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How to P2V with Virtual Machine Manager 2008 and 2008 R2 Part 1

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As you may know Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) allows you to convert existing physical computers into virtual machines using P2V (physical-to-virtual). Most of the times the task-based wizard will be used because automates much of the conversion process, but since the P2V process is completely scriptable, you can take advantage of it to initiate large scale P2V conversions using Windows Power Shell  (in this post we’ll look at P2V using the GUI).

Let’s look at both (Online & Offline) conversions type and their differences:

Online P2V: This type of conversion runs with the source computer online and no reboot is required. During the conversion process the P2V agent acts like an backup requester using the VSS (Shadow Copy Service) for volumes and applications VSS aware. This process also ensures that the physical computer doesn’t “suffer” regarding to resources consumption with the P2V task, the computer continues to perform the tasks that it is expected to perform during normal operations.

Offline P2V: The conversion begins after the computer is booted with WinPE, which means that the source computer to be virtualized is NOT available during the entire conversion, the advantage of it, is that a consistent image will be taken from the source computer without the need to have applications that are VSS aware nor you’ll have the need to stop services and their dependencies that’s why Offline P2V is considered the most reliable method for converting physical computers to a virtual machines without potential data loss. For offline conversions, be prepared to supply NIC and mass storage drivers that are compatible with Windows Vista. VMM will evaluate the source physical computer and compare it with the drivers included in Windows PE and provide instructions on adding drivers on the source computer.

Before starting the P2V conversions  let’s check the Hardware and Software requirements:

Source Machine:
– Must have at least 512 MB of RAM.
– Must have an Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) BIOS – Vista WinPE will not install on a non-ACPI BIOS.
– Must be accessible by SCVMM and by the Host computer.
– If performing Offline conversions, the P2V agent will identify any additional drivers or updates that may be needed (These drivers must be Vista compatible because the WinPE will run under Vista OS).
Cannot be in a perimeter network (DMZ, demilitarized zone, screened subnet) where the firewalls or IPSec settings prohibit communication.

Operating System VMM 2008 VMM 2008 R2
Windows NT 4 (You can use the Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 Migration Toolkit (VSMT) or third-party solutions for converting computers running Windows NT Server 4.0.) No No
Microsoft Windows 2000 Server (Standard and Advanced) with Service Pack 4 (SP4) or later (offline P2V only) Yes (Offline P2V only) Yes (Offline P2V only)
Windows XP Professional (32Bit and 64Bit) with Service Pack 2 (SP2) or later Yes Yes
Windows Server 2003 (Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter Edition-32-bit and 64 Bit) Yes (With SP1 or later) Yes (With SP2 or later)
Windows Server 2003 Web Edition Yes Yes
Windows Small Business Server 2003 Yes Yes
Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-Bit) Yes (With SP1 or later) Yes (With SP1 or later)
Windows Server 2008 (Web, Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter – 32-Bit and 64-Bit) Yes Yes
Windows 7 (32Bit and 64-Bit) No Yes
Windows Server 2008 R2 (Web, Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter) No Yes
Itanium architecture–based operating systemsBottom of Form No No


Requirements for the Destination Host Server:
– The destination host cannot be in a perimeter network.
– Must have sufficient memory for the new  virtual machine plus the memory reserved for the host operating system (256 MB in VMM 2008 or 512 MB in VMM 2008 R2).
– Sufficient Storage to allocate the new VHD to be created from the source.

Virtualization Software:
Virtual Server R2 SP1
Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V
Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V 

Security Settings:
– Must have an account member of the local Administrators in the Source computer.
– Verify that no firewalls or IPSec policies prevent communication between the source computer and SCVMM on the management channel (on WMI or the SMB protocol) or between the source computer and the destination host on the data channel (TCP port 443 by default – SCVMM 2008 R2 will begin with port 40443).
– The VMM agent Windows Installer creates a firewall exception for remote administration (RemoteAdmin service) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) port. These exceptions are removed when the VMM agent is removed at the end of the P2V process. The HTTPS port default is TCP 443 and 40443 for SCVMM 2008 R2.

An example of P2V conversion.


During a P2V conversion, the participating computers communicate over the following protocols:
– Destination host and the source computer: HTTPs (443 or 40443 for VMM 2008 R2). The 40443 is initiated by default in SCVMM 2008 R2, but this is not the case for SCVMM 2008. To avoid port conflicts with P2V agent you can STOP the service that is running in port 443 in the Source machine or change the default port used by Virtual Machine Manager for P2V (create the registry DWORD key: “HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager Server\Settings\P2VBITSTcpPort” and enter the number of the port that you want to use on the VMM server. The port number must be smaller than 32768. Restart the VMM service.)
SCVMM server and the P2V agent on the source computer: WMI
SCVMM server and the destination host: WS-Management (Windows Remote Management –  WinRM)
– Data is transferred directly between the source computer and the destination host over HTTPs. Machine configuration and P2V parameters are exchanged between the source computer and VMM over WMI.

In P2V Online conversions the source physical machine doesn’t need to be rebooted, but you should be careful with the apps that you run on that computer and make sure that they’re VSS aware, if those applications are not VSS aware you should disable or stop them before attempt to do an Online P2V.

Offline P2V is more clean regarding to data consistency, this is achieved  because the source computer data is copied while it is not in use.
Remember:  offline P2V is the only option to convert Windows 2000 Servers and computers with Non-NTFS volumes, this process is also highly recommend for domain controllers so you don’t run into USN Rollback issues.
Unlike online conversions, the user must provide any missing drivers if Windows PE does not support the source computer

In part 2 we’ll cover the P2V migration steps.

Additional related Links:
P2V: Converting Physical Computers to Virtual Machines in VMM
Frequently Asked Questions: P2V and V2V Conversions in VMM
Virtual Server 2005 Migration Toolkit


Written by IT Core

December 20, 2009 at 6:23 PM

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  1. […] leave a comment » If you miss part 1 of this series, please check it here. […]

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