I saw a very interesting tweet from Scott Stauffer asking this: “… looking for quick’n’easy way to make workload virtual w/ fail-fast method to physical if performance doesn’t meet expectation.” This was part of a conversation Scott was having in looking to move to a virtual environment from his current physical one. That’s something I think more and more people are being asked to do, whether they do in inside of their own data center, or they move to some type of hosted or cloud environment. There is increasing pressure from management to consider using cloud-type environments to reduce the capital expenditures for new systems and move to an operating cost model.
I don’t have a fundamental problem with cloud environments, though I think it is important to carefully consider the pros and cons, but I can certainly appreciate Scott’s concern. No matter how well we architect things or prepare for the movement of a physical environment to a virtual one, there could be problems. Having a fall back plan becomes important, and even more important if we discover problems when some time has passed.
While there are utilities that can move a physical machine to a virtual environment, there aren’t any (or any I know of) to reverse the process. Honestly, though, I think virtualization has so many advantages, that if I really had performance issues and needed to return to a physical host, I’d continue to virtualize my instance, but I’d have only one VM on my physical host, with access to almost all the resources on the hardware. Today’s hypervisors have so little overhead, I wouldn’t hesitate to run one virtual machine on a host.
Ultimately, moving to a virtual environment is very much like moving to new hardware. There are definitely different configuration options you may need to set, but you can contract for some help with configuring your system. In the worst case, just use a single VM on a host, get hardware abstraction, and manage the machine like any other. Just don’t forget to have the hypervisor and your guest start up automatically after a reboot.