Clones give VMware administrators a method for making copies of virtual machines that don’t require browsing a host file system or having to track down all the configuration files to function.
Full clones are complete and independent copies of a virtual machine and operate separately from the original parent VM. Because they don’t share virtual disks with the original parent VM, full clones generally perform better than linked ones. However, they also take longer to create than linked clones.
A linked clone is a snapshot of a virtual machine that shares virtual disks with the parent VM in an on-going manner. This conserves disk space and allows multiple VMs to use the same software installation. Linked clones make it easier to create unique virtual machines for individual tasks. They are also easier to share among people who need access to the same virtual disks (like support and dev teams).
Instant clones are very similar to linked clones. They share a virtual disk of a parent VM and consume less storage than a full VM. But instant clones do the same thing with memory. Instant clones are also created off a running VM instead of a powered off one. This provides better methods of management for provisioning, updates, and memory utilization.
Instant clones behave and function more like a container. Instant clones can be fully operational and ready to start executing quickly, where traditional clones still require a full OS boot up that can take several minutes to deploy and configure properly.
Other benefits of instant clones include:
- Significantly reduced times for a desktop to be provisioned and ready
- Ready for users to connect to (created powered on)
- Decreased change windows
- Storage utilization savings (instant clones don’t require databases)
- Simplified deployment and patching for administrators
- Lower overall solution costs
- Reduced complexity for future upgrades