Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Effortless Hot Cloning with VMWare Converter

Pulling Teeth

It's an exceedingly common scenario these days to want to make a virtual machine out of some physical machine. In fact when it comes to reproducing an environment I can't think of a more thorough way (especially when there's multiple machines involved).

This often leaves someone tasked with finding a powerful, affordable, and flexible physical to virtual conversion utility. Now finding a P2V solution isn't really a challenging problem, but finding one that's easy to use is.

I would encourage anyone who's ever been frustrated with the P2V tools on the .VHD (Microsoft Virtual Server, Virtual PC) side to consider making a .VMDX instead (VMWare Workstation, Server, Fusion).

Novocain

The VMWare Converter is free, effortless to use, and makes hot clones (in addition to cold ones) with the same ease that Johnnie Cochran acquits his clients. With a hot clone you don't even need to shut down the OS or stop any services! You can perform a P2V transformation and experience zero down time...all for free (if you call being bound to a VM Ware product free). This utility is so handy it just may be the help you need to help you make a better vendor choice when it comes to virtualization...

Just walk through a wizard, click hit a few radio buttons, and you'll be creating a hot clone in no time.

Screenshot of the VMWare Converter Import Wizard

Details

The VMWare converter will run on the following OS's:

  • Windows XP Professional
  • Windows 2003 Server
  • Windows 2000 Professional
  • Windows 2000 Server
  • Windows NT SP4+ (IE5 or higher required)

You're likely to get a much smoother ride with Windows XP and Windows 2003 as they both make use of the Volume Shadow Copy service, but supposedly you can make hot clones with the other OS's as well (I've only made hot clones on Windows XP and Windows 2003).

Like any task that could go horribly wrong, there's a couple of things you should check before selling yourself on hot clones, or at least placing any bets.

Don't just take my word for it, try the utility on some machine you don't like and create a clone (hot or cold). When you're done, just be sure post a YouTube video of you Office Space'ing the machine just like these guys did.

The clones should be made hot, the revenge should be served cold.

Note: Some employers take offense to employees taking their hardware into fields and striking company assets repeatedly with with sports equipment, regardless of whether or not a hot clone has been made.

Best,
Tyler

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