VMware's vCloudDirector has me confused

After working with VMware's vCloudDirector for a while, I'm still confused.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor on

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.

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