How to import a virtual machine with VMware converter standalone 5 to vSphere 5.1

Today I had to import an machine from our vSphere 5.1 production vCenter to our vSphere 5.1 test vCenter. I allready found that is isn’t possible to connect with VMware converter 5 directly to a vSphere 5.1 vCenter server. Converter will crash when you try to do this*. It is however possible to connect directly to an ESXi 5 (or less) host.

*Note: This issue has been resolved in VMware Converter Standalone 5.0.1 (since october 24, 2012)

Since we are still in the process of upgrading, all our hosts are still ESXi 4.1, so I figured this would be no problem. First I tried to convert the running VM by using the option “powered-on machine”. This usually isn’t a problem, but today it threw an exeption: error 1604.

I decided I would not spent a lot of time trying to figure out why it would not let me do this and just made a clone of the running machine. I left the clone powered off and I could then use the source type “Vmware Infrastructure virtual machine” with the conversion. I connected to the host where the clone VM was registered, selected the powered off VM and clicked next.

Only to find that this generated another error:

unable to obtain hardware information for the selected machine

I remembered I had seen this error before, although then it was related to the OS of the server. This was way back when windows server 2008R2 was new and not yet supported. I googled a bit and did indeed find several references from people having trouble with this. Both windows server 2008 and 2003. My machine was a windows server 2003 32 bit. I did change the OS type of the machine, as suggested in these references. To my regret, this didn’t do the trick.

I thought about what could cause converter not to be able to collect the hardware data of the VM. Then I remembered, the virtual machine, I was trying to convert, had a network connection on a vDS. A vDS is essentially a device generated/managed by vCenter. So maybe, with converter having trouble with vCenter 5.1, converter wasn’t able to collect the data from the vDS.

I edited the VM to connect to a standard vSwitch and then started the conversion again. This time it worked like a charm and the conversion was done in less than 10 minutes.

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