This content is part of the Essential Guide: Virtualization to cloud: Planning, executing a private cloud migration

Five VMware tools to kick start a private cloud build

If you're kicking the tires on a private cloud, you might want to read up on these five VMware tools.

The market is practically bursting with private cloud-related products and tools. The number of options is impressive, considering many didn't know the definition of private cloud a few years ago. If you're in the market for a private cloud (and who isn't these days?) you should familiarize yourself with these five VMware products.

VMware vSphere and ESXi. Just as every cloud has a silver lining, every private cloud has a hypervisor. In VMware's case, that hypervisor platform is vSphere and it runs atop its ESXi operating system.

ESXi and vSphere provide the virtualization foundation for IT workloads running on nearly all enterprise OSes. In addition to virtualization, vSphere provides all the necessary capabilities for managing storage and virtual networking resources, as well as the hardware-to-virtual layer integration needed for physical assets.

VMware vCenter Server. Though few companies do, it is entirely possible to operate the ESXi hypervisor OS without vCenter Server. VMware vCenter Server exists as the management umbrella for ESXi servers; it puts the "sphere" in vSphere, so to speak.

You can consider the VMware cluster as the primordial pool from which private cloud resources are distributed to users and associated VMs.

More importantly, its native management features enable multiple ESXi servers to cluster for recovery and load balancing. Those two capabilities constitute a large portion of what converts simple virtualization into private cloud. When you turn on VMware HA and DRS, VMs can failover to surviving hosts in the event of a failure; they also load balance across hosts to ensure resources are consumed optimally.

You can consider the VMware cluster as the primordial pool from which private cloud resources are distributed to users and associated VMs. In many ways, if you have a VMware cluster of ESXi hosts, and that cluster has VMware HA and DRS turned on, you have the beginnings of a private cloud.

VMware vShield. The entire notion of a private cloud centers on resources. How many resources does the cloud have? How many resources are being consumed? How many resources will the cloud need in the future? This "cloudiness" is what makes private cloud both confusing and powerful.

Some IT activities go against the innate “hands-off” mentality of private cloud. And security is one of them. Security is all about protecting, controlling and auditing configurations and behaviors, all of which can be a challenge if the security tools you use aren't specific to private cloud environments.

This is where private cloud-aware security tools like VMware vShield can help. vShield is essentially three products under one umbrella, each designed to handle a specific facet of private cloud security.

vShield App -- and vShield App with Data Security -- delivers a hypervisor-level firewall; vShield Edge acts as a virtual environment gateway; and vShield Endpoint delivers inside-the-VM endpoint security with full awareness of each VM's location within the cloud.

VMware vCloud Director. Not every private cloud can be completely homogeneous. Enterprises often comprise multiple IT groups, many of which reside in different geographic locations. Different budgets and varying business goals can affect IT consolidation. As a result, a single, unified private cloud won't work for every company.

Think of vCloud Director as a "meta" private cloud.

Additionally, public clouds exist in various locations and host IT workloads that don't make sense to run within the data center. There are several hosted vSphere environments in the public cloud that can be connected to an enterprise's private cloud using vCloud Director.

In these scenarios, companies should look to VMware vCloud Director. Think of vCloud Director as a "meta" private cloud. It offers a bridge between a public cloud provider and private clouds that each company owns and manages. With vCloud Director, enterprises can connect disparate cloud environments, giving IT departments the flexibility to distribute resources efficiently.

VMware vCenter Chargeback. Cost has always been a driving force behind IT activities. Yet quantifying our activities in terms of dollars and cents has been a notoriously difficult task. The private cloud model's resource homogenization can actually simplify this. Rather than thinking of services by the server, private cloud allows IT teams to think of services by the resource.

VMware vCenter Chargeback can create and populate those cost models. This cloud management tool improves cost modeling activities in private cloud. While it can be cost prohibitive for some companies, vCenter Chargeback can actually offer a solid return on investment for mature organizations.


Greg Shields, Microsoft MVP, is a partner at Concentrated Technology. Get more of Greg's Jack-of-all-trades tips and tricks at

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