Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V – Live Virtual Machine Export/Clone

This is a feature that DevOps, administrators, app-owners, and testers are going to like.  You can clone a running virtual machine!  This will produce an exact copy of the running virtual machine without a sysprep.  You can then power up this virtual machine on an isolated virtual switch or VM Network, connect to it via the new Remote Desktop enabled Connect, and do whatever you need to do:

  • Test an OS upgrade
  • Test an app upgrade
  • Test patches or hotfixes
  • Test backup/restore
  • Troubleshoot an OS or service
  • Troubleshoot an issue

And you can do all that without affecting production systems because you’re doing it with an exact clone of the production VM(s).  This is great because you don’t need to delay doing diagnostics.  You can figure out the fix, and then implement the fix really quickly to the production system.  Those for you with change control will have had the opportunity to test those upgrades/fixes and the rollback plan too.

A very cool sub-feature of live cloning/export is that you can export a snapshot of a virtual machine.  Get your head around that!  It exports a clone of the VM as it was when the snapshot was created.

When you create a clone of a running VM, the wizard allows you to configure what to do with the resulting VM so that you can keep that identical IP address, computer name, and SID on a different virtual switch/VM Network.  If you clone to a VMM library then the resulting VM is in a saved state. If you clone to another computer then it will be auto-started.  The wizard allows you to select a different network to avoid conflicts … so be careful.

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