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Physical to Virtual Migration – Part 1

Physical to Virtual Migration – Part 1

  • P2V

This article on the migration of physical machines to the VMware virtual environment will be a three-part series.

In this first part, we will take a look at the following:

  • Difference between Physical and Virtual infrastructure
  • Benefits of migrating to a virtual environment
  • Pros and Cons of Virtual environment
  • How to move from physical to virtual
  • Considerations to be checked before migration

In the second part, we will take a look at the overview of VMware free migration tool – VMware vCenter Converter, and how to perform P2V migration.

In the third part of this series, we’ll look at a powerful solution that provides data protection and also ensures seamless cross-platform migration across multiple hypervisors (V2V), or across different workloads (P/V).

Difference between the Traditional Physical & Virtual infrastructure

Traditional Physical Infrastructure

In this, the resources and components of a physical server are not shared between multiple users. Each physical server includes own memory, processor, network connection, hard drive, and an operating system (OS) for running programs and applications.

Typically, in the physical infrastructure, the servers don’t have a sufficient amount of resources or they don’t completely utilize the allocated resources such as CPU, RAM, Storage. This is because many of the servers sit idle as the workload is distributed to only a few servers on the network. In addition to that, the physical servers also consume a lot of power and require separate maintenance.

Virtual Infrastructure

Virtualization means the creation of virtual resources such as a server, desktop, operating system, file, storage or network. Virtualization allows you to utilize the computing resources completely by partitioning a physical server into multiple virtual servers, defining each server a specific OS and application. These virtual servers look and act like a physical server but are highly scalable and resources can be used efficiently.

Benefits of migrating to a virtual environment

Infrastructure Footprint Reduction

Consolidation of servers with virtualization will reduce the overall footprint of your infrastructure with minimal energy utilization, efficient utilization of resources, less networking gears and of course only a smaller number of racks is needed. All these valuable points will result in good savings for the company.

Break Hardware Aging

Nowadays technology is evolving much faster and it demands higher infrastructure requirements when it comes to processor speed, energy efficiency, RAM size which often leads to buying new servers or replacing existing. All your applications running need to be based on the current hardware specifications and technology advancements which will obviously be a challenge in your IT budget.

Aging infrastructure brings additional costs as it results in performance degradation, rising maintenance costs, energy inefficiencies, an increase of unplanned downtime and more. Virtualization abstracts the underlying hardware and gives more flexibility, better performance, right resource allocation & utilization when compared to physical servers.

Test and Development Environment

Using virtualization you can easily build an isolated test and dev environment which drastically reduces the investment for building an infrastructure for testing and development purposes. Traditional physical infrastructure to virtual infrastructure migration will free up many servers which you can utilize to build a test and dev environment.

Ease of Management

Comparing to traditional physical infrastructure, virtual infrastructure is very easy to manage. In the traditional way, you must access individual servers to access the operating system and application whereas in a virtual environment from a single logon you can access all virtual machine console. Virtualized environment is not limited to maintenance and access, it has also other great capabilities like disaster recovery, security, server provisioning, monitoring, and automation.

Legacy Applications Support

Legacy Applications will not run in modern operating systems or hardware. Due to hardware failures or any other issues, companies face challenges to run the application. In such a case, moving to VMware Virtualized environment will be the best option to keep running the legacy application. Virtualizing your infrastructure and migrating the application to a virtual environment will extend the use of the application with higher uptime.

Moving to Cloud

From past years, we all know about virtualization and many organizations are moving their infrastructure from Physical to Virtual. And Cloud is the next journey of virtualization and moving to a virtualized environment from physical infrastructure is the first step to move into the cloud.

From Virtual infrastructure, you can easily move to a private cloud environment or you can migrate directly to public clouds like Azure, AWS, etc. Organizations should prepare for the new technology and be ready for the transformation, so it’s very important to convert your physical infrastructure to Virtual.

Pros and Cons of Virtualization or Virtual environment

Pros

Lower CAPEX

By virtualizing the Infrastructure, organizations will have great cost savings in the area of 50 percent on hardware, power, and cooling. Consolidating multiple applications by migrating from physical servers to one virtualized host will reduce the hardware cost on the server and its components also. The number of application servers reduced will lead to more savings on server/storage hardware, rack space, power & cooling, network, cables, and parts like keyboard, mouse and finally, your capital expenses will be reduced.

Lower OPEX

Virtualizing the Infrastructure will reduce the number of servers and equipment used, which will help to reduce the OPEX. Also, you can automate several routine tasks such as reporting, applying patches, etc. Finally, it reduces the need for hands-on management and reduces your business’s operational costs. The IT staff can provide high-quality service instead of spending servers hours to keep the systems up to date.

