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Is there a generally accepted way to migrate a virtual machine that runs vSphere from one host to another without vMotion?

I have a small two-machine vSphere installation. There is no shared storage, and even if there was, vMotion is not licensed on the installation.

I can use the vSphere Update Manager to upgrade one host, but when I attempt to do the other host, it fails:

The host vm02.enets.local has a VM vSphere with VMware vSphere Update Manager or VMware vCenter Server installed. The VM must be moved to another host for the remediation to proceed.

The host vm02.enets.local has a VM vSphere with VMware vSphere Update Manager or VMware vCenter Server installed. The VM must be moved to another host for the remediation to proceed.

Normally I would just shut the VM down and migrate it while it's offline. But of course, if I do that to the vSphere machine, I will lose the ability to migrate because it's the vSphere server that provides that functionality.

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Your real goal is to upgrade ESXi on a standalone host, correct? –  ewwhite Jul 12 '12 at 21:54
    
@ewwhite - that's the endgame, but I know I could just do that by upgrading the host from bootable media. I also have heard of people using VMWare Converter to move VMs from one host to another (for people that don't have vSphere at all) but that seems a really hacky way of doing it. –  Mark Henderson Jul 12 '12 at 21:57

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Can you enable the SSH service on the hosts (Tech Support Mode) and SCP the Virtual Machine while it's powered off?

To be recognized, you will need to remove it from inventory on the sending side and add it to inventory on the receiving side.

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I'm going down this path. It's copying now, but it's absurdly slow (8Mbps). Any tips on how to speed this up? Don't really want to wait 4 hours for it to copy... –  Mark Henderson Jul 13 '12 at 4:09
    
Hmm never mind, turns out after a bit of a Google that 10Mb/sec when using scp with ESXi is pretty normal. I guess I'll just wait it out! –  Mark Henderson Jul 13 '12 at 4:11

I'm not sure if this answers your question, but I generally use one of several different methods to move VM's between vSphere hosts that aren't licensed for vMotion:

  1. Use Trilead VM Explorer to replicate the VM from the source host to the target host.

  2. Use WinSCP or Veeam FastSCP to copy and paste the VM's between hosts.

  3. Browse the datastore to download and upload the VM's between hosts.

Note that if you use Trilead VM Explorer you'll need a 30 day trial key to get access to the Replication and/or Backup functions to replicate/copy/move VM's directly between hosts.

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I just perform the ESXi host upgrades manually in this case. Shut the offending VM down and run the ESXi updates from the CLI or remote CLI. This is detailed a bit in: Are VMWare ESXi 5 patches cumulative?

and

VMWare's technical blog

However, as to the question on how to export/import a VM, I've used the OVF approach mentioned here to migrate a virtual machine between datastores/systems.

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