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  • Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My Virtual Way: Lab to migrate a VM with vMotion (and still without hardware)

The last time I started learning what VMware was all about, I stopped at the high-level theoretical overview of the availability, scalability, management and optimization challenges that VMware technologies help organizations overcome. Having no physical servers at my disposal, the first time I went through the long list of VMware technologies vMotion, High Availability, vFlash and all the others - I didn’t do anything. This time, however, I used my ESXi lab set up on Ravello to try to get something done. The result: I migrated a VM using vMotion from one ESXi host to another.

I won’t bore you with my summary of the study guide I’m using to understand the differences between Fault Tolerance and High Availability or my (hopefully effective) ways to remember what DPM or SIOC stand for (if you’re studying for the VCA-DCV, drop me a line if you care to share notes). Instead I wanted to share what I needed to know to migrate a VM using vMotion and how I did it.

First - while I did learn what vMotion is supposed to do - I had no idea how it is actually done. What needs to be configured where, and how. I started with knowing that I will need a set up that consists of (at least) two ESXi hosts, so that I can migrate a VM from one to another.

My ESXi lab

For this I used my basic lab, consisting of two ESXi nodes, vCenter, an NFS server and a Windows client running my vSphere client (I could have used the vSpere web client, but this was my basic set up so went with that).

I previously created and saved his whole ESXi lab as a blueprint in my Ravello library, so I didn’t have to upload, install or configure anything. I used the blueprint, and published an application from it - basically running a nested ESXi lab on Google Cloud. A few minutes after I hit publish - I could console into my Windows Client and run vSphere, where I had my two ESXi hosts already configured, as well as several VMs that I created there in the past. One of them - ubuntu cloned VM (not the best name, yes) - was already running.

Poetry in vMotion

Since I didn’t know anything about how to actually use vMotion, I searched for some resources and found a video from VMware that was fairly useful in pointing me to the “migrate” option on the VM. However, when I tried to do that, the vMotion option was greyed out, saying that the host the VM was running on wasn’t enabled for vMotion. With a little digging around and a little help from my friends, I realized that I needed to configure the switch on the hosts to enable vMotion.

As you can see from the following set of screenshots, once I enabled vMotion on the host, I was able to migrate my running VM using vMotion. I celebrated with this song.

VM on ESXi host 1
Change host
New location
Migrating VM
VM running on ESXi host 2

Next time - a deep dive into vSphere core components. If you are also working on your VCA or VCP certification and have cool tips, useful guides and especially - if you have ideas for good hands-on exercises or are using Ravello for your VCA, VCP or VCDX study labs - let me know!

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