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Stone Cold Clones

In the course of any server virtualization project, there will undoubtedly be a conversion that just won't seem to work correctly. While there are many ways to go about troubleshooting a system for a P2V or V2V conversion, one strategy is to perform the cold clone. A cold clone is actually the cleanest way to convert a system, as it is in a zero-transaction state. Most conversion tools are crash-consistent for Windows systems.

While the consistent part of that quantification is good, the crash part is not. A cold clone conversion moves to a virtual machine very cleanly by booting into a special environment to perform a conversion. This approach works well for super sensitive systems which may include proprietary databases or high file share traffic that would be out of sync when brought up crash-consistent.

As part of my beta work with the upcoming vSphere release, one of the areas that I have been focusing some of my efforts is the vCenter Converter product. The newest release includes a cold clone option that is for the most part indistinguishable from the prior product offerings, including much slower conversion speed than the online conversion mechanisms. The main point is that ESX 4 and vSphere support are now an option for a destination VM in the cold clone environment.

One thing that caught my eye is that the newest vCenter Converter uses a boot environment that is not Vista or Windows Server 2008-based. Administrators can add storage and network drivers for more modern equipment with the included peTool.exe utility, but this is not exactly the most pleasant experience. My conversions thus far on a few physical systems and Sun xVM VirtualBox VMs have gone seamless with the cold clone utility of vCenter Converter for vSphere.

I'm putting the finishing touches on materials for the Advanced P2V session for the upcoming TechMentor training event in Orlando. I'll also be presenting two other sessions on building a business case for virtualization and when it makes sense to start paying for virtualization for smaller environments.

Has the cold clone ever got you out of a sticky conversion? If so, tell your story on it below -- I may just replay it at TechMentor!

Posted by Rick Vanover on 05/21/2009 at 12:47 PM


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