We have a legacy database system based upon MS SQL running on Windows Server 2003. The client software will only run on Windows XP.

We have recently had success converting a client into a virtual machine and running it under Fusion on Mac minis. So far, it is working incredibly well. So well, in fact, that we are now considering trying to convert the server to a virtual machine.

This raises several questions, though:

  1. The server uses a raid array. Does the VM virtualize the RAID array? I only ask because in my experience Windows products don't like it when you change core hardware.
  2. Is there any reason why running SQL server on a virtual machine won't work? It will be up 24/7.
  3. Is there a different converter for servers?
  4. Will I have to track down the licensing for MS SQL and Server 2003 or will they come across ok?
  5. The company that designed the software is no longer in business. There is some fear that the software is somehow tied to the hardware configuration. We bought the hardware, but their engineers came out and configured the system. Will the virtual machine be able to spoof particular chip sets?
  1. The converter will virtualize the disk volumes. It doesn't know or care about the underlying hardware.

  2. No. SQL Server is a perfectly acceptable candidate for virtualization.

  3. Not for VMware. The VMware Converter works for any Windows OS (AFAIK).

  4. You may have to activate Windows again after the conversion. Also, if your Windows server came with an OEM license for the OS it is non-transferable to the VM AFAIK.

  5. No. You may have issues if the software only works with particular hardware or with a hardware "dongle" or "hasp".

  • Glad to help... – joeqwerty Dec 13 '12 at 22:59

You've got a lot of questions in there, hopefully I'll get them all answered in one shot.

  1. Yes you'll be converting the RAID array to a virtual disk. What ever sort of disk you put the new virtual disk on will determine the performance.

  2. No. You can run SQL Server within a virtual machine without an issue.

  3. Probably not. You'll want to use what ever converter is available for the platform that you are moving the virtual server into.

  4. No. The licenses will come across just fine.

  5. No the virtual platform will not be spoofing specific chipsets or specific hardware. All the hardware will be changed to the new stuff. You'll need to install drivers (the VMware Tools) to get all the needed drivers installed and working.

The nice thing about doing a P2V (Physical to Virtual) migration like this is that the rollback if there's a problem is really easy. Just power down the virtual machine and power up the physical server.

Now all that being said, I hope that you aren't planning on virtualizing this server to a Mac Mini. That probably won't have enough horse power to run the server at the current levels, and it sure won't have a fast enough hard drive to give you the performance that you are looking for. You'll want a more server style virtualization platform for running the server such as Hyper-V 3.0 or vSphere 5.1.

  • Actually, we were planning on putting it on a mac mini. The server itself has two 1GHz single core processors with a total of 2GB of ram. Although there are several hundred thousand records in the database, there are only 3 users left who access the legacy system (and almost never at the same time). So, the general thought was a quad core 2.3GHz mini with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB fusion drive would more than handle the load. – Jim Bass Dec 13 '12 at 22:27
  • Oh, well in that case ignore what I said about the MacMini not being able to handle it. With those specs it should run just fine. I assume things like High Availability aren't that important to this project? – mrdenny Dec 13 '12 at 22:29
  • And when you hit enter... it posts your comment! Ok, lesson learned on that. Anyway, I'm mainly concerned about getting the server off of the hardware to isolate potential sources of failure. And, thanks for the quick reply and all of the answers! – Jim Bass Dec 13 '12 at 22:30
  • Yep, you'll be just fine on the Mini then. – mrdenny Dec 13 '12 at 22:32
  • 1
    But, if I can get it to a stage where the server exists independent of the hardware (meaning I can drop another box in an load the vm in an hour or two rather than spending days), I will sleep a lot better at night. My days of thinking it was fun to tinker with hardware are behind me now. – Jim Bass Dec 13 '12 at 22:37

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