Cloud Computing, VMware

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Efficiency and Speed Unleashed: Understanding VMware Instant Clones

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In the realm of virtualization, where agility, scalability, and performance are paramount, VMware continues to innovate with groundbreaking solutions that redefine how businesses manage their IT infrastructure. One such innovation that has gained significant attention is VMware Instant Clones. In this blog, we will delve into the concept of Instant Clones, exploring what they are, how they work, and the benefits they bring to the virtualization landscape.

What are Instant Clones?

At its core, an Instant Clone is a cutting-edge feature within VMware’s virtualization ecosystem, designed to accelerate the deployment of virtual machines (VMs) while optimizing resources and enhancing user experience. It’s a technique for rapidly creating new VMs that are based on a single parent VM, known as the “parent VM” or “template VM.” Instant Clones leverage VMware’s advanced snapshot and cloning technologies to create near-instantaneous copies of the parent VM.

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How do VMware Instant Clones Work?

The process of creating an Instant Clone involves several steps that tap into the efficiencies of snapshot technology and smart memory sharing:


  • Preparation: A parent VM is powered on and prepared with the necessary configuration and software installations. This parent VM serves as the baseline for the Instant Clones.
  • Snapshot: A snapshot is taken of the parent VM at a specific moment in time. This snapshot captures the VM’s memory, disk state, and configuration settings.
  • Forking: Using the snapshot as the reference point, multiple Instant Clones are rapidly “forked” from the parent VM. Each Instant Clone shares the memory with the parent VM but maintains its independent disk state and configuration.
  • Memory Sharing: Instant Clones utilize VMware’s memory sharing technology, where identical memory pages across all clones are shared, significantly reducing memory consumption.
  • User Interaction: End users or applications interact with the Instant Clones as if they were full VMs, despite the fact that they share memory and are based on a common snapshot.



Benefits of Instant Clones

The introduction of Instant Clones has revolutionized the landscape of VM provisioning, management, and user experience. Here’s how:

  • Speed: As the name suggests, Instant Clones are incredibly fast to create. The process of forking from a snapshot and sharing memory reduces the time required to deploy new VMs.
  • Efficiency: By sharing memory among clones, Instant Clones consume significantly less memory than traditional VMs. This translates to better resource utilization and more VMs per host.
  • Consistency: Instant Clones are based on a single snapshot, ensuring consistency across all clones. This is particularly advantageous for environments requiring standardized configurations.
  • Scalability: The rapid deployment and resource efficiency of Instant Clones make them ideal for scaling up or down as demand fluctuates.
  • Enhanced User Experience: Instant Clones contribute to a smoother and more responsive user experience by optimizing memory utilization and improving application performance.

Use Cases for Instant Clones

Instant Clones find their application in a range of scenarios:

  • VDI Environments: In Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environments, Instant Clones enable the quick provisioning of virtual desktops, ensuring users have a seamless and responsive experience.
  • Dev-Test Environments: For development and testing purposes, Instant Clones enable teams to create isolated environments quickly, enhancing agility and productivity.
  • Seasonal Workloads: Businesses with seasonal or variable workloads can benefit from the rapid scaling enabled by Instant Clones, ensuring resources are allocated efficiently.
  • Training and Education: Instant Clones streamline the setup of training environments, facilitating the quick deployment of identical environments for learners.

Let us look at how to create an Instant Clone using the MOB browser.

    1. Open a web browser and navigate to the URL of your vCenter Server. The URL format is usually
    2. You will be directed to the MOB interface, which allows you to interact with vCenter’s APIs.
    3. Locate the Managed Object ID (MoRef) of the virtual machine you want to use as the parent for the Instant Clone. If you don’t know the MoRef, you can find it using the MOB interface:
      • In the MOB interface, click on the “Content” link.
      • In the “Content” page, navigate to “rootFolder” → “childEntity” (Datacenter) → “vmFolder.”
      • Click on the folder that contains the virtual machine you want to clone.
      • In the folder’s details page, locate the “Value” under the “ManagedObjectReference” field. This is the MoRef of the virtual machine.

    1. Here, you can see the VM “core-A,” for which we are trying to create an Instant clone.
    2. Scroll below to find “Methods,” and under this you will find “InstantClone_Task”
    3. Click on “InstantClone_Task” and enter the Value field as shown below. Once done, click on “Invoke Method.”
    4. The “Invoke Method” action will trigger the creation of the Instant Clone. You’ll receive a result page with a “return-value” field.
    5. Using the vSphere Client or any other management tool, verify that the Instant Clone has been successfully created.
    6. Also, SSH into the ESXi host to see the delta disks used by the Instant clone, as shown below. Use the below commands to navigate to the datastore and list the files
      $cd vmfs/volumes///



In conclusion, VMware Instant Clones have ushered in a new era of virtual machine deployment, where speed, efficiency, and scalability converge to redefine the virtualization landscape. By harnessing the power of snapshot technology and smart memory sharing, Instant Clones have transformed the way businesses provision, manage, and optimize their IT resources, ultimately contributing to enhanced user experiences and streamlined operations. As the virtualization landscape continues to evolve, Instant Clones stands as a testament to VMware’s commitment to innovation and efficiency.

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WRITTEN BY Rajiv Gopal



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