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Using vCloud Director 1.5 in the real world: Ask the expert

Although many organizations have been slow to adopt vCloud Director 1.5, one expert predicts a coming increase and offers advice for administrators who are looking to get started.

VMware’s vCloud Director 1.5 is still a relatively new product and so far, deployment rates have remained low. However, new updates, which include support for Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and 2008 databases, may spur adoption. But, first, organizations need to learn how vCloud Director 1.5 works and how it can help them provide IT resources on demand.

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In this Q&A, we talk with Jake Robinson, a systems engineer at Indianapolis, Ind. based data center provider Bluelock LLC., about considerations for deploying and using vCloud Director 1.5. Robinson is also a guest instructor in TrainSignal’s new vCloud Director Essentials training video.

How do you use vCloud Director 1.5 in the real world?

Robinson: One particular use case is the concept of the organization catalog. A user can select from prebuilt applications that an administrator makes available through the catalog. From a public cloud provider standpoint, we are seeing IT departments use vCloud Director for emerging and declining applications. Emerging applications come to the cloud so IT doesn’t have to guess at the infrastructure they need. Declining applications come to the cloud to free up infrastructure and manpower needed to maintain older equipment that is scheduled for decommission or reuse by another workload.

What steps do organizations need to take before deploy vCloud Director 1.5?

Robinson: Organizations planning to deploy vCloud Director 1.5 should start with VMware’s vCloud Architecture Toolkit. It’s full of helpful information such as service definitions, architecture guides and deployment examples. The toolkit maps out the specific use-cases for vCloud Director 1.5 in private, public and hybrid models. VMware and TrainSignal are also providing good computer-based training resources for the technical side.

What type of networking and security factors should an organization consider before rolling out vCloud Director 1.5?

Robinson: VCloud Director 1.5 layers on some pretty impressive features in regards to networking and security. VMware's vShield Edge integrates well with vCloud Director, providing a fresh way of thinking about how we secure our perimeter.

Network and security professionals need to consider the shift of moving from a single mega-firewall policy to a more distributed model. The benefit is both agility and flexibility. On the networking side, vCloud Director 1.5 helps network scalability with vCloud Director Network Isolation (VCDNI). The more flexible Virtual Extensible LAN was introduced at VMworld last year and will most likely replace VCDNI.

Are there any common problems or challenges users encounter when using vCloud Director 1.5?

Robinson: VSphere administrators using vCloud Director 1.5 are used to dealing with port groups, data stores and resource pools. VCloud Director abstracts those, providing networks and virtual data centers. It’s a bit of a learning curve for at IT admin like myself, but it’s not a challenge that can’t be overcome with education. The end benefit to the abstraction of these resources is to focus on the fundamental resource itself, not all the complicated technology underneath.

How do other VMware products integrate with vCloud Director 1.5?

Robinson: The vCloud API opens a whole world of capabilities. There are many tools and companies that already take advantage of the vCloud API. VMware provides some cool automation tools such as vCenter Orchestrator and PowerCLI. Companies such as enStratus and ScaleXtreme utilize the vCloud API to layer on additional capabilities to vCloud Director 1.5. Bluelock Portfolio uses the vCloud API with VMware vCenter Chargeback to show customers where their money is spent so they can more tightly manage resources and costs. Increasingly, service providers will build additional capabilities using the vCloud API, and end users will use the API to automate their hybrid cloud environments.

What’s slowing the adoption of vCloud Director 1.5?

Robinson: The speed of adoption depends on and begins with education. Service providers and large corporations have been quick to adopt vCloud Director because it solves their need for agility and delivery. VCloud Director helps IT departments within large organizations become more service-oriented and responsive to requests, but small to medium-sized businesses are still figuring out what vCloud Director means to them.

I believe most are seeing it merely as a multi-tenancy layer and have not yet discovered the power of the abstraction, chargeback and automation capabilities. Some will end up deploying vCloud Director internally or they will utilize a vCloud provider to complement their infrastructure, but we believe most will use a combination of the two. The adoption rate will increase even faster as more education becomes available to the end users through companies like TrainSignal.

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