Nowadays, virtualization has become one of the main worldwide trends in the IT sphere. The virtual environment helps saving money, making infrastructure easier to administrate, and giving more possibilities for scaling. A large variety of hypervisors from different vendors with different functionality and a number of virtual machines available for deployment are already present on the market. In most cases, hypervisor vendors have their proprietary VM types incompatible with those of competitors’. That is why sometimes it might be a challenge to deploy one hypervisor’s virtual machines on other hypervisors. This may come up with a very painful migration process between hypervisors in case of changing one, moving to different hardware or having several different hypervisors running. A V2V (virtual machine to virtual machine) converter could help solving this task. It can convert a VM and move one between VM formats and physical environments where the hypervisor is running. The review of the most popular and well-known solutions of VM converters will be provided in this article.
StarWind V2V Converter
Probably, the most known and widely used tool is Free StarWind V2V Converter. It makes possible the conversion between all the most used VM formats: *.VMDK, StarWind *.IMG, *.VHD and *.VHDX, *.QCOW. In comparison with most converters, the solution from StarWind allows for dual-direction migration between different formats and hypervisors. StarWind V2V Converter can work with most hypervisors including Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware ESXi, Citrix XenServer, and KVM.
StarWind V2V Converter can be easily downloaded from the StarWind website after a quick registration:
VMware vCenter Converter Standalone
Next goes some cool stuff from VMware. Its Free VMware vCenter Converter allows converting VMs created on different platforms to VMware formats, as well as P2V (Physical To Virtual) conversion. VMs can migrate directly to the vSphere environment. During migration, a small agent needs to be installed on the source machine. One interesting feature of VMware vCenter Converter Standalone is a possibility of reconfiguring VMs and adjusting their parameters. Migration could be done by running VMs with no downtime. Moreover, conversion of several VMs could be done simultaneously. The VMware vCenter Converter can be deployed as a standalone client or integrated to vCenter.
A VMware account is required for downloading:
5nine V2V Easy Converter
A little bit standing out of the crowd tool is 5nine V2V Easy Converter. Unlike previous converters, it has got its free and paid versions with different functionality.
The free version allows VM conversion from VMware to Hyper-V / Azure VMs / Amazon Web Services and P2V conversion. The possibility of VMs reconfiguration and parameters adjustment is included. It features no option for removing VMware Tools during the process of VM migration. The Free version is available only as a GUI-powered application.
The paid version has got some benefits compared with the free one. These benefits are the PowerShell function and Command Line Utility that allows automating the process of converting multiple VMs.
5nine V2V Easy Converter could be downloaded here:
Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter (MVMC)
The free tool from Microsoft allows converting VMs only from the VMware (*.VMDK) to the Hyper-V format (generation 1, *.VHD and generation 2, *.VHDX), or directly to Windows Azure. Also, there is an option of P2V (Physical to Virtual) conversion. VM migration could be done via the GUI interface or via the PowerShell module. MVMC removes VMware tools from VMs during migration. Only a small agent needs to be installed for migration.
MVMC is a great tool, sadly, it was discontinued and is currently out of support. See for yourself:
However, you can still download it from the Microsoft website:
Also, main features of these products can be found in this comparison table:
|Our winner is…StarWind V2V Converter||And the honorary 2nd place goes to VMware vCenter Converter Standalone||5nine V2V Easy Converter takes decent 3rd place||And the last but not the least is Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter|
|Free or Paid||Free||Free||Free and Paid||Free|
|Supported VM formats||*.VMDK, *.IMG, *.VHD, *.VHDX, *.QCOW||to *.VMDK||*.VMDK to *.VHD and *.VHDX||*.VMDK to *.VHD and *.VHDX|
|Two-way migration||Two-way||Only to VMware||Only to Hyper-V||Only to Hyper-V|
|Change VM parameters during migration||VMs automatically adapt to the given hardware environment||Supported||Supported||Supported|
|Different Hypervisors support||Supports all industry-standard hypervisors||Different hypervisors||VMware||VMware|
A large variety of V2V converters are not included in a review in this article. The full description of their main features and download options can be easily found on their vendors’ websites. To name some of them: Vembu VMBackup, Xtreme VM Migrator, Vision Solutions Double-Take Move, NetIQ PlateSpin Migrate, NetApp OnCommand Shift as paid solutions, 2Tware Convert VHD, Vmdk2Vhd, VirtualBox as freeware.
As you can see, there are many reasons for migration between different hypervisor platforms or from physical servers to a virtual environment. This process becomes much easier when using V2V converters. A large variety of them is already present on the IT market. Those include solutions from hypervisor vendors that support migration from the main competitor’s platform, with or without the GUI interface. Also, there are solutions that offer online migration without the need to shutdown VMs. It can be solutions with the possibility of changing VM parameters or without it. VM migration process can take some time which differs for each V2V direction. Some of the converters support even simultaneous migration of several VMs. Moreover, certain V2V converters like StarWind V2V Converter could be regarded as a real “Swiss knife” supporting a big list of VM formats and able to perform the conversion in any direction.
Depending on the goals to be reached, VMware vCenter Converter and StarWind V2V may be referred to as the most balanced solutions. However, if taking the overall situation into account, StarWind V2V Converter appears to be the most suitable software for the majority of usage scenarios.