Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

Review: Invirtus Enterprise VM Converter

NOTE: This review was of my own volition and not solicited in any way by Invirtus or anyone else.

A little while back, I was asked to jump in and write the closing chapter of a book on IIS7. Unfortunately, there was not as much information on the subjects I was supposed to cover as I needed, so my contribution was shorter than they would have liked. I don't know if what I wrote will make it into the book or not (that's what I get for trying to be a hero), but during the course of my investigation into migration strategies, I came across an interesting tool: The Invirtus Enterprise VM Converter.

IMO virtualization is the best way to test your upgrade strategies to Windows Server 2008, because if something doesn't work, you can always roll the image back to a previous state and try again. It's also the best way to deploy Windows Server 2008, especially in situations where you're deploying several machines with identical configurations. But the problem is, how do you get your existing machine quickly converted to a virtual environment?

Invirtus Enterprise VM Converter is the answer. It's an incredibly straightforward tool that you can install on any workstation inside the network, and (with the proper credentials, of course) convert any live and running machine on the network into a virtual machine. That means you complete a Physical-to-Virtual (P2V) migration without modifying a live and running machine, which is REALLY cool. You can do one-off conversions, or run a massive batch process to convert your entire server farm in one fell swoop.


(click to enlarge)

Converting my Web/DNS server took very little time to set up, and took a little over 2 hours to create a 20GB VHD (although it supports VMWare drives too). If you're network has a dedicated file server or SAN, you're in even more luck, because EVMC copies the finished VMs to a network share. This enables a really neat scenario where all your VMs are on a fiber channel SAN, in one organized directory structure, and your farm of Virtual Server hosts execute those VMs, even though they reside on the SAN.

I only wish that upgrading to Windows Server 2008 Beta 3 had been as easy. There is a bug in the IIS7 upgrade process that prevented over half of my running websites from being upgraded. When I booted up my upgraded VM, almost 15 websites were not even listed in the IIS7 configuration. It was a known issue that they didn't have time to fix before Beta 3, so the next CTP will have it.

My only real gripe with the product is that there isn't a clearer separation between their "basic" and "advanced" modes. In their next version, I hope they make the UI easier for people looking to do one-off migrations.

Their pricing strategy is based off of the number of VMs you need to convert, and whether you're converting live machines or doing disaster recovery. What's really neat is that they have a fully functional 14-day free trial that lets you convert 3 machines, so it was perfect for my purposes. I basically converted my small web farm for free... can't beat that!

If you're looking to get on the virtualization bandwagon, this tool is a great way to jumpstart your next server consolidation project. And with live migration no longer shipping in Windows Server Virtualization, this tool is a must-have when Windows Server 2008 RTMs later this year. And don't forget to check out their VM Optimizer as well, another must have if you're a moderate-to-heavy VM user, like me.

Posted on May 26 2007, 04:50 PM by Robert McLaws
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Comments

  • Kevin Dente said:

    VMWare users can also use the free VMWare Converter tool to accomplish this.

    May 26, 2007 9:01 PM
  • Kevin,

    True, but their "starter" tool has some important limitations. For example, it can only run one conversion at a time. If you want large-scale conversion options, you need VMware VirtualCenter Management Server, which costs $1,500. So it's only free up to a point. And the conversino process is super slow. I compared conversion times with this product, and for my web server, Invirtus' product was faster.

    May 26, 2007 11:45 PM