Microsoft Virtual Server migration to Hyper-V R2

Still running a Microsoft Virtual Server environment? Maybe it's time for a Hyper-V migration. Follow these tips on Virtual Server migration and upgrading to Hyper-V R2.

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For many Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 shops, it may be time for a Hyper-V migration. Previously, Microsoft Virtual Server was a viable virtualization option, but there have been revisions, upgrades and new capabilities that necessitate a move to Hyper-V R2.

Luckily, a Virtual Server migration to Hyper-V R2 requires only a few adjustments, because the formats are the same. This article covers how to make these changes manually and with the assistance of tools.

Manual Virtual Server migration to Hyper-V R2

More on Hyper-V migration
Migrating to Hyper-V VMs: Conversion tool options

Virtual server migration guide

Microsoft server migration with Hyper-V

 Even if you choose another Microsoft Virtual Server migration method, knowing the mechanics of what's happening behind the scenes is important -- especially if an automated approach fails, leaving the Hyper-V migration in a half-finished state.

Without turning this into a "I used to walk to school in the snow … uphill … both ways" story, before many of these Hyper-V migration tools were created, here is how I moved my virtual machines (VMs) from Virtual Server to Hyper-V.

Tip: Before the migration, make backups of your servers that have Virtual Machine Additions installed. Reverting to Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 after a Hyper-V Integration Components installation is not impossible, but it can be complicated.

  • Uninstall Virtual Machine Additions while the VM is still running on Virtual Server 2005, and then shut it down.

Tip: Whereas I have skipped this step and uninstalled the Virtual Machine Additions after I have brought it to Hyper-V, this is not the recommended procedure. I have encountered instances where Virtual Machine Additions failed to uninstall by trying to take this shortcut.

  • Using Hyper-V Manager, create the VM structure -- such as the CPU, RAM, network interface card (NIC), etc. -- on an available Hyper-V server. Do not attach or create any Virtual Hard Drives (VHDs) at this time.
  • Copy the VHD files from the Virtual Server 2005 host to the new location on the Hyper-V server.
  • In Hyper-V Manager, open up the settings of your newly created VM, and attach the VHD(s) you moved to this new location. Then, click OK.

Tip: Bootable VHDs must be connected to an Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) controller, usually IDE 0. SCSI boot drives are not supported as boot devices within Hyper-V, however.

  • Boot the new VM.
  • Once you have started the VM and logged in, install Hyper-V Integration Components. If you are familiar with Virtual Server 2005 Virtual Machine Additions, the concept is the same: The ICs allow your VM to interact more effectively with the hypervisor.

Tip: Before installing Hyper-V Integration Components, however, verify that the VM is supported and has the correct service pack.

  • Set up your IP address. A byproduct of manually migrating server is that you need to reconfigure your NIC settings.

Tip: When applying your IP Address, you may see a message that state, "Warning: Multiple default gateways are intended to provide redundancy." Even though Hyper-V installs a new NIC card, remnants of the old NIC settings are still in the registry. The problem can be ignored, but to manually remove this message, check out my blog for instructions.

Virtual Server migration using the VMC2HV tool
The free VMC to Hyper-V (VMC2HV) tool is somewhere between a manual Hyper-V migration and a fully automated one. Basically, it automatically translates the virtual memory configuration (VMC) file -- which contains settings for CPU, DVD and floppy drives, and SCSI controllers -- from Virtual Server to Hyper-V. But you still need to manually perform these steps to get a fully functional VM in Hyper-V.

  • Uninstall Virtual Machine Additions.
  • Move the VHD file to new location on the Hyper-V server.
  • Attach the VHD to the newly created Hyper-V configuration.
  • Install Hyper-V Integration Components.
  • Reconfigure the IP address

Even with these manual steps, this tool gets you started in the right direction and takes out some of the drudgery, easing your transition between hypervisors.

Virtual Server migration with System Center Virtual Machine Manager

For the channel
If you're a solutions provider looking to migrate your customers from Microsoft Virtual Server to Hyper-V R2, check out this tip from expert Greg Shields.

System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) is not a free tool and requires licenses, but it makes the process of Microsoft Virtual Server migration to Hyper-V exponentially easier -- as long as your old VM meets the supported OS and service-pack criteria.

To migrate a VM from Virtual Server to Hyper-V using SCVMM, here are the necessary steps:

  • Shut down the VM.
  • Right-click on VM, and choose Migrate.
  • Follow the wizard to choose which Hyper-V host you want to place the VM on.
  • Wait.

Behind the scenes, the automated process takes the exact steps outlined in the manual process above. From experience, it takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes for servers with a 10 GB to 20 GB hard drive through a 1 GB network link.

Occasionally, this process has failed because of a network issue. Therefore, knowing the manual steps to complete the Virtual Server migration was critical.

Tip: If a Virtual Server migration hangs at the Integration Components installation and then fails out, your VM is most likely not at the supported service pack level. At this point, you have two options: (1) move the VHD back to Virtual Server 2005; or (2) update the service pack while it's on the Hyper-V host (which may be slow), and then install Integration Components.

The number of VMs that need to be migrated as well as your budget are factors that play a large part in the method you choose. Having the full power of SCVMM is very helpful, but it may be overkill for a smaller organization. If that is the case, it may be best to not migrate at all. Rebuilding on a newer OS and reinstalling the application on the new Hyper-V location may also be the right migration path.

Ultimately, as with any project in your virtual environment, take your time and plan accordingly to determine which path is best for you.

Do you have creative ways for performing a Hyper-V migration from Virtual Server 2005? Send me your thoughts and keep the conversation going.

About the expert
Rob McShinsky is a senior systems engineer at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., and has more than 12 years of experience in the industry -- including a focus on server virtualization since 2004. He has been closely involved with Microsoft as an early adopter of Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, as well as a customer reference. In addition, he blogs at VirtuallyAware.com, writing tips and documenting experiences with various virtualization products.


This was first published in April 2010

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