10 April, 2013

Sphere client shows "wrong" disk provisioning type in VM properties after deployment from template

Last week I got a question from a senior VM administrator at a customer where I had been working on several vSphere and storage related projects.
They use templates to deploy new VM's and they where created to use "thin" provisioned disks when the VM had been deployed. Now he told me that one of the other admin's had deployed a VM on the recently replaced storage (NFS storage) and this VM got "eager zero thick" disks when it was deployed.
To rule out a human error, he tried a other deployment from the same template himself and found that the VM also displayed "eager zero thick" in the VM properties after the deployment.
I asked me if I knew why this happend or if I maybe had altered their templates. On both question I had to tell him no, but it got me curious. As this customer had some disk provisioning issues before when moving from FC to NFS storage (read blog article :Real life benefits and caveats of NFS storage with VAAI) they where very keen to find out what was the cause of this to prevent any issues in the future.
When I started looking at this issue I knew they had the problem with a template containing Windows 2008 R2 SP1, so I thought I would clone this template and have a deeper look at it.
After cloning the template I converted the template to a VM and looked at the provisioning of the disks of this VM and to my surprise I found the disk where "thin"! I converted the VM back to a template and deployed a new VM from this template. When completed I again looked at the VM properties and found the disk provisioning was telling me "eager zero thick", now I was getting confused.
When I took at the VMDK discriptor file to check the virtual disk details I found just below The Disk Data Base line the following ddb.thinProvisioned = "1" so even if the vSphere client GUI stated the disk was "eager zero thick" the disk was actually "thin".
But I still needed to "convince" the customer that all was ok and it just was a flaw in the GUI. At the time I wanted to show the customer what was actually happening I ran over my test VM's once more.
In the mean time I had powered on some of the VM's and when I looked at their properties I found the disk provisioning now was "thin" to verify I did a deployment from template again.
After deployment I looked at the VM properties and the disk was "eager zero thick" I checked the VMDK discriptor and there it was "thin" I powered on the VM and went back to the properties screen of the VM and saw that the disk provisioning had changed to "thin".
For me it looks like if the vSphere client "chooses" a provisioning type after deployment but only reads the actual value from the discriptor file upon powering on / boot and then updates the VM properties.

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