Instant Clone is a technology that allows to rapidly clone and deploy a virtual machine sharing a virtual disk of a parent VM consuming less storage than full VMs.
Instant Clones utilize the vmFork technology, a solution that allows admins to fork a running virtual machine, meaning, it is not a full clone. The parent VM is brought to a state where the admin will Instant Clone it, at which time the parent virtual machine is quiesced and placed in a state of a parent VM. Instant clones are always created in a powered-on state and when a user logs out, the desktop VM is deleted.
Compared to Linked Clones technology, Instant Clones don’t rely on View Composer and the installation of this server can be skipped.
This feature is available only in Horizon Enterprise edition and must meet the following requirements:
- vSphere 6.0 Update 1 or later
- Only VSAN and VMFS datastores are supported
- RDSH servers are not supported
- Windows 7 or Windows 10 are supported
- Virtual machine hardware version 11
- 3D rendering is not supported
Configure the parent VM
Deploy a Windows 7 o Windows 10 VM to be used as master image and install the View Agent.
Accept the EULA then click Next.
Select the protocol to be used and click Next.
Select VMware Horizon Instant Clone feature and click Next.
Click Install to begin installation.
The agent is being installed.
When the installation has completed, click Finish to exit the wizard.
Click Yes to reboot the VM.
When the configuration of the master image is complete, from the vSphere Web Client take a snapshot of the VM Instant Clone will use.
Define an Instant Clone Domain Administrator
An Instant Clone Domain Administrator must be defined in order for Instant Clone to work properly. The user account used must have certain Active Directory domain privileges:
- List Contents
- Read All Properties
- Write All Properties
- Read Permissions
- Reset Password
- Create Computer Objects
- Delete Computer Objects
To configure an Instant Clone Domain Administrator, from the View Administrator console under View Configuration > Instant Clone Domain Admins click Add button.
Enter User name and Password then click OK.
The Instant Clone Domain Administrator has been configured.
Another requirement is to enable the View Storage Accelerator.
Under View Configuration > Servers select vCenter Servers tab, select the vCenter Server in use then click Edit. Select the Storage tab then make sure Enable View Storage Accelerator option is checked. Click OK to confirm.
Configure an Instant Clone Pool
Under Catalog > Desktop Pools click Add button to configure a new pool.
Since only Automated Desktop Pools are supported, select this option and click Next.
Select Floating as User assignment because it is the only supported method.
Check Instant clones option and select the vCenter Server. Click Next to continue.
The Desktop Pool Identification window follows the same rules as for a Linked Clone Pool. Enter the ID, a Display name, the Access group and optionally a Description. Click Next.
Enable HTML Access option to allow users to connect to View machines from web browsers. View Client software does not have to be installed on the client devices. Click Next to continue.
Assign a Naming pattern for the pool and how to deploy Instant Clone virtual desktops. You can specify the Provisioning timing in two ways:
- Provision machines on demand – machines are provisioned as needed and the system creates the number of machines specified in Min number of machines field.
- Provision all machines up-front – the system provisions the number of virtual desktops specified in Max number of machines field.
Click Next when done.
If you don’t have an available VSAN, leave default and click Next.
Specify the Parent VM to use for virtual desktops by clicking on Browse button.
Select the virtual machine to be used as the parent VM and click OK.
Specify the Snapshot to use as master image. Click Browse to select the snapshot to use then click OK.
Click Browse to specify the VM folder location. Select the folder to store the VM and click OK.
Select the Cluster on which to run the VM. Click Browse to select the cluster then click OK.
Again, click Browse to specify the Resource Pool to use then click OK.
Click Browse to specify the Datastores to use for the desktop pool. Select the datastores and click OK to confirm.
Click Next to continue.
Click Browse and specify the AD container to use then click OK.
Click Next to continue.
Click Finish to complete the wizard.
If you receive this error it means the VM used as master image doesn’t have the correct HW version. Access the vSphere Web Client to set the correct HW version for the VM used.
During the creation of the configured Instant Clone Desktop Pool, several folders have been created in the VMs and Template view of the vSphere Web Client:
- ClonePrepInternalTemplateFolder – cp-template-xxx is the template VM created from master image that is used to create the Instant Clones.
- ClonePrepParentVmFolder – cp-parent-xxx the VMs in this folder should match the number of hosts in your cluster (two in this example). Each ESXi server has one powered on and in memory to create the Instant Clone VMs.
- ClonePrepReplicaVmFolder – cp-replica-xxx is the VM used to create the cp-parent VMs. It is used to provision additional cp-parent VMs.
- ClonePrepResyncVmFolder – if you update the clones using a new image, a VM is created in this folder for staging.
Entitle the users
Under Catalog > Desktop Pools, click Entitlements button and select Add entitlement.
Click Add button, select the group/user to entitle then click OK.
Click OK to close the window.
Check provisioned VMs
Under Resources > Machines select vCenter VMs tab to check the provisioned VMs.
Update the Instant Clone Image
When the master image needs to be updated, it must be pushed to the pool of desktops. To update the parent virtual desktop, you need to perform the following steps:
- power on the parent virtual desktop
- make required changes
- take a snapshot
Once the new snapshot has been completed, from Catalog > Desktop Pools double click the Desktop Pool to update. Select Summary tab and click Push Image button and choose Schedule option.
Click Change to select the new snapshot to push to desktops then complete the wizard.
A 60-day trial of Horizon 7 is available for testing purposes.