How to convert existing RDMs to VMDKs without downtime.

One of the requested operations I seem to be getting a lot these days is how to migrate existing RDMs to VMDKs, this has been especially more popular since Veritas Cluster Server now supports VMDKs .  In this two part article I shall take a look on how to achieve this, the first part highlighting how to convert RDMs to VMDKs on a standalone virtual machine with minimal downtime and no data loss using Storage Foundation. The second part will take a look at what steps are needed when Veritas Cluster Server is in the mix.

Let’s take a look at a typical virtual machine that has a RDM attached and walk through the steps needed to migrate the data from RDM to VMDKs

In Fig 1 a virtual machine would typically have RDMs attached to them these would be in either virtual or physical mode.

RDM Fig1

Fig 1 – RDM configuration for a virtual machine

 From within the virtual machine the RDM would be seen as a disk and within the disk there would typically be a number of volumes that would contain the data for the application, the example show is for SQL 2008. A number of mount points had been created within a drive letter for the SQL instance and it is these volumes that will be live migrated to the new VMDKs.

RDM Fig2

Fig 2 – Storage Layout for SQL2008 from within a virtual machine

 On the virtual machine add new VMDKs that will be used for the new placement of the application data.

RDM Fig3

Fig 3 – Adding VMDKs to the configuration of a virtual machine

 Inside the virtual machine notice that the new disks will be seen, perform a rescan or the SCSI bus if required. Once Disk Signatures have been written with the Veritas Enterprise Administration UI the new disks can be added to the Dynamic Disk group which currently holds the volumes for the SQL application, “PROD” in this case.

RDM Fig4

Fig 4 –Adding VMDK disks to the Dynamic Diskgroup configuration for a virtual machine

 Once the new disks are added to the diskgroup then data can be started to live migrate from the RDM disk to the new VMDK disks. This Subdisk move process will leverage a feature of Storage Foundation called SmartMove, this will assist in copying over only the writen blocks on the RDM to the new disks instead of all blocks from the volumes which a traditional block copy method whould use, this SmartMove process will reduce the data migration process especially if the writen blocks are much less then the overall disk size that’s being moved.

RDM Fig5

Fig 5 – New VMDKs ready for volume migration

 The process of moving subdisks with the Veritas Enterprise Administrator is possible to use a drag and drop method for the sub disks from one disk to another but with multiple operations and also for accuracy it’s much easier to do this via CLI and create a script to do this.

RDM Fig6

Fig 6 – Moving a volume subdisk by dragging and dropping

Finding the subdisks that need moving from the CLI can be achieved by using the command vxprint as highlighted below.


Diskgroup = PROD



sd Disk3-01     PROD_MNT-01   ENABLED  204800   0        –        –       –

sd Disk3-02     PROD_DATA-01   ENABLED  2097152  0        –        –       –

sd Disk3-03     PROD_REG-01   ENABLED  1024000  0        –        –       –

sd Disk3-04     PROD_DB-01   ENABLED  2097152  0        –        –       –

sd Disk3-05     PROD_LOG-01   ENABLED  1843200  0        –        –       –

sd Disk3-06     PROD_MNT-01   ENABLED  818610   204800        –        –       –

dm Harddisk1    Disk1        –        4192193  –        –        –       –

dm Harddisk2    Disk2        –        4192193  –        –        –       –

dm Harddisk3    Disk3        –        62652349 –        –        –       –

dg PROD         PROD         –        –        –        –        –       –

v  PROD_DATA    –            ENABLED  2097152  –        ACTIVE   –       –

pl PROD_DATA-01 PROD_DATA    ENABLED  2097152  –        ACTIVE   –       –

v  PROD_DB      –            ENABLED  2097152  –        ACTIVE   –       –

pl PROD_DB-01   PROD_DB      ENABLED  2097152  –        ACTIVE   –       –

v  PROD_LOG     –            ENABLED  1843200  –        ACTIVE   –       –

pl PROD_LOG-01  PROD_LOG     ENABLED  1843200  –        ACTIVE   –       –

v  PROD_MNT     –            ENABLED  1023410  –        ACTIVE   –       –

pl PROD_MNT-01  PROD_MNT     ENABLED  1023410  –        ACTIVE   –       –

v  PROD_REG     –            ENABLED  1024000  –        ACTIVE   –       –

pl PROD_REG-01  PROD_REG     ENABLED  1024000  –        ACTIVE   –       –

The subdisks that need moving are subdisks Disk3-01 to Disk3-06, these will be moved to the new disks, the move operation is carried out with the command vxsd –g(DiskGroup) mv –b Disk03-01 Harddisk1, or vxsd -gPROD mv -b Disk3-01 Harddisk1 in the example shown below.

RDM Fig7

Fig 7 –Movement complete for the first subdisk using SmartMove.

 Notice the –b in the command will carry out the command in the background so that multiple moves can be carried out in one go.

RDM Fig8

Fig 8 – Subdisk volumes being migrated with SmartMove.

 Now that the volumes have been migrated the RDM can be safely removed from the VM, this can be carried out without powering down the VMs too using the hotplug features of vSphere.

RDM Fig9

Fig 9 – Final Storage migration complete

 That’s all the steps needed to move the data from the RDM disks to VMDKs, in the next part of this article we shall take a look at the steps needed when Veritas Cluster Server is in the mix.

About virtuallylg

Hello, my name is Lorenzo Galelli, I have been working with availability and virtualization solutions for Symantec for over a decade now and its amazing to see the impact virtualization has brought to the world of IT. During my time at Symantec I have worked as a systems engineer for customers big and small and seen a vast array of different virtualization projects. I am currently Technical Product Manager for ApplicationHA for VMware and KVM and I also have focus on VDI especially with Symantec's VirtualStore and FileStore technologies. Follow my blog for all things Symantec and virtualization. Opinions expressed here are my own.
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2 Responses to How to convert existing RDMs to VMDKs without downtime.

  1. fabio says:

    Great Article.

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