Can VMware vCloud Director 1.5 break cloud adoption barriers?

VMware vCloud Director has evolved, but wariness around cloud adoption is keeping customers from diving into VMware’s IaaS offering.

VMware vCloud Director’s features have evolved in the new version 1.5, but the product may not gain traction until more customers seriously consider cloud adoption.

The initial reaction to VMware vCloud Director was somewhat muted, and some IT pros pointed to its Oracle-only database requirement as a barrier to large-scale adoption. Today, the level of its success can be measured by some new features in vCloud Director 1.5 and IT’s willingness to tackle cloud adoption.

What is VMware vCloud Director?
VMware vCloud Director provides Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud deployment and management through its vSphere virtualization platform. Cloud users interact with an organizational virtual data center, from which CPU, memory, disk and network resources are presented in the form of provider virtual data centers. End users only really see the plumbing: the hosts, clusters, resource pools and virtual machines (VMs) that make up the virtual infrastructure. They may be totally unaware that the physical infrastructure is being shared by numerous departments or organizations.

In the corporate space, VMware vCloud Director is seeing success in creating private clouds that offer up resources for developers. VMware has created demand for this use case through its decision to discontinue Lab Manager, a virtualization testing and development offering. The company offered existing Lab Manager customers discounted licensing to encourage administrators to move to vCloud Director. The problem was that users saw too many major differences between Lab Manager and VMware vCloud Director, and many didn’t understand the use cases for vCloud.

In July, however, VMware announced significant new features in VMware vCloud Director 1.5. Some of these technical changes might help spur interest from VMware’s enterprise customers.

New features in vCloud Director 1.5
In vCloud Director 1.5, VMware has added the popular Linked Clones feature from Lab Manager. Linked Clones allows admins to have one parent VM that can spawn many more similar VMs. This feature saves disk space, reduces the time it takes to deploy VMs and allows multiple developers to check out identical copies of a bundle of VMs. VMware is not recommending Linked Clones for production VMs, however, because it might not meet the disk I/O performance needs of these workloads. Still, Linked Clones will help close the feature gap between Lab Manager and VMware vCloud Director 1.5.

VCloud Director 1.5 also supports Microsoft SQL Server as a back-end database, as well as the Cisco Nexus 1000V virtual switch. Plus, it lets users configure VPN connections from their organizational virtual data center and move logging data via an API to third-party external configuration management database systems.

Slow cloud adoption: It’s people, not products
Despite the new features in vCloud Director 1.5, when it comes down to it, it’s a cultural barrier -- not a technical one -- that will determine the product’s success. Many IT pros are still not sold on cloud security, and it takes a lot of convincing to get some admins to move their organizations toward the cloud.  

Corporate IT remains driven by separate groups -- storage, network and server teams -- that have become silos of political influence and vested interests. If this issue isn’t addressed soon, we might end up limiting cloud adoption to low-hanging fruit, and that would just be another layer of virtualization with an underlying foundation still based on the old physical model.

Before you ask how mature VMware vCloud Director 1.5 is, ask yourself whether your organization is mature enough to pursue cloud adoption.

 

This was first published in October 2011

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