VMWare has a great tool that make is very easy to convert a physical server to a virtual server. What you need to do is first go to VMWare’s website and download the VMWare vCenter Converter. Once you have downloaded the tool you will need to install it and then run it. I installed my copy on my workstation. The steps below show the process that is needed to convert your physical machines.
First double click on the VMWare vCenter Converter program to start the program.
You will then want to click on Convert Machine.
This will bring up the convert menu, where you will choose Powered-on machine from the drop down list for your source. Next you will choose remote machine and enter the IP address or the DNS name of the server. The username should be in the form of DOMAIN\username, along with the password for the account. I used the domain administrator account for this process. Then you can choose the OS Family, which is either Windows or Linux.
Once you have your information entered click NEXT to continue.
You will then need to install the agent onto the remote server for the process to continue, choose the option that works best for you and click YES.
After the agent has been deployed you will then need to choose your destination server. This would usually be your vCenter Server or vCSA appliance. I am using the vCenter Server Appliance on Linux so I used this as my destination. Use the DNS name or IP address of the server along with the root username and password for the device.
You can then choose where in your virtual environment you wish to place the new VM.
You will then pick the ESXi server the VM will reside as well as the data store and the Virtual Machine version (version 8 or 7).
You can then make any final adjustments if needed in the options area to the data to be copied, the devices, networks, services, and advanced options.
Finally you will see the summary of your installation where you can look over everything one last time before starting the conversion process. The amount of time it takes to convert your server depends on how complicated your server is, how much data there is and network speed.
Once the installation is done you will see a green check mark next to the task, at which time you can close out of the vCenter converter program.
You can then open up the vCenter Server to make any additional changes if needed and start the new Virtual Machine up. You should also shut down the physical machine before starting the virtual machine up so there is no network conflicts with IP addresses.
Once you click on the power on button the new Virtual Server will start up with the same configuration as your physical machine. If there is a significant hardware change during this conversion you will need to reactivate Windows and you may need to update some drivers. The first step I would do once the server is powered up would be to check that all the services came up properly and then install VM Tools on the server.
I performed these steps a number of times over the past few days and each time the server transferred over with no issues. The one issue I had was when moving the primary domain controller, which also ran the DNS server and DHCP. Once the server was moved I needed to do a reset on all the servers to get them all communicating with each other properly again. In all however, it is a simple and quick way of moving over a server into your virtual environment.