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creating a test environment from a production ESX4 cluster.

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  • creating a test environment from a production ESX4 cluster.


    At my work place we use ESX4 in a 3 host cluster. We have a number of different VM's spread evenly across the cluster.

    We have had ESX installed for about 6 months and I am relucantant to roll the new ESX4 U1 update on the production system whilst everything is working fine.

    From a long time even before the ESX cluster I have struggled to create a test environment from the live system using tools like virtual box or VMware workstation. I am keen to give it another try though.

    Due to constraints I wasn't able to create a test environment at install, I now have a bit of time to do this so I wanted to create a mini test environment on my laptop. I have workstation 7 installed with the latest updates and my processor is VT enabled which has allowed me to install ESX as a VM in workstation 7.

    I now want to take a copy of one of our windows 2008 DC's which is a VM in our ESX cluster for me to do some tests in the isolated environment as well as some other servers to test integration, AD, exchange etc.

    Using vcenter I clicked on a production VM which I wanted to take a copy of and created a clone of this.

    I have now done this and as its a clone and its not powered on I assumed I would be able to take all the VM files (vmdk etc) from the datastore and copy it to a local hard disk but it wont allow me to do this. I get errors when I try to copy. I also noticed the clone VM i am trying to copy has a white icon which looks different to the online VM's. I assume this is correct because its a clone VM.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how best I could do this? If anyone has created a replica of their live systems in a test environment I am keen to see how you have done this. I am also aware that I should never plug this test laptop into the production network unless I have ensured the network is completely separate from the main network. If there are any other pointers I should be aware of please let me know.

    Your advice is appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: creating a test environment from a production ESX4 cluster.

    Why dont you build these test VMs from scratch? Why the need to copy the production VMs?

    I presume you are having issues with copying from within the Datastore browser in vCenter? Make sure the VM isnt on (you could even remove the cloned VM from the vCenter inventory). What errors do yo uget?



    • #3
      Re: creating a test environment from a production ESX4 cluster.

      Its basically to save me a lot of hassle. I would rather use data which I am accustomed to on a daily basis and personally I have a few issues which I want to sort out on the production network and its likely I will see these problems in the test environment also, it will allow me to try and break things in test and I can figure out how to fix the problems before rolling out on production.

      I am unsure whether to use the clone feature or use VMware converter 4.0 to take copies.

      My understanding of using vmware converter was that I would need to switch off a VM to create a copy of it.

      My plan is to use the clone feature within vCenter and take a clone of a VM which is running. I think it is called 'clone to template'

      Would this work fine with directory systems as VM's e.g. active directory, exchange 2007? I am aware I would need to do a bit of tidying up once I put it into the test environment, but I was going to follow the instructions on this blog:

      I was hoping also not to switch them off as I didnt want to cause unnecessary downtime but if this is unlikely to work if someone could advise how best to do this.



      • #4
        Re: creating a test environment from a production ESX4 cluster.

        Did you clone the VM to a template or to a VM?

        Can you post a screenshot?
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        • #5
          Re: creating a test environment from a production ESX4 cluster.


          VMware Converter can take copies of physical or virtual machines while they are online. Take into account network traffic though. We have successfully done this on production servers in our environment (while they were powered up).

          Cloning a VM (not to template) is essentially the same as Converter but the VM must be powered off.

          In theory taking a copy of a DC and/or your Exchange server would be fine but to get it to walk when sitting within a different network is a very different ball game.

          Its good practise to create a test network from scratch as not only does this give you a refresher in networks and AD infrastructure but it also means you have a clean 'build' of a domain.



          • #6
            Re: creating a test environment from a production ESX4 cluster.

            Cloning Exchange hot may be fine, but take care about cloning AD if you're going to clone multiple domain controllers so that they aren't out of sync when you bring the clones back up.
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            • #7
              Re: creating a test environment from a production ESX4 cluster.


              So I took a clone from the live ESX cluster of an exchange server VM. I have to mention that it was a running VM and i didn't stop it.

              I copied the contents and have now tryed to integrate it into Workstation 7 and whilst the VM runs I now have a new problem which I am not able to resolve.

              The Exchange VM which is running on x64 Windows 2008. When it runs and gets to the Ctrl+ALT+DEL screen, it does not allow me to enter a username and password, it seems the keyboard has stoppedworking and it is just stuck on that screen. I have tried all sorts of possibilities to unlock the machine and attempt to enter the password but it just doesnt seem to work.

              Whilst booting up I can access the keyboard and go through the different options such as safe mode but when it gets into Windows it just doesnt to work.

              Has anone seen this problem?