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The product has a built-in database called vPostgres, which is based on the well-known PostgreSQL database. This means VMware has full control of the whole software stack, which allows them to optimize the VCSA for vSphere environments.
Also, security plays a big role nowadays, and owning the software stack allows for a much quicker release of security patches. The VCSA scales up to 2,000 hosts and 35,000 virtual machines (VMs), and the feature set of the VCSA is now greater than the vCenter Server installed on Windows.
Why migrate from Windows to the Linux-based vCenter? ^
To put it plainly, VMware is phasing out the Windows version of vCenter. It's as simple as that. Previous years were pretty tough for VMware as the VCSA wasn't scalable, did not provide the full feature set, and was not optimized. Now the VCSA 6.7 Update 1 (U1) has more features than the Windows-based vCenter.
- Make sure your third-party products (such as backup and monitoring) are fully compatible with the version of vSphere you are upgrading to. If not, you won't be able to back up your VMs, for example.
- The Windows vCenter Server must be v6.0 or v6.5 (any build or patch).
- It doesn't matter whether your current vCenter is a VM or is running on a physical server. Both physical and virtual vCenter Server installations are compatible.
- You can migrate any database, internal or external, supported by vCenter Server to VCSA (it copies the data from the old database to vPostgres).
vCenter Server 6.7 U1 should be running ESXi 6.0 or above.
Note: If you have still hosts with ESXi 5.5 and earlier versions, you must upgrade them to ESXi 6.0 first.
How does the upgrade process work?
During the upgrade process, there are several phases:
Phase 1 (clean deployment of the VCSA): This phase deploys the VCSA with a temporary IP address, copies the data from the old vCenter, and then powers off the Windows server.
Phase 2: Once the VCSA is online, you choose what to copy and what you need to migrate from the Windows server. The process will inform you when it successfully completes the data transfer and the VCSA is ready for use.
The migration outline ^
Go and connect to your old Windows-based vCenter Server with sufficient privileges. Mount the VCSA 6.7 U1 installation ISO, copy the migration-assistant folder to your desktop, and then unmount the ISO file.
Open the folder and r
un the VMware-Migration-Assistant.exe as an administrator. It opens a command prompt window and asks you for a single sign-on (SSO) password.
Enter the password and hit Enter.
It then does several checks, and at the end it posts a message, "Waiting for migration to start…"
If all checks succeed, the Migration Assistant finishes its execution and waits for the migration.
You can now leave the system and go to your management workstation from which you'll perform the migration. You can use Windows, Mac, or Linux.
Mount the VMware VCSA 6.7 U1 installation ISO on your management workstation or laptop.
Then execute the installer.
From the main screen, click the big Migrate button, which allows you to migrate from a Windows platform to the VCSA.
The assistant will start providing you with the different migration steps, which are easy to follow. We won't list them all here, just the principal ones.
The screen below shows the details about the source connection. You'll need to provide the IP address or fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of the source system and credentials for the SSO.
You'll get a certificate prompt, which you can accept.
Next, you'll need to specify the appliance deployment target. This is basically the ESXi system that will execute the VCSA VM. It can be standalone ESXi or ESXi managed by vCenter Server.
Next, you'll be setting up some details about the VCSA VM, such as its name and location within your data center. Then you'll go to Select deployment size where you can choose the Deployment size and Storage size.
Following this, you'll select the datastore to use for the location of the VM's files (the location of the virtual disks).
After this, you'll just need to fill in the network settings, including a temporary IP address for the appliance. Once the migration and copy process finishes, the source system shuts down, and the installer will automatically assign the original IP address of the old vCenter Server to the new VCSA. This is pretty cool because you don't have to reconfigure anything.
Click Finish to start the process. The first phase (Stage 1) will deploy the appliance.
You'll need to specify some additional parameters between phase 1 and phase 2. Mainly, the process will ask you whether you want to keep the old historical data and so forth.
Then the second phase (Stage 2) will copy the database details, statistics, alarms, network settings, and historical data.
Make sure you have a backup of your old Windows vCenter VM (click the checkbox).
As you can see, the process is pretty straightforward, and VMware has documented it well. Anybody can do it.
Well, this is pretty much it. When the migration finishes, you have the option either to Launch vSphere Client (HTML5) or Launch vSphere Web Client (based on Adobe Flash).
The whole upgrade process can easily take one hour or longer.
You can now proceed with upgrading your hosts, as the migration (and upgrade at the same time) of vCenter was just the first step.
Migrating ESXi is pretty easy, and you can choose different migration methods. You can migrate ESXi via ISO or CD-ROM, and you can also do it via USB flash device or via network.
At the enterprise level, for migrating many ESXi hosts en masse, you'd probably look at the vSphere Update Manager (VUM) component, which is now also part of the VCSA and provides an easy way to migrate ESXi hosts from earlier versions.