Increase Infrastructure & Application Availability

By utilizing Virtualization, organizations can manage their infrastructure easily and efficiently with increased uptime. Virtualization allows to take regular backup and replicate all your servers as a complete virtualized image into separate storage or location. If any failure occurs, the backup virtual server can be used instantly.

Business Continuity

Another benefit of moving to virtualization is disaster recovery. Using solutions like VMware vSphere replication, Site Recovery Manager you can execute the fastest and most reliable recovery of the entire production infrastructure to a secondary site. Also, all data can be encrypted and kept safe on your secondary site with inbuilt encryption mechanisms.

Green IT with Energy Savings

As we mentioned earlier, lowering the size of the infrastructure there will be huge savings on energy because of less consumption. Energy efficiency and the reduction of a company’s carbon footprint is one of the significant benefits of using Virtualization.

Right Resource Utilization

Hosting an application to a physical server is really wasting almost 80 % of the resources of the server. With virtualization, you can consolidate multiple servers to a single server which helps the right utilization of the resources. And your business is getting the most out of your hardware and resource investments with efficient resource management.

Flexible and Scalable

Virtualized infrastructure is easy to manage, it provides a centralized view and access to Infrastructure. The same way you can scale up the infrastructure by adding new hosts or upgrade the resources without impacting any business operations. And, if there is a new application requirement you don’t need to buy a complete physical server and wait for the normal long process; you can provision in virtualized infrastructure easily.

Cons

Upfront Cost

You have to invest in the virtualization software and maybe new hardware required for the virtualization platform. Most organizations have enough resources to move to virtualization without demanding more money. If you have an infrastructure that is very old and not compatible with virtualization software, then you must consider an initial budget that may be a pain area.

Application Compatibility

There are some applications that are not supported in virtualized environments. So, we need to perform an assessment of existing physical infrastructure before migration.

Expert Virtualization Skill

To manage a virtualized environment, need virtualization expert engineers in an organization. For the application team or end-user, the virtualized environment is like a traditional physical environment.

How to move from Physical Infrastructure to Virtual Infrastructure?

You can easily migrate your physical Infrastructure to VMware Virtual environment using VMware free tools and other third-party tools.

P2V conversion

You can turn your Windows and Linux physical machines into VMware virtual machines which act as a physical machine with all your saved data hosted application without any issue. This migration process generally referred to as physical to virtual (P2V) conversion.

VMware has its own VMware vCenter Converter to perform this migration, which is free of cost. vCenter Converter supports many source physical machines, including Windows and Linux desktop and server editions. It also supports the conversion of third-party virtual machines like Hyper-V and KVM. VMware vCenter Converter converts local and remote physical machines into virtual machines without any downtime.

Considerations to be checked before migration

When planning to migrate to virtual infrastructure, the first thing to do is migration assessment.

Migration assessment is collecting complete infrastructure details of the existing environment which includes Network, Servers, Storage, Operating System, and Applications.

Check the below points before starting the migration:

    1. Create a checklist for collecting the existing infrastructure details, you may collect the details to an excel sheet based on category for easy management

Server Details

      • Fully Qualified Server Name
      • Operating System Type
      • Server Make and Model
      • Number of CPU sockets
      • Number of CPU cores
      • Amount of physical memory installed
      • Current CPU & Memory usage
      • Any hardware dongles connected to server and details
      • Any server application licenses are binding to a MAC or IP address?
      • Prior to migration, any defragmentation performed
      • Antivirus Installed on the Server or not
      • Antivirus Name and Version
      • Any Network Share configured, collect the details (Share Name & Path )

Network

      • Number of Network Interface Cards
      • VLAN’s associated with each NIC including trunk or access mode
      • Complete IP address which can obtain from ipconfig or all for each NIC
      • Remote Management IP Address for the server (ILO /iDRAC etc.)

Storage

      • Physical disk capacity with Driver Letters, Raid, and Disk Type
      • Current physical disk usage with a drive letter
      • Storage Make and Model
      • Storage Management IP Address
      • Any NFS or CIFS Configured and details
      • iSCSI or SAN storage Connected with Server
      • iSCSI Server IP Addresses
      • IQN (iSCSI qualified name) of Physical Server and associated IP Address
      • iSCSI LUN Name, Size, type, and configured server details
      • iSCSI LUN is shared with more than one server or not
      • iSCSI shared servers Name
      • FC Storage Make and Model
      • FC Storage management IP address
      • FC Switch Name and IP address
      • FC LUN Name, Size, type, and configured server details
      • FC LUN is shared with more than one server or not
      • LUN shared servers Name
      • WWN Number of Server HBA’s
      • WWN Number of Storage HBA’s
      • Zoning Information

