So let's talk about the software and licensing requirements for VMware vCloud Director. Firstly, to get all of the new whiz-bang features, you will need to be running vSphere 4.0 with the Enterprise Plus SKU. To be more specific, you need to be running on Update 2 or later. vCD will work with other lower (and, for lack of a better word, cheaper) SKUs, but you will lose some of the advanced networking functionality.
I personally welcome the fact that vCloud Director is based on Linux.
Secondly, the back-end database of vCD is Oracle, and Oracle only. There is no support for Oracle Express (although it would probably work) or other database platforms such as Microsoft SQL. I find this quite an interesting departure from VMware, given that its other database-requiring technologies are usually supported across two or three vendors. The actual database itself is not huge. For example, a vCD implementation with 16,000 virtual machines (VMs), 11,000 users and 5,000 organizations would only consume around 450 MB of database table space.
Additionally, you would not expect the database to be so IOPS-dependent that it would have precluded the use of a database other than Oracle. This dependency was raised in the call by my fellow vExperts, and it does seem likely that VMware will extend database support beyond where it is now; vCD is a version 1.0 product, after all. I don't expect the Oracle requirement to be a total showstopper, because the organizations that would use vCD would very likely already be licensed for Oracle. Nonetheless, some flexibility now would have been preferred over flexibility delivered at an unspecified date. It could be seen as somewhat ironic that VMware Chargeback, which is part of the overall solution, supports Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and 2008 as well as Oracle, but the VMware vCloud Director does not.
The OS for vCD: Not Windows?
Finally, vCD is not distributed as a virtual appliance. The software installs to an operating system that vCD runs -- not Windows, but Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 U4 64-bit (or higher). I think it's somewhat disappointing that VMware didn't "eat its own dog food" by distributing vCD as a virtual appliance. I'm assuming it wanted to give customers the option of running the service on a physical platform as well as a virtual one. There are many customers doing this with vCenter already, due to a natural anxiety about running the management system on the platform it manages. What I do like is the fact that it is not based on Windows. And no, I'm not some Linux geek who bores people at cocktail parties by saying Bill Gates is the IT equivalent to Darth Vader.
I'm not some Linux geek who bores people at cocktail parties by saying Bill Gates is the IT equivalent to Darth Vader.
VMware is a bit strange sometimes in how it handles software development. It will proclaim that the future is about a just enough operating system (JeOS), downloadable virtual appliances and vApps models, only to develop software like vCenter and View on Windows. In fairness, some of these products have been around for some time, and it's not an instantaneous process for an ISV to change gears and develop on a totally different platform. I personally welcome the fact that vCD is based on Linux, as it offers an easy step for VMware to port it to a virtual appliance at a later stage.
Some people might be surprised to hear that that vCD is based on RHEL v5 U4 and not on Novell SUSE. You might know that VMware recently decided to standardize on Novell SUSE for all its virtual appliances, and an OEM deal was struck between the two companies. The operative word here is "recently." Sadly, the deal was struck at such a time that VMware could not use Novell SUSE for vCD. Merely from a standardization perspective, I would like to see that change at the next release of the product, but I think we will have to wait for the vCD 2.0 offering before that transpires.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mike Laverick is a professional instructor with 15 years of experience in technologies such as Novell, Windows and Citrix. He has also been involved with the VMware community since 2003. Laverick is a VMware forum moderator and member of the London VMware User Group Steering Committee. In addition to teaching, Laverick is the owner and author of the virtualization website and blog RTFM Education, where he publishes free guides and utilities aimed at VMware ESX/VirtualCenter users. In 2009, Laverick received the VMware vExpert award and helped found the Irish and Scottish user groups. Laverick has had books published on VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3, VMware vSphere4 and VMware Site Recovery Manager.