PlateSpin, Leostream ease the move to virtual datacenters
Tools help migrate servers to virtual realm but have some room to growFollow @pvenezia
I installed each application on a virtual Windows 2003 Server, with PowerRecon running on a VMware GSX server installation and PowerConvert running on another virtual Windows 2003 Server on an ESX host server. The applications performed well as long as their respective virtual servers were granted the resources required.
PlateSpin’s take on P2V differs greatly from Leostream’s method. All migration steps are handled by the central server, much the way tape backups are. Jobs can be scheduled, saved, and replayed, and multiple jobs can be run simultaneously.
The process begins by creating a new VM on the destination server with the appropriate configuration as specified by the migration control panel in the UI. This portion of the process dictates the RAM, CPU, and disk resources to be granted to the resulting virtual server, and it allows for dynamic resizing of NTFS volumes on the fly.
After it has been created, the new VM boots with an ISO image that runs a thin version of Windows XP with no other purpose than to bring up the network, find the local disk volume, and download the controller code from the migration server. When this process is complete, the server has control over the VM.
Next, a bootable image installs on the source system, and the server is rebooted to that image, which is identical to the image running on the destination VM. With both controllers running on the source and destination servers, the PowerConvert server steps in the middle and conducts the migration, block by block.
By running limited Windows code on both servers, PowerRecon can modify the OS parameters necessary to ensure that various hardware devices are removed from the destination VM, paving the way for a clean migration. The big downside is that the process is relatively long and requires the source server to be brought down for the entire migration.
In the lab, PowerRecon took just less than an hour to complete the migration process and bring up the newly migrated VM. During this time there was scant output from the tool other than sporadic progress messages, although the job logging provides a better view of the process.
The migration finished successfully, following several reboots of the destination server and the powering down of the source server. A little bit of a hiccup occurred here, as I couldn’t use the mouse or keyboard in the new VM’s console, but I could RDP into the server and verify that it was up and running. A short time later both input devices suddenly became active, and I was able to use the console normally. At the end of the whole process, the test domain controller was successfully migrated to a new virtual server with all services up and running.
I ran this same migration using PlateSpin’s new LiveTransfer option, which is similar to Leostream’s P>V in that it doesn’t require the source server to be taken offline prior to the conversion. Unfortunately this test didn’t end well, as the converted server booted with several broken AD services, requiring AD restore mode.
PowerRecon does offer plenty of disaster-recovery and imaging features. You may create a disk image of both a physical system or a virtual server, which can be pushed back to the hardware. PowerRecon can also migrate virtual servers to physical servers, although I didn’t test this capability.
Leostream P>V 3.0
Leostream’s solution has none of the bells and whistles of PlateSpin’s PowerConvert, and it doesn’t offer anything similar to PowerRecon, but it does handle P2V migrations well.