Deep Dive in to Virtualization & Cloud

Migrate Windows vCenter to VCSA 6.7

VMware has deprecated vCenter Server for Windows with the release of vSphere 6.7 and all future releases will only be available in VCSA form. VMware worked out a great way to migrate users running vCenter server application on Windows based system into a Linux appliance. This Linux appliance is based on Photon OS, a VMware Linux distribution, optimized for vCenter server application. VMware vCenter server Appliance (VCSA) was based on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) where the security patches were released when SUSE released them. This blog will help you to walk through how to migrate a Windows based vCenter server to VMware VCSA.

Plan Migration

  • You can migrate from vCenter server 6.0 or 6.5 into the VCSA 6.7 U1. You can also have external Platform service controllers (PSC), where v6.0 and 6.5 are supported.
  • If you have installed vSphere Update Manager (VUM) as a side product within your vCenter server on Windows or if it runs on separate VM, both ways are supported, and you can migrate to VCSA 6.7, and VCSA now includes an embedded Update Manager
  • Any database, internal or external, supported by VCS can be migrated to the new embedded vPostgres database.
  • The VCSA with embedded PSC requires the following hardware resources:
  • Tiny (up to 10 hosts, 100 VMs) – 2 CPUs, 10 GB RAM.
  • Small (up to 100 hosts, 1000 VMs) – 4 CPUs, 16 GB RAM.
  • Medium (up to 400 hosts, 4000 VMs) – 8 CPUs, 24 GB RAM.
  • Large (up to 1000 hosts, 10,000 VMs) – 16 CPUs, 32 GB RAM.
  • X-Large (up to 2000 hosts, 35,000 VMs) – 24 CPUs, 48 GB RAM
  • To help with selecting the appropriate storage size for the appliance calculate the size of your existing VCS database using the VMware KB.
  • Clock synchronization of the target machines on the vSphere network before migration starts.
  • If you’re using Fully qualified domain name (FQDN) make sure that the management workstation you’re using to launch and monitor the migration process, and the destination ESXi or vCenter, are on the same DNS server.
  • If your vCenter Server service is running in a user account other than the Local System account, verify that the user account in which the vCenter Server service is running has the following permissions:
  • Member of the Administrators group
  • Log on as a service
  • Act as part of the operating system (if the user is a domain user)
  • Replace a process level token
  • Source vCenter server (and PSC, if separated) are not using DHCP

Start Migration

Download the VMware vCenter Server Appliance 6.7 ISO from VMware downloads. Mount the ISO on your computer. Copy the migration-assistant folder to the Windows vCenter Server (and PSC server if external). If the PSC is running on a different Windows server then you must run the Migration Assistant on the PSC server first.

Start the VMware-Migration-Assistant and enter the SSO Administrator credentials to start running pre-checks.

The pre-migration-checker verifies that:

  • vCenter Server or Platform Services Controller to verify that migration is supported
  • SSL certificates validity and compatibility with system names
  • Network connections
  • DNS resolution
  • Internal and external ports used
  • External database connectivity (if any external DB is configured)
  • Administrator privileges on the Windows machine
  • Required disk space for exporting configuration data
  • NTP server validation
  • Any credentials that you enter

The pre-migration checker performs also checks for the target environment:

  • Minimum processor requirements
  • Minimum memory requirements
  • Minimum disk space requirements
  • Administrator privileges on the target host
  • Any credentials that you enter

Next, on your local machine or another machine, open the vcsa-ui-installer, Launch the “install.exe” and click the large “Migrate” button to start a new assistant.

Accept the End user licensing agreement (EULA) and enter the source server. Example from the lab is below.

Then after clicking Next, enter the ESXi host or vCenter server. This is the destination where you’ll be deploying the new VCSA appliance.

In this next step, your setup the target VM name. The host name of vCenter will automatically be migrated.

Next, you must select your deployment size and network.

After, on the next page, you’ll need to pick storage where the VM will be created and stored. You have a possibility to use thin disks to save disk space.

On the next screen, choose network settings, note that those settings are not the final settings as the final network settings will be copied from the original vCenter server.

The first phase will start where a new clean VCSA is deployed and started.

After the first phase is done, the second phase will copy over all the necessary data from your old vCenter server.

In this step, your credentials from the previous stage will be brought over.

If your vCenter on windows is part of Microsoft Active Directory, you’ll have to specify your Microsoft Active Directory (AD) domain, administrator username and password

And you can also select what you want to copy to the VCSA. There might be an old data you do not want to copy, or you do not care to copy.

The process will take several minutes to complete

You’ll receive a warning that the original vCenter server will be shut down after the copy is finished.

If you click OK, you can also have a look at the Windows vCenter server VM where in the background, you’ll see some copy operations going along other migrations steps.

And the final screen should show no errors, and successful migration. After clicking Close button, you’re automatically redirected the connection page where you (still) can connect via the vSphere Web client (Flex) or chose the new and modern HTML 5 web-based client.


If you have any comments, please drop me a line.
I hope this article was informative, and don’t forget to buy me a coffee if you found this worth reading.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.