What is Virtual to Virtual v2v Migration?

Virtualization Is a powerful tool that organizations can leverage to reduce administrative costs, enhance efficiency and data security, and reduce downtime. However, while operating with a virtualization machine (VM), you may need to migrate to another one for some reason. This migration process moves you from one VM to another.

This article will discuss virtual-to-virtual migration, its types, and the reasons your organization may want to migrate to another VM.

What is virtual to virtual (V2V)?

Virtual to virtual or V2V migration involves transferring an operating system, applications, and data from one virtual platform to another. For example, an organization can migrate from vSphere to KVM. However, v2v migration isn’t restricted to moving from one virtual machine to another. You can also transfer within the same platform. For instance, you can migrate from VMware to VMware or VMware to KVM.

V2V not only facilitates migration between virtual machines. It also allows you to create VM data backups to restore or recover data.

How Does Virtual-to-Virtual Migration Work?

V2V migration occurs between two different or the same virtual platforms. When transferring from the existing (source) VM to the new (destination) VM, specialized software is needed. A virtual machine manager (VMM) or a virtualization hypervisor helps to manage the migration process.

Typically, the process could include copying and transferring the VM virtual disks, configuration files, disk partition, and instance. The V2V software will copy and transfer the source VM to the destination VM, ensuring it preserves the original VM state.  During the migration process, converting the virtual disks or using VM converter v2v tools is often necessary for smooth transition and compatibility. The converter tool fixes compatibility issues and does the required conversions and adjustments for the migrated VM to run correctly.

Types of V2V Migration

There are two types of Virtual-to-Virtual migration:

Hot Migration 

Hot migration, also known as live migration, is a technique for moving virtual machines (VMs) while running or powered on. Unlike cold migration, which involves powering off the source system, hot migration allows VMs to remain operational throughout the migration process. Once the migration is complete, the VM turns off on the source host and turns on on the new host.

This method is particularly suitable when uptime is crucial, and you cannot tolerate downtime. Hot migration ensures seamless workflow continuity, making it an ideal choice for high-priority tasks within an organization. For instance, mission-critical applications or services that rely on real-time data processing can benefit from hot migration to minimize service disruptions. It is also commonly used in scenarios where the data is static and doesn’t change frequently.

However, you must note that hot migration may not be suitable for specific scenarios, such as migrating Active Directory Domain Controllers, where cold migration is the preferred choice to ensure data consistency.

Cold Migration 

On the other hand, cold migration occurs when the source system is inactive or offline during the migration process. This method is typically used for scenarios where downtime is acceptable or necessary for migrating VMs to a new host.  Cold migration is particularly suitable for systems undergoing regular data modification or updates, such as SQL and mail servers.

One of the primary advantages of cold migration is its ability to minimize the risk of data loss or corruption during the migration process.  Cold migration ensures that no data is being actively modified or accessed by powering off the source system. Thus, there’s less chance of discrepancies between the source and destination environments, making cold migration a reliable choice for preserving data integrity during VM transfers.

Organizations can perform cold migrations manually or by scheduling them as a task, allowing them to plan and execute migrations according to their operational requirements.

Reasons for Virtual-to-Virtual Migration

  • Easy Migration Process

Building virtual machines (VMs) from scratch involves numerous tasks, including installing the OS, setting up the hardware, and installing the applications. Virtual-to-virtual (V2V) migration streamlines this process by allowing administrators to convert existing VMs into new ones, reducing the time and effort required for VM deployment.

  • Cross-Platform Compatibility

Virtualization environments often consist of diverse platforms and hypervisors, each with its virtualization methods and capabilities. Thus, V2V migration becomes necessary when moving VMs between different virtualization products or platforms. For example, VMs created in VMware platforms may need to be converted for use in Hyper-V environments. This cross-platform compatibility ensures flexibility and interoperability across virtualized infrastructure, enabling seamless migration of VMs between disparate environments.

  • Hypervisor-Specific Features:

Certain features and functionalities may not be supported on your current hypervisor. Thus, it becomes necessary to switch to another VM that is compatible with the target hypervisor. Whether you are migrating to take advantage of advanced management capabilities or enhanced performance, V2V migration enables organizations to leverage the full potential of their virtualized environment.

  • Financial Considerations

The cost of proprietary hypervisors can sometimes exceed an organization’s budget, prompting them to try open-source VMs. V2V migration offers a cost-effective solution by allowing administrators to move VMs from proprietary platforms to an open-source environment.

  • User Preferences and Comfort

Personal preferences and ease of use can also necessitate moving from one VM to another. You can migrate to VMs you are familiar with and comfortable using, enhancing efficiency and productivity in managing virtualized environments.


Virtual-to-virtual migration involves transferring a virtual machine and its file from one hypervisor to another. This method is necessary in various scenarios, including when you need to move from a proprietary platform to an open-source and vice versa or for cross-platform compatibility. While there are two main types of V2V migration–hot and cold—you need to consider the dynamics of your organization before deciding which is suitable for use.

text written by:

Łukasz Błocki, Professional Services Architect