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We have a number of VMWare Server 2.0 virtual machines that were created using VMWare Converter (It copies a physical machine to a virtual machine). If we need to convert the virtual machine back to a physical machine is there way to accomplish this easily? Essentially doing the VMWare Converter process in reverse.

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6 Answers 6

up vote 17 down vote accepted

This VMware guide on virtual to physical machine migrations should be a good start, though it looks like you're required to use 3rd party tools like Sysprep and Symantec Ghost.

PlateSpin makes a commercial tool called PowerConvert that does both Physical-to-Virtual and Virtual-to-Physical conversions.

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2  
+1 for PlateSpin. Heard a lot of good things about that. –  Brent Ozar May 5 '09 at 17:39
    
Thanks for the links. PowerConvert looks very promising as an easy to use solution but the VMWare migration document looks like it will do the trick. Thanks. –  Jonathon Watney May 5 '09 at 18:21

VMWare offers some documentation on the subject here: http://www.vmware.com/support/v2p/index.html

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There are several third-party products that can help you with V2P (virtual to physical) migration. Do uninstall VMware Tools before you move to the physical machine, as it will be much more difficult to uninstall VMware tools after your migration. –  Jason Pearce Feb 16 '11 at 1:37

It's much harder to go back to physical hardware, because the system won't know what hardware you have, what kernel modules / drivers would be needed, etc. When going the other way it knows exactly what virtual hardware you will be using.

You'd probably find it easier to do a base install from scratch on the physical server, install the programs you want, and copy the data back from the virtual image.

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Nice point on the unknown hardware. In any case I'm looking to avoid the whole "install the programs" I want scenario since it's not convenient thing to go through. –  Jonathon Watney May 5 '09 at 18:16

The latest processors support virtualization natively, and there's almost no significant performance difference between a machine running directly on the hardware, and a machine running virtualized on top of the hardware configured to use all the machine's resources. The biggest performance difference comes with the peripheral mapping and drivers in the host OS.

For some cases, it's probably worth it to de-virtualize the machine and run it on the hardware, but in most cases you'll be better off avoiding the time, software, and hardware required to do the conversion and simply putting it on it's own machine, still virtualized.

Further, Moore's law says that over time you'll be ahead of the game, as you'll be able to upgrade to a new machine with significantly greater performance in a year's time without any upgrade pain.

If the usage of the machine drops down, you can then move it back to a shared server so that hardware, power, etc resources are allocated efficiently, rather than having to maintain aging equipment past its prime.

-Adam

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Yes, I'd thought of just moving the VM to its own dedicated VM host. In fact that's what will probably happen if the VM needs more resources a shared host can't provide. But I have to think of those edge cases as well, if only briefly. –  Jonathon Watney May 5 '09 at 18:11
    
Oh yes, it's certainly worth researching. In fact, I think everyone should understand what's involved in de-virtualizing a machine before they work on their first virtual machine. –  Adam Davis May 5 '09 at 18:40

It might be possible to do if you are on a SAN and can expose the Server volumes so the physical machines can boot off of them. But yes the drivers and other hardware-specific things could take a long time to straighten out, depending on the operating system we are talking about.

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There is a general term for the conversion you are performing, Virtual-to-Physical AKA V2P.

If you look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical-to-Virtual you can find a list of V2P software.

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