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VMware vCloud Director 5.5 will lack some long-awaited features

Beth Pariseau, Senior News Writer

VMware vCloud Director version 5.5 will launch next week at VMworld 2013 with new features, but some sought-after capabilities won't be included.  

High on the list of important features included in vCloud Director 5.5 will be integration with VMware Inc.'s NSX,

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a new network virtualization platform that integrates a previous product, vCloud Networking and Security (vCNS) with intellectual property acquired from  Nicira, Inc. a year ago.  VMware had stated in a blog post earlier this year that NSX would launch in the second half of 2013.

VMware will also roll out its software-defined storage products next week and at least two of them -- virtual storage area network (VSAN) and virtual volumes (vVols) -- will also be integrated with vCloud Director, according to sources.

"VVols are, on paper … a fantastic solution to a variety of scale problems and per-tenant kind of control issues," said an executive for a cloud service provider building services on vCloud Director 5.5 who requested anonymity.

VVols allow administrators to integrate virtual environments with the underlying storage, using the virtual disk rather than the logical unit number (LUN) as the basis for more granular, high-performance storage management than is available with traditional storage area networks (SANs).

Another new feature that has caught insiders' attention is a multi-tenant app catalog. Instead of having 20 different catalogs for 20 different things, a multi-tenant IT shop can use the feature to manage what different end users are able to see and download in terms of vApps, said a customer who was briefed on 5.5 and is currently installing it in a test lab.

"It makes it easier on the back end, from a management perspective," he said.

Multi-processor fault tolerance, SRM integration remain on the roadmap

VMware vCloud Director customers with knowledge of the product roadmap expressed frustration that the 5.5 software release will not include long-awaited features, such as multi-processor fault tolerance or integration with VMware's Site Recovery Manager (SRM) disaster recovery software.

Fault tolerance for multi-processor systems won't be in vSphere either, as a session on the topic is still labeled a "technology preview" in the VMworld 2013 catalog.

In VMware's defense, multi-processor fault tolerance is "a really hard problem to solve," said Edward Haletky, CEO of the Virtualization Practice LLC, who declined to comment on any aspect of VMware's roadmap.

The lack of SRM integration with vCloud Director was also a source of frustration for IT pros privy to the roadmap plans. Former VMware CTO Steve Herrod was also frustrated at the lack of integration prior to his departure from the company in January.

"We are sorely in need of a disaster recovery strategy and SRM was the centerpiece of that, but we're a huge vCloud shop," said the VMware customer, who has 3,000 virtual machines in his vCloud right now.

By the time VMware integrates SRM, it may be too late. This customer said VMware parent company EMC Corp. will bring in Avamar to back up vCloud Director, but that it will require on-site customization for Avamar to read vCloud's metadata.

Other customers are already looking past vCloud Director to vCloud Automation Center (vCAC), software that is based on IP VMware acquired with DynamicOps last year

"I don't have any tenants; I'm only one company," said a former vCloud Director beta tester who is holding out for vCAC instead, as vCloud Director and vCenter slowly merge together.

"Just give me a customizable front-end portal and a workflow engine," he said. "VCAC looks a lot better for that."

A VMware official declined to comment on this story.

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for SearchCloudComputing.com. Write to her at bpariseau@techtarget.com or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.


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