by Julian Cates
When Nimble Storage released version 2.2 of Nimble OS, we introduced the ability to integrate with Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) through SMI-S. This allowed Nimble arrays to be discovered, storage pools to be allocated, and volumes to be provisioned directly from within SCVMM. This helped streamline the management of Hyper-V virtual environments, offering single-pane management of both compute and storage. In case you missed it, this new functionality was covered in this blog post.
Now with the introduction of Nimble OS 2.3, the SCVMM integration has been enhanced, adding the capability to do rapid virtual machine provisioning using Nimble zero-copy clones. As before, this is all controlled directly within SCVMM. This means that a virtual machine can be deployed from an existing template and the “data copy” is offloaded to the array. From the array’s perspective, the data copy is avoided altogether since a zero-copy clone can be used. This zero-copy process is efficient in two dimensions: time and space. Since there is no actual data movement/copy, the process completes very quickly, and the resulting zero-copy clone consumes no additional space on the array.
Here’s how it works:
First, your SCVMM implementation needs a library server, with a library share added to it.
Next, we’ll create a volume on the Nimble array which will be used as the source for our zero-copy clones and unmask it to the library server. Instead of giving it a drive letter, we’ll mount it using a volume mount point, and mount it within the library share. It should look something like this:
Here we have the library share set up on the L: drive, and the volume we will use as a vm template is mounted underneath that as L:\Win8Template.
Now we need to populate this template volume with a sysprepped VHDX file. Just copy it into the volume via the mount point you used. This will show up within the SCVMM library once you refresh it.
Next, create a virtual machine template in SCVMM. Within that template, add the VHDX file we previously added to the library:
Setup is complete! Now we’re ready to rapidly provision VMs using the VM template we now have stored in our SCVMM library.
Right click on the template and select “Create Virtual Machine”:
You can now run through the Create Virtual Machine Wizard and specify any custom virtual hardware as well as what physical compute resources you want to use. Note that when you are selecting a host on which to deploy, you should see a transfer type of “SAN”. This is our confirmation that we did everything right in the setup steps.
Once you finish the wizard and start the job, you should see “Rapid deploy using SAN copy” in the task monitor. Once again, a confirmation that we are using Nimble zero-copy clones instead of copying data over the network.
Once the copy has completed, you’ll see the new cloned volume both in SCVMM as well as the Nimble GUI. Here you can see that it takes up no additional space on the array:
So there you have it, rapid virtual machine provisioning using SCVMM and Nimble zero-copy clones!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so certainly a video ups the stakes a bit. To see this cool new feature in action, check out the following video: