Is it possible to install VMware EXSi to an existing server running SBS2003 beneath the OS level

Posted on 2009-02-17
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
Is it possible to install VMware EXSi to an existing server running SBS2003 beneath the OS level and then run the SBS as a VM, then adding additional VMs to run other OS's? Or is it a complete rebuild and migration of the SBS Server? I am running a Xeon QuadCore with 4GB RAM and 2 x 250Gb Enterprise SATA drives in Raid 1 config.
Question by:motiveit
    LVL 6

    Expert Comment

    ESXi is a standalone operating system. So during the installation it will format and re-partition the harddrives effectively removing the existing operating system.
    LVL 2

    Expert Comment

    by:Rubén Callizo
    You can migrate your server to a virtual machine using vmware converter:
    and then run it in a ESXi server.

    Author Comment

    Thanks Rcallizo. I've looked at the vmware converter and it looks good. Does it support SBS and would you have to shut down all services like Exchange and SQL etc before installing? Wouldn't want to cook the entire SBS install.
    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    Having done an SBS migration similiar to this on a PowerEdge 860 I can tell you it can be done, but expect downtime because you'll be using the same hardware.  Because of the limitations of SBS server (can't have more than 1 on your domain) you'll find that parallel migration is equally as difficult but not impossible.

    I would recommend that you first install vmWare Server and create a new SBS server inside a VM.  I believe the licensing will allow a second SBS server for < 30 days.  Once you have migrated your services to the VM (and verified they are working) backup all the vmWare server files off the machine, then destroy the original SBS install and replace with ESXi.

    This guide will help you on the SBS limitations for parallel migration:
    LVL 8

    Accepted Solution

    Although VMWare and many users would suggest you can live migrate an exchange server into a virtual guest I would highly advice against it.
    The generl rule is any server which incurs considerable data change during the conversion (import) process may experience issues including data loss. There are caching mecanisms in place so this doesn't occur but I would not risk it.
    I would shut down and cold clone any server which runs a data baseing type application including SQL, DB2, active Directory DC, Replication point etc..
    Of course your question of can you install esxi under an existing OS, a very firm NO..If you try your SBS install will be lost.
    You really need a 2nd server to install ESXi on before continuing.
    A general rule is NEVER trash the pysical server until you have confirmed , tested and run the imported server for a few days.
    LVL 2

    Expert Comment

    by:Rubén Callizo
    I would suggest to install Vmware converter in another computer, take an image  of the server with ghost or other supported software by converter:
    and convert it in a test enviroment so you can continue with your server up while troubleshooting any possible problem with the migration.

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