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A week or so ago I published an article about new View 5.1 storage features. I followed this up with a short video post explaining how you would go about using View Storage Accelerator. In this article, I want to demonstrate the other very cool feature in View 5.1, VCAI (View Composer API for Array Integration) to you. Although this feature is still in Tech Preview for View 5.1, it is a very cool enhancements which could have very many benefits when it is eventually fully supported as a feature.

Another way of describing this feature is Native NFS Snapshots. Essentially, what the feature allows you to do is to offload the creation of the linked clones which back your View desktops to the storage array, and let the storage array handle this task. In order to do this, the NAS storage array on which the snapshots are being deployed must have the NAS Native Snapshot VAAI (vSphere API for Array Integration) feature, which was first introduced in vSphere 5.0. A special VIB/plugin (provided by the 3rd party storage array vendor) must also be installed on the ESXi host to allow us to use this offload mechanism.

The main advantage of VCAI is an improvement in performance and a reduction in the time taken to provision desktops based on linked clone pools. This task can now be offloaded to the array, which can then provision these linked clones natively rather than have the ESXi host do it. 

What follows is a short video (approx. 3 and a half minutes) of setting up View 5.1 VCAI feature, showing an installed VCAI VIB from NetApp on the ESXi host, and then how to use native NFS snapshots when creating desktop pools based on linked clones. Again, my thanks to Graham Daly of VMware KBTV fame for his considerable help with this.

Further detail about the View Composer for Array Integration (VCAI)  can be found on the EUC blog here.

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