Virtual server migration tools

This section of our virtual server migration guide outlines various virtual server migration tools for virtualization environments and outlines the pros and cons of manual, semi-automated and fully automated server migration tools.

Virtual server migration guide: An introduction
Virtual server migration tools
Microsoft server migration with Hyper-V
VMware server migration


Virtual server migration tools
To get started with virtual server migration, it's critical to understand the difference between tools that perform virtual server migrations manually and those that conduct conversions automatically. For virtualization administrators, there are clear benefits to automating migration tasks, since manual virtual server migration can be time-consuming and up to 20 hours to complete. By using automated P2V conversion tools, administrators can focus on other, more strategic tasks in their virtual environment.

Here is a rundown of available virtual server migration tools and their degree of automation:

Manual P2V. An administrator manually creates a virtual machine in a virtual host environment and copies all files from the operating system, applications and data from the source machine.

Semi-automated P2V tools. With semi-automatedP2V migration methods, tools assist a user in moving servers from a physical state to a virtual machine state.

Fully automated P2V tools. In fully automated P2V migrations, tools execute the entire process with no IT administrator intervention required.

Microsoft's System Center Virtual Machine Manager. While SCVMM offers myriad virtual machine management capabilities, SCVMM also offers P2V.

AutoVirt automates the process of migrating data from physical to virtual machines without client disruption.

PlateSpin Migrate (now owned by Novell Inc.) offers a fully automated migration tool for P2V.

Platespin PowerConvert offers the broadest operating system support and encompasses several functions on top of P2V migration. The product is touted as a P2V migration product and a hardware-independent backup-and-restore solution.

Parallels Virtuozzo contains automatic P2V (and V2P) migration tools.

Robocopy, a free server migration tool from Microsoft that is included in the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit.

Ultimate P2V while this tool is free, it requires an imaging tool such as Symantec Ghost to perform imaging. This tool is also requires some expertise and does not rank high in terms of ease of use.

VMware Converter, a free virtual server migration tool that converts physical servers running Windows NT, 2000, XP, 2003 and Linux servers to VMware virtual machines.

Vizioncore vConverter, while also known for its backup and disaster recovery technologies, offers a fully automated migration tool for P2V and a tip on using server migration tools in a Microsoft infrastructure.

Best practices for virtual server migrations
If you plan on converting physical machines to virtual servers, you should be aware of potential server migration problems, such as hardware compatibility. An expert evaluates virtual server migration tools to contend with physical-to-virtual (P2V) migration challenges and discusses how to deal with possible driver recognition issues and server downtime .

Best practices for virtual server migration
Virtual server migrations are more time-consuming and less straightforward than some administrators presume. In this article on best practices for virtual server migration, expert Andi Mann outlines virtualization administrators' key considerations before they begin to migrate servers.

Virtual machine server migration
For some IT shops, virtual server migrations can be challenging, which may prompt admins to blame the migration process and scrap a virtualization deployment altogether. Burton Group analyst Chris Wolf outlines  three approaches to migrating physical servers to virtual machines.

Using P2V backup and restore in a disaster recovery strategy
You can implement a disaster recovery strategy for physical servers using physical-to-virtual (P2V) disk files. An expert explains how disaster recovery for virtual servers differs from DR for physical ones, outlines how to create a P2V backup and restore plan, and evaluates tools for backup and recovery of virtualized environments.

Why unvirtualize?
While many server migrations involve converting physical machines to virtual ones, there are several scenarios in which you many need virtual-to-physical migration (V2P) tools. Virtual server migration from a physical system can create support problems that force you to revert to a physical architecture, virtual servers at a remote disaster recovery site may need to be unvirtualized or performance problems may prompt a V2P migration. An expert provides pointers on why and how to perform V2P conversions.

How P2V migrations can ease data center moves
Relocating a data center can be complex, costly and risky. But migrating physical servers to virtual machines can reduce the costs, risk and downtime involved in moving a data center. An expert explains the intricacies of the process.

For more on virtual server migration tools and a consideration of when it makes, check out Eric Siebert's rundown on converting physical servers to virtual machines with various tools.

Dig Deeper on P2V, V2V and V2P migration