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P2V Conversions Re-implemented in Microsoft Tool

The capability will be put back in System Center Virtual Machine Converter this fall.

Following customer complaints, Microsoft has decided to re-introduce physical-to-virtual (P2V) conversions in its System Center Virtual Machine Converter (MVMC). It was dropped from the last version, leaving virtual-to-virtual (V2V) conversion as the only option.

That will be corrected with the release of the third version of MVMC this fall. MVMC is Microsoft's free tool for migrating VMware virtual machines to Hyper-V; 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. 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 versions 4-10 and Linux guest OS migration, including CentOS, Debian, Oracle, Red Hat Enterprise, SuSE Enterprise and Ubuntu. It also added an on-premises 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 customers that it's a VM-to-VM conversion tool. "A while back, we had within System Center a P2V capability," McSpirit explained. He went on to say that for customers just getting started with virtualization or with workloads needing conversion from the physical world, P2V is built into System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM). Using Hyper-V, it's as simple as selecting a physical server to do the conversion either online or offline, and letting VMM handle the conversion to a virtual machine, then folding it into its management tool.

That functionality was deprecated in 2012 R2 and removed. McSpirit pointed out that there is still disk-to-VHD and 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 ... 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.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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