Converter 3 takes a snapshot of the server's operating system, application, and data, establishes it in a virtual machine on a different server, then transfers operations to the virtual machine.
The starter version of Converter manages one physical-to-virtual migration at a time, says VMware's Ben Matheson, director of product management. The enterprise edition migrates multiple physical server images simultaneously. "We've done 100 simultaneous snapshots and conversions to virtual machines within an hour" under laboratory conditions, he says.
Users of Converter 3 might migrate as many as 30 servers at a time in a production setting, he says.
Converter 3 also can take snapshots of other brands of virtual machines, such as Microsoft Virtual Server, and migrate them to VMware Server or VMware ESX Server virtual machines.
Converter 3 is actually VMware's four-year-old tool, P2V Assistant, with new capabilities. Matheson says the tool has been rearchitected to do hot cloning, where the physical server being converted to a virtual machine may continue running. Previous migrations required the physical server to be rebooted. In addition, Converter 3 can be used from a remote location to capture a server image and migrate it to a virtual machine on another physical server.
Automated tools are expected from a variety of virtualization vendors this year to ease the pain of migrating off physical machines and into virtual machines, several of which are stacked up on today's data center servers.
Converter will be available for free download in its starter version and will be available in the enterprise edition as a component of VirtualCenter Management Server, VMware's virtualization management console.