The vendor lifted the lid on the product, codenamed "Project Redwood," at VMworld in San Francisco last month. Now officially known as vCloud Director, the software is designed to pool virtual infrastructure resources within an existing data centre and deliver them to users in the form of a catalogue-based service. When united with the VMware vSphere platform, VMware claims customers can build secure multi-tenant private clouds.
vCloud Director has been highlighted by many as ideal for hosting providers, as it exposes resources to users through a Web-based portal. Daniel Lowe, managing director at service provider UKSolutions, said the vCloud Director is a step in the right direction for VMware. He did, however, admit that the initial reception from the industry could be described as chilly.
Lowe said UKSolutions will investigate vCloud Director a little further down the line because, as with most technology, teething problems occur immediately after a new product has been released.
"It often takes time for bugs to be ironed out -- take the new iPhone as an example. In light of this, we'd rather bug-testing and fault-finding was conducted before we roll out a product that could potentially have such a massive impact to our customers," Lowe said.
According to Lowe, any move that VMware makes to improve user-level security, whilst still maintaining a back-end management and administration layer, is definitely good news. He added that it will be interesting to see how well vCloud Director integrates with products that are already on the market such as the DoubleTake VRA.
Flexibility is key
One of the pros that VMware has been quick to flag is the product's flexibility. Lowe explained that flexibility is generally a good thing, but when it comes to an enterprise class product that has the potential to manage thousands of servers, then UKSolutions would like to see some rigidity and enforcement of best practices too.
"This granted, it is a fine line to tread with flexibility so only time will tell how VMware fares," he said.
On the other hand, Matt McPhail, systems engineer at Scale Computing, believes that flexibility is a key driver for innovation and that scalable storage is critical to this. "vCloud Director and using the cloud promotes flexibility in IT environments," he said. "The hardware, especially the storage, needs to also promote that same flexibility."
We'd rather bug-testing and fault-finding was conducted before we roll out a product that could potentially have such a massive impact to our customers.
Daniel Lowe, managing director at UKSolutions,
But he added that there may be challenges in understanding the paradigm shift and fundamentals of moving to the cloud using vCloud Director.
"While it still employs traditional infrastructure components, these components, such as storage, need to mature to match the convenience and unification that moving to a cloud infrastructure provides. The approach needs to be as flexible as the result," McPhail said.
Jeremy Wallis, UK systems engineering director at storage vendor NetApp, said indirectly that vCloud Director will be good news for customers, typically SMEs, who are looking to move services out of their data centres and into the cloud as this announcement is focused on cloud providers. It will allow them to build IT as a Service whilst lowering the cost of operation, so the provider can reduce the cost to the customer.
Integrated in vCloud Director are VMware vShield Edge technologies, which include perimeter protection, port-level firewalling, network address translation and DHCP services. VMware vCenter Chargeback allows businesses to gain better visibility into the costs of provisioned virtual machines (VMs).
Wallis said: "Businesses will be able to access the cloud through a self-service portal that allows them to self-provision and manage their VMs, vApps, templates and media files. VMware vShield, vCenter Chargeback and vCenter Orchestrator (vCO) are the key components of this solution that enable security, chargeback, automation and orchestration."
Wallis explained that compute and storage resources can be provisioned and managed seamlessly. Cloud administrators don't need to understand the storage array attributes in order to provide the same level of control for virtual hard drive I/O.
"It allows service-level storage provisioning and management, allowing the cloud administrators to select from a list of 'storage service offerings' (e.g. gold, silver, bronze) that encapsulates the different provisioning options and settings," he added.
Kayleigh Bateman is the Site Editor for SearchVirtualDataCentre.co.uk.