Meet VMware vCloud Director

  • Tutorial

Today we would like to talk about the basics of working with vCloud Director (vCD), a product that allows you to create public, private and hybrid clouds. It's no secret that many IT administrators do not fully understand the fundamental difference between their vSphere infrastructure and the cloud, and would like to know whether it is worth taking vCD into account at all.

VCD Facts

vCD provides an opportunity to simplify the business of providers of various cloud services, thereby reducing the technological barrier to its use on the client side. What is a cloud? According to the definition of NIST (version 15 dated 07/10/2009), the Cloud is a service model of providing convenient remote network access to a common pool of configurable computer resources (networks, servers, storages, applications, services) upon user demand, which can be quickly prepared and implemented with minimal management and interaction with the cloud service provider.

When should a company pay attention to cloud technology?

If the company does not have its own sufficiently competent IT personnel (or the presence of such personnel is not required based on business objectives), if the tariffs of cloud providers in the region are low enough, and the company does not process information protected by law that is restricted (specialized measures are often required to protect such information and funds that providers do not have), then such a company can completely recommend the use of cloud services.

Based on this definition, vSphere, as a virtualization environment, is not yet a cloud. The cloud in VMware's implementation is the vSphere + product suite from VMware, which adds this very service model in the interaction between the client and the service provider (see figure).

VMware vCloud Suite

vCD is an abstraction layer with a self-service portal and multi-tenant support. For example, tenants may be customers of a service provider or a development group in a software company. They are offered their own flexible and secure virtual infrastructures, work with which does not require acquaintance with vSphere technology.

If you have a vSphere infrastructure, this, as mentioned above, does not mean that you are working with the cloud. Of course, such a system can be called anything you like, but it does not meet the minimum requirements for self-service and isolation from other tenants of the cloud. However, with vCD, you can turn your vSphere infrastructure into a true cloud.

In vCD, new workloads consisting of many virtual machines and customized applications, as well as various network topologies, can be deployed in a few clicks. Tenant protection and isolation, resource management and control of their use - all this is implemented at the vCD level.

vCD is a new and developing product (the current version is 5.1, and this is only the second release), and although all the capabilities of vCD are available to any company, the main customers, so far, are service providers and large enterprises.

To deploy vCD, you need:

  • VSphere infrastructure with at least two ESXi hosts, a vCenter system, shared storage resources, and a paid vSphere Enterprise or Enterprise Plus license;
  • vCD is an installable Linux application that uses an Oracle or MSSQL database through a web interface (usually deployed as a virtual machine);
  • vShield Manager;
  • VMware Chargeback (optional);

VCD Lab Deployment

vCloud Director can be downloaded as a virtual device with a 60-day trial period to understand and test the new technology. Performing a complex installation using Linux commands or setting up a database (as for the full working version of this product) is not required. Remember that the virtual device is only supported as a test option in the laboratory. However, it is fully functional and ideal for familiarizing yourself with vCD.

In addition to the vCD virtual appliance, it is also recommended that you study the vCD Evaluator's Guide (in English), which describes the various features and functions of vCD. Do not forget about all the above requirements (two hosts ESXi, vCenter, vShield and paid license). Theoretically, a trial virtual version of vCD can be deployed in a virtual laboratory in a Fusion or Workstation environment, but in this case the performance may be lower than when working with a normal vSphere virtual laboratory.

Cloud backup with multiple tenants

Veeam recently announced enhanced support for vCloud Director, which will be available in the new version of Veeam Backup & Replication v7. What does it mean? This means that Veeam Backup, using the vCD API, can display the vCD infrastructure within itself, and the administrator can backup metadata and attributes of virtual services (vApp), as well as restore virtual services and virtual machines directly to vCD.

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