P2V using the same hardware

P2V using the same hardware

Hello everyone,

I'll start by saying that this isn't my first ESX/ESXi deployment and I'll also say that I've searched for a solution to my problem unsuccessfully but I know that there must be a guide somewhere (it's probably my search terms that are leading me the wrong direction).

As I said above, this isn't my first deployment... heck this isn't even my first P2V however this is the first time I've been asked to virtualize a Windows 2003 SBS box on to the hardware that it is currently running on. i thought that it should be fairly starightforward so I launched Converter and looked for the option to convert my physical machine into a file that I could then import to the same server hardware running ESXi server (after I had installed it hours later).

Can someone please help me find the best practices or a guide for doing this?



No you need some sort of virtualization platform available typically ESX/ESXi

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Thanks for your reply weinstein5,

I have my own ESXi Server here at my site: would it be possible to use Converter to move (P2V) the SBS server to my ESXi server, wipe the box that SBS is on right now, install ESXi, and then move the VM over to the customer's newly created ESXi server?

Sounds like quite a few opportunities for massive headaches... or am I getting worried about nothing?


If you have a large enough external hard disk, or network share, you could use VMware Standalone Converter to convert the physical SBS box to a virtual machine, making the destination type for VMware Workstation. Once that's completed, you can wipe the SBS installation, install ESX and then use the Converter to convert the Workstation VM into an ESX (virtual infrastructure) VM. I can't think of any reason why this won't work.




If you have an existing ESXi host then you should have no problems. Convert directly to the ESXi host. Start the VM to test. Test thoroughly since when you wipe the SBS machine you don't have a second chance. If the physical SBS has lots of empty space on disks consider shrinking the disk as you convert. It will make hosting and moving somewhat easier. Once you are satisfied it is working. Do the deed and install ESXi. You can use converter to clone the SBS from one ESXi host to another or you can use a tool like Veeam FastSCP to copy the VM from one host to another. Whichever way you choose to P2V make absolutely sure you have a good working VM before you wipe the hardware.


Hi Sam and DSAVERT, thank you for your replies.

If I choose to go Sam's route: I have an empty Drobo with 2+ TB of free space that I

could use. Do I need to be concerned about version conflicts? (IE If

I convert to a file for VMWare Workstation 6.5.x will it work on ESXi

3.5.x or ESXi 4.x)

If I choose to go DTAVERT's route: I'm already planning to do a Cold Metal (Bare Metal) backup of the machine using Acronis and then executing the P2V conversion and all the rest. If I shrink the disk prior to the move will I have any problems resizing it when it gets back on to the orignal (now ESXi) server? I tried this a couple of years back and I ended up having a problem with Windows having a really cramped partition on the resized disk. To rephrase, as I don't know if there have been any advances in the way that VMWare handles Windows partition resizing (or if it's even possible without a third party utility IE: Partition Magic, etc)... do I need to be concerned about resizing the disk and then resizing the Windows partition?

I'm kind of surprised that there isn't a KB article or VMware authored process on doing something like this. Small Businesses typically don't have the resources (spare ESXi server) sitting idle.


VMware Converter will sort out the version issues - that's what it does Smiley Happy I would definitely agree with DSAVERT that testing is required.

In terms of resizing partitions - you can use a boot disk called gparted to resize the VM's hard disk if need be, I actually resized one this morning. It's just a case of booting the VM from the CD and then the program itself is pretty easy. Think of VMware's resizing as changing the size of the "physical disk" and let gparted resize the logical disk.


If I shrink the disk prior to the move will I have any problems resizing it when it gets back on to the orignal (now ESXi) server?

I'm not suggesting that you re-size just for the sake of resizing. Think about what you are doing here. You will be moving your SBS server back to the machine it was running on. The SBS server had all the disk space on the physical server. Once P2Vd it will be moved back to that server. It will now be sharing the space at least with ESXi. Unless you add more disk space it won't fit. I am only suggesting that you look at how much empty space the current physical server has. Think about what you might grow to and shrink to that level.

I'm kind of surprised that there isn't a KB article or VMware authored process on doing something like this. Small Businesses typically don't have the resources (spare ESXi server) sitting idle.

That's what Server or Workstation or Player is for. Trying to figure out what everyone has and how to overcome the differences for each OS combination would make for an overly large, complex KB article. If you do a search through the forums you will find many similar posts.


Thank you all for the assistance with solving this! I'm going to get it done tonight and I'll reply back if there are any surprises.


Bad Tim


Good luck.


Hello everyone,

I figured I'd post a follow-up with my methodology and observations along the way just in case it helps anyone in the future. A big thanks goes to the three people who posted replies to my initial post.

Details: Microsoft Windows 2003 SBS Standard operating as the Domain Controller, DHCP, DNS, Exchange, etc running on a Dell PowerEdge 1900 (1x 2GHz Xeon, 2GB RAM, 250GB HDD split into two partitions by SBS)

Methodology that I used:

  1. Perfomed a 'cold metal' backup of the entire server to external storage (USB attached storage drive #1)

  2. Disconnected the SBS server from the network. (Not sure if I needed to do this, just seemed logical)

  3. Connected a external (USB) hard drive (USB attached storage drive #2)

  4. Using VMWare Converter (VMWare cCenter Converter Standalone 4.0.1 build 161434 with a standard client install) I converted the running SBS machine to a Workstation v6.x VM and stored it on my USB attached storage drive (#2)

  5. Wiped the hard drive array where SBS was installed (in my case we were doing a hard drive upgrade at the same time so I removed the two 250GB drives and installed two new 1TB drives in a RAID-1 array)

  6. Installed and configured ESXi 4 on the RAID-1 array.

  7. Back to VMWare Converter on my other comptuer: converted my Workstation VM and deployed on the newly installed ESXi 4 server.


Note: it took about 9 hours to clone the SBS to the VM workstation file and then another 10 hours to move it on to the ESXi server. I was using a gigabit network to move files and preform the conversions.

This document was generated from the following thread: 


Hello everyone,

I meant to edit the post before DSAVERT made it into this document to say that the only reason I indicated that I used different USB Attached Storage (IE: "USB attached storage drive #1") was simply to help the users understand that my 'cold metal' backup didn't come near the rest of the methodology for safety's sake.

I'll add another line to the results a little as well:

Upon first boot after the migration I was asked to activate Windows Server 2003 SBS. I was asked to enter my Windows product ID key (which I did) and it authenticated without issue. (an effort to resolve any future questions and in the interests of being thorough)

Hi BadTim,

It's worth noting that you'll always have to reactivate Windows after a P2V conversion because the Virtual Machine Hardware is significantly different to the Physical Hardware. Windows Activation will check on startup against a key generated on activation from the hardware configuration, if they're "significantly" different, then it will ask to re-activate. This may fail with the over-the-wire activation, but if you call Microsoft and tell them it's a P2V conversion, and that it's only installed once, they'll activate over the phone.


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