Virtualization with Macrium Reflect — part 1
Virtualization is a powerful tool to facilitate an organisation’s growth. Virtualization allows a business to more efficiently utilise their existing hardware, reducing operational costs and increasing IT flexibility.
The first important step is to consider the advantages of migrating from physical to virtualized servers, and the implications this can have for your business:
Hardware Utilisation — One of the issues encountered using physical servers in a business is the inefficient usage of hardware resources. Research suggests on average a server will use between 5 and 15 percent of hardware resources (CPU, Memory, Etc). When a business is using several physical servers, this under-utilised hardware becomes a serious expense. With virtualization, several servers can be run on a single physical server, reducing the amount of hardware resources you will need, whilst efficiently utilising the available hardware.
Centralized management — The next problem to consider with physical hardware is physical location. These servers may potentially be in several locations around the business. If one of the servers loses network connectivity, you have no choice but to go to the location of that server and troubleshoot it. With virtual servers, many servers can be managed from one location where the infrastructure is already configured
Lower power usage — Power consumption is an expense for any business, the less physical servers, the less power consumed.
However, this creates the issue of how to migrate your existing physical servers to a virtualized environment. This article details how this can be easily and quickly achieved using Macrium Reflect.
Converting a physical server to a virtual server
The steps below will detail how to convert a physical server to a virtual server using Microsoft Hyper-V and Macrium Reflect.
To convert our Physical Servers to Virtual Servers, you need two things. The first thing you need is the Macrium Reflect Rescue Environment ISO (a bootable environment we can use to restore images), steps on how to create this can be found in the following blog post:
The second thing you need is an image of the physical server you want to convert to a virtual server. It is advised that this image is stored in a network share, as this will make accessing the image from inside the Rescue Media easier.
Once you have both, you can begin converting your physical server to a virtual server. This post will be focusing on Microsoft Hyper-V. If you do not already have this configured, please follow this Microsoft guide.
On the ‘Hyper-V Server’, select ‘New’ and then ‘Virtual Machine…’ within Hyper-V Manager.
Below is a brief overview of the different options available:
Specify Name and Location — The first set of options you are presented with is to customise the name of the virtual machine and where the virtual machine will be stored. It is advised that a folder is created in a convenient location where all the virtual machines can be stored. This will make management of the virtual machines easier in the future.
Specify Generation — This page of the wizard allows you to specify the generation of the virtual machine you will be creating. Which generation you select will depend on the OS you are intending to install and whether it has a 32bit or 64bit architecture.
For virtual machines that are using an MBR boot disk, ensure that Gen 1 is selected. For virtual machines that are using a GPT boot disk, ensure that Gen 2 is selected. If the operating system you are intending to run is 32bit, ensure the virtual machine is gen 1 and a MBR boot disk is used.
Assign Memory — You now have the option to configure how much memory will be assigned to the virtual machine. It is important to consider several factors: how much physical memory the host server has, how many virtual machines will be stored on the server and the role the server will be performing. Consult your server OS/application documentation for further details on memory requirements.
Configure Networking — Next you will specify which network adapter the virtual machine will use, if any.
Connect Virtual Hard Disk — Now you will specify a virtual hard disk (VHD) that the virtual machine will use. You can select an existing VHD or create a new one. It is important to ensure that the disk you select/create has enough storage for the role the server will be performing. Again, consult your server OS/application documentation for further details on storage requirements.
Installation Options — The final page of the wizard is where you specify installation options. Since we are booting to the Macrium Reflect Rescue Environment, select ‘Browse…’ and navigate to where your Rescue Media is stored.
You can now select ‘Start’ on the virtual. This will boot your virtual machine into the rescue environment.
The next step is to select the image you have taken of your physical server, in this example, the image is stored in a network share. This can be done by navigating to the ‘Restore’ tab and select ‘Browse for an image file…’. You will then be able to ‘Map a Network Drive’ where the image is stored.
Once the credentials have been entered, select ‘OK’, open the drive an select your image. Your image will then be shown in the ‘Restore’ tab, with details about the image, and the partitions that are included in the image. You are now able to restore your image to the virtual machine.
Once you have selected the ‘Restore Image’ option, you are presented with the restore wizard. You can then select ‘Copy selected partitions’ or manually drag the partitions from the source to the destination. Once the partitions are on the destination disk, you can select ‘Restored Partition Properties to change the size and drive letter assignment for the partitions.
Once you have finished editing your partitions, select ‘Next’. You will then be presented with a detailed ‘Restore Summary’ which shows the operations that will be undertaken when restoring your image. Once you have reviewed the summary, select ‘Finish’ to start your restore!
Once the restore has completed, you now need to run Macrium ReDeploy. ReDeploy locates the relevant storage driver and inject it into the Windows Operating system, allowing it to boot. For more information about Macrium ReDeploy, please see the article linked below:
Once ReDeploy has been run, you can eject the Rescue Media ISO and boot into your restored Server Operating System.
You now have a virtualized server!