August 27, 2010
My datacenter migration (or renovation, as I'm referring to it) includes a fair amount of added virtualization. We'll be maxing out the memory and processor power of three machines at each site, and those will act as a VMware HA cluster (we're buying the vSphere Essentials Plus license kit for each site).
Of course, I've got to have some VMs to run. I could reinstall all of my machines using cobbler (which would invoke the gods of trial and error, not to mention incur Murphy's Wrath), or I could convert the machines that already exist from physical to virtual (p2v). That second option sounds much less error prone.
That being said, converting a physical machine to a VM isn't exactly a fast process. Hoping to get it done the weekend of the move would be foolish, so I need to get it done beforehand. That's why I'm driving to Philadelphia today.
Last week, I threw a couple of terabyte SATA drives into a spare PowerEdge 1950 server, upped the RAM a bit, and installed a freshly minted copy of vCenter Hypervisor 4.1 (formerly known as ESXi). I'm trucking this machine down to our secondary data site today so that I can begin the p2v conversion process. I've got enough disk space that I won't run out (I'm only putting the root partitions in the VMs, since all the data is stored on the SAN), and I don't need to actually run the machines, so RAM won't be a problem. This will just be a holding tank until I get the VM hosts setup during the conversion weekend.
The actual conversion will be done using VMware Converter, a free tool by VMware that I've been really impressed with. It does want an ESXi...err..vCenter Hypervisor server to connect to, but that's free too.
Once this is down there, I've got some decisions to make. Namely, I need to decide how long to wait until I do the conversion. Not a lot of data changes on the root partition. It's going to be limited to logs, really (since I haven't gotten a centralized syslog server running yet). The exception to this rule is the domain controller at that site. That needs to be the absolutely last machine I convert, and once I do it, I've got to turn off the source, because if the image becomes too far out of sync, well...that's sort of like crossing the streams.
So, has anyone else pre-converted VMs like this in preparation for a move? Any advice or caveats to watch for?
Fixed the mistaken Ghostbusters quote. Did I seriously say "crossing the beams"? I am disappoint.