Migrating an ESXi Host running vCenter to a Distributed vSwitch

This particular video (and subsequent post) was inspired by folks who have reached out to me and specifically asked how to migrate a vSphere environment from a standard to distributed switch when the vCenter VM was also included. The issue usually revolves around the physical uplink (network adapter) migration – the brief interruption in network traffic often causes a migration effort to fail in some sort of half broken state because the vCenter VM is unable to issue commands.

Once the uplinks migrate, the VMs and VMkernel ports shed tears
Once the uplinks migrate, the VMs and VMkernel ports shed tears

This video walks through a tried and true process that I have literally used to migrate onto a VDS (with a virtual vCenter Server) for years across a multitude of vSphere builds. Assuming you have already created the VDS, and that you are using a redundant pair of uplinks, the four main steps are:

  1. Remove a single physical uplink from the VSS
  2. Add the available physical uplink to the VDS
  3. Migrate any host VMkernel ports and the vCenter Server VM to the VDS
  4. Migrate the remaining physical upinks from the VSS to the VDS and optionally remove the old VSS

A few folks have asked me – why not just combine steps 1 and 2 together and use the migrate feature? You’re more than welcome to do this in the vSphere Web Client (which makes it quite simple), but I tend to like ripping out an uplink from the VSS and then eyeballing the VSS to ensure nothing nasty has happened. Call me old school.