/ BLOG / Virtualisation is a tool, not just a long term solution

At work we’ve been virtualising stuff for a long time, perhaps longer than most, but I’m still coming across companies and sysadmins that either don’t know about virtualisation (inconceivable!) or have written it off as a fad. That really does surprise me.

The feature that many of these people and companies are missing, in my opinion, is that virtualisation is not just a solution (for business needs). It should be a core part of your toolbox. You need to tear down that physical SQL server and upgrade the OS and application version numbers? It’s a core box, but the customer doesn’t have the budget for another one? Having a back out solution is highly desirable? Virtualisation.

Run your backups as normal, convert that bad boy to a virtual machine, test it, and then start ripping that physical server a new install. Everything goes tits up (and it wasn’t your fault), come Monday morning you won’t have an upset customer and you can continue to work in (relative) peace and look awesome to your customer.

If you know about virtualisation, but don’t do this because you think it’s hard work then I suggest you need to re-evaluate the state of P2V tools. If you’re running Hyper-V and the source install is also Windows then I highly recommend Sysinternals Disk2VHD. Occasionally you need to re-create the VHD or massage its output with testdisk, but you always test first.

Clonezilla is another great tool, and not just for P2V. There are a whole host of other tools designed just for this purpose. Some free (in both senses of the word), and some not so.