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CTX116603 - How to Convert VMware Virtual Machines to XenServer Virtual Machines - Citrix Knowledge Center

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    How to Convert VMware Virtual Machines to XenServer Virtual Machines

Document ID: CTX116603 / Created On: Jun 17, 2008 / Updated On: Aug 18, 2009

Average Rating: 4 (14 ratings)

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This document describes the two methods available to convert a VMware-formatted virtual machine (VM) into a Citrix XenServer virtual machine. The first method of converting OVF packages exported directly from VMware is the preferred as it is the quickest, most efficient and allows you to convert multiple virtual drives at the same time. The second method of converting VMDK files should be used as an alternative as it only allows the conversion of one drive at a time. For best results, copy the OVF template and the VMDK file to the computer that XenConvert is installed on for conversion.


• Administrator access to VMware VM to be converted

• Administrator access to XenServer and/or XenCenter

• Basic knowledge on Open Virtualization Format (OVF)

You must be comfortable using VMware, a Windows computer to run the XenConvert Utility, XenServer and XenCenter.

Please reference the Citrix XenConvert Guide for XenConvert Supported Operating Systems and the Overview of the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) for more information on OVF packages.

Click here to download Citrix XenConvert Application Software

Initial Procedures

  1. Identify the VM you want to export.

  2. Log on to that VM and uninstall VMware Tools. Refer to the following screen shot:

Note: You will experience issues if these items are not properly removed and/or uninstalled from Add or Remove Programs and from the Taskbar.

  1. Delete any snapshots located with the VM.

  1. Delete any unnecessary data, drives, partitions and/or applications you will no longer need for that VM.


• Enableautomount.aspx) feature for Windows VMs

• If manifest feature in VMware Workstation was enabled, delete the .mf file to allow import.

Exporting OVF packages from VMware

The following VMware products support OVF export:

• VMware vSphere 4

• VMware VI3

• VMware Workstation 6.5.x

• VMware OVF Tool 0.9 and 1.x

• VMware Converter 3.0.3

• VMware Converter 4.x

• VMware Studio

Note: The example shown here was done with VMware vSphere.

  1. Select File > Export > Export OVF Template.

  1. Select a Directory to store the OVF Export and ensure that Optimized for: Web (OVF) is selected.

  1. A dialogue will indicate that the export completed successfully.

  1. Copy the entire exported contents over to your XenConvert workstation leaving the folder structure the same.

Converting OVF Export with XenConvert

  1. From XenConvert select the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) Package option.

Note: OVF packages can only be converted directly to XenServer.

  1. Select the OVF Package to import and indicate whether you would like to “Verify Content” and/or “Verify Author”.

  1. Enter the hostname, user name (root) and password of the XenServer that you will convert the OVF package directly to.

  1. Select Convert to start the conversion process.

Converting VMDK Files

Note: XenConvert has been designed to convert a single virtual disk from VMDK format at a time. Copy data from all additional drives and partitions to an external location and delete any additional drives and/or partitions.

  1. Browse the physical location of the VMware files and locate the virtual machine’s .vmdk file.

  1. Make a note of the path to the virtual machine’s .vmdx file.

  2. Install XenConvert application on the Windows computer that will perform the conversion.

  3. Launch XenConvert and select the “VMware Virtual Hard Disk (VMDK)” option.

  1. You will be presented with the following three options on converting a “VMware Virtual Hard Disk (VMDK)” for XenServer.

• XenServer option converts directly to an accessible XenServer host

• XenServer Virtual Appliance option converts to an .xva format file that can be used to import

• XenServer Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) option converts VMDK file to a .vhd file

6.All three options prompt you to browse for and select the .vmdk file to convert.

Option 1 – XenServer

  1. You must specify the destination XenServer hostname, User name, Password and Workspace to be used during the conversion.

  2. Type or browse to the location where you want the converted files to be stored. For conversion efficiency, Citrix recommends specifying a location on the local computer where you are running conversion, preferably on a different partition or drive.

Note: The Workspace specified will need to have enough space available to convert the selected VM.

  1. Enter the name of the VM as you would like it to appear in XenCenter after it has been uploaded.

  1. The XenConvert utility displays the progress of the conversion and upload of VM to XenServer.

5. Note: Do not close dialogue box until the Status indicates “Conversion was successful!”

  1. After the conversion process completes, XenServer shows the converted VM by the name specified during conversion followed by “import”.

Option 2 –Xen Virtual Appliance

The Xen Virtual Appliance option converts the VM into a portable format that can be easily moved, archived or uploaded to XenServer.

  1. After selecting the Xen Virtual Appliance option and VMDK file to convert you are prompted to select a folder to store the converted contents.

  1. After the VMDK file is converted you have an output that lists an hda folder, ova.xml, .pvp and .vhd file.

Note: Do not change the file structure. The ova.xml file and hda folder must be on the same level.

Importing the Converted VM to XenServer

  1. Log on to XenCenter.

  2. On the menu bar, go to VM > Import.

You have the option to browse for the ova.xml file or choose either Exported VM or Exported template.

Note: The same file extension (.xva) is used for both the exported VMs and exported templates.

  1. Select XenServer Virtual Appliance Version 1 (ova.xml) from the Files of Type list. You are now able to browse and see the ova.xml file.

  1. Select the XenServer host that you want to deploy the imported VM to.

  1. Select the storage repository where the virtual disks for the newly imported VM will be stored.

Note: You can copy a VM from one storage repository to another storage repository after the import process has completed.

  1. Add the network interfaces you want to configure for the new VM.

  1. Click Finish to complete the import process.

Allow enough time for the import process to complete. The XenCenter Logs tab displays an estimate of the amount of time that the VM will take to import.

The imported VM will have the name “import” at the end of it to identify that it has been imported. You can rename the VM after the import process finishes.

How to Import a VM through the Command Line Interface (CLI):

  1. Copy all the files needed to a mounted share accessible by your XenServer host.

  2. Run the xe vm-import command:/#xe vm-import filename= sr-uuid=

Example command: /# xe vm-import filename=/nfs or cifs share/VMWare_WinXP_Export/ova.xml sr-uuid=da31c9d2-88ea-35f6-8c48-924db6c39817

More Information

Citrix XenConvert Application Software

CTX121646 - Citrix XenConvert 2.0.1 Guide

CTX116685 - How to a Copy a Virtual Machine From One Storage Repository to Another

VMware OVF Tool User Guide

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