multi-clone.py: Multi-threaded cloning of a template to multiple VMs

multi-clone.py: Multi-threaded cloning of a template to multiple VMs

In december, VMware released pyVmomi, a Python SDK for the vSphere API. In the past I have created a script to clone virtual machines using pySphere. This script has helped me (and others, if the mails I received were any indication), but i haven’t updated or improved it in a while.

So I decided this was a good moment to revisit the script and recreate it completely using pyVmomi. And not just recreate it, but improve a lot on it as well. The result is an all new multi-clone.py script which allows for the following list of capabilities:

  • Deploy a specified amount of virtual machines
  • Deploy in a specified folder
  • Deploy in a specified resource pool
  • Specify if the cloned virtual machines need to be powered on
  • Print out information of the main network interface (mac and ip, either IPv4 or IPv6)
  • Run a post-processing script with 3 parameters (virtual machine name, mac and ip)
  • Print logging to a log file or stdout
  • Do this in a threaded way

Threads

The previous version only allowed a sequential way of working, which meant the clone task had to complete, network information gathered and post-processing finished before the next deployment could start. Combined with pySphere, which could be rather slow in gathering information, made the old script slow and sluggish.

Using pyVmomi improved the speed of the script from the start, it’s a lot quicker in gathering information and executing commands. By adding the possibility to use threads, the speed is improved even more, altho this will depend on the IOPS of your datastore.

If the you specify the amount of threads, both the creation of the virtual machines and gathering the mac and ip information are threaded separately. To explain how this works, an example works best:

Imagine you want to create 4 virtual machines from a template and you specify the amount of threads to 2. At start, two clone tasks will start at about the same time. When a clone task is done, another is started. While this third clone task is started in a new thread (to replace the thread that finished), a first information gathering (mac,ip) and post-processing thread is started for the clone task that has finished. This all runs at the same time, so at this point two clone tasks are running, each in a thread, and one information gathering and post-processing thread is running. Once the second clone task is finished, two clone tasks threads are running and two information gathering and post-processing threads are running. If the two information gathering and post-processing threads aren’t finished when the two final clone tasks finish, two new information gathering and post-processing threads are put in the queue, but not started as only two threads can be running in that pool.

Deciding how many threads is the best for your case, will require a bit of experimenting and greatly depends on the IOPS of your datastore. The clone tasks takes the most time because it needs to copy the virtual disks to the newly created virtual machine.

Remember that vCenter, by default, will place any clone tasks in queue if more than 8 are started. So setting the amount of threads above 8 won’t really help, altho you are always able to do so.

Usage

Here is the output of the -h option, which provides an overview of the possible arguments and what they do:

Issues and feature requests

Feel free to use the Github issue tracker of the repository to post issues and feature requests.

Documentation

You can find all the documentation on GitHub.

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