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March 23, 2009

Sneak Peek – NetApp Rapid Cloning Utility (RCU) 2.0

Keith Aasen -Consulting Systems Engineer, Virtualization 

A while back I blogged about our original Rapid Cloning Utility, which was a command line utility that would quickly clone and create dozens or hundreds of virtual machine images. I mentioned some up front prep work, which needed to be done, and then suggested some tips on how you could make the tool even simpler.  All that goes out the window with the upcoming release of version 2.0 of the utility.

This new version is all about usability.  It plugs directly into VMware vCenter so all of the cloning can be done from within vCenter via a GUI wizard. Short of installing the plugin (and insuring you have ONTAP 7.3.1 and a NFS datastore) no prepwork is required! This means you can right click on any VM or template on a NFS datastore and clone it once or 1000 (or more) times!

After the plugin is installed a right click gets you a new menu option (Create Rapid Clones), by selecting this option a wizard walks you through the rest of the cloning process. Here are some of the wizard highlights;

            Naming Wizard – the naming wizard is very flexible, allowing you to auto number the machines, choose where the number should appear in the name, what number to beging with, or no number at all if you are only creating one clone (more on that later)

            Datastore Creation – you can certainly create cones in the existing datastore which is ideal for small quantities but what if you want a larger number of VMs? The utility will create a new volume for you on the NetApp controller, place the first VM in it for you and then clone from there. All automatic and all very fast.

            Customization File – you can specify a customization file just like you would if you cloned a single VM using the VMware native tools. This customization gets applied to every VM cloned so each one is unique. We will even power the VMs up for you after cloning if you like.

            View Input File – If you are using VMware’s View Connection Broker the utility will output the required file to then input all these new VMs into the broker and they are ready to be used.

One of the major usability features verses the old version is the ability to clone VMs one at a time. This is achieved through the new File Level FlexClone technology we introduced in ONTAP 7.3.1. This technology allows us to clone just the metadata of a file. This cloning process is of course very fast and is done in such a way that no dependency on the original VM exists. That is, you can modify or even delete the original VM with no impact to the subsequent clones. The end result is the same as if you had deployed the same VM repeatedly and then used NetApp’s Dedup technology after the fact. The File Level Flex Clone does this though, with no initial use of disk space, or in other words, creates a non duplicated VM.

Why is this so useful? Well although this tool will prove invaluable in VDI environments it will also prove very useful in virtual server environments. Imagine being able to clone a single server in seconds for destructive testing or to simply deploy a new batch of servers from a template without the need for the initial disk space.  The fact that this is embedded into vCenter means it will be very practical to use on a daily basis, or for one-off type deployments.

A preview of the new utility is located on the NetAppTV channel on YouTube.

Look for more details and announcements regarding RCU 2.0 in the next 2 weeks as we approach it official launch date. Also, if you are interested in VDI or have an upcoming VDI project you will want to check out an online event we are having from March 23-30th.

Happy Cloning!


jelle vranckx

i am very interested in working with the rapid cloning utility in combination with the vmware view connection broker. now it is still a little hard with the command line interface but the fact that the new version will be implemented in the vcenter is just awsome. Now i am very curious if someone can tell me te official launch date of the rcu 2.0?



I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.




I am not sure the official date but it should be in early April. Stay tuned here as we will let you know!



Thank you for your kind words and reading. We appreciate your feedback.



thank you for the info im looking forward to trying this new tool.


Austin Workman

I think it would be awesome if eventually the RCU tool did something similar for Development environments. IE: Create a golden volume with all of your servers that make up an environment. Then using RCU to manage development cycles and refreshing of environments. IE: Create dev/test/stage/prod from the golden image using flexclones. The only thing that would really need to be changed is how the VM was named. To let you use an environment name instead of number incrementing. dev-ws1/int-ws1/stage-ws1/prod-ws1

Fletcher Cocquyt

Hi, I am trying to run RCU against my Netapp with vFilers (MultiStore)
Is this supported?
I can't seem to enable ssh on my vFilers so the RCU can login and get the datastores...
SSH into vfiler0 works, but then RCU forces the clones to be on a new datastore...not what I want.

Oh, wait - I just needed to run

vf-01@netapp-02> options ssh.enable on
SSH Server is not configured. Please use the command
'secureadmin setup ssh' to configure the server.

Oh Wait - I get connection refused on the RCU and "Disconnected; protocol error (Shell not supported on vfilers)" on a test ssh from a unix host...


Is RCU APIs available throuht .NET, PowerCli and Perl?

Abhinav Joshi


Yes, there are SOAP based APIs and work with any programming language that supports soap.
We have a document on the NetApp communities that provides some examples on how the APIs can be used.


Hope this helps.

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