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Enable rapid provisioning of VMs with SCVMM SAN copy

Achieve VM rapid provisioning with SCVMM by creating a SAN copy template from either an existing or new VM. Then select the required options when deploying the template to the host.

There are several benefits of using the SCVMM SAN copy feature for rapid provisioning of VMs. Follow a few simple steps to create and deploy a SAN copy-capable template on target hosts to take advantage of this feature.

Most IT administrators use System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) to maintain the data center's entire virtualization stack. Microsoft has added several new features and improved existing features of SCVMM. One of the features added to SCVMM 2012 R2 SP1 is rapid provisioning of VMs to virtualization hosts.

Most production environments use storage area network (SAN) devices to host production workloads. SCVMM provides the SAN copy feature to deploy VMs to storage systems without copying large VM files, such as virtual hard disks, over the network. SCVMM allows admins to create SAN copy-capable VM templates that they can use to quickly deploy VMs on target hosts.

SCVMM SAN copy benefits

One of the major benefits of using SCVMM SAN copy is that admins can copy VM files to a SAN device without using the network, which enables rapid provisioning of VMs. When you deploy a VM through the SAN copy feature, SCVMM uses SAN transfer instead of network transfer.

Another benefit of using the SAN copy feature is that production and client networks are untouched. In other words, any application that requires more network bandwidth isn't affected because the deployment process uses SAN transfer technology.

SCVMM SAN copy requirements, deployment methods

There are a few requirements you need to meet before using the SAN copy feature. For example, the storage system you use must support the cloning or snapshot feature. The storage system must also be properly configured, discovered and classified in SCVMM using a Storage Management Initiative Specification provider.

Next, you must allocate storage pools to the SCVMM host group where virtualization hosts reside. You must also have an existing generalized virtual hard disk to use for rapid provisioning.

There are two ways to create an SCVMM SAN copy template: using a new VM or using an existing VM.

Rapid provisioning with SCVMM on Hyper-V full
clones for XenDesktop or Microsoft VDI.

Before you can create a SAN copy template from an existing VM, make sure the virtual hard disk that will be used has been generalized. First, create a shared folder on the library server. The shared folder will host the virtual hard disk that will be available when deploying the SAN copy template to Hyper-V hosts. You must also create a logical unit from an available storage pool and assign the logical unit to the host group.

If you're creating a SAN copy template using a new VM, create a new VM with a blank virtual hard disk. Install and configure the OS; then use Sysprep.exe with the /generalize option to generalize the virtual hard disk.

If you're creating a SAN copy template using an existing VM, copy the existing VM hard disk to the folder path where you mounted the logical unit.

Deploy a SAN copy template to Hyper-V hosts

Once you have created a SAN copy template in SCVMM, you can use the same template to deploy stand-alone VMs or to deploy the VM as part of the service. Here are the steps you need to follow:

Step 1: Open the VMs and Services workspace, click Create and then click New Virtual Machine. This will open the new VM wizard.

Step 2: On the Select Source page, select the template you created for rapid provisioning. The SAN Copy Capable column should say "Yes" for the template you select.

Before you can create a SAN copy template from an existing VM, you need to make sure the virtual hard disk that will be used has been generalized.

Step 3: Here, you need to specify the VM configuration, such as hardware configuration, bus configuration and so on.

Step 4: Because you're deploying this VM using SAN transfer, make sure to select the "Transfer the virtual disk by using the SAN" value under "Method to deploy the virtual hard disk to the host," which instructs SCVMM to initiate the transfer of the virtual hard disk using SAN transfer rather than network transfer. 

Once the new VM wizard has completed, SCVMM creates a job. As part of the SCVMM job, the logical unit is automatically provisioned and mounted on the target Hyper-V host.

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