Migrate VMs into VxRail cluster from vSphere cluster

Today we will discuss how to migrate the virtual machines running on a vSphere cluster into a VxRail cluster. Actually there are many methodologies for data migration, now I will list out some migration methodologies, its benefits and limitations.

Target VM – Non-Clustering virtual machines without Raw Device Mapping (RDM), the virtual machine only includes of the Virtual Machine Disk (VDMK).

Option 1

  • Migration method – VMware Storage vMotion.
  • Require 1 x downtime windows for VMtools upgrade if necessary.

Requirements:

  • The vSphere cluster and VxRail cluster are managed by an external vCenter Server.

Remark: The VxRail cluster must be managed by an external vCenter Server.

Benefits:

  • It can keep same configuration of source VMs after move to VxRail cluster, eg universal unique identifier (UUID).

Remark: Each virtual machine has a UUID.

Option 2

  • Migration method – Replicate the source VMs into VxRail cluster with vSphere Replication.
  • Require 1 x downtime windows for final data cut-off and VMtools upgrade if necessary.

Requirements:

  • Deploy 1 x vSphere Replication appliance on vSphere cluster and VxRail cluster, and define the VM replication session between two clusters.

Remark: The minimum RPO for VR replication is 5 minutes.

Benefits:

  • VMware vSphere Replication is a free tool.

Limitations:

What is not preserved after migrate to VxRail cluster

  • MOID.
  • Reservations/limits (these can be configured on the placeholder, or even better, use a resource pool and map it in SRM).
  • DRS configurations (affinity/anti-affinity rules, DRS groups, etc).
  • VM permissions.

Option 3

  • Migration method – Replicate the source VMs into VxRail cluster with VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) and vSphere Replication (VR) .
  • Require 1 x downtime windows for final data cut-off and VMtools upgrade if necessary.

Requirements:

  • Deploy 1 x VR and 1 x SRM on vSphere cluster and VxRail cluster, and define the SRM recovery plan on VxRail cluster.
  • VMware SRM requires the licenses to enable the features.

Benefits:

  • Simplify the manual migration tasks.

Limitations:

What is not preserved after migrate to VxRail cluster

  • MOID.
  • Reservations/limits (these can be configured on the placeholder, or even better, use a resource pool and map it in SRM).
  • DRS configurations (affinity/anti-affinity rules, DRS groups, etc).
  • VM permissions.

Option 4

  • Migration method – Replicate the source VMs into VxRail cluster with VMware vCenter Converter.
  • Require 1 x downtime windows for final data cut-off and VMtools upgrade if necessary.

Requirements:

  • Deploy 1 x VMware vCenter Converter Server for V2V migration.
  • Define the V2V migration sessions (Incremental synchronization) into VxRail cluster.

Benefits:

  • It can support incremental synchronization.
  • VMware vCenter Converter is a free tool.
  • It can keep same configuration of source VMs after move to VxRail cluster, eg universal unique identifier (UUID).

Option 5

  • Migration method – Replicate the source VMs into VxRail cluster with Dell EMC RecoverPoint for VMs.
  • Require 1 x downtime windows for final data cut-off and VMtools upgrade if necessary.

Requirements:

  • Deploy 1 x RecoverPoint cluster on vSphere cluster.
  • Define the VM protection sessions on vSphere cluster and replicate the VM into VxRail cluster.
  • RecoverPoint for VM requires the licenses to enable the features (based on the number of VMs that you need to protect).
  • The vSphere cluster and VxRail cluster are managed by an external vCenter Server.

Benefits:

  • It can support continuous data protection (near to Zero RPO).
  • It can keep same configuration of source VMs after move to VxRail cluster, eg universal unique identifier (UUID).

Limitations:

  • It cannot support shared VMDK/RDM.

Target VMs – Clustering virtual machines with Raw Device Mapping (RDM), the virtual machine includes of the Virtual Machine Disks (VDMK) and RDMs.

