Best way to move guests from one host to another - no vcenter / shared storage

Posted on 2013-01-29
Last Modified: 2013-01-30
Here's the situation -
We are upgrading our 4.1 hosts to 5.0 so we can join them to our vcenter server, as we are in the process of getting a SAN, so we can take advantage of vmotion, and other vcenter server features.

The upgrade process on one of our hosts from 4.1 to 5 is not working.  We're getting a PSOD with a LINT1 error when we try to boot from the 5.0 flash drive.  It's running fine on 4.1.

I'm trying to get all the guest VMs off that host and onto another host, but because we don't have vcenter, we can't storage vmotion anything.  

What's the best/easiest/quickest way to get guests off that host?  We've been shutting them down and exporting OVF template, but it's taking forever.  Anything I'm missing?
Question by:Mystical_Ice
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LVL 120

Accepted Solution

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 500 total points
ID: 38832324
See my EE Article

HOW TO: "Live Migrate" VMware Virtual Machines between ESX/ESXi hosts and/or datastores for FREE without licenses for vMotion or Storage vMotion

the slowest part of any migration is the data copy from server to workstation, and workstation back to server, which depends on speed of network, speed of server disks, and workstations disks.

use Veeam Quick Migration to move VMs from one server to another across the network for FREE.

Just check you do have a licensed version of ESXi!

Author Comment

ID: 38832334
Because of the mismatch of ESXi versions, we're not using vcenter server (5) until we get all the hosts upgraded to 5.

The host i want to migrate FROM is 4.1 - the host i want to migrate TO is 5.

I am using VEEAM at the moment for replication, but connecting to the hosts individually, as standalone hosts.  Would I still be able to use this method?

Author Comment

ID: 38832362
Also, is this safe to do on a live machine?  What will happen at the end of the migration? Your tutorial says both machines will be suspended - we just shut down the one and start the new one?

Want to make sure this isn't going to damage anything, and whether or not it's safe to do 'on the fly', even though we have no vcenter server, etc.
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LVL 120
ID: 38832363
Yes, most definately.

Author Comment

ID: 38832444
So the machine will keep running until the process is complete, and then suspend both machines?
Need to know because these are production machines, and need to know what will happen in to the user experience when it completes.
LVL 120
ID: 38832470
machines get suspended, and new machines a powered up, so a few seconds of outage, if it concerns you schedule out of hours.

Author Comment

ID: 38832926
Just completed the first one - ran PERFECTLY.  Did it on a gigabit connection, on a guest with 60GB of used space, and it completed in ~40 minutes.  As seamless as could be expected.
LVL 120
ID: 38832943
v.good, it's much better than mucking about with ovfs!

Author Comment

ID: 38836622
Yes definitely.

Worth noting - This should not be done on live servers unless up to several minutes of downtime is acceptable at the end of the migration, as the updated machine state is moved over.  

Also, at the completion of the migration, the original VM is renamed to "_migrated" and is suspended but NOT shut down.  The migrated VM on the new host/datastore is started up, but the network adapter may have to be assigned to a vswitch.  A way around that is to make sure that the vswitch name matches on the source and target.  Otherwise you'll have to go into the VM settings and assign it to a network adapter.

This behavior may be because this migration was performed between two standalone esxi hosts 4.1 on the source and 5.0 on the target.  We don't use vcenter server (yet).

On several of the servers we tested the migration on, there was a good ~2 minutes of downtime at the end of the migration; i'm assuming while final machine states were moved over.  This was still better than doing a cold migration or shutting down servers and exporting OVF templates, etc.  Still, if you're doing the migration on a production server, be sure you're aware of the few minutes the server will be offline.

VEEAM's Quick Migration tool, however, was a lifesaver.   We were able to move 60GB VMs from one host to another in ~30 minutes each.

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