This tutorial is to show you how to convert a Windows based physical machine to a virtual machine using VMWare vSphere 4.0. With Windows machines, VMWare can do a live conversion while the source machines are still online and functional. The conversion process is pretty straight forward and errors free.
You could convert these Windows version: 2000 professional and server version, XP, 2003, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2. The oldest version I converted to virtual machine is a Windows Server 2000. Windows 2000 has a slight problem with the SCSI driver, but then it’s been running fine.
To convert a domain controller to virtual machine, you don’t have to do an offline-conversion. It means you do not have to turn off the source domain controller and use a bootable CD to boot up that machine, then convert it. Just do a live conversion. Active Directory replication services will do the rest, such as synchronizing the time-stamps of objects or replicating Group Policy Objects.
An alternative option is to use VMWare vCenter Converter Standalone 5.0. This new tool supports live conversion for Linux boxes.
Step-by-step guides how to convert a physical machine to virtual machine using VMWare vSphere 4.0
I assume that you are in VMWare vCenter now. Do these steps when you are in vCenter.
- Right click on the Host or Cluster, a popup menu will appear.
- Select Import Machine…
This will start the conversion process.
- On the drop down menu, select Physical Computer
- Click Next. The next step is to specify which machine to convert, and which credentials you would use to login to that machine.
My physical machine is 192.168.11.130. My FQDN domain is plaintutorials.net, my NetBIOS Domain name is PLAINTUT. The account that I will use to logon to the 192.168.11.130 server is haomnguyen. This account has administrative rights on the 192.168.11.130 server.
The conversion wizard will install an agent on the remote machine automatically. That’s the reason why it needs to have administrative rights on the remote machine (192.168.11.130).
- Select Automatically uninstall the files when import succeeds to remove the agent automatically. You do not want to leave the agent on the physical machine after conversion, do you?
The problem could be the way you specify the domain account. VMWare vSphere 4.0 conversion wizard does not support FQDN such as firstname.lastname@example.org. It only support pre-windows 2000 account name, in my case: PLAINTUT\haomnguyen.
Moreover, the conversion wizard does not support Windows XP Home edition. You must do the offline conversion using a bootable CD.
On a standalone Windows XP Professional (not joined domain), you must disable Simple Sharing option and do not leave the account with empty password.
- At the next screen, you have the chance to re-size the hard drives when it’s on virtual machine.
- Type the size of the new hard drives in GB, click Next to continue.
One more thing to concern is the storage size of the virtual hard drives. If you re-size the hard drive to 100GB, it means VMWare will allocate 100GB of space to store the image.
VMWare vSphere 4.0 does not support direct conversion to Thin Provision drives. You have two options: migrate the virtual machine after finishing the wizard. The migration process allows you to select Thin Provisioning for virtual hard drive. The second option is to use VMWare vCenter Converter 5.0. It supports Linux P2V and direct Thin Provisioning virtual hard drives.
Thin Provisioning is the option to increase the real space allocation for virtual hard drive. For example, if the hard drive is 100GB, but it costs only the size of real data on the virtual drive. If you have 10MB of data on the virtual drive, the real size of the virtual hard drive image is 10MB. The image size will grow as the data size grows. This option is perfect for a testing environment, but the performance is decreased dramatically in production environment.
- At Virtual Machine Name and Folder, this is where you want to store the virtual machine. Type the name of the machine and select the VMWare server.
- Click Next to continue to select storage
VMWare will check the availability of the destination storage to make sure it has enough space for the new virtual machine.
Click Next to continue to the Networks screen, where you can configure network interfaces for the new virtual machine.
- Click Next to continue.
- Check the box Install VMWare Tools. The new virtual machine needs these tools to run smoothly.
- Leave or check the Remove all System Restore checkpoints. It’s up to you.
- Click Next to continue.
- If you want to execute the task now, select Run this task immediately, and click Next. Otherwise, Schedule Later allows you to run the task at specific date and time, such as after hours on Saturday.
- Click Next to continue.
- Select the option Power on the new virtual machine after creation to turn on the virtual machine after the conversion wizard finished.
- Click Finish to complete the wizard.
Next steps are to sitting down and watch the conversion progress. Look at the bottom of your vCenter console, you would see some running processes.
It would take a while to convert a big physical machine to virtual machine over the network. I suggest you should find at least 1Gbps network connection between two servers (the physical machine and the VMWare storage where you will store the virtual machine)