  • Migration method – VMware Storage vMotion and Microsoft robocopy,
  • Require 1 x downtime windows for VMtools upgrade if necessary and OS customization (WSFC re-configuration).

Requirements:

  • Create iSCSI Target and expose it to the WSFC virtual machines. (RDMs replace with iSCSI LUN.)
  • Replicate/copy the data store on RDM into new target disks (iSCSI LUN) by Microsoft robocopy.

Limitations:

  • Requires many manual migration and reconfiguration tasks (eg, create iSCSI LUNs on OS level, WSFC reconfiguration, etc).

Remark:

  • RDM doesn’t support on vSAN cluster.
  • vSAN 6.7 supports for Microsoft Windows Server Failover Clustering for the vSAN iSCSI service.
  • VxRail 4.7 can support with vSAN 6.7.

Above migration methods are for your reference, please let I know once if it have any mistake.

36 comments

  1. Hello Victor! Nice Article.

    We are planning to migrate from an existing Vxrail cluster to a bigger Vxrail cluster. Any Idea on what should be the best practice for such a migration. Moving from a Vxrail 120 to Vxrail G560.

    Thanks

    Like

        1. I suggest the migration is performed with VMware vSphere Replication. And the source VMs are running on vSphere 6.0 (VxRail 4.0), you also upgrade the VMTools after migrate the VMs into G560. Because vSphere 6.5 is running on VxRail 4.5.

          Like

  2. Hi Victor!

    Due to budgetary constraints we have to find a 10Gbe SFP+ switch which we are going to use only for this migration.

    Having considered all the various alternative, we have found the Netgear M4300 -8X8F with DAC cables.

    http://www.downloads.netgear.com/files/GDC/datasheet/en/M4300.pdf

    We have already contacted Dell to inquire about any compatibility issues with Vxrail G560. Do you foresee any issue ?

    The local suppliers are Cisco diehards and are adamant in getting a Cisco 9300 for the migration…

    Like

  3. Hello Victor,

    very well written article!!
    Thanks for writing.

    We are planning Option:01 or Option:02. We have EMC Networker attached to vCenter (Customer supplied vCenter) and we are wish to migrate to VxRail vCenter. Would you know if these changes would end up losing earlier back up sets of the VM

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Preetam. It is NOT supported for migrating from a customer supplied vCenter Server to VxRail vCenter. Only supports for migrating from VxRail vCenter to a customer supplied vCenter Server. The migration is also different depending on the software version of VxRail.

      Like

  4. Hi Victor,
    I’m planning to migrate my Exchange 2010 from Equallogic to VxRail with a VSAN cluster any idea on what should be the best practice and approach.

    Thanks,

    Like

  5. We have an existing 3-node VMware cluster running embedded PSC & vCenter in one geographic DC. Our customer has purchased a new building along with a new VXrail G-Series 3- node cluster.

    What is the easiest method of migration from old cluster to new? Existing cluster has iSCSI SAN and new VXrail will be using VSAN. Downtime is not a problem as sites are within 20 minutes of each other.

    Thanks.

    Like

    1. If the source VM with VMDK only, option 2 is recommended. If the source VM with both VMDK and RDM, the downtime is required. For RDM migration, robocopy is an option, For VMDM migration, you can choose either storage vMotion or vSphere replication.

      Like

  6. Hi,

    very good guidelines, but I read other information too and left me in doubt.

    I need to migrate VMs (VMDK) that are on ESXi hosts and others in a vCenter cluster to vxRail.

    What do you mean by External vCenter? Is it the PSC?

    I have a vxRail 4.5 updated.

    If I have individual nodes, with VMs (VMDK), can I add them to the vCenter of vxRail and migrate with vMotion?

    If I have a cluster with VMs (VMDK), using VCSA can I use option 1 that you suggested? I read that VCSA can not connect in vCenter Extermo.

    I read in the Dell community that in the previous versions some options were not possible, but from version 3.5 on vxRail some things have changed, providing some integrations with vCenters.

    Thank you.

