What Is a P2V Converter, and When Should You Use It?

P2VVirtualization offers various benefits to organizations, including rational consumption of resources, scalability and simplified administration. Consolidating physical servers into virtual servers through physical-to-virtual (P2V) conversion is the easiest way to achieve virtualization.

P2V is the process of converting and transferring a physical computer image (its operating system, data and application) into a virtual machine (VM). Two approaches you can use with P2V are hot P2V (conducted while the physical server is running) and cold P2V (performed when the server OS is not running).

Why Convert a Physical Machine to a Virtual (P2V) machine?

There are numerous reasons why organizations may want to convert their physical servers into VMs, the most notable ones including retiring aging hardware, reducing datacenter footprint, supporting legacy software, simplifying IT infrastructure management, supporting a test and development environment, and migrating to the cloud.

Retiring aging hardware

Aging hardware brings additional expenses to the organization due to rising maintenance costs, performance degradation, energy inefficiencies and unplanned downtime. Converting such hardware into a VM gives it better performance and more flexibility than using it in the physical state and rationalizes resource allocation and utilization.

Reducing a datacenter footprint

Consolidating physical servers into VMs reduces the IT infrastructure’s overall footprint in terms of efficient utilization of resources and energy consumption. Additionally, reduced storage and network gears mean more cost savings for the organization.

Supporting legacy software

Legacy applications cannot run on modern hardware and OSs. Also, when you encounter hardware failures or other issues, it’s challenging to run these applications. Under these circumstances, virtualization is the only option you have to keep using legacy software. Besides, it also extends the use of the software with a higher uptime.

Simplifying IT infrastructure management

A virtualized IT infrastructure is more straightforward to manage than a physical one. With physical infrastructure, you must access the individual servers and their consoles physically via login credentials in order to manage them. On the other hand, virtualized servers facilitate single login where you can access all the VMs via a centralized console.

The capabilities of P2V are not limited to access and maintenance. They also extend to greater IT infrastructure management capabilities such as server provisioning, automation, monitoring, security and disaster recovery.

Supporting a test and development environment

An environment that allows developers to test out their applications is one of the key aspects of managing a reliable IT infrastructure. Carrying out the physical environment’s testing process can lead to some challenges and lost time if you make a mistake. With P2V, you can easily create a virtualized test environment that takes snapshots of the working environment.

You can make changes easily, and even if the application fails, you can roll back the snapshots and try again limitless times. This way, you save time and implement changes knowing that they will work.

Migrating to the cloud

On-premises, traditional IT infrastructures are ill-suited to migrate to the cloud and reap full cloud benefits. Consolidating physical servers into VMs is the first step towards migrating to the cloud. You can transition to private and public clouds easily from VMs.

What Use Cases Do Not Lend Themselves to P2V Conversions?

The P2V conversion isn’t always a seamless process. First, it doesn’t remove any system configurations or application problems present on the physical server. Second, the virtualized system may never function optimally for certain workloads. A few workloads where physical-to-virtual conversion is not appropriate are virtualizing domain controllers (DCs), exchange servers and systems that depend on specialized hardware.

Domain controllers

Many potential issues may arise when you attempt to virtualize a DC. For example, a hot migration can result in a DC that is out of sync with others. And even if you succeed with the cold migration, powering on the old DC when the new DC is running can duplicate instances.

Exchange servers

Like DCs, virtualizing exchange servers is risky. The P2V conversion can fail or corrupt the exchange database. In some cases, the resulting virtualized server may be extremely slow, potentially affecting business operations. For virtualization conversions involving exchange servers, it is appropriate to deploy the VM first and then reinstall the exchange on that virtual machine.

Systems that depend on legacy hardware

Attempting to convert servers requiring specialized hardware such as licensing dongles and fax boards can compromise the P2V process. This is because emulating such hardware in a virtualized infrastructure may not work. For example, virtualizing a DOS-based application running on 16-bit hardware is impossible because modern virtualization platforms do not support 16-bit guest OSes.

How Can You Prepare for P2V Conversion?

Three crucial steps you should follow when creating VMs from physical machines are:

  1. Determine resource consumption for the new VM. Virtualizing physical servers without first monitoring their resource consumption is a disaster recipe. For a physical-to-virtual migration, you need to determine how much processing power, RAM and hard disk space your current physical server consumes. This can help you know whether the available hosts can or cannot house such a server as a VM.
  1. Prepare the source. If you determine that the available hosts can house the physical server as a VM, the next step is to prepare the source server. Below are some tasks you can undertake:
  1. Clean up the source. You must ensure you only transfer the required data before undertaking any P2V conversion. This reduces the time it takes to virtualize the physical server and minimizes risks of transfer failures. As such, you should ensure that you delete all the files that are not necessary, such as memory dumps, Windows update uninstall files, and old versions of files. Additionally, it is best to uninstall all the software you don’t need on the virtual server after the conversion process.

What Are Some Examples of P2V Converter Tools?

Below are a few popular tools you can leverage for a P2V conversion:

Parallels RAS—a Virtual Desktop Solution

P2V’s primary motivation, and by extension, virtualization, allows organizations to rationalize IT resources’ consumption. But today’s business requirements are constantly evolving—requiring agile IT solutions that are secure, cost-effective and scalable to meet the demands of a mobile workforce.

Rather than looking for P2V virtualization solutions that are simplistic, perhaps you should consider a complete virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution. Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) is an inclusive and cross-platform VDI solution that IT administrators can use to publish applications and desktops hosted on VMs.

Once published, such applications and desktops can be accessed from any device running any platform, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS and any HTML5-ready browser. Unlike P2V solutions that virtualize only physical servers, Parallels RAS has various tools you can use to perform specific tasks related to the management of VMs via a single pane of glass.

When creating guest VMs, Parallels RAS is flexible—you can use either a template-based or non-template-based approach to get your VM up and running quickly. Additionally, you can start, stop, reset or suspend guest VMs via a simple click. Most importantly, Parallels RAS is cloud-ready and supports multiple hypervisors, including VMware ESXi, Hyper-V, and other hyperconverged solutions (HCIs) such as Scale Computing HC3 and Nutanix Acropolis.

Download a 30-day Parallels RAS trial today to streamline deployment and management of VMs today.