Export VMware App Volumes – Writable Volumes from VSAN Datastore

28 Nov

If you have a VMware VSAN environment and you wanted to export a App Volumes – Writable Volumes from the vsanDatastore to another datastore, storage or for VMware GSS/R&D for further analysis go ahead and read further!

Background – The traditional way of exporting the Writable Volumes from the source vsanDatastore was to attach the *.vmdk to a dummy VM as a “Existing Hard Disk” and export the dummy VM using the “Export OVF Template” option from the vCenter. Repeat all the steps on target datastore where-in it needs to be imported. However, if you want an alternate and easy method than the dummy VM then follow the below steps.

Step by Step Instructions:

— SSH to any ESXi Host Resource Cluster where the WV is stored and browser to the cloudvolumes/writable directory location:

# cd /vmfs/volumes/vsanDatastore/cloudvolumes/writable (This is the location where all end-user writable volumes are stored)

Now search for the end-user (E.g twood) for which you want to export the Writable Volumes.

# ls -lh | grep twood
User to export WV

Now lets open the *.vmdk file using “cat” command to retrieve the Object ID information. Make a note of the ObjectID

# cat DOMAIN!5C!twood.vmdk

Cat to find ObjectID

In my scenario the Object ID was properly pre-created I didn’t have to use the objtool to find out the Object opened. However, in some cases you might have to run the following command

# /usr/lib/vmware/osfs/bin/objtool open -u (Where Object ID is displayed using the ‘cat’ command

This screenshot below is an example of situations where in the Object ID is not properly pre-created. It will provide you with an output Object Opened at path:
Objecttool Output

Now using WINSCP login to the same ESXi Host and go to the path:
Object ID – /vmfs/device/vsan/d17efe58-5610-4dd2-0d9e-ecf4bbea2830 (my scenario)
Or/else Object opened at path in the screenshot above.

Download the file “d17efe58-5610-4dd2-0d9e-ecf4bbea2830” which is Writable Volumes (*.vmdk) file and move the files to local or remote location that you are using the WINSCP tool.

— Rename the Object ID to a friendly name shown in the cloudvolumes/writable Directory Folder. I renamed it (DOMAIN!5C!twood.vmdk)

You don’t need the *.vmdk.metedata file

The Writable Volumes is now exported out of the VSAN environment you can attach the *.vmdk to a non App Volumes Agent machine to look at the contents inside the Writable Volumes. If you are going to send the vmdk to VMware GSS/R&D make sure to zip it before uploading

I hope you will find these steps useful and help you export a Writable Volume from your vsanDatastore. I haven’t been able to try AppStacks with this method its on my to-do list.

Aresh Sarkari

2 Responses to “Export VMware App Volumes – Writable Volumes from VSAN Datastore”

  1. aaron July 22, 2019 at 7:42 pm #

    These information were very easy to understand. They were very useful for my business. Keep up the good work.Cloud Migration ServicesAWS Cloud Migration ServicesAzure Cloud Migration ServicesVMware Cloud Migration ServicesCloud Migration toolDatabase Migration ServicesCloud Migration Services

  2. Unknown November 5, 2019 at 1:47 pm #

    Nice blog. Extremely useful information for Virtualization specialist, thanks !

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