How to virtualize domain controller into VMware?

I have two ESX3.0 in cluster connecting to NetApp SAN using iSCSI. I also have VirtualCenter server and P2V tool and know how to use P2V tool to virtualize regular physical machine.
There are two domain controllers (Windows 2003 standard in mixed mode) called DC1 and DC2. I like to virtualize both domain controllers but not sure of the exact steps because I hear it takes special steps to virtualize domain controller. To start the discussion, l post a few general questions here. Please feel free to add more points if I miss them.
Q#1. Any preparation before virtulizing DC1? eg. any role change/transfer, service shutdown/start manually?
Q#2. Do I need to cold boot DC1 using P2V or I can run P2V inside DC1?
Q#3. Any step right after virtualizing DC1? eg. any role change/transfer, service shutdown/start manually?

Thanks a lot.
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Doing a P2V of a DC in a production environment is not something I recommend - only time I'll P2V a DC is when I'm taking a snap of a production DC to reset my test lab.  Better to build your virtual OS, dcpromo it once it's built, then transfer FSMO roles as necessary to the virtual DC.

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You have two options. 1 use VMWare converter, but you will have to purchase it as the free edition does not support importing these machines directly into ESX. The way that I do it for my clients is using Symantec's Backup Exec System Recovery. It allows you to take a snapshot of a PC and restore it to any other PC regardless of hardware (including Virtual Machines). Here is the basic process:
1. Run the software on the PC you wish to convert and choose to save it to a network share.
2. While the software is running, go ahead and create your virtual machines and virtual hard disks. They do not have to be the same size so if you need more space ago ahead and do it.
3. Once the image is stored on the network, boot the virtual machine from the Symantec Recovery disk. It will establish your network connection and then give you the opportunity to map a netowkr drive to the share where your images are stored.
4. Once you map the drive you will begin the retore and there are a few things to watch out for. Number one, make sure when converting that you select the check box on the drive to make the disk bootable. Iif  your physical machine had more than one disk, make sure the disk that was bootable on the physical machine is selected as bootable on the virtual machine. The next thing you want to watch out for is to check the box that says resize disk if the virtual disk is larger than the physical. You can do this later through the ESX console, but it is easier to do it now.
     I also usually do not check the box that says boot virtual machine when finished, so that I can take my physical servers offline before the virtual machine is brought online.
     The BESR software converts Domain Controllers with absolutely no problem, which can be an issue when using VMWare Converter. It is worth it's weight in gold.
richtreeAuthor Commented:
Thank you for your ideas.
I have Conveter license for ESX. Though P2V DC is not necessary the best/easiest way to virtualize it, as an option, can someone give me some detailed steps to P2V a DC? Are my questions (above) necessary?
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I just did in the above comment. I know that way is tried and true and will work. Not using P2V, which I guess is what you are set on using. :)
Malli BoppeCommented:
1.) Preparation: Do you want to have the same SID or not.make sure the DC is on branded hardware.
Pick an IP address for the new DC.Do want to have the same computer name.If so then you can have both the physical and virtual servers turned on.You need to decide the above before proceeding.
2.)I used Powercon converotr and it did a cold reboot.
3.)You don't need to transfer the roles but you can set the option whether to manually restart or automatically do it.

But as said by Laura I have created a Vm machine on ESX server and then ran DC promo and  moved the FSMo roles.
richtreeAuthor Commented:
Thanks a lot Experts!
I must say you are a brave lot..
ADDC's hot virtualisation, just running a DC in a guest session can be a disaster.
Have you for instance had someone put the DC into snapshot, then rolled it back???
Until VMWare can prevent rollback of guests I won't virtualise any DC's.
A few important things to be added here:
When running a DC inside a virtual machine you should always use the Descheduled time service. If you don't your DC's might get out of sync:

To prevent someone from accidently doing snapshots on the disks you should put the virtual disks in Independent Persistent mode.

Also, do not use VMware Converter to p2v a running DC. Rather use the VMware Converter cold boot CD if you have to p2v it, but it's a much cleaner way to install a new VM that you promote to a DC.
richtreeAuthor Commented:
Your tips are very valueable. I wish I could give you some points for it.
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