VMware View 4.5 Storage Tiering explained

The NDA for VMware View 4.5 has been lifted and I would like talk a little bit about an important new storage feature released with View 4.5 – Tiered Storage. Tiered Storage allow administrators to select the most adequate Datastore for a given type of disk (.vmdk) and/or workload.

In the past I have written about how VMware View Composer works and how base image, replicas and linked clones are created and maintained. If you would like to read the entire article click at “Real Life example of Storage Sizing for View Linked Clones”, otherwise let’s quickly review.


  • Master Replica – The Master Replica is a one off for each SOE used as template. Unless the homework has not been properly done there shouldn’t be many Master Replicas.
  • Replica – The replica is a thin provisioned clone of the Master Replica. It is created for each new desktop pool in each datastore and it’s based on the snapshot in use at any given desktop pool.
  • Linked Clone – is composed of Delta Footprint + Log + User Data Disk. You will find information on how to calculate the size in my article Sizing Storage for VMware View Linked Clones.

VMware View 4.5 introduces the following new disks:

  • Persistent Disk – This is the old User Data Disk that has been renamed. It is still possible to store the persistent disk within the Guest OS disk, or in a separate disk.
  • Disposable Disk – A separate disk for the guest OS paging and temp files, View Manager deletes these disposable files when the linked clone is powered off.

The Linked Clone virtual desktops are now composed of Delta Footprint + Log + Persistent Disk + Disposable Disk, therefore the new storage calculation formula has also changed to:

Total Storage = (n° VMs * (Delta Footprint + Log + Persistent Disk + Disposable Disk) + Replica + Master Replica + Overhead)


Linked Clones with disposable disks can slow the growth of linked clones. Be aware that you will now be assigning a Disposable fixed size disk upfront and this should be included in the calculations. When you configure a linked-clone pool from a parent virtual machine, make sure you configure a disposable-file disk that is larger than the paging-file size.




Let’s now go back to storage tiering.

As I mentioned, VMware View 4.5 allow administrators to select different Datastores, where different types of virtual disks (linked clone, persistent and disposable) can be stored on fast, high-I/O storage, e.g., enterprise solid state disk drives (ESSDD) or Fibre Channel, and less accessed data onto less-expensive drives such as SAS or SATA. High-I/O storage will provide better performance for View Composer replicas that are constantly accessed (read-only) by all virtual desktops in the pool.


Picture gently pulled from ‘Cost-Effective Storage Solutions for VMware View 4.5 Enabled by EMC Unified Storage’. Nice reading, find document on Chad Sakacc’s blog.


Administrators are able to choose these options during the initial setup of the desktop pool. Datastores can be changed and/or re-assigned after the initial setup, but be aware that the selection to use Persistent Disks and Disposable disks can only be done during the initial setup of the desktop pool.




The ability to designate a Datastore dedicated to replica disks is IMHO one of the most important storage improvements in VMware View 4.5 and will allow for much greater I/O performance.

VMware View 4.5 yet presents some additional amazing new features:

  • Windows 7 Support 32/64-Bit
  • Smart Card Support for PCoIP
  • Local Mode Desktop
  • A native Mac Client
  • Kiosk Mode
  • Automated USB Redirection
  • Location based printing
  • Client localization (German, Japanese, French, Simple Chinese)
  • Adobe Flex UI Administrator interface
  • Higher broker scalability
  • Role based delegation
  • SysPrep support for Linked Clone desktop pools
  • Persistent disk management
  • Refresh, Recompose and storage rebalance for non-persistent pools
  • Semi-automatic pools
  • Extensibility with Powershell, SCOM and SDK’s, Event database
  • System Dashboard, User diagnostics and troubleshooting
  • ThinApp entitlement
  • Smart Card revocation
  • Support for vSphere and vCenter version 4.1


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    • liyifei on 09/14/2010 at 10:01 pm

    I have a question for persistent disk .Once I deploy the automated pool and linked clone.
    The user have already login on the VM.If I want to extend the user’s persistent disk size, how to do it?

  1. You are able to modify the size of the disk after the pool is created, however you cannot change the size of the disk for already provisioned virtual desktops. Save the contents to the network, re-provision the virtual desktop and copy the information back. Optionally, you can re-size the .vmdk using vCenter and than use a free tool such as GParted LiveCD to increase the partition size. That must be accomplished for each virtual desktop.

    • Ray on 10/21/2010 at 4:58 am

    Hey guys get rid of the google ads. They are positioned right over the first paragraph of the article. Bad coding not cool

  2. Ray, what browser are you using? Please try using diferent browser or enable CompatibilityMode if you are using Internet Explorer.

    • Zoey on 06/29/2011 at 6:27 am

    I am using non persistent desktops (with delete respawn scripts) with share drive and several software options (base install, scripting, and thinapped resources). The Problem here is licensing. Pools (w/delete scripts) are killing us IOPS wise, but I can’t find another option to manage software. We use hundreds of sessions, with groups of licenses to different departments. I need to isolate the licenses to a group without having to generate a new pool for every variation. Any ideas?

  3. @Zoey
    Without aditional information is a little bit dificult to pin point a solution. However, it seems to me that a 3rd Party user management tool would be usefull in your case. They provide the ability to manage multiple groups of aplications and if they were a single entity. I sugest you to look at Stratusphere from LiquidwareLabs, AppSense, or wait for VMware’s RTO user management in the next release of VMware View.


  1. […] Leibovici has posted a very interesting article explaining all about the storage tiering for VMware View 4.5. I’ve added this to my list of VMware view resources to read up on when I get some time to do […]

    • Links on vCloud Director and View 4.5 — mtellin.com on 09/12/2010 at 10:45 am

    […] VMware View 4.5 Storage Tiering Explained by Andre Leibovici […]

  2. […] If you’re unfamiliar with View Composer and tiered storage then head on over to Andre’s blog post on the subject. […]

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