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This truly depends upon the current implementation. If you are using agents within your environment, any change to the console machine in terms of naming (e.g. FQDN name change) will require some further consideration. If you do not install SQL locally through the Protect installer, you will also need to ensure that the proper SQL credentials are in place. Finally, migrating your existing database will require further effort. We recommend that your existing database be backed up regularly, particular prior to an upgrade or migration. We also recommend that you purge any uneeded data (e.g. via the 'Manage>Items' menu within Protect) prior to upgrading.
Other than the aforementioned considerations, you will want to ensure adequate system resources when moving to a new machine. System requirements and recommendations should be covered within our upgrade guide, located as follows:
You have a third option which is actually the safest and best option IMHO. Since you said you are planning to virtualize here's what I'd do:
1) P2V the 7.6 physical system.
2) Snapshot the 7.6 VM.
3) Perform the 7.8 upgrade on the 7.6 VM.
This approach has two key benefits:
1) If something goes terribly wrong during the upgrade (unlikely) you can quickly recover back to your 7.6 state.
2) You'll still have your 7.6 physical system as an extra safety net should things just not work out with the VM.
For what it's worth we run Shavlik on a VM and I just upgraded from 7.6 to 7.8 and it was quick and clean...no issues..
Hope this helps!