Copy of Thin Provisioned VMs with Snapshots


After many tests and a lot of reading of articles and forums I was not able to find a solution to my problem.

I have an iSCSI LUN formatted with VMFS 5.58 (ESXi 5.1) with 20 VMs. Each VM has several snapshots and is thin provisioned. The total storage needed for all 20 VMs is 200GB.

I need to copy all the VMs to several ESXi servers for training purpose. The main reason for the usage of snapshots is TRAINING. In other words I need to replicate several times the complete ESXi server with all the VMs in such a way that I can provide each student with an independent ESXi server.

When I begin to copy the VMs with vifs or cp from the iSCSI LUN to the local datastore all thin provisioned disk become thick and the storage needed consequently increases from 200GB to 850GB. I tried to use vmkfstool to shrink the vmdks but withoout success.

If i use the "Migrate To" option of vSphere it works perfectly, but again I don't need to move the VMs with Snapshots, but I need to create copies of them for training purposes.

Any suggestions?


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