Windows P2V conversions with PlateSpin PowerConvert

PlateSpin's PowerConvert program allows you to convert physical machines to virtual ones across different platforms. In this tip, an expert explains how to convert a Windows Server 2003 physical machine to a XenServer virtual one.

After trying various tools and processes for performing physical-to-virtual (P2V) conversions, I find myself turning to PlateSpin PowerConvert most often. In this tip, I'll show you how to convert a physical Windows Server 2003 machine to a virtual machine in Citrix XenServer.

Server discovery on your network
Before you begin the actual P2V conversion, you have to locate all of the servers in your network. PowerConvert can locate both Linux and Windows machines easily. If the Windows server on which you have installed PowerConvert is in the same domain as your other Windows servers, PowerConvert will automatically discover them and add them to the Workgroup item in the discovered servers view.

If you want to work on a server that is outside your actual domain, you can utilize the manual discovery option by clicking on the Discover Server Details button. In this dialogue enter either the server name or IP address, and the Administrator name and password. Note that you should enter the Administrator name in the domain/username or servername/username convention. For instance, for the Administrator user on host GODTHAB, you would enter GODTHAB/Administrator. For servers using interfaces preceding Windows Server 2003, you should also make sure that WMI is installed on the server.

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Once the discovery process has been completed, you'll see a message indicating that the server has been added to the overview of available servers in the main PowerConvert interface. If you haven't done so already, make sure that the virtual server you wish to migrate to is discovered as well.

Performing a Windows physical to virtual conversion
If this is the first time you are performing a conversion with PowerConvert, use the Copy Workload task. This will keep the source server up and running while you copy all files and settings to the target server. You will need to provide a new server name and IP address for the copied machine, but the advantage here is that after the conversion the source server is still available. To start a P2V conversion in which the workload is copied, click Copy Workload from the tasks pane. This will open the Action interface that you see in Figure 2.

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From this window, first click the source hostname and then click the target hostname. The latter should be the virtualization platform on which you are creating the virtual machine. When working from the Action window, as shown in Figure 2, you will probably see the Start Wizard button grayed out after selecting the source server and the target server. This simply means that the wizard needs some more information to start the job. From here, click Advanced to provide this information. This opens the window that you see in Figure 3.

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When performing a copy workload from physical to virtual, you need to start by providing a unique hostname and IP address for the target machine. To do this, click Network Configuration followed by Network Identification. From here, enter a new host name then select the button Generate New System Identifier to make sure the new server is seen as a unique server.

Next, click Network Identification and select all Guest NIC links to provide unique IP addresses for the target virtual machine. After that, select Job Configuration then Credentials to enter the credentials that allow you to log in to the source Windows server whose workload you want to convert, and the credentials you need to log in to the target virtual host. If any more warning indicators remain, follow the links in the conversion job window to resolve these issues.

Following all of this you can start the conversion by clicking the Start button. This will start the job, which of course can take a serious amount of time to complete depending on the amount of data you need to migrate.

PlateSpin PowerConvert is among the better products out there to perform physical to virtual migrations. Using this tool will make migrating physical machines to VMs a lot easier. Although it may be different for your particular environment, this article has outlined how to perform this procedure for a Windows Server 2003 host.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sander van Vugt is an author and independent technical trainer, specializing in Linux since 1994. Vugt is also a technical consultant for high-availability (HA) clustering and performance optimization, as well as an expert on SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 (SLED 10) administration.

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