We’ve been performing some physical-to-virtual server migrations recently, and setting up a test lab for some bigger virtualisation jobs that we have in the pipeline. This post is a quick walkthrough of virtualising a production SBS 2008 server to a VMware virtual machine (VM).
Before you start monkeying with the existing server, always satisfy yourself that you have good current backups in case anything goes wrong. It’s also a very good idea to check the event logs and make sure that the server is in a clean, stable state before you begin the migration – this is a good opportunity to iron out any niggling errors and rationalise the server configuration before the move.
Now that you’re ready to begin, pull up a chair and download VMware vCenter Converter (you’ll need to create a free account with VMware). Run through the installation, selecting ‘Standalone Installation’ rather than ‘Client/Server’.
Once the install has completed, launch VMware Converter and select ‘Convert Machine’. Select Source Type: Powered-on machine > This local machine > Next > Select a location to store the VM files (use a NAS/SAN or external hard disk).
Click Next to move onto the destination options.
Select the volumes (disks) that you want to convert – we left out G: as it doesn’t contain anything of interest. You can add more or less capacity (grow or shrink the disks). If you are in a hurry you can just convert the system disk and then add the other data disks later. It’s a good idea to ignore the page file and hibernation file, as they are both unnecessary and slow down the copy. You should always ‘Use Optimised Partition Layout’ for rather complicated technical reasons.
Alter the assigned Memory, CPU cores, NIC configuration and services as desired. You’ll be able to change these once the VM is created if necessary. Select your post-conversion options (they’re mostly self-explanatory) and hit next.
Review your settings and hit ‘Finish’ to start the process. This may take some time to complete, if you are running a ‘hot’ conversion on a live system then I hope you set some throttling options 😉
This medium-sized SBS 2008, with about 400GB of data converted in 7 hours. The conversion was done live, out of hours, unthrottled. What you end up with is a *.vmx virtual machine file and a set of *.vmdk virtual disks:
And that’s the first half of a P-2-V. The next step is to get the new VM up and running in a virtual environment. That’ll be the next post.