Migrate an on-premise physical server to a vm hosted locally or in the cloud

We are using a Windows 2008 physical server as a remote desktop server for 5 users. The server is now 5 years old and I am concerned about hardware failure. The firm does not want to spend much money at all.  I'm thinking of 2 potential solutions, but am open to others.

Option 1
Virtualize the server and then host it on the same machine with VMWare or Hyper-V.
This has the advantage of allowing me to get back up and running by simply setting up any host and launching the VM. I don't have to worry about restoring a backup or worse, reinstalling all apps. However, I'm not sure the best method of getting from here to there. And which platform should I choose? Are there free options?

Option 2
Virtualize the server and host it in the cloud on Amazon or Azure or...?
This has the advantage of removing the risk of hardware failure and backup needs. Again, not sure of how to get from here to there. Also, not sure of the monthly cost of this solution. And I think I probably need a VPN since its for an accounting firm.

Your help is great appreciated.
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NetExpert Network Solutions Pte LtdTechnical SpecialistCommented:
I can explain the pros and cons of both methods

Option 1:
i) You can move your Windows 2008 physical server to VMWare virtulization would be the best choice. Vmware has a tool to convert your physical server to VM Image


ii) You will have control on  your server/storage all choice, but you need to spend the cost for new hardware

Option 2:

In Cloud server environment, you can go with dedicated server option with Amazon or other third party vendors.

If you choose Amazon, they have VPN ( VPC) option to establish tunnel to your network and you can access your server thru remote, But still you have to pay for that server.

Its depends upon your budget allocation, If your firm ready to offer a cost for physical server, please go with VMWare virtualization and you can have all your servers in your control.

Though peoples say , your data is safe in cloud, still the data is saved in internet and a good hacker can hack the data too.

If your firm not able to afford for Virtulization, then no choice going than cloud


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Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
Azure RemoteApp may work just fine and is not very expensive. Getting apps and data in would be the time consuming part.

Azure VM with RDS and a site-to-site would be expensive plus the time to migrate into Azure.

P2V the RDS onto a virtualization platform set up on the original hardware is also a complete waste of time and money.

If the client does not want to spend much money then leave the current solution alone until it dies. Just make sure there is a good known backup.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Option 1:- Will be slower for the virtualised RDS server.

Option 2:- Good, but I though they didn't want to spend much, and how good is their internet connection ?
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Mr TorturSystem EngineerCommented:

Option 1
To try to answer if there is a free option : I don't think so for a vmware product. You will need VMware workstation which is not free, and you will need a vmware login (but no license, so it is free of charge) to use the vmware converter.

As for the best method of getting from here to there, I think you could do this one :
- install vmware workstation on your server
- install vmware converter on your server

Also you could install vmware workstation on another server or laptop just to give it a try and not installing anyhting else on your server before knowing the new VM work correctly. And then do a format or fresh windows install on your server, install vmware workstation on it and run your VM.

Option 2
I am just wondering why you say you won't need to do anything about backup. Is there a backup service included in the cloud offer? To me you will need backup as usual, won't you? I am not well aware of cloud offers as Amazon so maybe I miss something.
I am sensing some haters!
A couple of posts did not think this could be done with freeware, or that is a waste of time to virtualize an RDS box. I can tell you that from personal experience we had to do just that last year. The physical box was failing, there was no budget for new hardware. Retooling the applications would have meant hundreds of man-hours. So I p2v'd the RDS server to a datacenter in another country with VMware stand alone converter (freeware as mentioned above). It works great, the users had only a 6 hour downtime for the transfer, and a highly reduced cost per month. Additionally, ESXi can be used as the 'new' host and that is freeware. The same can be accomplished on the Windows side using disk2vhd from MS(freeware from the sysinternals  guys on the MS site), and you can set up hyper-v as a stand-alone host, similar to esxi. 2012 hyper-v was a monumental step in the right direction, and works great, as do VMWARE products, I use them both.
I would go option 1, as I think it will be your lower cost, especially over time.
ccbeAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all of the responses.

For Option 1 I had the same reasoning as SquigglyMonkey, retooling the applications would be way too many man hours. I figured if I could create a VM out of the server and then install ESXi (or similar) on it to run the VM, then when the hardware fails I would only need to take my backup of the vm to another ESXi server.

Question is, what do I need to virtualize the current server? Do I need another server to create it? Could I use a desktop instead? I don't believe that ESXi will run on a desktop, but perhaps Hyper-V will?

I would feel best if I could use a desktop because I could find out if the VM works while the original server stays intact. And, I won't have to worry about what Andrew Hancock pointed out, a degradation in performance as I'd get a quad core desktop probably faster in other respects as well.

For Option 2, I don't know if I can take the VM I create and upload it to Amazon, Azure, etc, what offering to choose and how much that would be.

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
I don't hate anything, just advise on best performance, as I've been there, clients have done, it and then complained it was a waste of time, because performance is poor!

If you are not bothered about performance, go for it....ESXi does require Bare Metal, but you could use VMware Player, VMware Workstation, Hyper-V or Client Hyper-V

VMware Converter or Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter, will convert the physical to virtual.

I've got EE Articles here:-

HOW TO:  P2V, V2V for FREE to Hyper-V -  Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter 3.1

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

Part 13: HOW TO: Shrink or Reduce a VMware Virtual Machine Disk (VMDK) using VMware vCenter Converter Standalone v5.5.2

HOW TO:  P2V, V2V for FREE - VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 6.0

So you've got the articles, the apps are free to do the conversion, you just need to decide on a platform....

Microsoft or VMware....

Hyper-V, ESXi, VMware Workstation or Player...
ccbeAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the responses. I was delayed by the holiday. I will read thru the links this week.
Seth SimmonsSr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
This question has been classified as abandoned and is closed as part of the Cleanup Program. See the recommendation for more details.
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