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MS Hyper-V Server 2012 and converting physical 03 servers questions

bns-nyc used Ask the Experts™

So I have a question regarding the requirements to convert 4 Physical MS 2003 servers to VM and package them up to run in Windows Hyper V Server 2012.  Essentially, this is what the current IT makeup is of the small firm:  4 servers; DC, File, Exchange 2003, Application.  They are all 5-6 year old Dell servers near end of life and running MS Server 2003.  Unfortunately, this firm has a very limited budget and am thinking of doing the following and need to make sure it’s feasible:

I would like to setup Windows Hyper V Server 2012 on a brand new bare metal server (free version).  Then convert the 4 physical servers to VHD via the disk to VHD tool and package / put them in the new Hyper V 2012 bare metal server disks.  My main concern is, do I need any extra licensing to get these 4 converted servers to run ok?  Or can I just convert them to VHD as is, dump them in Hyper V 2012 and then just power on the guest VM servers accordingly? Any other possible complications to this at all?  I've just begun testing Hyper V Server 2012  and not too familiar with it, especially in regards to any other possible licensing needs for server OS’s.  My plan is to eventually upgrade the server OS's as well...but want to get them off the end of life physical servers asap first.  Thanks in advance for any input.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017
No additional licensing, UNLESS, the current physical servers are OEM OS versions, eg the OS shipped with the haurdware.

Although DCs and Exchange2003 servers can be P2Ved, using Disk2VHD, its quicker, easier and supported, to create NEW DC and Exchange VMs, and then transfer fsmo roles from old DC to new DC then demote and remove, as for Uexchange transfer and move mailboxes.

thats the supported and recommended route.
Mostly it is as easy as you think.  
I just convert them to VHD as is, dump them in Hyper V 2012 and then just power on the guest VM

But here are a few things that might be good to know:

As long as you are shutting off the previous servers, there should be no licensing issues.

Drivers will change, so your systems may need to go through a few growing pains once on the new VM (updates).

Also, different versions of windows server allow for different numbers of VM's.  I believe web only allows 1 or two hyper-V VM's.  I don't know which version you are running.

Disk2Vhd is a free tool online that you already mentioned, but just to add a note, it works better than the server copy feature built in to some of the management tools for Hyper-V.  I've had numerous copied server attempts where the hard drive will not boot, but Disk2Vhd always worked.

Naturally you may have timing issues as you produce the Vhd for a particular machine,( Move it, and startup your new VM, ) changes to the original machine during that time will be lost.

Because the hardware is changing, you will probably need to rerun the Windows Validation tool, so your servers don't deactivate after 30 days.

if IP addresses for any are set via DHCP, and managed, their mac addresses will be changing.  You can manually set the VM's Mac address to match the old one, but you'll need to record it from the phsycial machine first.  However, if you reuse the MAC addresses, instead of updating the network configurations, the original servers cannot be reused on the same network. (if you plan on repurposing them)


Thanks so much for the info guys.  This helps me out tremendously.  I need to find out whether or not the licenses being used are indeed OEM or purchased separately.  I believe the Exchange server is 03 Enterprise, while the other 3 are server Standard.  Thanks again
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017

Dell did ship quite a few Microsoft Windows 2003 Standard OEM!

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) versions

Note: Physical-to-virtual hard drive migration of a Windows installation is a valid function for customers with Software Assurance and full retail copies of Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Software Assurance provides users valuable benefits—please contact Microsoft Corporation for further information. Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 installed by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) using OEM versions of these products may not be transferred to a virtual hard drive in accordance with Microsoft licensing terms.