Moving from windows vCenter to vCSA 6.5 using the migration-assistant

Since the introduction of vCenter Server appliance (vCSA), there has always been a debate on which one is better (Windows based deployment or vCSA) and what one’s advantages over the other is. Folks at VMware have spent lot of their time and effort on making vCSA better and are committed to making sure all the features are available with vCSA in order to relieve the customers of the dilemma of choosing between the two. This is very evident with every release of vSphere. An increasing amount of customers are now convinced that vCSA is as good as (or better) windows VC in terms of scalability and are moving to appliance based deployments.

While most of the current deployments are based on windows, there was no one-size-fits-all approach to migrating from windows based VC to vCSA until the migration-assistant tool was introduced in the 6.0 Update 2m version. The migration-assistant tool makes it easier for the migration to be carried out without worrying about multiple components being affected in the process, better yet, an automated way of doing it minimizes the risk of losing important configurations like performance stats, logs and events.

In this blog post we will look at the steps involved in migrating a windows vcenter with an embedded PSC (minimal/simple install) to a vCSA 6.5. The binary can be downloaded from the VMware portal.

Once downloaded, mount the ISO onto the VC and run the migration assistant tool which is present under <Mounted Drive>:\migration-assistant\VMware-Migration-Assistant

Note that this has to be run on the windows VC and it will automatically detect the VC instance running on the machine and ask for SSO admin password.


Once the Administrator@vsphere.local’s password is keyed in, it will start running the scripts to do pre-checks


Once the prechecks are complete, the wizard then preps the windows vCenter to be migrated to the vCSA. This window has to run until the migration completes failing which the process will fail.


Now since one of the steps in migration is to power of the source VC and move it’s network identity to the newly deployed vCSA, the next steps of the actual migration process itself have to be run from any other machine which has connectivity to the source VC and the destination infrastructure to deploy the new vCSA server.

Mount the v6.5 ISO to the identified machine that meets the above condition and run the migration wizard by going to : <Mounted Drive>:\vcsa-ui-installer\win32\installer

Once the below wizard pops up, click on Migrate


This starts another wizard that starts the deployment of the vCSA appliance. This again is broken down into two stages. The first one involves deploying the appliance and the second one involves configuring it


Accept the EULA and continue.


The next step requires the details of the source windows vCenter and the credentials for the SSO administrator


When the wizard establishes a connection to the source VC, it presents the certificate thumbprint which has to be accepted to proceed further. Click on Yes and continue.


The next step is to provide the details of the destination vCenter or the ESXi Server where the new vCSA will be deployed.


Accept the certificate thumbprint and continue


Specify the VM Name and root user password for the vCSA


Select the deployment size for the vCSA. Since I had a small deployment with an embedded PSC, I’m choosing the tiny instance. Note that the resources consumed by the vCSA changes across the deployment sizes


Select the datastore where the vCSA will be deployed, choose thin disk if required


In order to have an IP communication with the source vCenter, the deployed vCSA will need a temporary IP during the migration phase. Once the migration is complete, the network identity of the source VC will be assigned to the vCSA


Review and Finish. This will start the deployment of vCSA


This will kick-off the deployment process


Once the stage 1 is complete, the appliance configuration will start


You can see from below screen shot that there is a green tick for stage 1 which means the Stage 1 has completed successfully


When you click Next, the pre-migration process kicks in


This checks the compatibility with all the components and extensions that are registered with the source vCenter and the vCSA once the migration completes. I have an older version of vRO which might not work with the new one, hence the warning.


The vCSA can be joined to the domain using the AD credentials


In the next step, the wizard let’s us select the data that needs to be migrated from the source to destination. This can only be configuration or everything including events, tasks and the performance data


Once that is completed, you can optionally join the CEIP. I usually skip this


Confirm the details and start the migration


Note that the source VC shutdown during the migration as it’s network identity will be migrated to the vCSA. Also, this is the exact reason this wizard should not be run on VC as the migration status will not be known if the machine shuts down


The data transfer might take anywhere between 15 mins to an hour depending on the amount of data that has to be migrated


Once the copy is complete, the machine is configured with the required services and data is imported


The impressive thing about this method of migration is that it preserves everything from source to destination. You can see that even the certificates are imported and applied on the vCSA. And another good thing is the shiny new UI that the new vCenter is built on


Try this in your lab/ dev environment and let me know how it goes.

3 comments Add yours
  1. I carried this out in my home lab yesterday as a test, including some large samples of legacy data. It all worked flawlessly. Good work by VMware. :-)

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