In a previous article we looked at what’s new in the latest Technology Preview of VMware’s Workstation product, allowing for server virtualization in a Desktop environment for testing and build out purposes. In this article we’re going to walk through the process of using the included converter tool to convert a virtual clone within Workstation of just about any time of server you can conceive of, both physical and virtual.
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One of the more helpful features of this TP is that it includes a preview of VMware’s excellent Physical to Virtual Converter (P2V) utility for workstation. This version isn’t as robust as the vCenter Standalone Converter, in that it doesn’t allow to you choose disk size and resize parameters on the fly during the process among other things, but frankly in this situation you don’t really need it. The point with Workstation is to create a test environment, not to run production servers; we just want to convert it and do so quickly. In any case, what this will do is walk you through the process in just a few simple steps.

  1. Start by launching the “Virtualize a Physical Machine” menu item in the Workstation Home screen. If this is a fresh install and you haven’t launched this yet, you will probably be prompted to install the VMware Standalone Converter. The name of this item is a bit misleading as well in that the tool doesn’t really care if the target machine is physical or virtual. This is great for creating development environments for mature server based applications.
    VMware Workstation 2013 P2V - Sstart wizard
  2. Next you have to specify the FQDN or IP address of the target machine as well as the credentials. The converter application communicates directly with the target’s guest OS during the conversion process so credentials are required. The tools is capable of working directly with all currently supported versions of Windows, both on the server or client side, as well as the major enterprise flavors of Linux, Red Hat, Suse and Ubuntu.
    VMware Workstation 2013 P2V - Choose-machine
  3. Now you will need to provide a name and a storage location for your soon to be created Virtual Machine.
    VMware Workstation 2013 P2V - Storage
  4. Next you are prompted for credentials so that the Converter can create a share on the local computer to facilitate the move.
  5. Finally the conversion process begins. The first thing that happens is that the Converter takes a snapshot of the target system and proceeds to work with just the snapshot. This allows the conversion process to have limited impact on the production system and reduces the likelihood of failed conversions. Afterwards you will see the actual file copy process which may take a while depending on how large the target’s data is.
    VMware Workstation 2013 P2V - Conversion begins

There are a couple of important ways this technology preview version of Converter differs from the full blown Standalone Converter. One is that you aren’t prompted at any point for how the disk geometry is done, it simply sets up the disk as a thin provisioned disk that can expand to the full size of the target’s original disk. The good news is that it will start with just the size required to cover the actual data size. If you would like to make the disk larger once the VM is created you can expand the disk in the VM’s disk properties. Further you aren’t given any options during the actual conversion process regarding memory, vCPUs, etc. like with the vCenter product.

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Finally with the vCenter product you can tell the Converter to remotely power down the physical machine and make the virtual machine active almost instantly for a true P2V conversion. That option is not available here, but again that’s understandable considering the target market for this product. If you do want all of these capabilities and you do have a vCenter server available, the installation process does include the Standalone Converter which will make this happen.


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