vcs-migration-appliance-smallBack in VMworld 2013, the Office of CTO held its annual Fling Contest where customers can submit their ideas for cool new Flings that they would like to see. If selected, not only would the individual get a free pass to VMworld but VMware Engineers would also build and release the Fling, how cool is that!? There were over 200+ submissions that year and I was very fortunate to have been on the panel to help select the winner. The winning Fling for that year was the Windows vCenter Server (VCS) to VCSA Converter Appliance by Stephen Athanas.

UPDATE 09/15/16 - The officially supported VCSA Migration Tool has has GA'ed with the release of vSphere 6.0 Update 2m. Please see this blog post here for more details.

The idea of a VCS to VCSA Converter really resonated with me as well as with many of our customers. In fact, everyone that I had spoken with who has used the VCSA just love the simplicity, ease of deployment and management it provides compared to its Windows counterpart. However, one of the biggest adoption barrier that I have seen from talking to customers is that is no simple way of migrating from a Windows based vCenter Server to the VCSA. You literally have to start fresh and this is pretty a show stopper for the majority of our customers and I do not disagree with them.

Customers want a migration path to be able to preserve all their vCenter Server configurations such as Folder structures, Permissions, Alarms, Tags, VM Storage Policies, etc. This is the idea behind the VCS to VCSA Converter Appliance which helps migrate a Windows vCenter Server running on an external Microsoft SQL Server Database to an embedded VCSA running a vPostgres Database. Today, I am very proud to announce the release of the VCS to VCSA Converter Appliance Fling.

The Converter Appliance migrates the vCenter database, Roles, Permissions, Privileges, Certificates, Alarms and Inventory Service which contains Tags and VM Storage Policies. At the end of the migration, you will end up with a fully functional VCSA with the original hostname/IP Address fully intact and ready to use. As you can imagine, this was no easy task and we had some of the smartest VMware Engineers working on this project. Todd Valentine from the OCTO managed the overall program with Ravi Soundararajan as the Chief Architect working closely with Mike Stunes, Jignesh Shah, Raju Angani. Being a huge advocate and supporter of the VCSA, I also had the unique opportunity to be involved in this project and working closely with some amazing engineers to help design, test and validate the migration appliance.

We hope you give the VCS to VCSA Converter Appliance a try in your lab (Please carefully read through the documentation along with the requirements and caveats before getting started). Let us know what you think by either leaving a comment here on my blog or on the Flings webpage. This is our first release and we already have some ideas of features and capabilities we would love to add to future releases but if there are things that you feel that are currently missing or enhancements you wold like to see, please let us know!

If you wish to provide private feedback about your environment or engage with us further, feel free to send an email to Todd Valentine at: tvalentine [at] vmware [dot] com

57 thoughts on “Long awaited Fling, Windows vCenter Server to VCSA Converter Appliance is finally here!

  1. Hi William – great news, but do you know if a Windows/Oracle edition is coming up as well? Thx, Rico

    • Not right now, it’s something I can bring back to the Engineering team. Do you have a large environment that uses Oracle? If you can provide more details regarding your environment, that would really help. If you’re more comfortable sharing this information privately, feel free to reach out to me. You can find my contact info under the “About” section

      • Hello William, I read your post, its really help full for me. I need your some suggestion on my new implementation on 5.5 vcsa. I did configure new vcsa on linux machine and my old 4.1 vcenter is running windows server. I need to migrate whole inventory from Vcenter to Vcsa , I did download fling and process document….I want your help to do this migration without any fail…….I need to configure DB (PostgreSQL – require procedure for configuration).. My Mail Id is: Tarun.Kumar@Walmart.com

      • Thanks for reply William, its small environment just about 50 VM’s on 5 Hosts….currently vCenter is running on SQL windows DB….need to have pre-checklist before migrating. Our VCSA is configured except DB.

  2. I was really hoping that it would support a distributed install of both the existing Windows install and the appliance install. Being able to go from 5.5 to 6.0 would be a really nice touch too 😉

    Thanks for the work! It is a truly needed.

