Entering and exiting maintenance mode for an ESXi host that has Horizon instant clones

Some of you by now will have had chance to try out the new instant clones functionality in Horizon 7. It’s a great step forward in terms of the ‘just in time’ desktop and it’s ability to eliminate maintenance windows and speed up provisioning make it a great tool going forwards.

However, a question i am commonly asked is how to handle placing hosts into maintenance mode. As the instant clone process utilises local running machines to clone from, these machines cannot be vmotioned and if you try to shut them down, you’ll get issues with all the desktops on the host.

I’ve seen people try to get around this in different ways including disabling pool provisioning and manually deleting all the objects, but there is a much easier way. Disabling provisioning after all is a bit extreme if you have many hosts and just want to place one in maintenance mode.

Here are two ways you can achieve this:

Method 1. From vSphere Client

  1. Select the host that you want to put in maintenance mode. If you are using the vSphere web client, make sure that the plug-in to edit Annotations is installed.
  2. Look up Annotations in the host’s Summary tab and set InstantClone.Maintenance to 1.
  3. Wait up to 3 minutes and the parent VMs on this host will be deleted. Also, the value for InstantClone.Maintenance will change to 2.
  4. Put the host in maintenance mode. This host will no longer be used for provisioning.
  5. Perform maintenance.
  6. Take the host out of maintenance mode.
  7. Clear the InstantClone.Maintenance annotation value.
  8. As new provisioning happens, parent VMs and then instant clones will be created on this host.

Method 2. From Connection Server

  1. From the Connection Server, run IcMaint.cmd to delete the parent VMs and put the host in maintenance mode. See http://pubs.vmware.com/horizon-7-view/index.jsp#com.vmware.horizon-view.desktops.doc/GUID-6025D684-2E05-4857-9C24-18F16DDC38FD.html. The syntax is: IcMaint.cmd -vc <VC host name or IP> -uid <user ID> -password <user password> -hostName <ESXi host name> -maintenance ON
  2. Wait up to 3 minutes and the parent VMs on this host will be deleted.
  3. Perform maintenance.
  4. Run IcMaint.cmd again to take the host out of maintenance mode. The syntax is: IcMaint.cmd -vc <VC host name or IP> -uid <user ID> -password <user password> -hostName <ESXi host name> -maintenance OFF
  5. As new provisioning happens, parent VMs and then instant clones will be created on this host.
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