Unleash the power of the NTNX-AVM – Import/Export/Migrate VMs to/from AHV

This series describes the installation, configuration and usage of the NTNX-AVM. In addition the mostly used scripts will be explained in detail.

full course
  1. Nutanix automation VM ( NTNX-AVM ) goes online
  2. Unleash the power of the NTNX-AVM – daily_health_report and monthly_ncc_health
  3. Unleash the power of the NTNX-AVM – Import/Export/Migrate VMs to/from AHV
  4. Unleash the power of the NTNX-AVM – Move VM from one container to another container (AHV) with move_vm

in a recent customer Proof of Concepts (PoC) I encountered a common task. Importing a VM from VMware vSphere to Nutanix Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV) and after testing export the VM back to the production environment. The import via the AHV Prism GUI can be done without too much effort but there is no interface or command line tool which exports a VM. I wrote a script for the export which can be run on a linux/mac environment or on NTNX-AVM. Jump direct to the export part and skip the import.

USE CASE: Import a VM from VMware vSphere to Nutanix Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV) and export it back after testing!

Importing/Migrate a VM from VMware vSphere to Nutanix Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV)

There is a decent post from Artur Krzywdzinski on how to import/migrate a Windows 2012R2 from VMware vSphere/ESXi to AHV. There is even a detailed documentation on the Nutanix support portal. Search for “MIGRATING WINDOWS VMS FROM ESXI TO AHV”.

The way this works can be described as follow:

  • Install all needed drivers into the VM before migrating. (drivers for disk devices, video, network)
  • Copy the VM to a Nutanix NFS share which is mounted on the source ESXi/vSphere via Storage vMotion if available, else copy it with command line/GUI yourself.
  • Convert the VMware vmdk to a format AHV can read/write
  • Create a VM based on the converted vmdk files with the same settings like in ESXi/vSphere
  • …. something else maybe… Start the VM… done


1. Windows VM Migration Prerequisites

I advice you to read the full documentation If you migrate VMs. I only list the basic steps needed in my test lab.

  • Before you migrate a source VM, ensure that the source VM does not have any hypervisor snapshots associated with it.
  • Optional: Clone any ESXi VMs you want to preserve.
  • Nutanix recommends using AOS 4.5.x or later and AHV-20160217.2 or later.
  • Mount the AHV container as an NFS datastore to vSphere.

Before you migrate a source VM, ensure that the source VM does not have any hypervisor snapshots associated with it.

This is a Windows 20012 R2 Windows Server with VMware Tools installed.

1 CPU – 2 GB RAM – 20 GB Disk – 1 Network Adapter with no snapshots.


Optional: Clone any ESXi VMs you want to preserve.

Yes I would like to do this. The VM which I will migrate will be the clone and not the original VM. Just in case at any point we mess something up it would be nice to have the original one.

In this case I clone the VM directly to the NFS datastore mounted from the Nutanix cluster. So jump to the Mount AHV … part and continue here when finished this step.

I clone the Windows2012R2 server to the prod datastore which resides on the Nutanix cluster.


Nutanix recommends using AOS 4.5.x or later and AHV-20160217.2 or later. See the Hypervisor Details page on the Nutanix Support Portal for all the AHV versions

I am using the Nutanix CE edition so it is not that easy to make sure these requirements are met. Lets start with AOS 4.5.x or later.

I connected today (04.10.2016) to my Nutanix NUC cluster and choose the option “Upgrade Software” in the right top corner in PRISM (gear wheel).


As you can see: “2016.06.30” is installed but is this equal or later than AOS 4.5.x ? Yep it is. The version format seems to be YYYY:MM:DD so this should be okay. There is a table called “AHV AND NOS/AOS VERSION UPGRADE COMPATIBILITY” on the Nutanix portal which will make it easier to understand. The newer the NOS/AOS the newer the AHV version which is required. In this case I believe the version should be 4.6.3 for NOS/AOS.


Now the AHV-20160217.2 hypervisor part. The Nutanix CE shows: Nutanix 20150513 which does not meet this requirement. But anyway. It works.

BTW: In this case there is an update available but I will upgrade after I finished this post.

Mount the AHV container as an NFS datastore to vSphere

First we need to make sure that the source ESXi/vSphere environment is able to mount the NFS container/datastore. To do this we need to whitelist the ESXi/vSphere environment on Nutanix. In my case the ESXi/vSphere ( vCenter/ ESXi) environment is in the same subnet than the Nutanix CE edition ( Make sure that in your environment the ESXi and the CVM are able to reach each other via IP and no firewalls are blocking traffic!

