Converting iSCSI Targets in Windows to VMDK

Recently I was tasked with converting iSCSI connected disks on Windows Servers to a new SAN. With this migration it was decided that we should convert the disks to native ESXi VMDK format.

It is not possible to storage-vMotion the iSCSI disks without doing some work first (see below) as the hypervisor does not see the iSCSI disks as they are essentially remote disks.
In this article are some ideas you could potentially use to convert the iSCSI disks to VMDK.

Option A: Some downtime – easy

You could use the VMware vCenter Converter tool to migrate the disks to VMDK. This will involve some down time.

Option B: No down time necessary – requires some work


Another option which you could potentially do without any down time is to:

  • Attach a new HDD to the VM with the same size (or bigger) as the iSCSI disk
  • In disk management (diskmgmt.msc), right click the iSCSI volume and select mirror. Select the new HDD we just attached to the VM
  • Wait for the volumes to mirror – no down time required during the mirroring process. Depending on the volume size, the mirroring process could take a while.
  • When the mirroring process is complete, right click the iSCSI disk and select Remove Mirror. Select the iSSCI disk in the next window and confirm that you want to remove the mirror.
  • All your data that was previously on the iSCSI disk is now on the VMDK. You can safely disconnect the iSCSI volume.
  • Use vMotion to move the disks to a new server/storage appliance

Troubleshooting a Broken Network Adapter in vSphere ESXi

You reboot a VM and 2 hours later you realise there’s no network connectivity on that VM.
You try to open the Network and Sharing Center console but the window just hangs and everything seems to be chugging along very slowly.

I’ve experienced a number of different scenarios where network adapters go AWOL in a VM – usually caused by a guest (Windows Update) or VM hardware update. For the latter it is best practice to update the VMware Tools first before upgrading the hardware version.


Backing Up an ESXi 5 Guest VM by Exporting to OVA/OVF Template

ESXi acts as a really flexible and powerful monster of an operating system which can easily divvy up your server’s physical hardware in to virtualised components. These components can then be shared among tens of virtual machines depending on how you’ve set things up.

Although flexible and powerful, I could not find any straight forward back-up guides for backing up my virtual machines.
Snapshots are in no way shape or form back-ups so that is out of the question. I did take a look at copying the VMs out of the data store either through the vSphere client or SSH but that is a bit messy.