    Like

    1. Hi Sandro,

      Below are the answers for your questions:
      1) VxRail appliance supports two options of vCenter deployment during the VxRail initialization, one is the bundled vCenter Server (vCenter Server Appliance with external PSC, both VMs are running on VxRail cluster), the other option is the external vCenter which is running outside of VxRail cluster.
      Remark:
      – The external vCenter server requires the optional license.
      – The vCenter option CANNOT be changed after during the VxRail initialization, only supports to migrate the bundled vCenter server into the external vCenter server which can ONLY perform by Dell EMC support team or Dell EMC partner.
      2) For option 1, you need to add the source ESXi into VxRail cluster, then migrate the source VMs into VxRail node with Storage vMotion.
      3) VxRail also supports to connect the external storage (iSCSI or NFS datastore). You can arrange a service down time and move all VMs into this external storage. Then connects this datastore to VxRail cluster and move all VMs to vSAN datastore with storage vMotion.
      4) If you don’t want to do a lot of manual tasks, option 2 is my suggestion.

      Regards,
      Victor Wu

      Like

      1. Victor Wu,

        grateful for the answers.

        You really like to explain in the smallest detail and it was fast. Thank you very much.

        I am starting in the vxRail segment and realize that both Dell / EMC and also VMware have lots of information that are conflicting. So I am turning to friends who have had such practical experience.

        I will comment upon your answers to complete my understanding.

        1) Outside the vxRail cluster did you comment, could I use my vCenter Appliance production and add vxRail to do the setup? Are there any feature or bidding technical constraints for vCenter to support this scenario?
         
        Note:
        – External server vCenter requires the optional license.

        [Sandro] If I have a vCenter in production with standlone nodes and also clusters, I can use it to connect my vxRail, right? So I do not need to take an optional license.

        – The vCenter option CAN NOT be changed after initializing VxRail, supports only migration from the included vCenter server to the external vCenter server, which can be run only by the Dell EMC support team or by the Dell EMC partner.

        [Sandro] In my case, we did the initialization using the internal vCenter. This means that the migration direction is only from vxRail to another vCenter. And even then, it can only be done by a Dell team or partner (which is me). Can you tell me the reason for this restriction where the customer can not do this?

        In short, as we chose Internal vCenter and need to bring VMs from another vCenter already in production, as I mentioned above, this scenario is not supported. And even then, if it were the opposite, it would still have this restriction that only those who can perform this action is the Dell team or partner.

        2) I understood. This I read that some technicians have made and works on the more familiar versions of vxRail.

        But when you quoted Storaga vMotion, I had a question.

        Is vxRail’s internal vCenter licensed to use the Storage vMotion feature? Do I believe this is an obvious answer because of the need for vSAN or is there no relationship between features?

        3) This is an interesting option. If the VMs of the external vCenter cluster are in a storage with iSCSI option it will be very useful.

        4) I did not know that VMware Replication is free. This is very good for isolated scenarios. An excellent choice!

        Tks.

        Like

        1. To Sandro,

          For question 1, you can check below whitepaper or my post;

          VxRail vCenter Server Planning Guide
          https://www.dellemc.com/resources/en-us/asset/technical-guides-support-information/products/converged-infrastructure/vxrail-vcenter-server-planning-guide.pdf
          vCenter Server Options on VxRail Appliance
          https://wuchikin.wordpress.com/2018/05/08/vcenter-server-options-on-vxrail-appliance/

          [Sandro] If I have a vCenter in production with standlone nodes and also clusters, I can use it to connect my vxRail, right? So I do not need to take an optional license.
          [Victor] Yes. Make sure your vCenter license is standard edition, and need to check the compatibility with VxRail.

          – The vCenter option CAN NOT be changed after initializing VxRail, supports only migration from the included vCenter server to the external vCenter server, which can be run only by the Dell EMC support team or by the Dell EMC partner.

