Performing Physical to Virtual (P2V) Conversions using VMM 2008

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Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2008 includes a feature that allows the operating system from a physical computer to be converted to run inside a virtual machine. This is a concept referred to as a physical to virtual or P2V conversion. Conversions can be performed on a number of different Microsoft Windows based operating systems, details of which will be provided later in this chapter. In addition, two forms of conversion (online and offline) are available. Whether or not each conversion type is available also depends on the operating system running on the source computer.

Online and Offline P2V Conversions

An online P2V conversion uses the Volume Shadow Copy Service to perform the conversion while the source computer system is still running, enabling a conversion to take place without any interruption of service. An offline P2V conversion involves restarting the source computer system using the Windows Preinstallation Environment (PE) environment, resulting in a temporary loss of service from the source computer during the conversion process.

Supported P2V Source Operating Systems

A P2V conversion can only be performed on a limited range of Microsoft Windows editions. Further, P2V online conversions are limited to an even smaller subset of supported Windows editions as illustrated in the following table:

Operating System

Online P2V

Offline P2V

Windows Server 2008 (32-bit)


Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V (64-bit)


Windows Server 2008 without Hyper-V


Windows Server 2003 (32-bit) SP1 or later


Windows Server 2003 (64-bit) SP1 or later


Windows 2000 Server SP4 or later


Windows 2000 Advanced Server SP4 or later


Windows XP Professional (32-bit) SP2 or later


Windows XP Professional (64-bit) SP2 or later


Windows Vista (32-bit) SP1 or later


Windows Vista (64-bit) SP1 or later


P2V Source System Requirements

In addition to the above operating system requirements, the physical source computer system must also meet the following requirements to be eligible for a P2V conversion:

  • 512MB or more of RAM.
  • Source system must be a member of a workgroup, a member of either the same domain as the VMM server or a different domain with two-way trust established.
  • Must have an Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI).
  • Must not be installed in a DMZ/perimeter network.
  • Must be accessible to both VMM and the target host system.

P2V Destination Host Requirements

The destination host is the computer system on which the virtual machine containing the converted operating system will be placed. The requirements for this host are as follows:

  • Windows Server 2008 x64 with Hyper-V or Virtual Server R2 SP1 (or later)
  • Windows Server 2003 with Virtual Server R2 SP1 (or later)
  • Must not be in a DMZ/perimeter network.
  • At least 256 MB RAM in addition to the memory for the virtual machine

Performing a P2V Conversion

Assuming the above requirements are met, the conversion of a physical system to a virtual machine is performed from within the VMM Administrator Console. Details on launching the VMM Administrator Console can be found in the the chapter entitled A Guided Tour of the VMM Administrator Console.

Once the console is running and connected to a VMM Server, click on the Convert physical server link located in the Actions pane on the right hand side of the window to launch the Convert Physical Server (P2V) Wizard as illustrated in the following figure:

The VMM 2008 Convert Physical Server (P2V) Wizard

On the Select Source screen, enter the name or IP address of the source computer in the first and last fields, together with the credentials of an account on that system with administrative privileges. Clicking Next displays the Virtual Machine Identity screen where the name by which the new virtual machine will be referenced must be provided along with an optional description. If the default setting for the owner of the virtual machine is not acceptable, change this to the required owner and click Next to proceed.

The next screen performs a scan of the source system to confirm it is eligible for conversion to a virtual machine as illustrated below:

Performing a scan of a P2V source system

If the wizard reports problems connecting to the physical source computer, ensure that the firewall on that system is configured to allow WMI and HTTP traffic. Assuming the system scan reports no problems with the configuration of the source computer, click Next to proceed to the Volume Configuration screen shown in the following figure. The purpose of this screen is to select which volumes on the source computer are to be replicated in the virtual machine. Volumes may be selected or deselected to control whether or not they will be converted. In addition, the size of the destination virtual hard disk (VHD) may be altered to a size that is greater (but not less) than the size of the source physical disk. The type of virtual disk may also be changed from dynamic to fixed (for more information on virtual hard disk types refer to the Creating and Configuring Hyper-V Virtual Hard Disks (VHDs) chapter of the Virtuatopia Hyper-V Essentials on-line book).

Discretely positioned at the bottom of this screen is a link which reads Conversion Options. When clicked, this displays the options which govern whether an online or offline conversion will be performed as illustrated in the following figure:

Configuring virtual hard disks and conversion type (online/offline) settings for a VMM 2008 P2V conversion

The Conversion Options pane also provides the option to turn off the source system once the conversion process is completed. Once the virtual hard disk and conversion type settings are configured, click Next to configure the virtual processor and memory requirements for the destination virtual machine. On the remaining screens, specify the destination host, the filesystem location on the host for the virtual machine files, the network on the host to which any virtual network adapters are to be connected and additional settings relating to the behavior of the virtual machine when the host system starts and stops.

Once the above configuration settings have been configured, the Conversion Information screen performs a prerequisites check to ensure the conversion can be performed successfully. Assuming no problems are found, the wizard will report No issues detected.

Clicking Next displays the Summary screen:

The VMM 2008 P2V wizard summary screen

If the converted virtual machine is to be started automatically when the conversion finished, select the Start virtual machine after deploying it to host option. Assuming that the summary is correct, click Create to initiate the conversion process.

The duration of the conversion process will vary depending on a variety of factors such as the size of any disk images and the performance and location of the destination host. The progress of the conversion process is reported on the Jobs dialog which is displayed by default at the start of the creation process. If the Jobs dialog is not configured to appear by default, it may be launched by clicking on the Jobs button in the VMM Administrator Console toolbar.

The job status of a P2V conversion

Once the conversion is complete, the virtual machine containing the converted physical system will appear in the virtual machine inventory of the destination host and is ready to be started.

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