The Year in Migration 2013


It’s that time of year when the interwebs fill up with Top 10 lists and reflections on the year that’s coming to an end (btw, Migration Mark doesn’t get ‘twerking’). In that spirit, I thought it would be good to look at the state of tools and technology around VMware to Hyper-V migration this year and how it has changed.

Justin Bieber was popular this year for reasons that elude me but you know what else was popular? Migrating from VMware to Hyper-V. I’m serious. We have never seen so much enthusiasm from the community in looking to switch platforms. People have come to accept hypervisor commoditization and many VMware users are looking for ways to switch their current workloads over to Hyper-V. I’m glad to see it and I’m here to help.

Internet fame

This was the year Migration Mark found his 15 minutes of internet fame. It took the form of a video which introduced the MAT (Powered by Project Shift). If you haven’t seen it, watch it now, share it with your friends… the rest of this post can wait.


Okay then. Yes, we shamelessly pander to the internet viewer with kittens and hot tubing. When you need to get the word out to the broadest possible audience, rely on kittens - such was my thinking. It seems to have worked, I get a steady stream of questions about the MAT4Shift (even during the holidays).

The year of  the MAT

The Chinese zodiac holds that 2013 was the year of the snake, but around here, it was the year of the MAT. The first version of MAT (for MVMC) is/was just called MAT, because back in April of 2013 there was only one MAT version and one conversion engine, the MVMC. Little did we know the MAT framework would serve as a snap-in model for other conversion engines. But this year certainly proved that MAT had more flexibility than simply automating the MVMC. That’s because the MAT does all the “other tasks” (tasks like VMware discovery, VMware tools removal, networking and media ejection and other easily forgettable tasks) associated with conversion, it ended up being useful for other vendors who had technology that converted virtual disk formats but didn’t handle these tasks. Best of all it is written in PowerShell so it is easy to understand and modify by others.

Let’s look at who’s in the MAT family:


The MVMC or Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter is still the only VMware to Hyper-V conversion tool Microsoft provides for free. So this was the natural place for the MAT story to begin. The MAT takes the MVMC and extends its functionality and provides a way to migrate lots of VMs at the same time. The original versions of MAT merely automated the migrations and provided the option to scale. By September, though, we had released version 1.5 which provided the ability to capture and rebuild network settings and some other tasks that were common requests from the community.

While we continue to receive feedback from the community (yes, that’s you) I don’t expect to see much more development on the MAT for MVMC until a new version of the MVMC is released. The MVMC engine is starting to show its age a bit with a lack of support for newer VMware versions as well as having issues on R2. I am hopeful we get an update to the MVMC soon. Rest assured once we have a new MVMC, we’ll get right to work on making sure the MAT can take advantage of it.

The original and classic MAT is still available, why not learn a little more about it?


MAT4MVMC Summary
  • TYPE: Cold disk conversion
  • PROS: Free, Easy to use and modify, No changes to VM required
  • CONS: Slow conversion time, some version incompatibility


MAT (Powered by Project Shift)

I first saw NetApp demonstrate Project Shift technology early this year. It was impressive. The ability to ‘shift’ a virtual disk between formats with incredible speed was something to behold. But only converting the disks isn’t the whole job when in comes to migrating a VM from VMware. What they needed was something to do all the other tasks… It pays to be in the right place at the right time. That’s how the MAT (Powered by Project Shift) came to be. We like to call it MAT4Shift because it sounds cooler and it has a number in it (but not in an inaccessible L33T speak sort of way).

MAT4Shift was the proof that the MAT framework was actually useful to other vendors. It was also the first solution to use hardware for the conversion. Hello innovation! While MAT4Shift does require a NetApp controller there are several ways to get one, including working with a partner who can bring a controller in temporarily as a ‘migration appliance’, and before you ask, my loaner appliance is already booked out for almost all of 2014.

There is too much information about MAT4Shift to cover hear so why not dig in a little deeper?


MAT4Shift Summary
  • TYPE: Cold disk conversion
  • PROS: Incredibly fast, Easy to use and modify, No changes to VM required
  • CONS: Requires a NetApp controller


MAT for Double-Take Move

I hate to disappoint people. But even Migration Mark didn’t have any answers for customers whose SLAs would only tolerate the briefest of downtime. Physics are immutable. Cold disk conversions require downtime.

Enter Vision Solutions’ Double-Take Move.
I recently played with a near-final version of MAT4Move, it was fantastic. Instead of shutting down your VM and then converting it, what if you could stream your data from your source VM to a target VM, much like you do a backup or Hyper-V replica? That’s exactly what Double-Take Move provides. They use an agent to send all the data from one VM directly to another. By taking this approach they bypass the hypervisor all together. This means you can convert from VMware to Hyper-V or even directly to Azure!

Basically the Move agent will send over all the data in the source to a destination VM which is accepting the bits. Once all the data has been sent over the wire, you quiesce and shutdown the source. The final changes to the system are copied over and your new VM is ready to start. You’ve converted from one platform to another with only a reboot. Hot stuff!

So while Move does a lot of the hard work, there are still some items like tools removal and network settings that the MAT provides for the overall conversion process. The MAT4Move isn’t released right now but I’m counting it in the 2013 list because it is ready to go. We just need to get it posted.

I will update this post when the MAT4Move is official -  so stay tuned!

MAT4Move Summary
  • TYPE: Streaming disk conversion
  • PROS: More uptime than any other solution, migrate directly to Azure
  • CONS: Has a cost per VM, Requires an agent

UPDATE 02/04/2014
MAT for MOVE has gone live!  You can find more information at the URL below.


Thanks for reading to the end of a long post. This has been the Year in Migration 2013, I hope you find it useful if you want to migrate from VMware anytime soon. We now return you to your regularly scheduled internet browsing, replete with Facebook updates and ridiculously cute animals.

 Happy 2014!

Keep calm and migrate,

Migration Mark (aka The Migrator)