The standalone VMware Converter tool has long been a favorite of mine to perform physical to virtual (P2V) or virtual to virtual (V2V) conversions when the vSphere Plug-In wouldn’t work. Other reasons you might want to use the standalone conversion tool are if you’re going to or from the vSphere Hypervisor (free ESXi)  or for doing offline tests.

Historically, the standalone VMware Converter has been updated occasionally for major support changes in either guest operating system or VMware technologies. It has been relatively quiet since late August of 2010 when they sneaked an update out during VMworld.

Recently, VMware has announced a public technology preview of Converter 5. This has a number of new features, but the two most interesting for me are the disk partition alignment performed on the converted virtual machine and the ability to encrypt the conversion from the source system to the ESXi server. These new options are straightforward in the interface. The partition alignment option is the check box to “create optimized partition layout” in the conversion wizard, shown in Figure A:

Figure A

(Click to enlarge)

Note also that there is a number of other tweaks to this very important part of the conversion; including the Add Disk button.

The standalone VMware Converter product has always been part of my arsenal to move workloads to a virtualized environment, and these improvements are very welcome at this point. It is unclear whether this preview supports vSphere 5; but one can only expect that when vSphere 5 is generally available that the support would soon be added for Converter.

The public preview is open to anyone with a VMware account and has a free download. Do you still keep Converter in your arsenal? If so, for what situations does it make sense for you? Share your comments below.