The migration tool that’s part of vSphere 6.5 was actually first released as a VMware fling after it was put forward as an idea in 2013. It was then officially to GA with the release of vSphere 6.0 Update 2m…where m stood for migration. Over it’s development it has been championed by William Lam who has written a number of articles on his blog and more recently Emad Younis has been the technical marketing lead on the product as it was enhanced for vSphere 6.5.
You basically have two options to upgrade a Windows based 6.0 vCenter:
My approach for this particular environment was to ensure a smooth upgrade to vSphere 6.0 Update 2 and then look to upgrade again to 6.5 once is thaws outs in the market. The cautious approach will still be undertaken by many and a stepped upgrade to 6.5 and migration to the VCSA will still be common place. For those that wish to move away from their Windows vCenter, there is now a very reliable #migrate2vcsa path…as a side note it is possible to migrate directly from 5.5 to 6.5.
Existing Component Versions:
- vCenter 6.0 (4541947)
- NSX Registered
- vCloud Director Registered
- vCO Registered
- ESXi 6.0 (3620759)
- Windows 2008 (RTM)
- SQL Server 2008 R2 (10.50.6000.34)
All vCenter components where installed on the Windows vCenter instance including Upgrade Manager. There where also a number of external services registered agains’t the vCenter of which the NSX Manager needed to be re-registered for the SSO to allow/trust the new SSL certificate thumbprint. This is common, and one to look out for after migration.
I’m not going to go through the whole process as it’s been blogged about a number of times, but in a nutshell you need to
- Take a backup of your existing Windows vCenter
- I took a snapshot as well before I began the process
- Download the vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 ISO and mount the ISO
- Copy the migration-assistant folder to the Windows vCenter
- Start the migration-assistant tool and work through the pre-checks
If all checks complete successfully the migration assistant will finish at waiting for migration to start. From here you start the VCSA 6.5 installer and click on the Migrate menu option.
When Stage 1 finishes you are taken to Stage 2 where is asks you to select the migration data as shown below. This will give you some idea as to how much storage you will need and what the initial foot print of the over and above the actual VCSA VM storage.
If there are any issues or if the migration failed at any of the steps you do have the option to power down/remove the new VCSA and power back on the old Windows vCenter as is. The old Windows vCenter would have been shutdown by the migration process just as the copying of the key data finished and the VCSA was rebooted with network settings and machine name copied across. There is proper roll back series of steps listed in this VMwareKB.
The only external service that I needed to re-register against vCenter was NSX. vCloud Director carried on without issue, but it’s worth checking out all registered services just in case.
Conclusion and Thoughts:
As mentioned at the start, I was a bit skeptical that this process would work as flawlessly as it did…and on it’s first time! It’s almost a little disappointing to have this as automated and hands off as it is, but it’s a testament to the engineering effort the team at VMware has done around this tool to make it a very viable and reliable way to remove dependancies on Windows and MSSQL. It also allows those with older version of Windows that are well past their used by date the ability to migrate to the VSCA with absolute confidence.