

    ESX 4.1 is a type 1 bare metal hypervisor, which means that it installs on bare metal, and you will need to create a datastore, by formatting an unsed portion of the disk as VMFS (VMware's filing system).

    This means that you will have to copy/backup/export your virtual machines to a network location (easier) and then re-import them at a later date.

    VMware has a product called VMware Converter Standalone that can help you with this, it will Convert your existing machines, so you can re-import them to ESX.

    it's a free download here

    For the conversion steps, read Bestway's article.

    LVL 116

    Expert Comment

    by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
    there is also the OVF tool, which allows exporting and importing as well
    LVL 28

    Assisted Solution

    To go from Server to ESXi on the same machine you will need to offload your VMs to some other storage - a LAN drive or perhaps a USB drive. When you install your ESXi you will need to format your local storage as VMFS datastores to host your vms going forward.

    Nothing special is required to offload the machines, a simple Windows file copy of the folders and files that comprise your Server 2 vms is sufficient. Note that the place where you copy them must be avaialble to the workstation where you will be installing the vSphere Client used to manage ESXi. Unlike Server 2, ESXi requires a seperate standalone workstation on the network in order to manage the server while with Server 2 you can just use the browser on the Windows/Linux host where VMware Server has been installed.

    After your ESXi is up and running, datastores created, network configured, etc. Download the stand alone vmware converter (version 4.3 or later preferred) from and install that on your management workstation. At this point you can use that tool to  put your VMs back on ESXi. For source select VMware Workstation or other VMware Virtual Machine and browse to the folder for the VM you wish to put back and select the .vmx file there. For destination select Virtual Infrastructure VM and point to your ESXi.

    Good Luck

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