Choose “gear wheel” on top right corner in PRISM and select “Filesystem Whitelists” and enter the IP range which should be able to mount the container/datastore. In my case I used the whole subnet


Now we are able to mount the NFS datastore. I would like to mount the Nutanix container “prod” into vSphere.


In the vSphere client choose to Add NFS datastore and insert the needed values like I did. I used the Nutanix cluster IP as the Server address and “/prod” as the folder.


There we go. A datastore called “prod” is available on the source ESXi environment.


2. Install Nutanix VirtIO

In my case I created a clone of the source VM so I install the drivers only into the clone. If you skipped this part install them to the source VM.

Download the Nutanix VirtIo drivers from the Nutanix portal. I prefer the ISO image because it seems to be easier to mount it via vSphere Web Client than copy something to the source VM.


Mount the ISO and install the drivers.


Set the Microsoft Windows SAN policy to online. This makes sure all disk devices will be mounted after migration.


3. Migrate the VM disks to Acropolis Distributed Storage Fabric (DSF)

To migrate a VM to the Acropolis Distributed Storage Fabric you only need to SVMotion the VM to the mounted NFS datastore. I copied the VM already to the container/datastore “/prod” when cloning the source VM. If you didn´t do this you need to move all data of the VM to the prod container/datastore via SVMOTION.

In the vSphere Web Client choose “migrate” the VM and use the datastore only option. So all vmdisks will be moved to the container/datastore “prod”.


4. Convert the VM disks to AHV by importing them

To import a VMware vmdk to Nutanix AHV you need to use the Image Service/Image configuration. So click on “gear wheel” in the top right corner and select the “Image Configuration” (maybe the name changed already).

Choose “Upload” and enter the following:


Attention!!! Make sure you use the “-flat” !!!

nfs:// will always work!

As you can see it may not easy to know the exact filenames. Use the vSphere Web Client datastore browser to get all needed details.


5. Create a new Windows VM on AHV and attach the Windows disk to the VM

Power Off the source VM now.

Create a VM in the Nutanix Prism GUI with the same settings than the source VM.

1 CPU – 2 GB RAM – 20 GB Disk – 1 Network Adapter in my case.


Add a disk and choose to clone from the image service where the disk should be imported already.


Add a network adapter and connect it.


Now you can start the VM and it should run. You need to configure network and maybe an option here and there. But basically the VM is imported.


Exporting a VM from Nutanix Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV) to VMware vSphere

As you may have mentioned. The import works without the NTNX-AVM. But for the export there is no PRISM/NCLI/ACLI command to export a VM. So i wrote a script which helps with this part based on the great post from Artur Krzywdzinski.

The script will export the AHV VM to a container of your choice where you can copy it via NFS to ESXi/vSphere or to somewhere else.

In my case I would like to export the WinClone VM back to ESXi. So all tools are installed like VMware tools etc. I will export the WinClone to the ISO container. Just to make sure there is no confusion with the “prod” container where the import took place.

Connect to the NTNX-AVM via SSH. Now lets export the VM with the export_vm command.

STEP 1 – using export_vm to export the VM to a container

Make sure the source VM for the export is powered off!


The export takes some time because the all VM disk data needs to be converted into the VMware vmdk format.

Mount the ISO container to the target ESXi/vSphere environment.


Step 2 – Register the VM into the ESXi/vSphere

Now I  would like to create a new VM on ESXi/vSphere based on the exported files. I will just register the .vmx file! The vmdk file is atm not a proper ESXi/vSphere file. So it needs to be converted. I am using the migrate (move VM) which will do the same but so I can avoid the command line. But this KB article should help if you want to do it the manual way.

Browse the ISO datastore and register the .vmx file as Win-Clone-2. The “-2” is only needed if the original clone still exists.



Step 3 – Prepare the VM for the first boot

Upgrade the virtual Hardware.


Set the VM OS to Windows.


Change the SCSI Controller from “Bus logic” to “LSI LOGIC SAS”


Add a network device or all needed onces.


Now the nice part begins. Instead of manually converting all vmdisk we just migrate the VM to another datastore. In the best case directly where the VM should reside.



Step 4 – Last step! Power on the VM.


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