Intel AMT + WinPE = Offline P2V

Intel AMT (IDE-R and KVM) + WinPE = Offline P2V is a usage case variation (derived of OS Reimaging with SOL-IDER and WinPE) that lets you create virtual hard disks (VHD file formats) in order to restore them in a virtual machine monitor. There are many methods to perform a physical to virtual (P2V) conversion, but some of the most common are online P2V and offline P2V. This post reviews the pros and cons of each of them.

Online P2V uses the underlying OS, so the machine must be on. This method is usually performed on servers or desktops by installing an agent. On Windows machines a common way of agents to ensure a consistent file copy is using the Volume Shadow Service (this service can also be accessed through command line, for example: vssadmin create shadow /for=c:). To get better copies, all software installed in the machine must be VSS compliant (most database systems and mail servers are VSS compliant). The agent should guarantee that it incurs in a minimum overhead.

Offline P2V by other hand is performed without booting into the OS and here it’s where WinPE comes into action. WinPE lets third party applications run and access most of the host machine resources (like hard disks, network and so on), so it’s widely used to create ISO or VHD copies of physical disks (there is a recent post about optimizing ISO image using WinPE here). When AMT IDE-R is not used, the hard disk and boot registry is modified to install and run the WinPE-based agent, but if it’s used, you can boot into a WinPE redirected image by using IDE-R and run the application remotely by using KVM.

Depending on the scenario, online or offline P2V are the options, but if offline P2V is the election, AMT (IDE-R and KVM) is definitely a great partner for WinPE. WinPE is popular for imaging, restore, virtualization, backup and other purposes, so AMT has a big applicability, especially since Windows 7 native VHD support. For more information on Offline P2V here there is a good article.

Javier Andrés Cáceres Alvis