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for the comment. What do you mean by distributed install? The majority of customers we’ve spoken with that are interested in moving to VCSA is that they would like to keep the same IP Address/Hostname which also maps to any VMware/3rd Party Solutions tied to it as well as things like SSL Certificates. Would be interested in what you mean by distributed install? In terms of 5.5 to 6.0, once you get to VCSA 5.5 you can then easily upgrade to 6.0. There’s a lot more things to consider when you’re upgrading to a major version so the initial release we wanted to keep it simple to stay on the same vSphere version.

      • I guess he means this requirement:

        * vCenter Components (Inventory Service, vSphere Web Client and VMware Single Sign On) must be running on the same host as the vCenter Server

        There are shops that run these services on seperate hosts.

  3. This is excellent 🙂

    Can you comment on whether this can be used when migrating a vCenter server that is part of a View environment?

    Cheers,
    Nick

    • Hi Nick,

      We did not explicitly test Horizon View, but it should work. From Horizon View’s standpoint, it’ll still be talking to the VC it initially registered with along with any plugins. Definitely recommend giving this a try in the lab if you’ve not already and do let us know if you find any issues.

      • It works for View Connected vCentre… Just be mindful you will for to redeploy your Composer Service elsewhere if it was on the vCentre

    • Hi Yusuf,

      Currently the migration appliance only supports vSphere 5.5 as vSphere 6.0 had not been released. You can easily get to vSphere 6 bu first migrating to VCSA 5.5 and then performing the upgrade. Since there are dramatic differences between vSphere 5.5 & 6.0, it’s probably safest to keep the same version before attempting a major upgrade. I know a few folks have already successfully gone through the migration from Windows VC 5.5 to VCSA 5.5 and then to VCSA 6.0 without any problems. Give it a try and let us know if you have any comments/feedback

      • Hi William. Any suggestions how to migrate from v6 Windows-based VC with embedded PSC (upgraded from 5.5+SSO) and remote SQL 2012 database, going to v6 VCSA with external PSC and embedded vPostgres? Any Flings or other workarounds you can suggest? Am trying to get a distributed model across two physical sites, each with VCSA + external PSC. Thank you. Darren

  4. Has anyone been able to get this fling working with a vCenter installed on a Windows Server 2012 R2?

    • Still no luck with 2012 R2.. It seems to be related to the use of an open-source component named Winexe. The Winexe source has been fixed for quite a while now, but they don’t appear to be building from source for whatever reason.

  5. Hi William,
    just a quick note on the VCSA deployment step. By not powering on it after the deploy, in my case it hasn’t configured the network as per the OVA wizard, so when powered on it went into DHCP. After logging in quickly and configuring hostname and network in VAMI (even if the user guide said not to login…) the migration appliance could connect and finish successfully.
    Great tool!

    PS: the event import is looooooong indeed, but I’ve seen the single vcpu hit 100% most of the time. Not sure the process can be speeded up by giving to the app 2 vcpu in advance, is it multi-threaded?

    • How did you deploy the VCSA? If you deployed it through VC, then you’ll be able to set things like IP Address/Hostnames. If you deployed directly to an ESXi host, then yes you would need to manually update the hostname/IP Address as the OVF properties would not have been set.

      • Uhm, strange because I did deployed the VCSA via vCenter before powering it down.
        Anyway, something else failed because at the end of the migration, after logging into the web client, I’ve been hit by the “cannot contact any vcenter on xxxx:443/sdk” error, so probably I’m restart fresh again.

  6. I have the vRealize Operations appliance setup and pointed/integrated with my Windows 5.5 update 2 vCenter server.

    If I use this migration tool will vRealize Operations still work with it or will I need to re-configure it? Is having the same IP enough?

    Thanks!

  7. Hi William,

    Fling is fantastic for migration however its limitation stops me to use it in our case wherein We are using External VCSA 6 with PSC running behind HA, does it support the migration from Windows vCenter 5.5 to VCVA6 with external PSC in load balancing mode and not embedded.

    Appreciate your help !!