Operating System

      • Server Operating System
      • Operating System Licensed or Not
      • Operating System has full Updates

Application

      • Application Name
      • Serve Name where Application installed
      • Application installed on which Drive of Server (Driver Letter)
      • Application is Clustered or not
      • Any Shared Storage is Presented for the Application
      • Any Dependency with additional Hardware devices like USB dongles
      • Any application licenses are binding to the MAC or IP address of the server?
      • Server Name / IP and MAC binding details of the Application
      • Application Owner Information
      • Compatibility of the Application in Virtualized Environment
      • Application Downtime

License

Necessary License details of Operating System and Application, which is very much required for licensing compliance.

Access Details

      • Local administrator credentials for the server
      • Remote access types like RDP or any other tools
      • Remote management access information (ILO, iDRAC, etc.)
      • Active directory domain admin details

Based on the above details you can plan how resources should be allocated for the servers after migration. For smooth migration, we recommend modifying the resources setting after the migration and verify whether the Operating system and application is working perfectly. The checklist will help you assign resources properly and save the cost of infrastructure.

    1. Create a checklist for collecting the VMware vSphere environment details to plan the migration smoothly. We need this information very accurate for configuring the servers and applications in a virtualized environment after migrationM

Virtual Infrastructure

      • vCenter Name
      • vCenter Access details
      • Datacenter, Cluster and ESXi Name
      • ESXi IP Address
      • Port Group Name and VLAN ID’s
      • Configured (FC / iSCSI) LUN Name, Type and name and IP of connected ESXi hosts
    1. Verify VMware Infrastructure configuration is standard and followed the best practices
      For better performance, proper management and easy maintenance and migrations, virtualized Infrastructure should be configured with standards followed by VMware best practices

Let’s check a few points which help to create standard VMware Infrastructure

    • VM Name and Guest OS Name should be the same
    • VMware Tools should be updated
    • VM Hardware Version should be Latest
    • Unwanted Virtual Hardware’s can be removed, example – Floppy Drive
    • ESXi and vCenter with N-1 version, where N is the Latest Supported Version for Hardware
    • If there is no IPV6 in the environment, disable in guest OS and ESXi
    • ESXi Local Datastore Naming – ESXI Name_LOCAL, example VMARENA-ESXI-01_LOCAL
    • Shared Storage Naming – Storage Array Model-VMDATASTORE-XX, example VMAX-VMDATASTORE-01 for Dell EMC VMAX Storage LUN
    • For placing some Application in Specific Datastore, better use naming Storage Array Model – APPLICATION NAME DATASTORE-XX, example VMAX-EXGDATASTORE-01 for Exchange
    • Port Group Name – VLAN_VLANID, example VLAN_191
    • Separate vmdk’s for each logical volume in VM, example C-drive, D-drive should be in separate VMDK
    • Virtual Machine Network Card Model – VMXNET3
    • Separate vSwitch for Management, vMotion and VM Network with redundant network adapters, Management Network – 1G, VMotion and Production 10G network will be best options, applicable for Standard and Distributed
    • For SMB Management and vMotion can be on Single vSwitch with 1G connection and VM network in Sperate vSwitch 10G or multiple 1G Connections
    • Separate vSwitch for iSCSI Configuration in ESXi
    • Place the Virtual machines in Separate Folders with application or Department names for better management and Access control
    • Configure LDAP / Active Directory Authentication with vCenter & ESXi hosts
    • NTP Configuration with NTP Server
    • Separate domain accounts for operations like backup, monitor, etc
    • Provision LUN in thin mode from Storage to vSphere environment
    • Create virtual Machine VMDK in such manner Thin – For less write IO and utilization, Thick
    • Lazy – Minimal write IO and Utilization, Thick Eager – High write IO, example – For OS thin, Application and Databases Thick Lazy / Eager based on application type
    • Configure multipathing policy on all Luns, refer Storage Vendor recommendation
    • Configure VAAI Configuration as per vendor guidelines
    • Add the Annotation with required details such as VM creation date, owner, etc. for VM’s
    • Application Cluster Setup Configuration – SCSI bus sharing type define

As an initial setup for physical to virtual migration above-mentioned points will help. Also, there are many more options available that help to create Infrastructure more secure, you can refer to VMware’s best practice guide for the same. After collecting all these details, prepare a migration plan and discuss with respective owners for downtime and other details.

In this article, we looked at the basics that need to be understood before migrating your workloads from physical to virtual as well as its pros & cons.

In our next article, we will look at how the P2V migration is done using VMware vCenter Converter.

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