P2V – Physical To Virtual

The first step in my journey to a virtualized environment is to turn my physical website into a Virtual machine file.

First, let’s talk about what runs on the server.


  • Intel-Pentium 4 based HP desktop, 2.8Mhz with 1.5 G of RAM and a couple of ~100G ADE Hard Drive.


  • Operating System
    • Windows XP Professional
  • Web Application
    • Back-end: XML Database
    • Front-end: IIS + XSL
  • Storage
    • Gigabytes of pictures and videos are store on the ADE Hard Drive (for which I have a backup on an staging external drive)
Software Stack

Software Stack

I wrote the application as part of a previous “eat the dog food” effort in 1999. Back then, sharing pictures online was not mainstream so I build my own web app to catalog and publish digital pictures a videos. A flickr wanna-be.

The application has served me (and my family in Italy) well for 10 year but the XML database back-end is a legacy product now and if I had to rebuild the server from scratch due to a hardware failure or upgrade, it would take me a good day (assuming all the legacy software would still be compatible with whatever new hardware I used).

This is a very good use case for virtualization of legacy applications. You virtualize an instance that works and then run it as a virtual machine on any VMware Server (operating system hosted) or ESXi (hypervisor-based, bare metal virtual server).

Physical to Virtual Conversion

First, I downloaded and installed the VMware vCenter Converter Standalone on my server and started the conversion process keeping pretty much all the default parameters.

The conversion progress seemed to get stuck at 4-5%, so I restarted it a couple of times only to realize that it was actually taking longer than I thought (more on this later). I let it run overnight and after around 20 hours I had my Virtual machine file all ready to go.

I then realized that the VM file was more than 100 Gig. In retrospcet I should have separated the multimedia storage from the server image so that the resulting VM file would be smaller and more manageable.

A timely Hardware Failure

Now, believe it or not, when I went back to rebuild the virtual machine without including storage, the unexpected actually happened. I had a hard disk failure and the server was not starting anymore. The usual attempts to restore the operating system failed.

Google Analytics for Viarengo.com

Google Analytics for Viarengo.com

Man, am I glad I created a Virtual Machine of my server… Luck or good “eat the dog food” karma???

In the next post, I will describe the process of running my website as a Virtual Machine.

I have to decide whether I am going to run it on VMware ESXi or VMWare Server.

More later.


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