Introduction to XenConvert

To get a flying start on virtualization technology, you can’t do better than this hands-on, let’s-keep-it-simple guide to implementing Citrix XenServer. From installation basics to advanced features, it’s all here in pictures and plain English.

(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)

System requirements

Since XenConvert can only convert Windows-based hosts and installs on the same host, the requirements are pretty much the same, as follows:

  • Operating system: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2003 (SP1 or later), Windows Server 2008 (R2)
  • .Net Framework 4.0
  • Disk Space: 40 MB free disk space
  • XenServer version 6.0 or 6.1

Converting a physical machine to a virtual machine

Let's take a quick look at how to convert a physical machine to a virtual machine. First we need to install XenConvert on the source physical machine.

We can download XenConvert from this link: http://www.citrix.com/downloads/xenserver/tools/conversion.html.

Once the standard Windows installation process is complete, launch the XenConvert tool; but before that we need to prepare the host machine for the conversion.

To know more about XenConvert, refer to the XenConvert guide at http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX135017.

Preparing the host machine

For best results, prepare the host machine as follows:

  • Enable Windows Automount on Windows Server operating systems.
  • Disable Windows Autoplay.
  • Remove any virtualization software before performing a conversion.
  • Ensure that adequate free space exists at the destination, which is approximately 101 percent of used space of all source volumes.
  • Remove any network interface teams; they are not applicable to a virtual machine.

We need to run the XenConvert tool on the host machine to start the physical-to-virtual conversion.

We can convert the physical machine directly to our XenServer if this host machine is accessible. The other options are to convert to VHD, OVF, or vDisk, which can be imported later on to XenServer using some methods. These options are more useful if we don't have enough disk space or connectivity with XenServer.

I chose XenServer and clicked on Next .

We can select multiple partitions to be included in the conversion, or select none from the drop-down menu in Source Volume and those disks won't be included in the conversion. We can also increase or decrease the size of the new virtual partition to be allocated for this virtual machine. Click on Next .

We'll be asked to provide the details of the XenServer host.

The hostname needs either an IP address or a FQDN of the XenServer; a username and password are standard login requirements. In the Workspace field, enter the path to the folder to store the intermediate OVF package that XenConvert will use during the conversion process. XenConvert will store the OVF package in the path we give.

Click on Next to select the storage repositories found with XenServer and continue to the last step, in which we'll be provided with the summary of the conversion.

Soon after the conversion is completed, we'll be able to have this new machine in our XenCenter. We'll need to have XenServer Tools installed on this new virtual machine.

Summary

In this article we covered an advanced topic that explained the process of converting a physical Windows server to a virtual machine using XenConvert.

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