The Soul of a Virtual Machine

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Migrating from virtual to physical

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Eric sent me this question: "Do you know if it's possible to migrate a virtual machine to a physical one using ADS or any other tool?"

Unfortunately, I don't know of an easy way to migrate a virtual machine to a physical one, Eric, nor do I know of any tools. The issue is fixing the hardware-dependent system files. Because the hardware of a physical computer may be (or probably is) different than the hardware emulated by the virtual machine, you may need to swap system files that depend on the emulated hardware of the virtual machine for other files that will allow the operating system to run on the hardware of the physical computer. The system files include certain HAL and kernel files. You also may need to swap storage drivers needed for the operating system to boot correctly on the physical hardware. For more information about the hardware emulated by virtual machines, see "Emulated hardware" in the Virtual Server 2005 Administrator's Guide. If you want some background information on the issues, read the documentation I wrote for Virtual Server 2005 Migration Toolkit (VSMT). It's installed when you install VSMT (go to http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/virtualserver/evaluation/vsmt.mspx).

The "gotcha" about swapping system files is that Microsoft won't support the OS if you've changed its HAL file. If you use VSMT, the migration is supported, but not if you do it manually.

-Megan

Comments
  • I imagine you should treat it just as if you were migrating to different hardware.

    Lay down the base OS.
    Apply same service packs as the original host.
    Ensure disk letters match.
    Boot into Services Recovery Mode.
    Perform full restore to physiscal server.
    Boot from CD and perform in place upgrade, which will re-aquire the new host hardware.

  • There are a number of great tools to do this very quickly. I have used the VSMT method but found the final images almost unusable due to the slow performance - I'd like to know what rubish ADS and VSMT get upto in the transform.

    One great tool which I use on a daily basis is PowerP2V from PlateSpin. It will transform a physical machine to any of the leading vendors virtual machine. For example you can take your physical server and transform it to Virtual Server or VMware ESX or even between two differing virtual machine types. http://www.platespin.com

    If you need more info go to http://capitalhead.com and contact me.

  • Hi Prezmek,

    You can't use VSMT (I know for sure) or Platespin (as far as I know) to migrate from a virtual machine to a physical computer.

    I have heard good things about Platespin as a Physical-to-Virtual migration tool, but I haven't seen a thorough review of it yet. If you know of one, please send me a link and I'll post it. The one thing to note about Platespin is that it isn't free like VSMT.

    Thanks,
    Megan

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