VMware's vCloudDirector has me confused

VMware's vCloudDirector has me confused

Summary: After working with VMware's vCloudDirector for a while, I'm still confused.


I've been a tech guy long enough to know that not everything works right out of the box without some tweaking, some imagination, and some major ignoring of marketing materials. VMware's vCloudDirector leaves me more than a little confused. I'm confused by what I'm supposed to do first, second, third, and so on with the product. I know, in theory, at least, what it's supposed to do, and I can almost make it work with the help some of VMware's online video training and some trial and error. But frankly, I've seen easier interfaces.

Don't get me wrong here, I like VMware's virtualization products. I should, since I've been using them for many years, but not every concept is a home run. And I'd have to say that vCloudDirector is perhaps a single base hit at best.

Underneath vCloudDirector (vCD), it's VMware's standard server virtualization product. The vCD add-on is supposed to make it easy (I assume) to create and deploy cloud resources that they refer to as vApps, which are composed of virtual machines that you create in vCD.

You don't really need vCD for this. You can create virtual machines using the vSphere Client, and simply put them into their own virtual datacenter or resource pool without any extra software or hassle.

My point is that I don't really see a reason to have vCD. It seems like an added layer of complexity to a very simple system. Maybe creating a vApp is a good idea, but I'm still not sure what it means when you're really creating virtual machines in that vApp. A vApp is an organizational object, and has no other practical functionality. It seems like we're kind of renaming our resources into something else for no reason other than for it to sound more "cloudlike".

I need functionality, not fancy nomenclature or another interface.

If I sound confused, it's because I am.

I just don't get it.

A new interface doesn't really make something "cloud".

What makes something "cloud" is self-service, rapid deployment, elastic usage, and easy to use. I'd like to emphasize the easy part of that.

To be fair, vCD is not as difficult as trying to use Amazon's cloud deployment, but it's far less easy than it should be. Plus, there's no real advantage to using vCD that I can see.

I don't see any real difference in using vCD than simply creating datacenters, resource pools, and deploying virtual machines in the "old-fashioned" way via vSphere Client. Maybe it's just me, but do you see any real advantage to that interface, or does it just serve to confuse you too?

There might be some small advantage to running vCD, but I haven't really found it, and the trade-off of difficulty of its use just isn't worth it in my opinion. To me, VMware's efforts should be more focused on making the vSphere Client more "cloud friendly", rather than adding this new, pointless, and more complex layer to the mix.

I find that using vCD doesn't alleviate my need to continue using the vSphere Client. I have to keep them both open and switch back and forth between the two. One interface/product is all I really need to deal with.

My two cents is that VMware should continue to improve the vSphere Client and possibly have a "Cloud View" that you select from the different inventory options that are available. Select from Hosts and Clusters, VMs and Templates, Datastores, Networking, and Cloud. The Cloud View would show you your vApps (resource pools) and virtual machines within each.

VMware's flagship product, the ESXi family, is outstanding, but adding another interface that complicates and frustrates your users is a very bad idea.

What do you think of VMware's vCloudDirector product? Are you experiencing the same frustrations that I am with it? Talk back and let me know.

Topics: Virtualization, VMware


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • Time to change vendors my friend...

    Come over to Hyper-V. As a high powered CIO with more power than Zeus, I have gone Hyper-V since v1.0 and the sky is the limit. When VMware tried to sell our CFO on their stack, I pulled the fire alarm and forced an evacuation of the building. My rep congratulated me on such strategic thinking and took me to Yarrow's.
    Mike Cox
    • Why didn't you tell the rest of the story?

      You know, that part about how your rep took you Yarrow's to meet your new boss, and get you going in your new janitor position, because within minutes of pulling the alarm, the water-logged data center died, and the NYSE auto trader algorithms devalued your company by 6000% in 0.2 seconds after picking up the twitter messages from your disconnected customers, putting your company out of business.
      • Data centers do not use water.

        • High powered CIOs

          Don't pull alarms to evacuate buildings, and nobody switches from VMWare to HyperV, either.
          • don't be a VMware sockpuppet anothercanuck

            with only a bit of google-ing you will see that Hyper-V (Windows Server 2012) is the business
          • I tend to agree with the first one

            I am 100% sure the second one isn't true. There are quite some people that are or have switched from vmware to Hyper-v.
    • It's been a long time since i've logged into ZDNet

      It's been a long time since i've logged into ZDNet's sesspool of a comment system.

      I just wanted to congratulate Mike Cox on at least 10+ years of successful trolling, you're the king man.
  • vCD and vCAC

    vCloud Director provides service provider grade abstractions for creating public and private clouds. It isn't for everyone, but vCD works very well for those seeking true multi-tenancy, resource delegation, and application virtualization. Here are the big hitters:

    Content Catalog - provides a shared (or isolated) storage space for commonly used templates. These can be as simple as a Linux server or as complicated as a 3-tier application complete with virtual networking and security policy.

    Virtual Data Center - this is a two part system that enables you to aggregate and then delegate resources. The provider VDC brings together resources from compute, storage and networking and aggregates them into a common object that can be delegated out to tenants organization VDCs. The organization VCD allocates classes of resources to one or more tenants. For example, I might have one tenant that has purchased inexpensive resources (bronze compute, bronze storage, bronze network) and another tenant that has purchased high performance resources (gold compute, platinum storage, gold network).

    vApp - when you dig a little deeper into the vApp you will find some very good stuff in there. The vApp in vCD is much more powerful than the one in vCenter as it allows you to define compute, network and storage policy for an application. With the vApp you can create a full blown 3-tier application with multiple VMs, firewall configuration, load balancing, and even VXLAN virtual wires.

    For self-service provisioning you should check out VMware vCloud Automation Center (formerly DynamicOps). That product does a bang up job in provisioning, governance and lifecycle management for virtual machines.
  • only for cloud supplier

    Sorry for bad english.
    if you are an IT manager, yes maybe vdc is not usefull... but as a public cloud supplier, you have to use it, for provisionning and billing. Not only for compute ressources, but also for networking and security (oh yes it's the new word for vshield edge and vshield manager).
    Besides, please don't be hyper-v or vmware fanboys. You have to learn what's the difference and to experience it.
    OK hyper-v is less expensive and works well with microsoft products but with linux or unix, it's not the same. You have to compile a lot of tools on your own and as you know, time is money ! So forget hyper-v.
    Well, hyper-v is also supposed to share in a better way the hpv memory with the guest os (if windows of course), but i experienced the contrary ! Maybe because it was hyper-v 2012 and server 2012 ? Not yet stable ?
    I know a lot of people using vmware for years, that tried hyper-v, but remain vmware ! Nobody switch to hyper-v (in my opinion), save for financial reasons.
    The only microsoft product that blew me up in virtualized infra is System Center. This is a great product ! But it's not the point...