When it comes to building out a new Acropolis (AHV) cluster you are either starting out with new VMs or looking to migrate existing VMs from a vSphere environment. I have covered the process of creating new VMs in the “Creating VMs on AHV” post in this series. But if you are moving from vSphere to AHV, then there are two challenges that must be planned for. The first one is what will the conversion process look like and second, what will the migration process look like. With each of these are multiple choices and it will be up to the project team to decide which is the best choice for the project. There are likely other options that I might not mention here either.
Converting vSphere VMs
The task of converting a vSphere VM to a VM that runs on AHV is not that different than other hypervisors or even the P2V days when you were moving from physical servers. You have a VM that is in a vSphere format and must be converted to a different format. It will also have VMware tools and drivers installed into the operating system. After the conversion these will need to be cleaned up, just like they would be when migrating to other platforms.
For this there potentially two viable candidates. The first would be grabbing the virtual disk file (VMDK) from a datastore and using the image management feature in AHV to import and convert the disk. There would still be cleanup to be done, but it’s a simple one-off way. This method would not be ideal for doing a bunch of VMs, it however might be a simple method if you just have a hand full of template VMs that you want to populate on the new cluster.
The second and leading choice is to use the following method. In short with this method you are installing the VirtIO drivers in advance, think of them as the drivers that VMware tools install. Storage vMotion the VMs to a shared Nutanix datastore, power off the VM and create a new VM on AHV using the vDisks that were moved over. A fellow Nutant and VCDX has already created a detailed blog post about converting a vSphere VM to run on AHV. You can read the full details here as written by Artur Krzywdzinski.
In the future I would like to see something like Double-Take offer a solution that would offer help with these cross-platform conversions and migrations. This is something they have working for cloud migrations today. I see this becoming a common task in the future and demand is only going to increase for organizations wanting to move workloads between different resource pools whether they are on-premises or off-premises and very few of these moves will support a single VM format.
Migrating the VMs
The conversion process was just covered for what is available at the time this was published. I also touched on the option of sharing out a datastore from the AHV cluster to an existing vSphere cluster. This would allow you to Storage vMotion any VMs to that shared datastore before shutting them down to complete the conversion process. This method will likely be the most heavily used, since its familiar for other legacy types of migrations between old and new infrastructure.
A second option is available if both the vSphere and AHV clusters are running on Nutanix gear. You can create a Protection Domain (PD) on the vSphere cluster to replicate all of the VMs to the AHV cluster. This will get the data over to the AHV cluster in an efficient manner, this would be a great option if moving between sites also.
Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design