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VMware vCloud Director only part of the puzzle

Thought to be a conglomerate of all things good about cloud, VMware's vCloud Director turns out to require both Oracle and Red Hat systems, along with relying heavily on features from third-party vendors.

VMware's new vCloud Director is supposed to settle the cloud computing market's hash once and for all. VMware claims everyone, enterprises and service providers alike, will be able to partake in the joys of cloud: self-service computing power for users, elastic, pay-as-you-go consumption, highly automated, painless IT infrastructure management that does away with the drudgery of custom scripts and personal attention.

VMware vSphere, vCloud Director and vShield are the high-speed rail.

Shaun Connolly, VP of product management for VMware and SpringSource

But it turns out vCloud Director won't do all that. It's actually going to take a collection of disparate parts and third-party software vendors all working together to provide an IT shop with the full panoply of cloud features, and the requirements are both strict and strange.

First, to get the entire package, vCloud Director requires that users run a full-fledged Oracle database as the back end. Users are required to have VMware vSphere 4.0 Enterprise Plus with Update 2 or better. Additionally, vCloud Director is not virtualized; it's a native application that only runs on 64-bit Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5; development started before VMware inked its deal with Novell to make SUSE the standard Linux distribution for its product family.

It integrates with existing VMware management tools like VMware Chargeback and VMware Orchestrator. The user interface looks like Lab Manager and users get access to a catalog of virtual machine (VM) images and vApps, as well as the Virtual Appliance Marketplace. vCloud Director defines users' roles in three categories and provisions and manages vShield zones.

vCloud Director will automate the provisioning of VMs and networks, and let users and administrators manage virtual data centers (VDC) in multiple locations and on multiple services through a single management interface and the unified vCloud API. It does offer that level of ground-floor cloud functionality, but it's not a complete cloud solution.

ISVs provide vCloud Director's additional components
"vSphere, vCloud Director and vShield are the high-speed rail," said Shaun Connolly, VP of product management for VMware and SpringSource, which VMware acquired last year. Connolly said that VMware's strategy with vCloud was to offer automated provisioning and management first and let users select additional components; those would be the bullet trains, according to Connolly.

VMware is turning to its favorite partners, third-party independent software vendors (ISVs) to provide other missing pieces. Aria, Zenoss and HyTrust are examples of this. Aria's billing management system can be "embedded" in vCloud Director to connect with enterprise financial systems (VMware Chargeback doesn't do that).

Open source application monitoring technology firm Zenoss is offering its real-time monitoring abilities as an add-on for vCloud; Zenoss developers went to VMware headquarters to develop in concert with VMware. And HyTrust is launching an LDAP and Active Directory integration component. ISVs want to paint a rosy picture of this mix-and-match approach to getting a full-featured cloud.

"VMware is trying to speed up market adoption by creating an ecosystem of partners around vCloud that are certified to work well with the product ... this should smooth over any bumps around adoption and means users do not have to go through bake offs on each element of their cloud infrastructure," said Aria CEO Ed Sullivan.

VMware launches vFabric for private PaaS
VMware's Connolly said that VMware, for instance, was announcing vFabric, a version of its development platform that a large enterprise or VMware service provider could run to create its own internal Platform as a Service (PaaS) for Java developers.

Running a selected version of SpringSource tc servers, Gemstone's (also acquired by VMware, as was RabbitMQ) Gemfire "in-memory distributed data management platform" and RabbitMQ messaging servers on vCloud are now called vFabric, a development platform with a special emphasis on building cloud applications, said Connolly.

"VMware vFabric is the brand of cloud application development," he said, "basically a family of application runtime services that can run in vCloud."

VMware is trying to speed up market adoption by creating an ecosystem of partners around vCloud.

Ed Sullivan, CEO of Aria

Connolly echoed Aria's Ed Sullivan and said that vCloud customers would come from many directions, and VMware wanted to make the service as modular as possible. A virtual lab environment in an enterprise development shop might not need high-octane performance monitoring and billing but still want the vFabric tools. A service provider would definitely want performance and billing tools and might not care about development at all. VMware is pushing service providers hard to learn to love vCloud.

The vCloud Service Provider Program comes in three flavors: regular old VMware hosting; the existing, lightweight vCloud Express; and a new and improved model, vCloud Data Center. US telecom giant Verizon turned heads as a fully fledged new vCloud Data Center provider. Existing vCloud Express providers BlueLock and Terremark will also become vCloud providers, along with Colt and SingTel, giving vCloud a global footprint.

The other end of vCloud Director is a push by VMware to get customers to virtualize all their existing business applications and transition their IT delivery models to a fully service-oriented philosophy. VMware trotted out its email acquisition, Zimbra, as an example. The Zimbra Appliance is a pre-configured virtual appliance that can be easily run across any of the newer VMware products, in vSphere, on vCloud and in hosted "vClouds."

Carl Brooks is the Technology Writer at Contact him at

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