The Simple Question

Can I convert an existing VM to a Virtual Server (e.g. VMWare)? I'm using Oracle's one and only awesome product, VirtualBox, and I'm trying to setup a SharePoint Farm to migrate our existing, non-virtual SharePoint Farm to.

The Long-winded Background

I'm new to virtual servers, but not new to developing in VMs... so apologies if I show any ignorance or make any bogus assumptions in this post...

I'm implementing a Disaster Recovery plan for SharePoint 2007 and I've read several whitepapers offering best practices and solutions. But instead of setting up another server with high-availability mirroring and using PowerShell to copy over IIS and the 12 hive on a scheduled basis, I would like to simply have a virtual server image that I can back-up on a scheduled basis.

I wish to create the VM in VirtualBox, install the technologies below, and then attempt to transform it into a server. I'm open to any comments, suggestions, best practices, what have you.


  • Windows Server 2003 SP2 (upgrading to 2008)
  • SQL Server 2005 (upgrading to 2008)
  • SharePoint 2007 (upgrading to 2010)
  • VMware is a company and not a product. I have removed the [vmware] tag from your question as it doesn't really help us to organise your question. If you want a VMware related tag on the question, please consider a product specific VMware tag. May 19 '11 at 19:45

It seems that you're looking to migrate a VM from VirtualBox to a VMware product (ESX?)

As far as I am aware, you can now export VirtualBox VMs directly to the .vmdk format that ESX uses. You'll want to uninstall the VirtualBox Tools and install VMware Tools after the conversion, and remove unnecessary ghosts from your device manager.

  • Yeah, apparently the VMDK functionality was added in VirtualBox 2.1.0. Shows how long it's been since I've used it.
    – Hyppy
    May 19 '11 at 19:53
  • thanks for pointing this out. This looks like the shortest path between two points as far as answering my question.
    – pixelbobby
    Jun 6 '11 at 13:07

You can use the free VMware Converter tool to convert machines to the VMware format. It works well and is easy to use.

The source can be a physical machine, third-party virtualization software, various VMware formats, disk images, etc. Targets can be all kinds of VMware products, both bare-metal, such as ESX and ESXi, and applications like Workstation, Fusion, Player.


Your question is not really clear... what are you trying to do? Set up a VirtualBox VM and then move it to a VMware host?

If you are installing the VM from scratch, then why use VirtualBox? You can create it directly on the VMware host, set up the O.S. and all required software, and just let it run there.

Anyway, if you need to move a VM from VirtualBox to VMware (which VMware, by the way? Workstation? Server? ESX?), there are several ways to do this; but you need at least to specify which "VMware" you want to migrate to.

Again, if you still haven't set up this VM, I strongly suggest you create it directly on the VMware host, or on any VMware product running on your development machine, so no conversion will be required.

  • that is exactly my question; you are correct. We actually haven't acquired the VMware ESX yet and this is why I'm taking this route. Thanks for your recommendation here.
    – pixelbobby
    Jun 6 '11 at 13:10

Use the term Virtualization server to differentiate from virtual servers hosted on the Virtualization server host.

Want you want is a way to convert a virtual to a physical, and vice-versa. Correct?

Treat the virtual as a physical.

How would you do want you want, transfer a system between two machines? Clone or bare-metal backup/restore with sid/name/activation management.

Vmware has a point and click app VMware Converter, as mentioned by Martijn Heemels. Use this if you're using Vmware instead of Virtualbox for the Virtualization server platform. It can also be used if using Virtualbox but some features won't work.

Usually we just use clonezilla and DRBL-winroll. http://www.drbl-winroll.org/

An example for classrooms:

  • Setup one virtual for teacher, one virtual for students.
  • Download and keep ISO of clonezilla on Virtualization server. http://clonezilla.org/
  • Create cds, 31 copies of clonezilla. or setup and use a PXE virtual server.
  • Startup teache and student virtuals with the clonezilla ISO mounted. (Boot both virtuals to clonezilla.)
  • Boot teacher machine to clonezilla, connect to teacher virtual clonezilla and start restore.
  • Boot all student machines.
  • Start multi-cast restore from Virtual Student clonezilla. All 31 machines restore will take slightly more time than a single restore.
  • Shutdown virtuals. No need to detach ISO unless the virtual image need to be updated.
  • If using windows use DRBL-winroll to modify names/sids.
  • Reboot physical machines and collect clonezilla CDs if used.

When using windows make sure to create a hardware profile in the virtual or physical master image (whichever you use to do the initial setup) before you clone/restore. You'll need a separate hardware profiles, one for the virtual and one for the physical.

This works great for non-windows or corporate windows. Others will need activation after the clone. Other commercial tools for bare metal restore or cloning are available that handle the activation/sid issues.

  • thank you for the thorough expertise here. This certainly provides some insight.
    – pixelbobby
    Jun 6 '11 at 13:07

You should be able to set it up just like any other server, once you set up networking properly. There are several options (see Chapter 6. Virtual networking for all of them), and it should be straightforward to forward any/all ports on the host to the virtual environment.


Here are instructions for converting from VirtualBox to VMware using the OVF format.

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