Demystifying Azure Migrations – Part 4 (Discover): OVF/OVA

In the introduction to this series, we identified that there are multiple parts of the cloud migration journey; namely: Discover, Assess, Migrate, Manage, and Operate.

We will cover various tools that either falls into one of or span multiple phases in the migration journey.

As a quick-link reference, here is the list of tools this series will cover:

 

Continuing our focus on the tool(s) that fall within the first phase: Discovery, the next tool that we categorize under Discovery, is the Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF) / Open Virtual Machine Appliance (OVA).

 

What Is It Used For?

This tool is actually a part of the Azure Site Recovery (ASR) Deployment Planner, and Azure Migrate (both of which are covered later in this series). So, we will only cover it briefly here, without overlapping the content used in the other 2 referenced tools.

OVF is a file format that supports the exchange of virtual appliances across products and platforms. OVA is a single file distribution of the same file package.

This is specific to a VMware environment (Hyper-V does not support OVF/OVA files). Essentially, as part of the Azure Site Recovery (ASR) Deployment Planner, when setting up disaster recovery for VMware VMs to Azure, you need a Configuration Server. This is what enables you to collect the required performance data as part of the discovery (which then feeds into an assessment).

Originally, you had to set this Configuration Server up manually (Note: There is still a manual option if your environment is not able to accommodate the OVF/OVA format). However, as all things cloud-related continue to advance, the Azure Site Recovery (ASR) team has created a Virtual Machine template that contains this Configuration Server pre-configured (aside from some post-deployment actions, like registering it to your Recovery Services Vault).

VMware – Deploy OVF Template

 

Pro’s vs Con’s

Here is a quick list of what we deem as Pro’s/Con’s of this tool.

Pro’s

  • No manual installation/configuration of the software required
  • Simplified onboarding/enablement experience
  • Agentless discovery (Note: Agent required for actual replication)

Con’s

  • If your environment is unable to use OVF/OVA templates, you must deploy manually
  • If you do not want Site Recovery to deploy MySQL (which is a component), you must deploy manually
    • Unable to specify/select an existing database system/environment to leverage
  • The evaluation license is only valid for 180 days (you must activate with a Windows license to use beyond the evaluation time)
  • Only supported/available for VMware environments (no Hyper-V equivalent)
  • Requires the use of vCenter Server (6.7, 6.5, 6.0, or 5.5) or vSphere (6.7, 6.5, 6.0, or 5.5)

 

Other Thoughts

This tool, as part of a supporting component of the Azure Site Recovery (ASR) Deployment Planner, and Azure Migrate, greatly simplifies the setup of the on-premises components required for system discovery.

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