VMware is preparing a cloud computing plug-in for vSphere that connects private and public clouds, known as hybrid cloud computing, but IT administrators are left scratching their heads over the product's actual value.
VMware vCloud Connector will let vSphere administrators view virtual machines (VMs) in private and public clouds and move them between those different environments, according to a cached product page on VMware's website.
As VMware partners converge on Orlando for the company's Partner Exchange 2011, the product is expected to be made available as a free download and will use the vCloud API to connect vShield Clients to each other and to vCloud Director.
VMware's vCloud Director, announced at VMworld 2010, is a complex product with hefty requirements, including an Oracle database on the back end. VCloud Connector is a simpler offering designed with existing server virtualization managers in mind. Still, users have questions.
VCloud Connector use cases and value
The ability to move workloads between private and public clouds has limited everyday value, said Mandar Ghosalkar, applications infrastructure manager at Byer California, a San Francisco clothing company.
"Once I move it to a public cloud, I'm trying to imagine what would be the scenario where I would need to bring it back," he said. "It would be either that I'm not happy with the service provider, or I want to decommission an application, or I want to bring those resources in house for a change in SLA. It would be something major."
In organizations that do use vCloud Connector, it will be important to implement policies and controls regarding VM portability, Ghosalkar added.
"How are they going to move services … from a private cloud to a public cloud?" he said. "Who's going to do that? What decision-making processes will take place before that?"
The limited features of vCloud Connector could also put a damper on some of cloud computing's benefits.
"If you're going to the cloud, I don't want to take a full operating system in a VM and put it there," said Stuart Miniman, principal research contributor at analyst firm Wikibon. "I question if I'm really getting the transformational increases in efficiency that make cloud worthwhile."
The benefits of vCloud Connector
Systems administrator C.J. Metz said his company, a Fortune 300 company, is focusing on building a private cloud first, before moving to a hybrid cloud model.
"That's where I think a tool like (vCloud Connector) might be beneficial to us," he said. "Everybody wants central management. That's huge."
For organizations that are ready for hybrid cloud computing now, vCloud Connector could be an attractive alternative to vCloud Director, Metz added.
"I can see where (the vCloud Director requirements) would be kind of a roadblock for a lot of smaller organizations, or even medium to large-sized organizations who aren't running Oracle today," he said. "Oracle's expensive, and the overhead for Oracle is expensive as well."
Colin Steele is the Senior Site Editor of SearchServerVirtualization.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.