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Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter: Fast track from ESX to Hyper-V

John Joyner highlights a new tool from Microsoft that handles the conversion of VMware-based VMs to Hyper-V-based VMs. Here's how it works.

Microsoft has made a release candidate version of a new utility application available to evaluate -- The Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter (MVMC) Solution Accelerator is a Microsoft-supported, stand-alone solution for the IT-Pro or solution provider who wants to convert VMware-based virtual machines and disks to Hyper-V-based virtual machines and disks. The MVMC solution can perform full conversions of VMware-based virtual machines as well as conversions of VMware-based virtual hard disks to Hyper-V-based virtual hard disks (VHDs).

New tool for an important job

This is a new tool that performs an in-demand function that has been historically difficult to achieve. A common scenario for virtualization admins (with both VMware ESX-based virtualization hosts and Microsoft Windows Hyper-V hosts in their environment) is migrating virtual machines (VMs) from one host platform to another. Reliably and safely converting the virtual hard drive (VHD) files associated with VMs from the VMware "vmdk" format to the Hyper-V "vhd" format is no small task.

With some enterprise VM management tools, it is possible today to migrate a VM from ESX to Hyper-V using Microsoft's System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) in combination with VMware's v.Center server. However, you won't have both tools installed and configured in every environment, and if you do need to install them, they both need databases and a bit of configuration to enable cross-platform VM migration. There has been a need for a widely available low-cost or no-cost, stand-alone utility to do this conversion for a long time.

Supported guest server operating systems for MVMC are Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows 2008 and Windows 2008 R2. (Windows Vista and Windows 7 client OS are supported as guest VMs as well.) VMVC supports migration of VMs from vSphere clusters as well as individual ESX hosts, and to Hyper-V failover clusters as well as individual Hyper-V hosts.

Steps to convert a VM from ESX to Hyper-V

#1 Launch the Virtual Machine Converter from the Windows Start menu. Specify the details to connect to a vCenter server, ESX server, or ESXi server. Enter the VMware address, user name, and password. When connecting to v.Center, use an administrator account, and when connecting to ESX directly, use a root account. Figure A shows the VM running on a VMware host that is going to be migrated to Hyper-V using the MVMC.

Figure A

Source VM running on an ESX host, seen in the VMware vSphere client.
#2 After authentication you will see a list of VMs that can be converted; select a virtual machine to convert as shown in Figure B. A VM to be converted must be:
  • In a running state
  • Have VMware tools installed
  • Be joined to an Active Directory domain

Figure B

Select the source VM to convert to Hyper-V.

#3 Specify the account details to connect to the VM, such as an administrator account on the VM. Remote access to the VM through Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) must be enabled on the source VM, which requires network connectivity during the migration. Also select the final state of the source and target virtual machines (‘On' or ‘Off').

#4 Specify a workspace path, such as local or fast network storage, as a temporary location to spool the virtual hard disk during conversion.

#5 If necessary, create a file share for the target Hyper-V host's VHD folder, then select the Hyper-V host as the destination for the virtual machine, specifying the path to the file share for the converted hard disks (seen in Figure C). Choose the type of VHD to use for the converted disk, either Fixed Size or Dynamically Expanding.

Figure C

Select the destination Hyper-V host.
#6 Confirm the conversion settings and review any warnings as seen in Figure D and click Finish.

Figure D

Read the warnings and proceed with the conversion process.

#7 The conversion is launched from the VMware side as an Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF) export task. During conversion, a snapshot on the VMware side is created, "MVMV_Conversion _Snapshot", which remains on the ESX host after the conversion process and must be manually deleted if desired. The VMware tools will be uninstalled from the VM as well.

#8 The VMware virtual hard disk file (*.vmdk) is spooled to the workspace path you specified in step 4, then redeployed as a Hyper-V VHD file (*.vhd) to the path specified in step 5.

#9 After completion of the conversion process, depending on the settings you selected, the source VM as well as the destination VM will be either stopped or started. You probably want to avoid having both online at the same time! Also remember that Microsoft product activation requires each instance of a Windows OS installation to be activated. Because conversion creates a second instance of the VM on Hyper-V, this instance needs to be activated.

#10 The OS of the converted VM will want to restart itself after booting for the first time on the Hyper-V side; this loads all the discovered Hyper-V virtual hardware drivers. Dynamic memory status of migrated VMs may not be OK until after a restart. Figure E shows the converted VM running in Hyper-V.

Figure E

The converted VM seen running in the Hyper-V host.

Evaluating the MVMC Release Candidate

After logging into Microsoft's "connect" site, you can request to download the release candidate.

The release candidate includes the wizard-driven interface seen in Figures B, C, and D of this article, as well as MVMC.EXE, a command-line version of the utility, and MVDC.EXE, a command-line utility that converts VMware virtual disks to Hyper-V-based virtual hard disks. You can run the MVMC on a computer running these OSs (with .NET Frameworks 3.5 and 4 installed): Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, or Windows Server 2012 RC (full installation).

About

John Joyner, MCSE, CMSP, MVP Cloud and Datacenter Management, is senior architect at ClearPointe, a cloud provider of systems management services. He is co-author of the "System Center Operations Manager: Unleashed" book series from Sams Publishing, ...

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