Migrate Windows Server 2003 to Nutanix AHV

Migrate Windows Server 2003 to Nutanix AHV from VMware vSphere esxi.

Today’s migration topic is migrate Windows Server 2003 R2 to Nutanix AHV from VMware vSphere ESXi to Nutanix AHV.

NOTE: Windows 2003 (any version) server is not on the list of supported Guest Operating Systems for Nutanix AHV. To get latest list of supported Guest OS, log in to portal.nutanix.com


  • AOS 4.6.1 or newer
  • AHV 20160217.2 or newer
  • network connection between legacy VMware vSphere and Nutanix Acropolis
  • mounted container from Nutanix Acropolis on legacy VMware ESXi farm
  • basic knowledge about Nutanix Acropolis and VMware vSphere
  • Images with VirtIO drivers in two versions:
    • lastest – for virtIO drivers – you can download it from Fedora project
  • VM local administrator password
  • Remove all snapshots from VM

Step #1 – Storage migrate virtual machine VMDK files to Nutanix container

Use vSphere client and migrate VM disks to Nutanix AHV container.

Step #2 – Install  MergeIDE.bat

MergeIDE.bat. This is a really important step that will prepare the system to boot using an IDE driver when we bring it up in KVM. Skipping this step will likely result in blue screen errors and much frustration.

MergeIDE can be downloaded at:

NOTE: restart VM after installation and shut server down.

Step #3 – Create image from -flat.vmdk  file

From acli, run image.create command to create disk image from -flat.vmdk file

List images, as you can see image is available on the list.

Step #4 – Create  new VM

Create new VM from Prism Element and make sure you VM boot disk is on IDE BUS and use image created in Step #3. Mount ISO with latest VirtIO drivers to CDROM, attach network card and add small (1GB) disk on PCI bus.

Take VM snapshot and Power VM on.

Step #5 – install drivers

Follow Add new hardware wizard and install on drivers. Make sure you choose drivers for Windows 2003.

Reboot VM

Step #6 -change boot disk bus to PCI

Shutdown VM first. Clone the IDE hard disks as PCI hard disks now that the VirtIO PCI drivers are installed in the Windows OS. The “vmdisk_uuid” of the IDE hard disk must be known to perform the cloning. To get the vmdisk_uuid run the following command. Detailed disk information is listed for each disk attached to the VM.

From acli run vm.get command to get details and find boot disk vmdisk_uuid

Note down vmdisk_uuid and run vm.disk_create command. By default new disk is created on PCI bus and with source disk size.

Step #6 – Remove IDE drive

Get VM details and check if new disk is in the configuration. In my example, old boot disk is on ide.1 BUS.

You can remove IDE.1 disk form either Prism Element or via acli. Power VM on. and … DONE

After migration clean up VM from unnecessary software, like VMware tools, and verify hardware in device manager

Acropolis devices in guest VM

Acropolis devices in guest VM



14’th Nov 2016 : updated procedure to mach as many Widows 2003 flavors as possible

Artur Krzywdzinski

Artur is Consulting Architect at Nutanix. He has been using, designing and deploying VMware based solutions since 2005 and Microsoft since 2012. He specialize in designing and implementing private and hybrid cloud solution based on VMware and Microsoft software stacks, datacenter migrations and transformation, disaster avoidance. Artur holds VMware Certified Design Expert certification (VCDX #077).

  • Naveed Ashraf

    Hi Arthur, I followed the above article to the tee for two of my Win 2003 servers and was able to successfully convert from Vmware to Nutanix. The two converted servers are running fine on Nutanix. I have a third server that has multiple hard disks and it is also running SQL Server 2000. I need to preserve this server for few more years. For this particular server the above process does not work. As soon as I convert the IDE disks to SCSI, the server gets blue screen of death and goes in to a loop. However, if I leave the disks as IDE then the server runs fine.This is a critical server, so my question is can I leave the disks as IDE and run it? Or are there dangers in running in this mode that may crash my server later. Any help or suggestion will be welcomed. Thank you in advance.

    Further information:
    -The two 2003 servers that are converted and are running fine each had one large hard drive. 270GB. The server that is failing has 4 hard drives.
    -I also have a Windows XP that I migrated over to Nutanix. Once again, I need to run this OS for some really old legacy software that my user will not part with. For this machine, when I convert to SCSI then blue screen of death, but when I leave as IDE no problem. Runs fine. I have been running this machine as IDE disk for almost three weeks now.

    • HI Naveed,
      this is very difficult case. Hard to say what can be wrong after conversion to SCSI. You can run on IDE, but IDE is very old architecture BUS ind it is slow, very slow. If you need performance, you should run on SCSI. On the other hand, you could run OS disk on IDE and try to have data disks on SCSI.
      Question #1: do you migrate and convert all disks at one, or first you do OS disk, convert to SCSI and then Windows gets into BSOD loop?

      • Naveed Ashraf

        Thank you for the reply back. Good suggestion on running the OS on IDE and data on SCSI. I did clone all drive at one time and then created the images all in one shot.

        • Can you try to run VM with only OS drive, convert it to SCSI and then if there is not BSOD), either create new SCSI disk or convert existing and attach to VM?

          • Naveed Ashraf

            Good suggestion. I will try it. I will keep you posted once I try this solution. It maybe two weeks away.

  • John Estep

    Hey Artur, what about NGT? Won’t install in Win2003, any thoughts?

    • Hey John, no chance – NGT are supported on Win2008 R2 and newer.

      • John Estep

        yeah that’s what I was afraid you were going to say. Thanks

  • Emmanuel Latour

    Hi Artur, I just get Error loading operating system after Step 4. Single flat VMDK running Windows Server Enterprise R2 2003 SP2. Any ideas?

    • Hi Emmanuel, when error are you getting?

      • Emmanuel Latour

        “Error loading operating system” on post after powering on the VM in Step 4.

        • Seems like VM can’t find boot disk. Make sure you boot first time on IDE BUS. Can you show me printscreen of VM disk configuration?
          are you doing P2V or V2V?

          • Emmanuel Latour

            I set it to IDE the first and every time every time I tried – and let me tell I tried many times with multiple combinations – without any no luck. I think issue might be related to the way VMware Fusion manipulates the VMDK file to change it to a single fully provisioned/space pre-allocated flat file, which you have to do because Fusion defaults the VM creation to a thin-provisioned split VMDK files. I wanted to do a trial run of the process before getting a client to try it and so used Fusion to build a the source Windows Server 2003 VM to try this with because I did not have an ESX server handy. I had no issues doing this with Fusion for Windows Server 2008 using Fusion’s export to OVF function then using importing the resulting thin-provisionned VMDK file to the AHV image service, but no luck with Windows Server 2003 yet either with either the export feature or just converting to single -flat file. Having said that, the client subsequently tried the process with a clone of a Windows Server 2003 VM from his ESX 4.1 environment and was able to get it booting just fine, so I suspect it was something to do with Fusion. Thanks.