Microsoft Hyper-V R2eality – To P2V or not P2V, that is the question…
One of the more recent oddities from the Microsoft Server 2012 Hyper-V R2 (Chandler Aside: Can the product name get any longer?) release is Microsoft’s somewhat arbitrary decision to do away with the ability to do P2V conversions from System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). In case you don’t know Administrators used to have access to a pull-down menu option within SCVMM 2012 like so:
In the new R2 release this was unceremoniously removed, so unsuspecting administrators might think they have some sort of memory lapse after an upgrade.
It seems rash to me to remove functionality like this within the lifetime of products release. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to “depreciate” functionality once it’s become redundant or if it’s being superseded by another more efficient method. That’s something that VMware does at various intervals – and there’s generally plenty of warnings of the future removal of particular function. A good example of this is when you use cmdlet in PowerCLI that has been superseded by a better approach. It gives scripters time to update their automation.
Anyway, believe it or not – those Hyper-V Administrator are not going mad, the “Convert Physical Machine” option has been ripped out completely – and this was tucked away in Microsoft release notes before GA.
Note: Incidentally, I saw this around the time of the GA of R2. The interesting thing about the release notes is that they have appeared to be updated, and this acknowledgement removed. There’s no statement that P2V functionality will be retired or has been removed. All we do know is that it isn’t there anymore. I got this image from this blogpost http://v-enfra.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/p2v-functionality-retired-in-scvmm-2012.html
So the removal is “by design”. The trouble is there’s scant information available on how on earth administrators are supposed to convert their physical machines into virtual ones. After some digging about I discovered this blogpost – http://blogs.technet.com/b/scvmm/archive/2013/10/03/how-to-perform-a-p2v-in-a-scvmm-2012-r2-environment.aspx
Note: It seems the way of the world nowadays. That vendor documentation is pretty slim on practicalities – and actual day-to-day management tasks have be searched for and located in a morass of blogposts.
This outlines an eight-step process where the customer runs two management layers at the same time. That means running the previous SCVMM 2012 environment to actually carry out the conversion itself – and then importing the VMs from the legacy environment into the new environment. This all seems quite clunky and clumsy to me – just to gain access to a feature such as P2V. I guess another approach would be lash out on a third-party P2V product, but that means parting with valuable cash for a P2V process. Lets face it most customers expect that these sort of conversion tools should be free nowadays, and most unwilling to spend additional money on image management software.
It strikes me that Microsoft should have really mirrored the approach that VMware uses. A dedicated “conversion” utility that is really independent of the management layer. It allows for updates, upgrades and changes without the need to worry about dependencies with wider management systems. It sounds like that’s the ultimate goal of this change. After reading the blogpost above I decided to check the comments section to see if there’d been any more recent news. Of course, like any open board there are plenty of venting and flaming but one comment I was struck by comes from Group Program Manager at Microsoft, Vijay Tewari – as it acknowledges the same point I’ve made.
I think the response from Gary Hay is understandable. It’s one thing to remove a feature because you found a better way of doing it – but to not release that new method or delay its release – rather leaves the customer swinging in the breeze. There is still no statement from Microsoft of when P2V will re-appear it looks like customers will be lumbered with exporting disks with tools like disk2vhd, and importing them into R2 that way. As others has indicated there’s no disk2vhdx utility for those who have used that disk type…
From what I can tell it looks like Microsoft is putting their efforts into their “Migration Automation Tookit” or MAT for short. Although I don’t think administrators should hold their breath for too long. The MAT 1.5 version doesn’t support the latest versions of vSphere or even R2 Release of Hyper-V. This is something there own “Migration Mark” acknowledges in a post on Dec 30th of last year. I seems as if MAT is tied to another set of tools called “Microsoft Virtual Machine Convertor” (so much for release at cadence fast than the product itself), and by “Migration Mark’s” own admission:
“The MVMC engine is starting to show its age a bit with a lack of support for newer VMware versions as well as having issues on R2.”
There’s an awful lot of chatter about migration from one virtualized environment to another – and a lot hot air about the commoditization of virtualization. My own view is despite the entry of other vendors into the space increasing the choice to customers – the truth is that there is still a palpable gap both in function and finesse between VMware and also-rans. If you want to learn more about the realities of conversion from one virtual platform to another check out my post that compared/contrasted the different methods (freely) available. It seems to me that moving from Microsoft to VMware is decidedly easier than in the other direction.