Getting Started with VMware vCloud Director (Part 1)

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Cloud computing is “all the rage”, made popular by TV commercials that try to sell “the cloud” to the masses without them really understanding what it is. I broadly define “cloud computing” as a hosted service that someone else does for you as there are so many forms of cloud computing. vSphere and vCloud Director are designed to provide “IaaS” or Infrastructure as a Service so that is the form of cloud computing that we are talking about when we talk vCloud Director.

VMware Defines Cloud

Many VMware Admins may think that if they have a virtual infrastructure, they already have a “cloud”. That’s not actually true. That virtual infrastructure is required and is the foundation for your cloud but that isn’t a cloud.

According to NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), the key components of a cloud are on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service. VMware, in turn, has defined cloud as elastic, lightweight entry and exit, available over Internet protocols, and running on a shared infrastructure.

An IaaS cloud requires the following:

  • Built on a pooled virtual infrastructure
  • The cloud should provide self-service
  • Mobility between clouds
  • The consumer pays for what they use based on detailed usage reports (or they agree to a reserved amount of resources over a given period of time)
  • The cloud should be a secure and trusted location for computing
  • The consumer should have the ability to protect their cloud workloads from data loss
  • The consumer shouldn’t have to maintain or request maintenance of any of the shared infrastructure.
  • Should be elastic (offer virtually unlimited capacity), highly available, secure, and meet SLAs.

IaaS clouds can be:

  • Public – you pay a service provider to use them
  • Private – you turn your virtual infrastructure into your own cloud, that you run
  • Hybrid – you pay to use some of the public cloud AND it works with your private cloud, as if it was one cloud (typically communicating through a secure VPN tunnel)

Figure 1: Graphic Thanks to

No matter which of the three options you might choose, vCloud Director is the abstraction layer on top of your vSphere infrastructure that makes that cloud possible. vCloud Director would be used in all three scenarios, both by the public cloud service provider and by the cloud admin at a private enterprise.

What is vCloud Director?

vCloud Director is VMware’s abstraction layer that creates Infrastructure as a service clouds. More specifically, vCloud Director is software that communicates with your existing vCenter server and is used by you and by your end users. vCD can be installed inside a Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) server and store its data in a SQL or Oracle database. Alternatively, vCD can be downloaded and deployed as a virtual appliance for proof of concepts.

Once deployed, you would use vCD, as an admin, to create virtual datacenters, organizations, users, roles, organization networks, templates, and catalogs. End users would use it to deploy vApps from templates, found in the catalog.

Keep in mind that vCloud Director is not free or included with vSphere. To use it, you must have vSphere enterprise (but enterprise plus is recommended), vCenter, and purchase vCloud Director. vCD starts at $3750 USD for 25 managed VMs. Additionally, VMware vShield is required and Chargeback is recommended.

Who Should Use vCloud Director?

Make sure that you know this… vCloud Director isn’t for everyone. Creating a private cloud can be complex and costly. You should consider vCD if you have already virtualized with vSphere and have a solid understanding of your virtual infrastructure. Most enterprises implementing vCD have multiple “tenants” and/or want to create a more agile IT infrastructure. Those “tenants” could be hosting customers, divisions of your company, or another logical group of users that need access to use self-service provisioning of their own infrastructure resources.

However, don’t rule out learning about vCD just because your company doesn’t have an immediate need. If you have vSphere experience (and maybe a vSphere lab), installing the vCloud Director virtual appliance under the 60 day evaluation isn’t hard. I recommend learning about vCD and cloud computing NOW, while the technology is new, as it is the perfect time to get some ground-floor experience. Plus, when your company is ready, you’ll already have experience and you can intelligently educate them on what it is and how it can help. In other words, make sure that you are “ahead of the curve”.

How Should I Test vCloud Director?

Without doubt, the best way to learn something is to try it. vCloud Director is no different. Fortunately, VMware has made testing and learning about vCD simple and free (for 60 days). You can download the 60 day evaluation of vSphere, vCenter, vShield, and vCloud Director and install it in your own lab to see how it can help you.

Here’s how I did it…

Installing the vCloud Director Virtual Appliance

The vCD virtual appliance should be used only in lab environments and proof of concepts (POC). It’s database isn’t production-ready.

After downloading the vCD appliance OVF file from the eval site, I went into my vSphere client and used Deploy OVF Template.

Figure 2

As you can see, this was version of the appliance.

Figure 3

The most critical piece of the deployment is the IP network configuration. There are two IP addresses that need to be configured on a vCD server. One interface is to support an SSL connection for the HTTP service and another is for the console proxy service.

Figure 4

Other than the networks that needed to be configured, I took the defaults on the rest of the appliance deployment. Once it was installed, the virtual appliance looked like this:

Figure 5

Basic Administration with vCloud Director

With vCD installed, how do you manage it? Point your web browser to https://x.x.x.x (the IP address of the vCD virtual appliance, or domain name if you created a DNS entry for it).

When you do that, you will see the vCD Setup Wizard. This will guide you through the setup of vCD and you’ll configure licensing, set the administrator account password, and other system settings.

Macintosh 2012:Getting Started with VMware vCloud Director-6.png
Figure 6

Once you complete the setup wizard, you’ll be given a login window, to login to vCD. This is the same login window that you will use to administer vCD and your end users will use to deploy their own applications in their cloud.

Login here with the administrator account using the password that you just configured in the password window.

Macintosh 2012:Getting Started with VMware vCloud Director-7.png
Figure 7

Once logged in, you’ll be given another quick start wizard that has 8 tasks.

Macintosh 2012:Getting Started with VMware vCloud Director-7.png
Figure 8

These 8 tasks must be completed to build your private cloud. The tasks are:

Provisioning your cloud resources…

  1. Attach a vCenter
  2. Create a Provider vCD
  3. Create an external network
  4. Create a network pool

Allocate resources to an organization…

  1. Create a new organization
  2. Allocate resources to an organization
  3. Add a network to an organization
  4. Add a catalog to an organization

I’m sure that many of these tasks are all new and may seem cryptic to you. I will be posting follow up articles on vCloud Director that cover these types of tasks. Until I do, you can find out how to do all of these things in the vCloud Director documentation.

I hope you enjoy getting started with vCloud Director. Remember, you can download the 60-day evaluation of vCloud Director (free) at this link. vCD is one of the most exciting virtual infrastructure products you will find today. Stay tuned to for more articles on using and understanding vCloud Director.

If you would like to be notified of when David Davis releases the next part in this article series please sign up to our Real Time Article Update newsletter.

1 thought on “Getting Started with VMware vCloud Director (Part 1)”

  1. I am absolutely new to vCloud director. Someone set it up and I wanted to use it to evaluate a Linux application. I got nowhere, absolutely nowhere. You may want to provide a step by step guide on how to use the Director up to getting a console. Thank you, a very frustrated novice.

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