VMWare ESXi 3.5 Virtual Machine Migration

Friday, October 10, 2008 6:38:21 PM

I recently had the joy of installing the latest free release from VMWare, ESXi 3.5. I must say it has been quite a pleasure so far. I am now up to my third installation of ESXi and can't wait to load up a few more hosts. Here are the two setups that I am currently running for ESXi:

Dell 2850
2 GB RAM
Local RAID Array for VM Storage
1 Guest Operating System (Server 2003)

Dell 2850
4 GB RAM
Local RAID Array for ISO Storage
XioTech Magnitude 3D 3000 Fibre Channel SAN for VM Storage
9 Guest Operating Systems (Server 2003, Debian Etch)

Dell 2850
4 GB RAM
Local RAID Array for ISO Storage
XioTech Magnitude 3D 3000 Fibre Channel SAN for VM Storage
1 Guest Operating Systems (Server 2003)

The first system was loaded this way to add an additional Debian installation side by side with the Server 2003 installation and to improve some reliability issues we were seeing on the Server 2003 loaded bare metal.

The second and third system were originally Server 2003 R2 hosts with VMWare Server loaded hosting the 10 currently running Virtual Machines. These were running OK, but having to patch the host OS was a bit of a pain and we were pretty much at capacity. This is why we decided to move to ESXi. It would allow us a few more VMs with current hardware with the ability to add more RAM to the systems to scale them out further. Once we have a bit more money we will be investing in licensing for performing VMotion, but that is still a few months out, I will just be happy when I can get Virtual Center loaded and start performing Virtual Consolidate Backup (VCB) based backups.

Running pretty much all of the original VMs on a single ESXi host has proven to be almost a perfect fit. CPU utilization was very low, though memory was creeping up to about 3.5 GB used. One of our guests, running Microsoft SCCM, was complaining today about being low on Virtual Memory, so we're going to amp up the memory allocation to help it out so it isn't paging all that data.

Now, for what you came here for, moving the Virtual Machines. Since the last two hosts are both connected to the Fibre Channel XioTech SAN I configured a single volume for hosting the VMs on which they would share, thanks to VMFS-3. The first step is to shutdown the VMs that you want to move. After each VM has been shutdown right click on the VM in the Virtual Infrastructure Client (VI Client) and select "Remove From Inventory." This will ensure that it won't be accidentally started back up on this host. Now, from your destination server select the Configuration tab in the VI Client and navigate to the Storage option. Find the Datastore that contains your VM files and right click and choose "Browse Datastore." Now you must locate the VM Configuration file (*.vmx) for each VM that you wish to move. Right click this file and select "Add To Inventory." You should now be able to right click each host and power them on. You will be prompted that the VM has been moved and asked to Create or Keep the identifier, if you do not see this and your VM does not start, click the Summary tab and the question will be there. I chose to keep the identifier as this machine was "moved." Your VM should now completely start.

You will want to make sure that your network configuration is the same on both ESXi hosts or you may not have network connectivity when you start the VM from its new location.

Hope this helps, happy virtualizing.

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