5000 Virtual Desktops using 10GB Storage in Minutes

Most people have never heard about NetApp’s Rapid Cloning Utility (RCU) for VMware. This tool is the magic behind the famous YouTube video that show how NetApp can very quickly create and deploy a very large number of Virtual Desktops, while using very little disk space on the filer. With desktop virtualization being hot right now this is a great tool to get to know and use. The tool is available on the NOW tool chest (a free website for NetApp customers and partners).

In this video below, NetApp demonstrates the cost savings of their zero disk cost provisioning and data deduplication software. 5000 Virtual Desktops provisioned in minutes, while only taking a little over 10GB storage.


Created on February 5, 2009 by Rick Scherer

Posted under ESX 3.5 Tips, ESXi 3.5 Tips, Good Reading, NetApp, Storage, VMware.

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5 Comments so far

  1. Chris
    2:06 am on March 6th, 2009

    We’ve been looking at this stuff. Am I right that for practical scalability we need an NFS license for our FAS. Otherwise the cloning is at the volume level and we’ll soon run out of lun maps to ESX?
    We’re now taking a look at Citrix provisioning server to stream the disks instead.

  2. Rick Scherer
    9:03 am on March 6th, 2009

    NFS would definitely make things easier, but I don’t think it would be necessary. How many desktops are you looking to deploy?

    Lets take a conservative look at this. Lets say you have 20 Windows XP images per VMFS datastore, you can have 256 datastores per ESX server. Thats 5120 desktops. You’re also limited to 32 hosts per cluster. Say you can get 8 VDI sessions per core, an average server will have 8-16 cores giving you 64-128 desktops per server. This means at a max you can have 4096 desktops per cluster, which is still lower than the 5120 we would fit in storage.

    Mind you, I’m being conservative here…but even with block level storage (FC/iSCSI) I still think you’d hit a CPU/MEM threshold before a storage one.

  3. Chris
    12:50 am on March 9th, 2009

    Thanks Rick, I agree with what your saying about running out of CPU/mem before you exhaust the storage.
    However the problem I foresee with using VMFS and cloning at the volume levelis that I need multiple VMs in my master volume. This means multiple master images to update / patch / service pack. This also means a higher chance of my VMs becoming non-identical and therefore harder to support.
    Is this a fair comment on using VMFS for VDI deployments?

  4. Rick Scherer
    12:59 pm on March 10th, 2009

    Before VMware View 3 I would agree to this argument. With View you can used linked clones to create your “golden” image. Check out the VMware website for more info; http://www.vmware.com/products/view/features.html

  5. Rick Scherer
    1:00 pm on March 10th, 2009

    With all of that said Chris, NFS would be the easiest way to do all of this…. but for those companies that cannot afford the NFS licenses on their NetApp filers, there are alternative solutions to get you by.

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