When it comes to moving workloads to a cloud-hosted VM or to new datacenter servers, companies often believe that Physical to Virtual (P2V) replication tools are a panacea. These tools clone exact copies of servers running older OS instances to virtual machines running under a Cloud Hypervisor or to new datacenter machines.

P2V essentially lifts an entire legacy machine – its OS, all its apps and all the data – and shifts it to a virtual cloud machine. Virtual to Virtual (V2V) tools perform the same operations between virtual machine instances and they share many of the same shortcomings of P2V tools that are outlined below.

Lift and shift is rarely a good idea

Unfortunately, the brute force approach of lift and shift is rarely a good idea for moving Windows Server applications and workloads to the cloud or to new servers. You can be smarter and do better than employ crude P2V replication.

You consume expensive cloud resources

As explained in earlier posts, moving entire VMs to the cloud is bandwidth intensive and consumes expensive cloud resources – not only during a migration, but on a continuous basis.

You keep legacy operational exposures

Moving entire VMs to the cloud doesn’t solve any of your legacy operational exposures. If you continue to run outdated OS instances and legacy applications on a cloud VM, your OS security exposures remain. If the original OS instance is unsupported, it remains unsupported and vulnerable on the cloud.

You can’t consolidate workloads

When you clone machines, the storage on the target system needs to be at least as large or larger than the original server storage. You can’t do workload consolidation to the virtual clone or split workload from the original physical server to multiple virtual servers.

 Say hello to…

…Cutting over challenges
To create a duplicate image, an identical state or quiescence point is needed to cut over from the original legacy production servers. P2V clones require reconfiguring of virtual servers and other rework. This can make it a challenge to sync the original physical servers and new virtual servers during the available maintenance window.

…Rework and reconfiguration issues
P2V invariably raises reconfiguration issues for applications you want to run. To make applications work on the new virtual servers, you’ll need to undertake a complex reconfiguration of IP addresses, network connections, drive mappings, and database connections. You may also need to modify peripheral drivers needed on the original OS instance that are specific to the physical hardware.

With all the rework involved in the P2V reconfiguration process, system engineers often believing that it would have been faster and cheaper to just reinstall all the applications by hand.

…The nightmare of patch levels
Moving an exact image of an OS results in the ongoing nightmare of patching and maintaining legacy OS instances. Using a P2V tool to create copies of entire machines can result in virtual clones with many different patch levels of an OS, all of which need to be individually tracked, patched, and maintained. Individual management of virtual machines means that you lose the advantage of using advanced cloud monitoring and management tools to maintain standard OS and application instances.

…Expensive storage clutter
P2V replicates storage clutter. This clutter is composed of a combination of patched OS instances, unused applications and all their data, and accumulated log files, driver libraries, and other unnecessary storage for applications you may or may not use. Storage clutter is expensive, unnecessary, and incurs ongoing cloud hosting fees, month in and month out.

There is a better way

Even if you want to run a VM in the cloud, why use a P2V tool to clone the old OS, all its applications and cluttered storage too? It just doesn’t make sense.

Move only what you need

Cloud vendors provide great, flexible, monthly support to create and manage modern OS instances. Instead of using a P2V tool to clone a cluttered OS, why not intelligently monitor application usage in advance and then move only the applications you need from legacy servers to an OS instance that is lower cost, preconfigured, modern, and cloud-hosted? Intelligently automating the movement of applications you need saves significant time and money on bandwidth, processing, ongoing storage, and management. Uplifting applications to a modern cloud-hosted OS instance can be done for less than one-quarter of the network bandwidth, storage, and processing required for P2V brute force cloning.

Hosting storage and processing fees are reduced, month in and month out. Plus, you can take advantage of advanced cloud tools to monitor and manage application usage and OS instances. Better OS and application management means time and money savings with:

  • Optimized storage
  • Improved performance
  • Paying for business-critical resources only

Configuration and consolidation advantages

If saving time and money aren’t enough, using advanced cloud onboarding tools confers significant configuration advantages. You can reconfigure applications on-the-fly, remap IP addresses and other critical application setups. Plus, cloud OS instances come preconfigured with the drivers and other custom configurations they need.

Intelligently moving applications also allows you to easily consolidate multiple workloads to a single virtual server or split application stacks across multiple virtual servers.

The benefits of OS up-leveling

Up-leveling OS versions lets you move applications from legacy OS environments like WS2003 to modern cloud- or server-hosted OS versions on WS2008, WS2012, and WS2016. It also closes security exposures inherent in legacy OS instances.


Perhaps you’ve already created VMs with P2V tools and are now feeling the pain of excess hosting fees and complex reconfiguration costs? If you’d like to learn more about how VirtaMove can improve application migration productivity over P2V tools, give us a call, register for a free demo, or send us an e-mail. We’re always delighted to show you what we can do.