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Rapid virtual desktop cloning

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NetApp is setting itself up as the natural storage partner for VMware server virtualisation, provisioning virtual desktops faster, associating its 50 per cent storage savings guarantee with VMware's 50 per cent server savings guarantee.

The firm is putting its money where its mouth is by offering $1m of its kit and services to an Australian company wanting to validate its storage guarantee.

NetApp has announced a VMware vCenter free plugin called the Rapd Cloning utility. It provides a GUI for users needing to provision virtual desktops and says they can be created almost instantly. A single VDI image can be replicated, NetApp says, "hundreds of times in minutes while using almost no additional storage capacity." It relies on NetApp's FlexClone technology, a feature of its storage array's ONTAP operating software, for this, and links it to VMware's View Composer.

View customers with NetApp arrays can also use NetApp's PAM (Performance Acceleration Module), a DRAM cache card for the array controllers, in conjunction with its ASIS deduplication, to speed VDI operations. The company claims customers can increase performance up to 70 per cent, reduce boot times by half, and make savings in purchase price, rack space, and energy use by using PAM caching.

VMware is offering a guarantee to customers that they will use half as many servers in a VMware virtual server environment than they would with purely physical servers. NetApp already offers its own 50 per cent guarantee saying that users will need 50 per cent less capacity using NetApp products and best practices than they would using non-NetApp kit subject to certain caveats.

It extended this offer by offering a 35 per cent savings guarantee if customers virtualised competitor's storage products behind a NetApp V-Series head. EMC bloggers dissed NetApp's guarantees quite energetically. Now, in an ironical twist, EMC-owned VMware is offering its own guarantee and NetApp can suggest to customers that they can save a lot of money by virtualising their servers with VMware (half the servers needed) and giving their EMC storage a NetApp makeover behind a V-Series head (35 per cent saving).

NetApp is also offering $1m of hardware software and services, amounting to around 50TB of capacity, to an Australian business in conjunction with a local media outlet, IT News, to publicise the efficacy of its guarantee in VMware environments.

Providing low-cost, fast, reliable and scalable storage to virtualised server environments is becoming a must-have for any storage array supplier to data centres. EMC's coming April 14th announcement is expected to reveal new capabilities from Hopkinton in that area.

3PAR, IBM and HP's LeftHand Networks have already announced space-efficient VDI image storing and, in 3PAR's case, fast provisioning.

NetApp's Rapid Cloning Utility v2.0 is available immediately. ®

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