You’re working in an environment that’s using a 2008 R2 Hyper-V cluster to run the current VM infrastructure. The company has made the decision to move to a Hyper-V 2012 R2 cluster that runs on a new storage platform. How will you migrate the VMs?
Some of you may think, “piece of cake." You just need to upgrade the Hyper-V host from Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2012 R2 while preserving the original file system and then import the virtual machines to Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012 R2.
That might be an option if you can accept the potential consequences of data loss and certain downtime associated with this approach. Perhaps the risk is worth it to avoid having to perform a cluster copy to capture the current cluster roles and settings, and then manually migrate the VHD files from the legacy storage appliance to the new storage appliance -- a very tedious and sometimes painstakingly slow process.
In most cases, you will not have the liberty to perform an in-place OS upgrade; and a VM import migration is not really an option. However, manually copying VHD and VHDX files can take forever. In the realm of data protection, we are always looking to improve our Recovery Time Objectives (RTO), and Recovery Point Objectives (RPO). Simply put, we cannot risk downtime or data loss.
A Seamless Hyper-V Cluster Migration Without the Downtime or Data Loss
I would like to introduce a product called Veeam! Veeam allows you to manage the three primary challenges with Hyper-V Cluster Migration:
- Seamless migration
- Little to no downtime
- No data loss
...all while being pretty cost effective and easy to use!
Veeam was designed and optimized for use in virtual environments. Specifically, Veeam Backup & Replication supports both Hyper-V (in all its editions and versions) and VMware in the same GUI interface. There are two key functions that you will want to perform as part of your migration from 2008 R2 to 2012 R2 or Server 2016.
1. Backup your existing VMS
Veeam has built the best backup solution for virtual machines running on Hyper-V. Everything associated with the VM including the .vhd or .vhdx, binaries, settings (such as the registry entries and XML data), snapshots etc. is backed up into a single compressed and duplicated .vbk backup file. The backups complete quickly and without the need for pausing, stopping or otherwise interrupting the operation of the VM. These backup files are completely portable and easy to recover very quickly if the need should arise.
2. Install Windows Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V
Complete the install of the new Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V host in your environment and then add the host or cluster to your Veeam console.
3. Create a replica of the VMs running on Windows Server 2008 R2 on the new Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V host
Replicas are exact copies of virtual machines that are updated or synchronized with the original VM on a regular schedule. These replicas act as a point of failover and provide significant RPO benefits that do not come from backup alone. With the replica VMs in place and full backups on production storage, you are now ready to complete the migration process with acceptable RPO and RTO risks. Veeam eliminates most of the downtime and risk of data loss from the migration process.
This way, the migration is easy. You can simply run a permanent failover from the source VM to the target VM and the migration will be complete with minimal interruption to the production workload running on the VM (a quick resync, power off of the source VM, and power on of the target VM). The best part -- it’s all wizard driven. Take the figure below, if you can find your VM and right-click, you can then leverage the replication engine to migrate to the newer Hyper-V host:
Another important benefit of using Veeam to migrate VMs from a 2008 R2 cluster to 2012 R2 cluster is that you can fail back to the 2008 R2 cluster. This would not be the case if you decide to do an in-place upgrade of your 2008 R2 hosts.
It’s important to have options!
Fun fact: Veeam Backup & Replication has built-in support for PowerShell Scripting complete with a set of cmdlets that you can use to help you automate this process.
Have more systems you want to upgrade but budget is a concern? Check out our blog about creating space in your IT budget for innovation. If you want to explore other ways to best optimize your IT and secure your assets, contact BDO Digital to learn more.