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Microsoft To Revive Physical-to-Virtual Conversions in Migration Tool

Microsoft will release the third version of its Virtual Machine Converter (MVMC) this fall and the key new feature will be the return of support for physical to virtual conversions. MVMC is Microsoft's free tool for migrating VMware virtual machines to Hyper-V and when it released the 2.0 version earlier this year, the company removed the P2V support and only allowed for V2V conversions.

That "disappointed" some customers, said Matt McSpirit, a Microsoft senior technical product marketing manager on the company's cloud and enterprise marketing group. McSpirit joined me in a panel discussion on choosing a hypervisor at last week's TechMentor conference, held on the Microsoft campus in Redmond. While the panel covered many interesting implications of converting to Hyper-V, which I will break out in future posts, one key area of discussion was converting existing VMware VMs to Hyper-V.

Released in late March, Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter 2.0 upped the ante over the inaugural release by incorporating  support for vCenter and ESX 5.5, VMware virtual hardware version 4  through 10 support and Linux guest OS migration support including CentOS, Debian, Oracle, Red Hat Enterprise, SuSE Enterprise and Ubuntu, as I reported at the time. It also added an on-premises VM to Azure VM conversion tool for migrating VMware VMs directly to Azure.

Another key feature is its native PowerShell interface, enabling customers and partners to script key MVMC 2.0 tasks. These scripts can also be integrated with other automation and workflow tools such as System Center Orchestrator, among others. In addition, Microsoft has released the Migration Automation Toolkit for MVMC 2.0, which is a series of prebuilt PowerShell scripts to drive scaled MVMC 2.0 conversions without any dependency on automation and workflow tools.

The reason for killing the P2V support in that release was apparently to emphasize and encourage that it's a VM to VM conversion tool. During the panel discussion, McSpirit described P2V as less specific to virtual conversion but more focused on physical to virtual.

"A while back, we had within System Center a P2V capability," he explained. "So for customers who were just getting started with virtualization or have some workloads they need to convert from the physical world, we have P2V built into VMM [System Center Virtual Machine Manager]. So as an admin, you've got your Hyper-V host being managed, [you] select a physical server that will actually convert either online or offline, and VMM will handle [the conversion to a virtual machine]  and bring it [into its management tool]. And that functionality was deprecated in 2012 R2 and removed.  And thus, for a period of time, no P2V tool from Microsoft. Yes there's disk to VHD and some other tools but no [fully] supported, production ready tool [from Microsoft, though there are third-party tools]."

In a followup e-mail to clarify that point, McSpirit said that "P2V stands for physical to virtual, thus by definition, it's less focused on virtual conversion and more focused on physical to virtual, but that's not to say it can't be used for converting VMs," he noted. "The P2V wizard in the previous release of System Center Virtual Machine Manager (2012 SP1) could still be pointed at an existing VMware virtual machine, after all, regardless of whether it's converting a physical machine or not, it's the OS, and it's data that's being captured, not the hardware itself. Thus, you could use P2V, to do a V2V."

Microsoft confirmed in April that P2V was planned for the fall release. "With MVMC 3, that comes in the fall P2V is coming back into that, which pleases a lot of customers because it doesn't have that requirement for System Center which for smaller environments is more applicable and it enables you to perform P2Vs with a supported tool," McSpirit said.

Update: Just to clarify, MVMC never had P2V functionality. Rather it was offered in System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager (and earlier). When McSpirit said P2V was deprecated, he was referring to System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager, which offered V2V only. With the MVMC 3.0 release this fall, P2V will once again be available.

The session confirmed what many already know: MVMC is a good tool for converting a handful of hypervisors but it still requires manual configuration and  "lacks any sort of bulk conversion mechanism (unless you want to script the conversion process through Windows PowerShell)," wrote Brien Posey in a tutorial outlining how to use MVMC 2.0 earlier this year.

But if you plan to migrate numerous VMware VMs to Hyper-V, you may want to consider third-party tools from the likes of Vision Solutions, NetApp and 5nine Software.

Are you migrating your VMware VMs to Hyper-V? If so, are you using MVMC or one of the third-party tools?

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 08/20/2014 at 9:22 AM


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