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.

vCenter 5.1 server service starts and then stops immediately

We recently upgraded our vCenter servers to vSphere 5.1.

With vSphere 5.1 there is an considerable change in how vCenter server is installed. The vCenter server is now composed out of the Single Sign On Server service, the Inventory Server service and the vCenter Server service. Authorization to the vCenter instance is now done against the Single Sign On server (SSO) and by default the local administrators group of the vCenter server is no longer administrator on the vCenter server instance. It is recommended to use an AD group as administrator to your vCenter instance.

About 2 weeks ago we installed the new vCenter servers. Following the install directions we installed the SSO server, followed by the Inventory server for the first vCenter  and then installed the first vCenter server. All on one machine. After the install there was a linked mode error, wich could easily be removed. We added the AD group for administrators to the top level of the vCenter instance, since we forgot to do that during the install. The next day we installed the second vCenter server, pointing to the SSO on the first vCenter for authentication.

Because we wanted to be able to use the vSphere client and not just the vSphere webclient, we added the servers to a linked mode group. We now could see both servers from the client, but, oddly enough, only when we connected to the first vCenter server. Other than that, everything seemed fine. Some hickups with security groups that were renamed in AD, after the fact, but nothing that couldn’t be resolved.

Untill last friday, when, after I applied the microsoft patches and rebooted the servers, the first vCenter server service wouldn’t start anymore. The second vCenter server was fine, indicating that it might not be related to the microsoft patches. And, yes, I did check wether Microsoft Security Advisory update KB2661254 was perhaps installed by mistake. This was not the case so the SSL certificates were OK (VMware KB 20370)

When I checked the windows event log I found the following message:

The description for Event ID 1000 from source VMware VirtualCenter Server cannot be found. Either the component that raises this event is not installed on your local computer or the installation is corrupted. You can install or repair the component on the local computer.

According to VMware KB 2015824 this message suggests an error in the connection to the vCenter database.
I checked all the points mentioned in the KB 2015824 and then restarted the vCenter service

Continue reading

Server 2008 activation with VAMT

Activating a windows server 2008 machine in a isolated network can be a bit tricky, when you have an isolated test environment with copies of your production machines running in your vSphere environment.

You certainly do not want them to come into contact with your production environment. So temporarily placing them in de main network, is not an option. You could place an ISA server firewall, with only http acces for the servers and activate them with a MAK key. But what if this is not an option either.

How do you activate a windows server 2008 machine when you don’t have internet acces or a KMS server in your isolated network.

You can activate them via proxy with the help of the VAMT snap-in.

Continue reading

How to migrate your vCenter server to a cluster with vDS

When all you virtual machine networks are on the vDS.

We are migrating all our Virtual machines to ESXi 4.1 clusters. Several machines were already running on the new clusters, so we felt it was time to move our vCenter server to it’s new location. Luckily we decided to test this first in our test environment.

The new clusters are all configured with Virtual Connect and all the virtual machine networks are defined on network adapters that are connected to a vDS. In our test environment we have the vCenter server on one virtual machine and the database (SQL server) on another virtual machine. We powered them both down and imported them with converter standalone. Then we powered them on again and thought this would be it. Obviously, this was not the case. Continue reading

How to change the OEM license key to VLK after P2V

When I first started working with VMware, we were consolidating many Physical machines to Virtual (P2V). Every once in a while, I would come across a Windows Physical machine with a OEM license. After sysprepping the machine you have to re-add the licence key. Wich could be difficult, since the key would somehow not be available anymore and the machine was now no longer the Physical machine, the OEM license was delivered with. Furthermore, since we had a Volume License key (VLK) for our Windows (XP, 2003) machines, I wanted to change the license key to our VLK.

Product codes for Windows machines can be changed, but they can only be changed to the same type of product code, from VLK to VLK , not from OEM to VLK. For this you have to deploy a trick using the Windows install CD (ISO) with your VLK. Continue reading

Failover of datastores from HP EVA 4000 to HP EVA 8000

…. and why we had to resignature them.

