VMware has launched a tool for converting physical machines to virtual ones - and unlike the existing tool, P2V Assistant, it's free.

There'll also be an enterprise edition free to those with current support and subscription contracts for VMware's VirtualCenter Management Server.

VMware Converter 3 does physical-to-virtual (P2V) and virtual-to-virtual (V2V) conversions through a simple and centralised management, reckons the company. V2V means that it'll convert between VMware virtual machine formats and third-party image formats.

VMware said that it combines two existing VMware products - VMware P2V Assistant and VMware Virtual Machine Importer into one product that the company said was "aimed at simplifying the process of converting physical and virtual machines into VMware virtual machines".

Specifically, you can:

  • Create VMware virtual machines from physical machines running these Windows operating systems: Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 (including 64-bit versions of these), as well as Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4 SP4+
  • Import older VMware virtual machine formats to new VMware virtual machine formats
  • Convert VMware virtual machines from third-party formats including Microsoft Virtual Server and Virtual PC and Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery
  • Move virtual machines across different development, test and production environments
  • Populate new virtual machine environments quickly from a large directory of virtual machine appliances

New functionality according to VMware includes:

  • Zero-downtime conversion enables users to convert a physical machine to a virtual machine while the source machine continues to operate, without disruption to end-user service
  • Remote cloning allows machines to be cloned from a remote console without manually using a boot CD or physically being in front of the source machine
  • Improved usability with a new, easy-to-use user interface that allows customers to convert physical machines in the fewest possible steps
  • Better performance with significantly improved cloning speed
  • Broad support for new and legacy hardware and software running on the source server

"Converting physical systems into virtual machines is an important first step for many customers seeking to upgrade their IT environment to a virtual infrastructure," said Karthik Rau, senior director of infrastructure products and solutions at VMware. "VMware Converter 3 takes a significant step forward in making the conversion process simple, automated and widely available to anyone seeking a zero-cost way to try existing workloads in a virtual environment."

Pricing and availability

VMware Converter 3 is currently in beta testing and expected to be generally available within the next six months. For more information, visit www.vmware.com/converterbeta