    • Thanks for the comment. No, currently the Fling only migrates to an Embedded configuration with the PSC running internally to the VCSA. It’s definitely something that could be considered based customer feedback

  8. Hello william !

    Thanks for your reply and I am sure we are not the only customer who would love to adapt the high availability of PSC in appliance mode. I would like to see the newer supported version for vsphere 6 with external PSC.

    Thanks,

  9. Hi William,

    first of all thanks for providing us with such a great utility!
    Does Fling migrate also Distributed vSwitch config from the WIN-VC to the VCSA?

    Thanks,

    Best regards.

    Sergio

  10. I found myself the answer, that is, yes it migrates also dVS! Nice job again! :))

    • I too am in same situation. Unfortunately the Fling (currently) does not support Windows VC 6 to VCSA 6 conversion – I guess we’ll have to wait a bit longer for next version of the Fling.

  11. Hi!

    Question on feasibility of this approach.

    Here is current state as of today:
    External PSC 6.0 (Windows Server, upgraded in-place from SSO 5.5)
    vCenter Server 6.0 (Windows Server, upgraded in-place from vCenter 5.5U2)
    External PSC 6.0 (New appliance built and joined to same SSO domain above)

    Desired End State is:
    Keep the new external PSC 6.0 Appliance and eventually decommission the Windows Server PSC 6.0
    Deploy a NEW vCenter 6.0 appliance, hooking into the new external PSC 6.0

    Here’s my question..
    If we deploy the new vCenter 6.0 appliance into the existing SSO domain (in enhanced linked mode), will all the roles, permissions, etc from the existing Windows vCenter Server 6.0 be replicated over to it, allowing us to be able to decommission the Windows Server and achieve the desired end state?

    • I know this was from a while ago, but I’m contemplating a similar move. Basically recreating each piece as an appliance, rather than waiting for the converter to be upgraded to work with existing vSphere 6 deployments.

      What did you end up doing?

      Thanks.

  12. William i’m going to be doing a VSphere 6 to VCSA migration no idea where post was but from memory if the SQL and Vcenter are on the same box all i would need to do is start the migration wait till the VCenter part is complete then reboot the Vcenter machine change the ip stop the vcenter services and then continue migration this correct?

  13. Great tool, but having issues. Trying to migrate VCS 5.5 U2 to VCSA 5.5 U2 with external Win2008 SQL DB. Deployment of OVA works and all services start and converter seems to run clean, but after the import the vpxd service on the VCSA fails to initialize. I see SSLhandshake errors and references in the vpxd logs to “ODBC”. None of the logs previous to the import reference ODBC. Any thoughts?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated as I am stuck at this point.

    Thanks!

  14. Hi William! I’m migrating a vcs 5.5u2 to vcsa and gets to the point after I’ve configured the new vcsa and has returned to the migration tool. The tool presents a message box stating:
    “Accessing the vCenter Server Appliance through the Managed Object Browser interface.

    This SSL certificate was presented by the vCenter Server:

    SHA-1 Hash:

    Proceed?”

    After clicking yes, No or even F12 this message is shown:
    “waiting for vpxd on VC Appliance”

    where the tool loops and after some time where back at the first message. The only exit from this point it a reboot!

    Any idea how to get past this point?

      • Hi William!

        Gladly, but I need to know where to find the file migrate.log!

        On which machine and where in the tree can I find it?

        My trials with google came up empty. 🙁

        BR,

        ///David

          • William! Since the log file migrate.log can’t be found, do you have another solution?

          • William. No, I don’t think so. After I’ve provisioned the vcsa it should have the correct name, IP etc but it doesn’t so I had to log on to it and fix that. Then back in the fling I get to the situation I described in my first post. There is no migrate.log, double checked!

            From my first post:
            “I’m migrating a vcs 5.5u2 to vcsa and gets to the point after I’ve configured the new vcsa and has returned to the migration tool. The tool presents a message box stating:
            “Accessing the vCenter Server Appliance through the Managed Object Browser interface.

            This SSL certificate was presented by the vCenter Server:

            SHA-1 Hash:

            Proceed?”

            After clicking yes, No or even F12 this message is shown:
            “waiting for vpxd on VC Appliance”

            where the tool loops and after some time where back at the first message. The only exit from this point it a reboot!”

