How To Guy

Get Started with VMware vCloud Director

The tech world is hot for cloud computing, and VMware says it's leading the charge. Its product that makes the public, private and hybrid cloud possible is vCloud Director (vCD). Despite the VMware surge, however, many VMware admins are still trying to figure out the difference between their existing vSphere infrastructures and a cloud. They're also struggling to determine if vCD is something they should be considering.

vCD Quick Facts
Just because you have a vSphere infrastructure doesn't mean you have a cloud. Sure, you can call it that if you want, but it doesn't meet the minimum requirements of self-service and multitenancy. What makes that vSphere infrastructure into a true cloud is vCD.

vCD is an abstraction layer that offers a self-service portal and support for multiple tenants. For example, those tenants might be customers of a services provider, or development groups at a software company. Tenants are provided their own flexible and secure virtual infrastructures without any underlying knowledge of vSphere. Through vCD, new workloads composed of multiple virtual machines (VMs) and their preconfigured applications -- along with multiple network topologies -- can be deployed with a few clicks of the mouse. Security between the tenants, resource controls and resource metering is all under the vCD umbrella.

vCD is still new -- it's at version 1.5, only the second release -- and is still maturing. While any company that wants the features offered by vCD could use it, services providers and large enterprises are still the primary customers.

To make vCD work, you need:

  • A vSphere infrastructure with a minimum of two ESXi hosts, plus vCenter, shared storage, and vSphere Enterprise or Enterprise Plus licensing
  • vCD, an installable Linux application that accesses an Oracle or SQL database with a Web front-end (typically deployed as a VM)
  • vShield Manager
  • VMware Chargeback is optional

Building a vCD Lab
I'm a hands-on guy, so when I want to learn something new, the first thing I do is try it out for myself. In my opinion, that's the best way to learn vCD. New with version 1.5, a virtual appliance version of vCD is available for download (with a free 60-day evaluation). No complex install, Linux commands or database configurations are required (as they are with the production version). Keep in mind that this virtual appliance is only supported as a proof of concept in lab environments. Still, it's fully functional and ideal for learning vCD. Along with the vCD virtual appliance, I also recommend checking out the vCD Evaluator's Guide, which walks you through the various features and functions of vCD. Again, keep in mind that you also need to meet all the previous requirements such as two ESXi hosts, vCenter, vShield and Enterprise Plus licenses. In theory, you could run a virtual vCD evaluation in a virtual lab, inside Fusion or Workstation, but performance might be even more of a problem than it would be with the typical vSphere virtual lab.

Now Is the Time to Start
Even though your company may not be using vCD today, or might not have any immediate plans, VMware has said that vCD is the fastest-growing new product that it has. You've seen what VMware ESX and vSphere have grown into. Why not get ahead of the curve and start learning vCD? That's my plan.

About the Author

David Davis is a well-known virtualization and cloud computing expert, author, speaker, and analyst. David’s library of popular video training courses can be found at Pluralsight.com. To contact David about his speaking schedule and his latest project, go to VirtualizationSoftware.com.

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