WTH is P2V? LMK! SMH!

By: Alicia Hernandez, Think Technical Writer

Whatever you do, do not look at your teenager’s phone and try to decode their text messages! Teenagers have more acronyms than your local IT Shop. On the other hand, maybe you should know their language, in which case you should check out this article 28 internet acronyms every parent should know. Decoding our message is much easier, and probably a question many of you have asked!

What the hell (WTH) is Physical-to-Virtual (P2V)? Let me know (LMK)! Shaking my head (SMH)!

Many of you have one or more physical server towers that look like a regular home PC tower hidden in a closet in your office or maybe under your desk. These physical boxes represent your company’s datacenter, as they are the gatekeeper of your data, and are probably the most important pieces of equipment in your office due to the data that resides on them! Some of you have an actual datacenter from which you run all of your organization’s operations infrastructure, including servers, network components, and maybe even some storage/backup arrays.

Now, the big question is to P2V or not to P2V! Why would you virtualize your servers? How would you virtualize your servers? And, can you virtualize your servers yourself or do you need to hire someone… (Errr hmmmm…pssst…like your good friends here at Think)…to tackle this beast for you? Just like every other answer that IT typically spits out, it depends on what you’ve got! We will outline the general things to consider for you here, along with providing some good articles for you to follow up with if you’re still interested.

Why P2V? Maybe you are considering the big purchase of some virtual appliances, or you are going with the wave of the future and pursuing IaaS (see this month’s article on IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS), either way, the time has come to move the data. First, it is important for you to know that a physical-to-virtual migration is literally copying all of the files from the operating system (OS), the applications, and the data from your physical machine to a virtual machine. Some of the benefits of this option include:

  • Cleaning up “server sprawl,” “server footprint,” or whatever fancy term you want to use. Basically, you’re eliminating the number of physical server towers lying around your office or your datacenter.
  • Reducing risk of failure and data loss from the clunky old boxes (server towers) that no vendor in their right mind will provide “maintenance support” for! In other words, it is out of warranty!
  • For those boxes that still have life left in them, you can repurpose them – more servers for new applications, or a new storage box for backups, disaster recovery, and business continuity.

But there are risks that also come with a straight P2V migration. For instance, since you are copying OS files, you may run into the same bugs and problems that you had with the physical server. Other issues that copy over include inadequate hardware configurations (memory/disk space), operating system configurations, application bugs, and even security vulnerabilities and/or malware, Trojans, or viruses that have embedded themselves in your old system. Getting around these problems could be accomplished by doing a fresh build on the new virtual machine – new OS install and configurations, fresh install and configuration of applications, etc. – and then copying over just the necessary data.

Performing a P2V migration is easier now than it has ever been. There are a number of tools out there to help you do it, including Microsoft’s System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) – although, beware, their newly released Microsoft Server 2012 Hyper-V R2 release does not offer the “Convert Physical Machine” option as it does in SCVMM – and VMware’s vCenter Converter. But a highly recommended reading that provides a few great tips for those of us running a Small Business Server 2011 (SBS) system is Are P2V conversions still worth doing? by Rick Vanover. Rick provides some great tips about “Avoiding the Gotchas” in performing a P2V conversion. And as always, we here at Think are always just a phone call away to help you with your P2V migration, your Cloud Services, or any other IT-related questions you may have!

 

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