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I am seeking advice on how to best migrate and maintain legacy ESXi VMs in a read-only state and share remote access to each VM via a network.

The situation is the following:

Company A with 4 employees has an old HP server with ESXi5 installed on it. Most of the SAS drives and 2 out of 2 power supplies started to fail - red light blinking. There are no plans to either fix or upgrade the server, due to the fact that the server remains as the property of a certain IT provider. The company is planning to terminate the service of this IT provider and returning the rented server. I have managed to get a .vdmk copy of every VM with an idea of then running these VMs in the VMware Workstation environment.

To share access to all the employees I was thinking about two possible options:

  1. Purchase dedicated computer with Windows 10 Pro, install VMware Workstation and give every employee RDP access to it. The main complication is that there is no active system administrator nor general IT technician, so even though if I purchase and install the computer no-one will maintain it (for ex. update or troubleshoot).

  2. Start using either Azure VM or AWS VM and run the VMware Workstation there. Give RDP access to every employee. This way there is less maintenance involved, but it could be an overkill in term of the price.

Employees do not need to access the information on ESXi every day, just check it occasionally for the historical business records.

Feel free to ask for clarification on any mentioned point.

Updates:

  1. Users need to access VM's, not the host machine.
  2. The new system has been introduced and now the company is using it without any reliance on the old server. The read-only state would allow users occasionally check certain files, what cannot be migrated to the new system, and decline saving changes to this location if they accidentally start saving something.
  3. I've meant historical business records or better say documents, not ESXi records

What do you guys think out of these two options, would be the best way to proceed further? I am open to suggestions if you think both of the options are not suitable.

  • 1. Why do the users need access to the host machine rather than the virtual machines? 2. Why do you need to maintain this in a "read only" state? 3. What do you mean that the users need to access the ESXi records? What records? Perhaps you can clarify these points. – joeqwerty Nov 19 '17 at 1:33
  • @joeqwerty I have updated my question - answering your questions. – alljamin Nov 19 '17 at 8:06
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Do the professional thing and fix the existing server. It's also the path of least resistance. Anything else would be a major compromise or require more effort than should be necessary.

Older HP equipment isn't particularly expensive, and the barriers to doing this the right way are low.

  • I have updated my question reflecting your suggestion. – alljamin Nov 19 '17 at 8:05
  • Your old archival system still needs to run on functional hardware. Repair the server or host the VMs elsewhere. If cost is a problem consider starting VMs in the cloud only on user request. – John Mahowald Nov 19 '17 at 18:09
  • @JohnMahowald please re-read the question, especially the part where I talk about terminating the contract with IT solutions provider and returning the server. The second part of your suggestion "host the VMs elsewhere" is exactly what I am trying to find - purchasing a new host machine or switching to AWS or Azure. – alljamin Nov 20 '17 at 22:59
  • You're still dodging the answer. You have two solutions: fix the existing hardware and keep it, or migrate the VM's to new hosts. There is no other magical solution. – longneck Nov 21 '17 at 0:11
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    Yes, you can run servers or cloud instances. Or you could only keep backup tapes in cold storage. What is your question? Define what requirements you have, pick a solution for your needs. – John Mahowald Nov 22 '17 at 2:19

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