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What vCenter Converter Has Added -- and Subtracted

Early in my virtualization career, VMware vCenter Converter was one of the first tools that helped me get started with building a virtualized data center. Converter is a physical-to-virtual (P2V) tool that converts physical servers to virtual machines for us in vSphere environments. My days of using Converter on a daily basis are over, but I still do use it.

And every so often, there are updates to Converter that bring interesting new features (or deleted capabilities). Because of that, it's important to know what's going on with this tool. The standalone version of Converter is now at version 5.5.3, and it has a few points of interest I wanted to pass along. You can, of course, read the whole user guide or release notes, but I prefer a short and sweet summary of the key changes:

  • The big "What's New" is OpenSSL update. You may want to forget about the Heartbleed bug, but if you're using an older version of Converter, this fix alone should be reason enough to update. It protects you against OpenSSL security vulnerabilities, including Heartbleed.
  • No support for Windows 2000 systems. This isn't new or specific to the latest release, but don't think that Converter will save the day for a VM or obsolete server that's been ignored forever, since Converter 5.5.3 can't convert Windows 2000 servers. Windows 2000 and NT system support was discontinued in Converter 4.3, meaning that Converter 4.0.1 is the last build to include 2000 and NT support. I'm not encouraging you to keep these operating systems, but if you need to move them, Converter 4.0.1 may still be worth having.
  • VMware Server removed. There was a time that I used VMware Server 2.0 for almost everything. That was before ESXi and a critical change in my data center practice. VMware Server was popular for small environments, but has been dead since 2009 in VMware talk. VMware Server is not a supported source VM for the newest Converter. Note that VMware Workstation 7, 8, 9 and 10 are supported, as are VMware Player 3, 4, 5 and 6.
  • Windows Server 2012 R2, Not R2. In the documentation, only "Windows Server 2012" is listed as a supported operating system. It doesn't specify R2, which is strange, as R2 is likely to be the default version of Windows Server 2012 for most. Its absence as a listed system doesn't mean it won't work, but it's something to be aware of. By way of convention, both Server 2008 and 2003 have their "R2" designations separate. Read the release notes if you'd like to verify this for yourself.
  • Converter 5.5 keeps up with ESXi 5.5 and vCenter Server 5.5. Try to use the latest version of Converter in all situations. And whatever you do, don't use the same version of Converter from five years ago with your shiny new vSphere cluster. Newer vSphere editions may work with older versions of Converter, but drives and VM inventories may not be built as expected, especially if newer features like VMFS-5 volumes or VMware Virtual SAN are in use.
  • VMware Virtual SAN supported. Again, it's not a new feature for 5.5.3, but in the area of Virtual SAN, be aware that Converter 5.5.1 had introduced support for the new storage option with vSphere.

Converter may not be the coolest part of my virtualization practice nowadays, but when I need some help it has always been there for me. I do my best to check back on it often, since it doesn't get the promotion that the other mainstream products get; but I don't want to ever be in a situation to find out that a capability I had before is no longer available.

Do you still use Converter? If so, how do you use it? Share your use cases and comments on the latest features below.

Posted by Rick Vanover on 12/03/2014 at 11:08 AM


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