SBS 2003 Physical to Virtual Conversion - Activation Issue

Discussion in 'Server Migration' started by Kris, Jan 12, 2010.

  1. Kris

    Kris Guest


    I would like to migrate our existing SBS2003 server to a fresh SBS2003
    install, I would also like to virtualise the server.

    I do not want to perform the migration in a live environment and have
    decided the best/safest way to practice/carry out the migration is in a
    virtual test environment. I am looking to perform the migration using the
    documentation pack available from

    I have managed to clone the existing server into a virtual machine which is
    now isolated in a test environment. I would like to migrate Active Directory
    and Exchange from this server to a fresh SBS 2003 install.

    I was so excited when the virtual machine booted, then I logged in to be
    prompted with the 'This product needs to be acivated' dialogue box!

    I phoned Microsoft and entered the installation ID which was not successful,
    I also spoke to a number of Microsoft representitives after being cut-off a
    number of times and given various numbers some of which did not work.
    Eventually I got through to someone who informed me the product cannot be
    activated as it is not licensed for use in a virtual environment, although
    technical support may be able to help for the small sum off £199:)

    Can anyone advise me if it is possible to get my cloned server working in a
    vitual environment?

    Many thanks in advance,

    Kris, Jan 12, 2010
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  2. Kris

    kj [SBS MVP] Guest

    Well, sort of. Technically it's not supported in a virtual enviroment, but
    other than a few issues, it works in one. FAX is one of those that doesn't
    without extrodinary measures.

    Anyway, you can have only one copy of SBS2003 activated at a time. You could
    install the eval version or do a fresh install from your media and run in
    grace mode until activation is required. But to move an activated copy to
    virtual requires that you reactivate the close and cease using the original.

    If you are using sbsmigration you should be getting support included with
    your purchase. Also use for standard
    product issues.
    kj [SBS MVP], Jan 12, 2010
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  3. Kris

    Kris Guest

    Many thanks for your reply KJ.

    The clone was taken during the Christmas period, is it possible the clones
    grace period has expired during the Christmas break or is there no grace
    period with a clone?
    I will try another physical to virtual conversion over the weekend to confirm.

    I understand that I need a volume license as the final install will be on a
    new server (no oem license) and the current sbs install is a Dell OEM
    install. I am also planning to utilise the high availability functionality
    available with VMware ESXI, will this be an issue with SBS and the activation
    issues you mentioned?


    Kris, Jan 14, 2010
  4. Kris

    kj [SBS MVP] Guest

    Reactivation is triggered from the new hardware.
    Ah, OEM. Licensing is not your only concern. OEM built, cloned, and
    virtualized is still going to be an OEM install and retail or volume license
    keys are probably going to be another issue for you.

    You might consider doing a swing migration, perhaps a double swing, ending
    in a virtualized instance.

    Since you'll be having two seperate licenses, you could make this very
    invisible to the users.
    kj [SBS MVP], Jan 14, 2010
  5. Kris

    Kris Guest

    Hi KJ,

    Reactivation triggered by new hardware pretty much scraps my plans if it
    cannot be reactivated, it would not have been an issue if there was a grace
    period. The whole plan relied upon having a clone of the existing server in
    a test environment, this would allow me to test the migration in advance in a
    non production environment.

    The hardware I have is as follows:

    Dell Poweredge 2600 running SBS 2003 (production server)
    Dell Poweredge 2900(1) (test environment)
    Dell Poweredge 2900(2) (test environment)
    SAN for storing virtual machine images (either off the shelf or Openfiler)

    The plan for the migration is (or was) as follows:

    Step 1:

    Convert Production SBS 2003 Poweredge 2600 to a virtual machine.

    Step 2:

    Copy Virtual machine created above to SAN in an isolated environment

    Step 3:

    Run cloned SBS 2003 on Poweredge 2900(1) running VMware ESXI

    Step 4:

    Clean virtual install of SBS 2003 on Poweredge 2900(2) running ESXI

    Step 5:

    Swing migration of Active Directory and Exchange from cloned SBS 2003
    install to clean SBS 2003 install.

    Step 6:

    Poweredge 2900(1) that was running cloned SBS will now provide high
    availability incase Poweredge 2900(2) fails (the image that was running on
    server 2 will be loaded on server 1)

    Step 7:

    Once I am confident everything works the old production Poweredge 2600 will
    be utilised for backing up images etc (not running SBS)

    This plan/final topology provided the following advantages:

    1) Migration can be practiced in advance
    2) Migration is performed in an isolated virtual environment therefore no
    risk to
    the production server. Once migration is complete the old server can be
    removed from the network and the new servers introduced therefore
    zero downtime!
    3) Currently we have no budget and in theory the plan can be practiced/proven
    without any expenditure ready for when funding is available. This
    relied upon
    the clone working!
    4) Provides better disaster recovery than we currently have
    5) Removes software corruption issues present on the production server
    6) More ram/CPU can be assigned to SBS than is currently available. The OS
    partition on the production server is 12gig which causes issues, this
    can be
    resized as part of the physical to virtual machine conversion.

    Unfortunately the licensing seems to be introducing so many barriers. I am
    now unsure about what licensing I need for the final topology (image running
    on server 2 but server 1 incase of failure) as well as the problem of what
    happens when the image loads up on server 1, will I have the same issue as
    with my clone?

    Is there any work around for the issue with the clone as this is a huge


    Kris, Jan 15, 2010
  6. Kris

    kj [SBS MVP] Guest

    It's that dang OEM software thing again. If the OEM didn't tie it to
    hardware you might technically get away with it, but if the same hardware
    wasn't running the virtualization server, then you wouldn't be legal.

    An approach might be to convert the OEM instance before you clone and move
    it. Reported methods have been to boot the VL media and do a repair on the
    OEM install but I can't personally confirm this and of course would highly
    recommend a full and complete verified backup before you start experimenting
    with your production instance.
    kj [SBS MVP], Jan 15, 2010
  7. Kris

    Kris Guest


    I managed to find a work around on the VMware forums, once again full steam

    Thanks for your help.

    Kris, Jan 20, 2010
  8. Kris

    kj [SBS MVP] Guest

    Please share so others can benefit.
    kj [SBS MVP], Jan 20, 2010
  9. Kris

    Kris Guest

    Kris, Jan 21, 2010
  10. Kris

    kj [SBS MVP] Guest

    kj [SBS MVP], Jan 21, 2010
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