Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter 2.0

by [Published on 24 June 2014 / Last Updated on 24 June 2014]

As a part of the effort to make migrating of server resources between environments easier, Microsoft has provided the new Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter 2.0 to extend their migration and management tools and ease the burden for transitioning from one virtualization hosting environment to another.

VMware to Hyper-V

Hyper-V is has gained in market share with particular fervor lately due to the pricing changes in Windows Server 2012. Add to that the feature enhancements and stabilization of the platform and you have a potential perfect storm to create a new go-to platform for anyone from SMB (Small to Medium Business) up to enterprise organizations.

While VMware is regarded as the incumbent in the on-premises server virtualization market, that share is being eroded recently with the growing migration of workloads on to the Hyper-V platform. This is where the release of the Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter (MVMC) 2.0 could be very well timed.

Looking at the process to migrate a VMware virtual machine from ESXi to Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012 R2, you can see how there is less of a barrier to bringing Hyper-V on board into the data center.

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Figure 1

Following the wizard, we see the simple step-by-step process to convert a VM. First we select all of the details of our Hyper-V environment:

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Figure 2

We choose where the virtual hard disk (VHD) files will go:

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Figure 3

Next we put our VMware environment information in to the wizard. VMware vCenter and direct connection to a vSphere host is supported. Versions are supported up to vSphere 5.5 which is the current release of the product.

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Figure 4

Once connected, we choose the VM that we want to convert from the VMware platform into our Hyper-V server. In this case, the machine was powered down, so you will see the state listed as Off in the wizard:

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Figure 5

Because our source machine is powered off, there are some options that will be grayed out. The migration can be done using a powered on source machine, but the ideal situation is to have it powered off for a cold migration.

VMware Tools (the client-side drivers in the VM guest) will be removed, so credentials will be needed for the powered on guest. In this case, it is not required as powered off guests will be converted with the VMware services disabled rather than uninstalled:

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Figure 6

A local working folder is needed during the conversion. This space is used during conversion as the VHD/VHDX files are created, and it is located on the machine which is running the MVMC client:

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Figure 7

Now the wizard shows it is ready to go, so we will begin the conversion:

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Figure 8

Once the conversion is completed, you will see the success status at the final page of the wizard:

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Figure 9

On your target Hyper-V server, you will now have the VM registered, but the network will be disconnected. Once you modify the VM configuration to map the virtual network adapter to the virtual switch, you can power on the server and you will be up and running:

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Figure 10

With all of the products that are available in the commercial vendor space that tout the ability to migrate workloads from one hypervisor to another, this may not seem like a significant win to have completed this task. Recall though, this is a freely available product from Microsoft and it is possible to receive support if you have an existing support agreement in place.

Destination Cloud

Porting from one hypervisor to another has its obvious merits, but the strength of this product lies in its ability to also copy workloads from an on-premises VMware environment to a Microsoft Azure platform. Using the same underlying techniques, the MVMC simply changes the process to export the machine to the public Microsoft Azure cloud.

The cloud migration capability may be the feature that takes this client to the next level to be able to leverage the entire Microsoft virtualization ecosystem, and begin the move towards public cloud consumption.

By using the MVMC toolkit, you can copy your workloads into Microsoft Azure for a full test of the client and hosting platform without risking your source system because the process is a copy rather than a move.

Use-Cases for MVMC 2.0

There are some obvious use-cases that we can imagine to put the MVMC 2.0 product to work for. The one which is being touted the most is the VMware to Microsoft migration capability. Because of the copy versus move process, there is a safe recovery in the event of any issues bringing up the target environment.

Microsoft to Microsoft is also a powerful use case. Converting legacy Hyper-V machines to the new VHDX format for support on the updated Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure environments will also be enjoyed by Microsoft systems administrators.

CLI Capabilities

While the GUI driven features of the MVMC are good, the advantage comes with the PowerShell Cmdlets that are available along with the deployment which allow you to script all of the processes performed by the tool.

With the 1.0 release of the product, there was a CLI option which has been entirely replaced by the PowerShell version packaged with the MVMC 2.0 installation. This allows for integration with orchestration tools and other configuration management products to schedule and script the migration of VM resources.

Features and Functionality with Version 2.0

Version support on the client and host side is impressive. Hosts are supported on VMware vSphere 4.1, 5.1, and 5.5, and the client configuration is available to migrate Windows guests running as recent as Windows Server 2012 R2.

Linux guest support is also included which is a great feature. Microsoft Azure platform is becoming more populated with a wide variety of guest environments, and the MVMC 2.0 takes great strides towards growing that breadth of guest support.

Overall Thoughts on MVMC 2.0

Microsoft has done a great job with the features and functionality of the Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter 2.0 release. Having made significant advancements on their Hyper-V and Azure platforms, this is the natural next step to provide a path to migrate workloads.

As you encounter complex systems, you may find that some complications arise, but from the testing done on the MVMC so far, the results have been positive. This tool has the potential to lift the barriers to transitioning to Microsoft Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure as your hosting platform.

Microsoft themselves are not implying that this is the ultimate tool to reach the end goal of a fully Microsoft based infrastructure, but at the same time it has become a real possibility with advances made on MVMC 2.0 and on the target environments. It is definitely recommended to give the process a try and see how this could fit as a new tool in your virtualization toolbox.

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