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Export VMware App Volumes – Writable Volumes from VSAN Datastore

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

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

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:

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

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