NetApp released few days ago a preview of their new Rapid Cloning Utility 3.0 vCenter Plug-in, integrating storage layer with vCenter and VMware View4.
The RCU 3.0 provides end-to-end storage provisioning from within vCenter for infrastructures running VI3 & vSphere with support for FC, FCoE, iSCSI, & NFS datastores. Once storage and interfaces have been assigned by the storage admin to the VI admin team the RCU can provision datastores to ESX/ESXi host, cluster, or entire data center with a single wizard.
The RCU will create thin and thick LUNs, mask LUNs (or in NetApp terms ‘create igroups’), balance I/O across interfaces, establish access lists directing storage I/O to preferred interfaces, and set the native multi-pathing policy.
Beyond provisioning, 3.0 delivers datastore level deduplication management and automated capacity increases (NFS only), along with the ability to grow and shrink datastores (shrink is also NFS only).
I personally like NetApp technology, especially their user interfaces when compared with other storage vendors, however nothing here is really new or groundbreaking. On the other hand, the integration with VMware View 4 might come handy for environments with high consolidation rates and where storage I/O and resiliency is a critical component during production hours.
RCU plug-in will create linked clone VMs, customise the VMs, and add the VM’s to a existing manual pool, or create a new manual pool. The cloning happens at the storage layer off-loading I/O to the storage layer and hardware.
As many of you know the RCU leverages FlexClone to create immediate, zero-cost (or pre-deduplicated) virtual machines and datastores. VMs provisioned via FlexClone can be servers or desktops; are permanent and deliver high I/O performance and disk efficency, and their provisioning offloads the I/O load associated with traditional VM provisioning methods (this is available today, in advance of the release of the vStorage APIs).
Unfortunately only manual pools are supported, therefore not very useful for large pools where dynamic provisioning is essential, such as in call-centers, schools and labs. It is not yet clear to me if View4 will be able to drive the plug-in and request new clones; if not i don’t see large number of benefits in having the ability to manually request new clones to be added to a pool. Normally we identify the necessity of new clones in advance anyway and can setup View4 Manager to create the clones during non-production hours.
Read the full NatApp blog post at http://blogs.netapp.com/virtualstorageguy/2009/12/preview-rapid-cloning-utility-30-vcenter-plug-in.html