Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter eases VM migrations

For admins managing both vSphere and Hyper-V in the data center, Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter may mean fewer VM conversion headaches.

Microsoft released version 1.0 of MVMC, a standalone appliance for migrating VMware vSphere VMs to Hyper-V VMs. A vCenter plug-in that goes by the same name allows these conversions to occur within the vCenter client. Will these products really make life easier for virtual admins?

Some VMware customers may suffer from déjà vu when they read about Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter (MVMC). The virtualization vendor offered its own conversion software pair until 2010.

VMware Converter Enterprise was only available to enterprise customers as a plug-in to vCenter, while VMware Converter Standalone was available to anyone with a valid VMware account. VMware did away with the Enterprise edition in 2010, dropped Standalone from the name of the other converter and now offers VMware Converter  free to anyone.

What's new in MVMC and how is it different from VMware Converter?

I found both editions of MVMC very easy to use and understand. The vCenter plug-in and the standalone application are almost identical, except for two additional wizard panes in the standalone application that ask for your vSphere login credentials and to select a VM.

With the MVMC plug-in, you right-click on an existing VM in vCenter and select the option Convert to Hyper-V virtual machine from the context menu. This takes you through a short wizard asking for parameters, such as the powered-on state of the virtual and physical machine after the conversion, the workspace or temporary folder location, and which server you want to host the VM.

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There are a few notable differences between VMware Converter and MVMC. First, VMware's tool performs physical-to-virtual (P2V) conversions; Microsoft's tool cannot. Microsoft's converter also lacks customization features in both the conversion wizard and the VM's operating system configuration. Lastly, the Microsoft converter cannot perform a cold clone, which means the VM must be powered on (i.e., hot) for the conversion to proceed.

And when it comes to their ability to convert virtual disks from VMware's .VMDK format to Hyper-V's .VHDX format (previously .VHD format) without having to house them on a target host, both the VMware Converter and MVMC lag behind some third-party disk conversion tools, such as the StarWind V2V Converter. The ability to convert from one virtual hard disk format to another from a single interface would be a huge improvement. I am hopeful Microsoft (and possibly VMware) will add this functionality in later releases.

I had hoped MVMC would be a more universal conversion tool, allowing P2V, virtual-to-physical and virtual-to-virtual conversions. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. Admins hosting separate vSphere and Hyper-V environments in their data centers will appreciate MVMC, version 1.0, but others will want to hold out until the vendor creates a do-it-all conversion tool.

This was first published in October 2012
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