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ESXi storage migration

Figured I'd post something useful about this experience.

Really, it's all about planning. Not just having a plan, or even having a plan that covers the basics, but having a plan that allows for practical things, like time off, shipping errors, configuration oversights, and just plain bad luck.

We've had all of the above and then some on this latest project. No matter how hard we tried to make our deadlines, we either forgot a key point (ESXi doesn't do storage migration on its own), or were given misinformation or not enough information (ET RS-16 IP-4 doesn't handle jumbo frames including/past 8000), or just plain bad luck abounded (the crux of the project lay across a perfect storm of not one but three long weekends (Christmas, Boxing day, New Years) compounded by different locations having different ideas about which days to take off.

I've spent my New Years Eve (well, 95% of it) on one task: Migrate the storage of all the VMs on our NY site's ESXi box from local to an iSCSI server we just shipped down and arrived in the nick of time. Simple enough, but man we messed up on some basics.

Now granted, we're a bit overworked lately, but dood, we both were in agreement that I just had to storage migrate from one datastore to the other. Simple! Except ESXi cannot do storage migration, as that is a VCenter function (could be ESX as well). So I tried FastSCP. Nothing fast about it, and it also destroys any thin-provisioned disks. Big bada boom.

The fix? Well, we have a great candidate for a VCenter host - that physical server hosting the iSCSI targets! Except it doesn't have the VIM ISO. FTP that over, 1.2 hours. Install Daemon tools, reboot. Try adding host to VCenter after install, fails. ESXi needs patching. Patch, it reboots. Added host. Works! Started moving over storage, working like a charm. So we're okay at this point...

The last piece that's weighing on my mind is that one disk has failed in the iSCSI array (an MD1000). Local people can't pick one up, so I have to get one when I arrive in NY on Sunday, Lord willing.

Ok time to go enjoy the last bits of New Years and go to bed.

Last thought of the evening: Backlit keyboards should be mandatory. Thank you Apple for forcing Dell on the bandwagon.

Edit: The VPN died shortly after posting this, around 1am. Had to give up after spending 2 hours messing about trying to get back in. D was able to get in via logmein and reboot the VPN server, but it's still acting up. I managed to get back in via VPN this morning and set up logmein straightaway.


  1. I've begun a migration from Pure XenServer to ESXi for our server environment and we may have a little extra scratch to buy utilities/tools. Are there any ESXi/vSphere specific things that you would rather not live without? I know Veeam is pretty sick for backup.

  2. Veeam for backup is essential if backups are a business requirement. We're currently also using 'vCOPS' but I'm not convinced it's helpful in a small org. Really, the big thing about a VMware environment is that it can basically run itself, so if you have a bigger install stuff you'd want to look at is automation tooling. If you can't automate it, you don't want it.

    Another thought is 'what's the business case I'm trying to solve?' A lot of problems are solved via public cloud stuff these days. And 'how can we measure change?' is a big question to ask.


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