          [Sandro] In my case, we did the initialization using the internal vCenter. This means that the migration direction is only from vxRail to another vCenter. And even then, it can only be done by a Dell team or partner (which is me). Can you tell me the reason for this restriction where the customer can not do this?
          [Victor] Since the migration is the internal procedure, only Dell EMC support or some partner can access it. It is NOT a simple migration procedure.

          In short, as we chose Internal vCenter and need to bring VMs from another vCenter already in production, as I mentioned above, this scenario is not supported. And even then, if it were the opposite, it would still have this restriction that only those who can perform this action is the Dell team or partner.
          [Victor] What do you mean the opposite ?

          2) I understood. This I read that some technicians have made and works on the more familiar versions of vxRail.

          But when you quoted Storage vMotion, I had a question.

          Is VxRail’s internal vCenter licensed to use the Storage vMotion feature? Do I believe this is an obvious answer because of the need for vSAN or is there no relationship between features?

          [Victor] Storage vMotion feature is depended on the license edition of vSphere, it is not related to the vCenter license.

          Like

  7. Hi Victor Wu,

    Appreciate your all time support.

    Old setup: Servers with Storage

    New Setup: Vxrail HCI with vsphere 6.7 on VSAN 6.7. Vxrail 4.7. using Embedded Vcenter.

    In our exiting setup, we have VMware environment on servers connected to external storage running ESXi 5.5. Windows 2012 R2.

    We brought new Vxrail and want to migrate from old setup to new Vxrail.

    There are

    1. Non-clustered Servers
    2. Clustered Servers with RDM’s.

    For Non-Clustered Servers: We would be using Vmware convertor to convert the systems as there is no Vmotion in old setup.

    In Clustered Servers:
    We have Virtual servers and physical servers with windows failover clusters. Some of the applications are using NLB and windows shared volumes (Ex: \\4.4.4.40\share)

    What are the correct methods for these clustered servers migration to Vxrail?
    Minimal downtime can be given for clustered servers.

    Thanks,
    SAN

    Like

    1. Hi SAN,

      Here is my suggestion.
      1) The vSphere edition is 6.7 in VxRail 4.7. For Non-clustered Servers, you should check the compatibility with vSphere 6.7. Make sure your old servers can run on vSphere 6.7 after P2V.
      2) RDM cannot support on vSAN cluster. If the Windows failover cluster with RDM, you need to reconfigure the shared disk in iSCSI connection with VxRail.

      Regards
      Victor Wu

      Like

  8. Hi Victor Wu,

    Thanks for your sharing, really appreciated.
    We have purchased a Vxrail Cluster (embedded vCenter) and planning to move some VMs running in ESX 5.5 standalone into VxRail cluster, could you please suggest what is the best approach to do that? We are thinking using Veeam Backup & Replication solution.

    Thank you.

    Like

        1. vSphere 5.5 is already EOL. I am suggest you upgrade VxRail cluster to 4.5 or 4.7 if the hardware is supported. Then move the running VMs to VxRail cluster based on above procedures.

          The following direct upgrade paths to VxRail Appliance software 4.7.211 are supported:

          4.0.x
          4.0.510 -> 4.7.211
          4.0.520 -> 4.7.211
          4.0.521 -> 4.7.211
          4.0.522 -> 4.7.211
          4.0.523 -> 4.7.211
          4.0.524 -> 4.7.211

          4.5.x
          4.5.211 -> 4.7.211
          4.5.212 -> 4.7.211
          4.5.215 -> 4.7.211
          4.5.218 -> 4.7.211
          4.5.225 -> 4.7.211
          4.5.227 -> 4.7.211
          4.5.229 -> 4.7.211
          4.5.300 -> 4.7.211
          4.5.311 -> 4.7.211
          4.5.314 -> 4.7.211

          4.7.x
          4.7.000 -> 4.7.211
          4.7.001 -> 4.7.211
          4.7.100 -> 4.7.211
          4.7.110 -> 4.7.211
          4.7.111 -> 4.7.211
          4.7.200 -> 4.7.211

          Like

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