            So in my oppinion it never even starts, just retrieves the SHA-1 hash and then nothing. As I said, it doesn’t even respond to No or F12. What does “waiting for vpxd on VC Appliance” mean? I’ve configured vcsa so vpxd has to be running, right?

          • Ah, so it sounds like there was an issue w/your VCSA deploy. If you have to manually tweak hostname/IP, then you probably didn’t deploy through VC? VCSA uses OVF properties which are params that are passed to the guest. If VC Is unavailable when the VCSA is powered on, then none of the params would make it to it and would explain why you’re seeing some issues.

          • But I did provision it from within the old VC!

            Anyhow I’ll try again from scratch to see if it might solve it.

          • According to all documentation I’ve found you’re supposed to power off the VCS and then power on the VCSA! Since both share the same IP I don’t understand how they could be running simultaneously. Are you absolutely sure they both should be on at the same time?

      • Sadly no! There where no log file in the place stated by the docs and then I got occupied elsewhere. I’ll give it another try.

    • I’ve been awaiting an answer to this for some months now. Hoping there’ll be an update soon to resolve…

  15. Hi William/Community

    Have you converted a vCenter which is using SRM?
    I believe you would shutdown the SRM and vCenter. Then complete the conversion and power up the VCSA power up SRM and all should be fine. The VCSA and the external site with local vCenter and SRM should still talk?

    Thank you for any info

    • Sean,

      You do not need to touch your SRM instance, as long as it is not installed on the same Windows vCenter Server, the plugin registration will be migrated over and you should be able to continue using your SRM plugin without issues.

      Note: In case the plugins don’t work immediately after, you may need to restart the service or re-register but in most cases, once the vSphere Web Client plugin for your given solution has been re-downloaded, it’ll work. Of course, we still recommend you try this in the lab but this has been the behavior we’ve seen with other plugins including 3rd Party

  16. So here is where I am at.

    Qty 2 5.5 Windows vcenters running in linked mode.
    Break the link
    Migrate the qty 2 vcenters using the fling to 5.5 appliance
    Migration successful

    1 Windows Vcenter server 5.5 u2 converted to VCSA 5.5 u2 no problems

    2. Going to upgrade VCSA u2 to VCSA 6 u2 and I get through the wizard to start the upgrade.

    3. 25% into the upgrade I get Migration Failed

    Failed to download vCenter Server support bundle logs.All other logs can be found at

    C:\Users\rhambrick\AppData\Local\VMware\CIP\vcsaInstaller\sessions\session_0003\logs

    Ideas

  17. I am extremely dissapointed that this fling has been depreciated!! Is this fling gone for good and if so, why? Anyone with ½ a brain that knows Microsoft will want to use this to get rid of a MS Windows & SQL server…

    • It is a lovely tool, seemed it was still very buggy though. I had a customer want me to use it to shave some time off their upgrade to vSphere 6 / SRM 6. In the end I couldn’t bring myself to use this method in a customers production environment. It might have saved half a days work or created an extra 2. I’m guessing a lot of people used this in production and then forgot to mention this fact when they raised support calls with VMware, that’s why I thought it went. Some people are still sharing the content if you dig.

    • Hi Garth,

      I can understand you frustration, but please remember that first off, Flings are not officially supported. This includes the succesful migration of a Windows VC to VCSA. Secondly, Flings allow us to try out new ideas and get early feedback from customers. Some of these tools will be one-offs while others based on customer feedback may turn into official product/features.

      In regards to this Fling, we had a very specific configuration that we had supported due to the timing/effort and this has provided us with a lot of great feedback from our customers. If it wasn’t clear in my last reply, we’re not leaving our customers hanging and we’ve got some news for you guys/gals, so please stay tuned.

      FYI – In case it isn’t clear on our intention, have a look at http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2015/09/tech-preview-of-windows-vc-to-vcsa-migration-at-vmworld.html

      • I really appreciate your reply William. What you posted is outstanding news, and I am really lloking forward to what you have planned for us. Can you perhaps give an estimation of how long we still have to wait?

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