26th August 2017

vCenter Server Migration Tool

vCenter Server Migration Tool

With the recent announcement that the Windows based vCenter server is being depreciated, many thoughts will inevitably be turning toward how to migrate away from the Windows platform.  Migrations and updates of the vCenter platform have been serious undertakings, work that required a great deal of planing, coordination and time to perform successfully.

Well as of vSphere 6.0 update 2m, VMware have provided a vCenter Server Migration Tool, designed to do all of the heavy lifting for you.  The Migration Assistant includes workflows to assist in upgrading from either a Windows vCenter Server 5.5 or 6.0 to VCSA 6.5.  There is a handy guide to the available workflows available on the VMware feature walk-through site, so I won’t break it down into a step by step here.

Designed to simplify what we have already discussed as a previously troublesome task. The Migration Assistant is responsible for running pre-checks, and displaying information about the source Windows server, notify you of any warnings and then also provide you with remediation information.  As part of the discovery it will also feedback information about the sources and target deployment types, there are some limitations around these and what you can change during a workflow.  There is information regarding that available on the VMware vSphere Blog that covers these limitations and considerations, that I would recommend you read through.

Before launch the Migration Assistant will also provide you with an overview of the steps that are going to occur during the migration, to give a nice overview of what is actually happening under the hood.

The Migration Assistant is also responsible for copying the data from the source to target VCSA.  By default configuration and inventory data is going to be captured.  There is also the option to capture and copy historical information and performance data.  The process is a copy not a move, and no changes are made to the source, so this allows options for rolling back, should anything go awry.

In addition to the Migration Assistant, you have the Migration Tool.  The Migration Tool needs to be run from a separate Windows server from the source vCenter Server.  The Migration Tool will deploy a new VCSA to a temporary IP address for the duration of the data copy and then import the data and reconfigure the VCSA to use the same FQDN, IP address, UUID, MoRef IDs and Certificates as the source.  Therefore hopefully making the process seamless to any solutions that communicate to the vCenter Server.

During this whole process nothing has been changed on the Windows vCenter Server, so this provides a very simple rollback workflow, should any issues be encountered.

This migration capability certainly removes some of the more labour intense activities around what was a troublesome task.  However, the usefulness of the tool does not remove the necessity to plan.  There are still considerations that need to be made;

  • Are all the third party solutions you are running going to work with the VCSA?
  • Am I running Update Manager?  If so this is now included in the VCSA, what impact will that have?
  • How long is the migration going to take? Do I need the Configuration and Historical data?  What size change window will I need?

Now that we are waving goodbye to the Windows vCenter Server, it may well be time for a quick refresher of the vCenter Server Migration Tool.

Happy Migrations