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migrating to virtual machines

one of my clients has 7 servers that are older servers and wants to upgrade to new servers but was thinking of possibly having them migrate to a virtual environment this way they could get 2 higher end servers to consoidate the 7 they currently have now and would save space on server rack as well.  Have never done this so was looking to get some information and advice on best way to proceed as far as research etc.  Also is vmware best product to try?  3 of their current servers are still running 2003 standard and remaining are 2008 servers.  They just ordered a new dell poweredge R320 with 32g ram running 2012 standard r2.
Avatar of Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow/British Beekeeper)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow/British Beekeeper)
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You've got a few options, either VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V....both are good Hypervisors, and both have FREE tools, which will allow the conversion (migration) from a physical to virtual server.

see my EE Articles, which show you how to do it...

HOW TO: FAQ VMware P2V Troubleshooting

HOW TO:  P2V, V2V for FREE - VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 5.5.3 - Shellshock "BASH" Fix included in this version

HOW TO: Shrink or Reduce a VMware Virtual Machine Disk (VMDK) using VMware vCenter Converter Standalone v5.5.2

HOW TO: Convert a physical server or virtual server (P2V/V2V) to Microsoft Hyper-V using Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter 3.1

Ask away, any further questions on the subject...
Avatar of dankyle67


Good stuff so far, so since i'm a newbie to this let's say you have 2 existing 2003 servers.  Would you then take each one at a time and convert it into a virtual server with the same configuration meaning it would still be a 2003 server when viewed by users accessing that virtual machine?
first you need to purchase and build your Host Hypervisor.

and then conversion starts. basically a physical to virtual conversion does juts that, it makes the physical server, a virtual server, it will be exactly the same as the original physical other than running in a virtual environment.
Would you advise on getting another new server to start out with as the Host Hypervisor or would i be able to use the new dell poweredge they just ordered?  In other words, with only about 35 users and 7 servers, is 32g ram enough?
If they have just ordered a new dell poweredge R320 with 32g ram running 2012 standard, then you decision of hypervisor has already been chosen!

Just Add the Hyper-V role, and you are ready to go...

See here, on how to do that...

scroll down this document, and it shows how to add this role

How much memory, is currently in ALL your physical servers?

You will need at least this amount in the Hyper-V Poweredge 320.
Nice, that would be great to consolidate at least 3 of those servers into the new server.  One of the things i was concerned with the past few months was that one of those older 2003 servers is the server that holds most of the fsmo roles for the domain and is also the dns server so i thought i would need a new server to replace it but are you saying that i could simply for now run the p2v using vmware center standalone converter(using v5.0) which supports 2003 as i had read in your article, to convert that physical server to a virtual server maintaining all its roles etc. onto the new dell server?  I think each older server has around 4g so if i did only 2 for now i would be ok since i will have the 32g on new server correct?  So for each workstation i wanted to convert in the future i would need that workstation's amount of ram set aside on the hypervisor?  If that's the case, i would probably need to get one more server with around 128g of ram probably.
Avatar of Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow/British Beekeeper)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow/British Beekeeper)
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Ok glad you warned me about that possible issue with domain controller conversion which leads me to my next question.  Originally i had planned to run adprep on existing windows 2003 domain controller to extend the schema to allow for it to recognize the new 2012 server first on the domain.  Then i was going to transfer the fsmo roles to the new server as well as the dns so essentially i would demote the 2003 domain controller afterwards then take it off the rack and all those duties would be taken over by the new server.  Now after that is done, can i still install vmware on the new server to make it the hypervisor even though it is now the domain controller holding all those important fsmo roles as well as being the dns server?  Would you recommend getting another server altogether to handle the hypervisor role?
Is there only supposed to be one hypervisor in an environment?
Forgot to also ask about this hardware issue with one of the other member servers running 2003.  This particular machine had been turning off every once in a while and it is referencing memory as the possible culprit so if we convert this to a virtual machine then if the problem it was having really was memory related then  moving it to new server would remedy the hardware problem since it would then be using the new server's memory?
No, you cannot install VMware on the server. VMware vSphere needs to be installed on bare metal.

What are you going to use VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V ?

Yes, if the computer had a hardware fault, this will not affect the OS, once it had been migrated, however, if the OS has a fault, this error will be carried to the new VM.
Plan on using VMware Vsphere.  So if i get another server to house the VMware VSphere, i can use that to convert the other 2 servers we have that each will also need to get upgraded next year so I can probably include the 2003 server thats not a domain controller and that would be a total of 3 i would convert to virtual and move to new server that will
have VMware installed and the new server that was just ordered will take over and replace the 2003 domain controller with the fsmo roles.  Is this ok to have this setup with the 1 server running VMware and the 2012 server that replaces the 2003 domain controller?  After this all done, they would be left with still 3 other servers not virtualized.  The reason i would like to convert 2 of the other 2003 servers that are just member servers to virtual, is that they each run an app that is hard to reinstall and configure so i think essentially cloning them and moving over to VMware server would make sense.
Ok thanks again for all the informative and interesting insight.  Maybe you will chime in again on my future questions once i get this virtual ball rolling.  Just one last thing.  What would you say is a ballpark price for the Vmware including the hypervisor etc.?
Entry level start for VMware vSphere Essentials, which includes licenses for the following:-

3 (servers) Hosts with 2 Processors each (2 CPU sockets)
1 license for vCenter Server Management Server manages your hosts above)

Approx $600!