VMware P2V Migration: Importing Virtual Machines into VMware ESXi Part 1

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Building a virtual machine from scratch can take several hours. Setting up the hardware parameters, installing the operating system, and then adding third-party applications to the OS can be a huge time sink. Fortunately, you can reduce the amount of time spent creating and configuring virtual machines by cloning and importing physical or virtual systems to your VMware ESX/ESXi server.

VMware vCenter Converter: P2V and V2V

VMware vCenter Converter is an application developed to migrate systems. The application converts and packages a source system into a new virtual machine that can reside on an ESX/ESXi server.

vCenter Converter performs both physical-to-virtual (P2V) and virtual-to-virtual (V2V) migrations. In a P2V migration, the operating system running on a physical system is copied to a virtual machine. In a V2V migration, an existing virtual machine running on one virtualization platform is copied to a virtual machine running on another virtualization platform. But vCenter Converter is not limited to virtual machines created in VMware platforms; it can also import and convert VMs created in competing software, such as Microsoft Virtual Server and Microsoft Hyper-V.

In part one of this series, you'll learn how to do a P2V migration; in part two, you'll learn how to do V2V.

Hot vs Cold Migrations

VMware vCenter Converter is capable of accomplishing both hot migrations and cold migrations.

Hot migrations are those which occur while the source system is in a running state. Hot migrations are not recommended for certain tasks -- like migrating Active Directory Domain Controllers into a virtual machine (this task should be performed during a cold migration) -- but work well with systems where local data remains static.

Cold migrations, on the other hand, occur while the source system is offline. Cold migrations are ideal for systems like SQL servers and mail servers that have data that is regularly updated or altered. During cold migrations, the physical computer itself is still running, but the operating system that is being cloned is inactive. Cold migrations are initiated by booting VMware Converter from a disc.

In today's article we'll take a look at how to perform a hot P2V migration and a cold P2V migration.

P2V: Hot Migration

1. To perform a P2V migration in vCenter Converter Standalone, click "Convert Machine." Select "Powered-on Machine" from the drop-down menu on the Source System tab.

vCenter Converter: Source System

2. Select "This Local Machine" if you intend to migrate the physical machine to where VMware vCenter Conversion is installed. Otherwise, click "A Remote Machine" and then enter the IP address and login credentials for the source system. Click "Next."

Inside the vCenter Converter

3. Select "VMware Infrastructure Virtual Machine" from the drop-down menu. Enter the server address and login credentials for the system running VMware ESX/ESXi. Click "Next."

Importing a VM into VMware ESXi

4. Review the system parameters on the Options tab. To make changes to a device, network or service option, select the desired setting from the list.

Click "Advanced Options" to synchronize the source system with the destination system immediately after cloning or at a scheduled date and time. If you're cloning a Windows machine, it's recommended that you check "Install VMware Tools on the Destination Virtual Machine" and "Remove System Restore Checkpoints on Destination" on the Post-Conversion tab.

Click "Next" after making the desired modifications, if applicable.

Review system parameters

5. Review your configuration on the Summary tab; then click "Finish" to perform the migration.

P2V: Cold Migration

1. Boot to VMware Converter, and then click "Import Machine" from the toolbar. Click "Next"; then click "Physical Computer." Click "Next" again.

2. Select "A Remote Machine" or "This Local Machine" on the Source Login screen. If selecting "A Remote Machine," enter the name or IP address for the source system; then enter the login credentials. Click "Next."

3. Select "Automatically Uninstall the Files When Import Succeeds" if prompted, and then click "Yes" to continue. On the Source Data screen, select "Convert All Disks and Maintain Size" to import an identical hard disk configuration to the destination machine. To make modifications to the disk configuration, click "Select Volumes and Resize to Save or Add Space."

Uncheck a volume to remove it from the migration. To specify a new volume size for a disk, select the drop-down menu below "New Disk Space." Choose "Maintain Size" to use the original volume size or choose "Min(imum) Size" to import only the part of the disk that has been used. You can also manually specify the size of the disk by typing the desired capacity in GB or MB.

4. Select "VMware Infrastructure Virtual Machine" from the drop-down menu on the Destination Type screen. Click "Next." Enter the server address and the login credentials for the ESX/ESXi server.

5. Name the destination system. Click "Next." Select the preferred host to run the virtual machine from. Click "Next" again.

6. Select a datastore for the virtual machine. The datastores should be large enough to hold the data stored to the source system's hard disks. To assign a datastore to each hard disk, click "Advanced"; then select a datastore for each hard disk and config file. Click "Next."

7. Select the number of network interface cards (NICs) to import. Check "Connect at Power On," if preferred. Click "Next." Check "Install VMware Tools," "Customize the Identity of the Virtual Machine," and "Remove All System Restore Checkpoints." Click "Next."

8. On the Computer Info screen, enter the computer, owner and organization names. Generate a new security identity (SID), if desired, then type the location where the Sysprep files are stored, if applicable. Click "Next." If you're importing a Windows system, enter the licensing information for the machine. Click "Next."

9. Select a time zone from the drop-down menu. Click "Next." Select a NIC and then click "Customize," to alter the network parameters, if preferred; otherwise, use the default settings. Click "Next."

10. Enter the workgroup or Windows server domain information on the Workgroup or Domain screen. Input the necessary login credentials; then click "Next."

11. Review your settings on the Summary screen. To power on the destination VM after completing the conversion, check "Power on the New Virtual Machine After Creation." Click "Finish" to begin importing the source system to the ESX/ESXi server machine.

Part 2: V2V Migration

I hope this article will help you learn how to perform a hot and cold P2V migration using the VMware vCenter Converter. In my next article we'll go over a V2V migration.

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Petra Jorgenson

Petra Jorgenson is a professional writer with over six years of IT experience. She specializes in computer architecture, operating systems, networking, virtualization and web design. She has written support documentation for a leading BSS/OSS system and has over 100 published articles addressing a multitude of technology-related topics. Jorgenson is working on obtaining her MCITP certification.