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I've red this article published by VMware and this blog post and neither actually explain what a template is. Why would one bother making and using a template, why not keep cloning a base image?

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That's basically what a template is, a base image that doesn't change much. Basically, marking a VM as a template just prevents it from booting up. Think of it as your "gold" image that you can deploy multiple copies from.

You can always convert back to a VM to make changes, but templates make management a little bit easier.

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Oh ok so the difference really is small, and in a sense is nontechnical because now everyone knows not to change it and wont get changed by accident? –  Celeritas Jul 19 '13 at 17:48
    
Basically. A clone makes an exact copy of a VM at the moment the clone occurs. A template is a point-in-time image that doesn't change. –  Jim G. Jul 19 '13 at 18:24

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