Sep 16 2016

Windows vCenter Migration to vCenter Appliance

Step by Step Migration of Windows based vCenter to vCenter Appliance


In my previous post we discussed the vCenter Migration Tool, Let’s see how we can do the Windows based vCenter migration to vCenter Appliance.

vCenter 5.5 LAB Setup

  • Operating System – Windows Server 2008 R2
  • vCenter – vCenter 5.5 update 1
    • any vCenter 5.5 build will work.
    • If you are running 5.1 or 5.0 then first upgrade vCenter to 5.5
  • Deployment – Simple …Distributed vCenter 5.5 deployment is also supported.
  • Database – Microsoft SQL 2012 64bit External server…. Any database supported by vCenter 5.5 is supported for migration. Database will be migrated to PostgreSQL.
  • Host – 2 ESXi 5.5 Hosts…. There any can be many hosts.
  • Network – Virtual standard Switch and Virtual Distributed Switch.


Download vCenter Server Migration Tool ISO file and mount it on any remote system or any windows management box.

Run Migration Assistant

  1. On the management box, brose the mounted ISO folders and Copy Migration-assistant folder to vCenter server.
  2. Login to vCenter server and run the VMware-Migraiton-assistant.exe, this will start migration assistant service. Do not close migration assistant command prompt or process.



3. Enter Administrator@vsphere.local account password and hit enter.


Read the source vCenter details collected by Migration assistant. You can see warning message if any plugin is not compatible with migration process.


Leave the migration process running on vCenter server and Run vCenter migration process form Remote management system.

If you Firewall is enabled on windows vCenter, exclude port 9123 or disable firewall.

Start vCenter Migration Process


  1. Login to management system where you have mounted installer ISO. You cannot run the migration process from vCenter server as vCenter server will be powered off during migration.
  2. Browse the cdrom and Install VMware-ClientInegrationPlugin-6.0.0, Install program with Run As Administrator to avoid issues.



    1. Follow the wizard the to complete client plugin installation. Once installation is successful proceed further

3. Start the installer by launching vcsa-setup.html from installation folder.


    1. Click on allow, the allow the Client plugin to access your system

4. Click on Migrate to start the migration process.



5. Read the message and Click on OK, if you are running vCenter 5.0, 5.1 stop here and upgrade vCenter to 5.5.



6. Accept the License agreement and Click Next

7. Enter the details of target ESXi or vCenter server where you want to deploy vCenter Appliance VM and then Click Next.



    1. Make sure ESXi host is not in lock down mode or maintenance mode

During Testing, I was trying to deploy vCSA appliance on ESXi 6 Host, which failed with below error.

Error Cannot authenticate to the target server.  

Please verify it’s an ESXi host and that the credentials are correct. 


Workaround –

  • None as per VMware release notes but changing my management box fixed my issue.You can try below –
  • Change management box from here you are running migration process.
  • Uninstall previous all VMware Client Integration plugin and install new Client Integration Plugin from this installer ISO.

8. Accept the SSL certificate of ESXi/vCenter server by Clicking Yes

  9. Enter Appliance VM Name and password for root user account. Click on Enable SSH checkbox to enable SSH on vCenter Appliance VM. Click Next.



   10. Enter source windows based vCenter FQDN, SSO Administrator password and if you want to migrate performance data select the check box. Click Next



11. Accept SSL certificate warning by Clicking Yes.

12. Enter AD details to Join vCenter Appliance to AD domain and then click Next.



13. Appliance size, based on your current inventory size migration assistant will suggest you the appliance size. Also as per the appliance size or inventory size vCenter Appliance CPU, RAM, Disk configuration will change.

e.g. I have selected Tiny application size, so it will deploy vCenter VM with 2 vCPU, 8 Gb RAM and 120Gb of disk. This vCenter can support up to 10 ESXi Host and 100 VMs.

If you inventory size is big then other options like small, medium, large.




14. Select datastore where you want to store vCenter VM. Select check box to enable Thin disk mode and then Click Next



15. Setup temporary network IP address to connect appliance VM with old vCenter. Do not enter actual vCenter IP here. Click Next.



16. Join the VMware Customer Experience Improvement program if you wish too or deselect the checkbox and then Click Next

17. Review the migration process summery and Click on Finish to start migration.

Migration wizard will perform below task:

  • Deploy new VM for vCenter Appliance.
  • Install required software packages
  • Start vCenter services on new VM
  • Export data from old vCenter and import to new vCenter.
  • Power On Appliance Vm



Wait until the migration wizard says Migration Completed……wait.




Once the migration Process is completed, login to web client and review your ESXi Host, VMs, User permissions, vCenter IP Address, SSL certificates…..etc.

You will notice that old vCenter VM is powered off new vCenter appliance is running. 

Apply vCenter 6 License key to vCenter server.

You can see my vCenter appliance and All ESXi Host and VMs are running fine without any issues.




Process for migrating Distributed vCenter 5.5 to vCenter appliance is little different. Refer below document for detailed information.





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