One of the common things that we run into is the ability, or lack there of, to reproduce an issue.  It is very difficult to fix an issue and be confident that you have fixed the issue unless you can reproduce it.  It is also much faster to troubleshoot if you can see the issue and interact with it.

There are a few solutions to this problem, like connecting remotely to the problem server.  But these things take coordination in order for everyone involved to see the issue and if you want to bring in others, it can be very difficult to have them take a look.

This is where virtualization comes into play.  Anyone can use the files and see the problem and test possible solutions.  So how do we go about creating a virtual machine from a physical one that is having a problem?  Well two solutions are:

Use the intuitive wizard-driven interface of VMware Converter to convert your physical machines to virtual machines. VMware Converter quickly converts Microsoft Windows based physical machines and third party image formats to VMware virtual machines. This doesn't even need downtime. (Hot cloning)

The Microsoft Virtual Server Migration Toolkit helps you to convert physical machines to Microsoft's virtual machine format. The Migration toolkit requires Windows Server 2003 Automated Deployment Services (ADS), although for free, only runs on Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition. The whole procedure to migrate a physical server to a virtual machine is quite complicated. Check out this white paper to learn how it works.

There is also other ways to do this, such as using SCVMM (System Center Virtual Machine Manager): http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb963740.aspx

SCVMM 2007 should be able to convert from one type of Virtual Machine to another.  It also may allow you to convert to Hyper-V in the future.

If you know of other ways or prefer another method, please let me know.

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