How To Guy

How To Migrate VMware VMs via Open Virtualization Format

Have a fallback plan and learn how to use OVF to migrate VMware VMs.

I was recently involved in a VMware virtual machine migration project that required I use VMware Converter Standalone.

VMware Converter Standalone is a solid and stable migration tool that comes with a variety of integrated checks and balances to ensure that a migrated VM is migrated and converted properly from start to finish. It also ensures that the VM is operable and intact once it is powered on and incorporated into its new infrastructure.

Yet, there are instances where VMware Converter Standalone may be hindered due to accidental changes out of your control on the network (such as a vLAN change, unannounced emergency network maintenance). Even then, considering some form of connectivity remains intact between the source and destination vSphere infrastructures, it's good to have a secondary fallback that allows you to continue the migration process without interruption.

My fallback plan was to use the VMware Open Virtualization Format, or OVF. The OVF is a platform-independent, efficient, extensible, and open packaging and distribution format for all VMs. It's not the preferred method, but OVF helps in a pinch. The downside to OVF is that the VM being migrated must be powered off to complete the process.

Here are the basic steps; here, I'm using the vSphere fat client. This is the pre-OVF process:

  1. Verify that the VM is powered off and not encrypted.
  2. Choose the powered-off VM from the vSphere Client menu: File | Export | Export OVF Template.
  3. In the Directory box, choose a location to save the VM and then click OK.
  4. Allow the process to complete.

Now, the post-OVF process:

  1. From the source vSphere VI client, choose and select the VM OVF template that you just created: File | Deploy OVF Template.
  2. Browse the Directorhy where the OVF is located from the Pre-OVF Process and click Next.
  3. Select the vmdk disk format as Thick or Thin. Click Next.
  4. Give the template a name (I suggest the same name, actually, since you are migrating the VM from one source to a different destination.)
  5. Now, review the settings and click Finish.
  6. Allow the process to complete.
  7. Import the VM from OVF in destination vCenter.
  8. Choose Edit Settings and make the necessary changes as needed, then click OK.
  9. Power on the VM in the new destination vCenter. The migration is now complete.

At this point, you're done. I would ensure that you get your primary application for migrations back online as soon as possible. And remember, this a secondary method, not the preferred method.

You can also use Storage vMotion if the VM is to be powered on during the entire migration process, but that's a topic for another time.

Good migrating and I wish you success on all your VM migration projects.

About the Author

James Brown, vExpert, VCP, MCSE, is a senior virtualization engineer and CEO of Virtuxperts and VMware Users Group Leader in Las Vegas, NV. James' area of expertise includes virtualization, infrastructure and Windows systems.

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