Last year the HP EVA, where two of our ESX 3.5 clusters resided, was getting too small. Also the HP EVA in question was getting too old and we wanted to be able to take it out of the maintenance contract. So we wanted to migrate all the data to another HP EVA with enough space. This blogpost describes how we did this in two parts. The first part (this blogpost) Is a descrition of how we migrated the storage and the problems we encountered doing this. The second part will be written by Robert van den Nieuwendijk, who wrote all the PowerCLI scripts needed for this migration, and can be found, shortly, on his blog.

The Storage device that was getting too small was an HP EVA 4000 with 22 TB capacity. We already expanded a HP EVA 8000, and made sure we had enough free space on this one to host all the data of the EVA 4000.

The first problem we encountered was that the EVA 8000 already had many replication copysets (CA). There is a limitation of the maximum number of copysets, 256.

We had two choices. Either migrate the storage of the EVA 4000 in two steps, wich would be 2 major changes with downtime. Or create some new VMFS volumes on the destination system and sVmotion all the machines, that could be sVmotionned, to the destination datastores, without downtime, and plan a change for the remainder. The latter is what we did. Furthermore we did some cleaning up of the VM’s and other storage, leaving the source EVA with just a little over the number of allowed vDisks to be replicated.

Among those disks were the ESX 3.5 boot disks. Those could be replicated and failed over, before the actual storage migration of the VM’s.

Here we encountered our second problem. After failing over the ESX hosts, an error message was shown on the Service Console of the host, “XXX may be snapshot, disabling access, see resignaturing info…”. Continue reading

vMotion fails with general system error

Not long ago I wanted to vMotion a virtual machine, it failed with a general system error at 80%. First thing that crossed my mind was, it must have a CD/DVD device attached. Wich is usually the reason for failing vMotion. So I editted the virtual machine settings from “client device” to “host device” and back. Checked to make sure there were no VMware tools upgrades that got stuck and tried it again. Still, I got the same error. I vMotionned some other machine off the same host, just to make sure vMotion was still viable. That worked, so vMotion on the cluster was still functional. It had to be something else related to this particular virtual machine. Continue reading

Losing Datastores?

Are you losing Datastores and use VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB). Check if you VCB proxy server is setup correctly. Most importantly, check if automount is disabled on the server. Typically Datastores will disappear fron ESX servers that are not running any Virtual Machines from the Datastore, while ESX servers that are running machines can still see the Datastore. Once you power off those machines, the Datastore will disappear from those ESX servers as well.

Over a year ago, I had this happen on our site. The VCB server was installed by a third party and had been running a while. We just replaced the hardware of some of our ESX 3.5 clusters and for some reason, suddenly, we started losing Datastores. Since the VCB server had been running quite a while, I didn’t think of it straight away. But more and more clues let me to believe this must be the reason for the mystery disappearances. So I checked the VCB server to see if automount was disabled and, sure enough, it wasn’t. I still don’t get why it took so long before this happened. Luckilly there is a way to resolve this. Continue reading

Going for VCAP-DCA/DCD

Being a VCP 3 and 4, the next step for me would be VCAP-DCA followed by VCAP-DCD. I have been dreading this for a while now, but decided I will go for it, despite the fact that I would have to do it all next to my job, kids and wot not.

To get started I downloaded the exam blueprints and, recently, attended the VMware vSphere Troubleshooting course. So the beginnings are there.

Now for the actual studying, there is a lot of reading to be done. Hands on experience with vSphere 4 should not really be a problem, well not this time, anyway, I’ll make sure of that. I had a little bit of a hickup with that part for my vSphere 4 exam. I took that exam without any real hands on experience at all. I only read the book Mastering VMware vSphere 4 (by Scott Lowe) and the vSphere 4.0 Quick Start Guide (By Duncan-Epping, Alan-Renouf, Bernie Baker, Thomas-Bryant, Stuart Radnidge) and, for the most part, relied on my previous experience with VI3. This actually, really, made the exam a lot more difficult than necessary. Although I passed my exam, I certainly won’t be making that mistake again. Continue reading