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What is VMware vCloud Director?

VMware vCloud Director is a management tool for private and hybrid cloud architectures. This vCloud Director guide explains how the cloud computing management tool works.

Overview  | Reactions to vCloud Director | Management with vCloud Director


VCloud Director (vCD) is VMware Inc.'s cloud computing management tool. It manages Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) architectures by monitoring and controlling various cloud-computing components, such as security, virtual machine (VM) provisioning, billing and self-service access. It focuses on private and hybrid cloud-computing infrastructures.

Largely an indication of the cloud offering's immaturity, VMware revealed details on vCloud Director only in waves over the course of more than a year. VMware initially developed vCloud Director under the code-name Project Redwood and, at VMworld 2009, informally discussed the cloud project. In May 2010, when VMware accidentally posted information on the cloud computing product on its website, additional details emerged. VMware officially announced the cloud computing management product -- and its name -- at its annual conference, VMworld 2010.

VCloud Director doesn't provide a standalone cloud infrastructure. Rather, a vCD setup requires additional tools, such as an Oracle database and 64-bit Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5. And for advanced vCloud Director features, users must turn to several products and vendors:

  • VShield Edge for security
  • HyTrust Inc.'s Cloud Control for authentication federation
  • Zenoss Inc. for advanced monitoring and reporting
  • Aria System's Inc, which supplies billing management software.

These components interact with vCloud Director through vCloud application programming interfaces (APIs). But vCD's complex and restrictive requirements for a fully functioning cloud operation have led to criticism.

This vCloud Director guide recaps users' reactions and opinions and addresses the technical aspects of this cloud computing management tool.


VMware's vCloud Director is a relatively new product in the nascent cloud market. As such, questions linger about its effectiveness and overall utility for IT departments. VMware hopes vCloud Director will lead to widespread cloud adoption, and some analysts and users agree. But others claim that vCloud Director is plagued with shortcomings, and it's not a viable IT option yet.

Enterprise IT responds cautiously to VMware vCloud Director
There were mixed feelings surrounding the vCloud Director announcement at VMworld 2010. Industry observers were eager to see a VMware product to match its cloud rhetoric. But users were quick to note vCD's flaws.

VMware vCloud Director only part of the puzzle
VMware says that vCloud Director is central to enable cloud computing. Looking at the details, however, vCD requires several additional parts. VCloud Director automates VM provisioning and allows administrators to manage virtual data centers from multiple locations, but it's not an all-encompassing cloud computing management product.

VCloud Director partners strut their stuff
A vCloud Director deployment requires third-party products. VMware partnerships ensure that users can secure their infrastructures, monitor performance and calculate chargeback formulas. VCloud Director partners include HyTrust, Zenoss and Hewlett-Packard.


VCloud Director has technical requirements and limitations. Users must plan ahead to establish and benefit from a cloud deployment. The following resources provide in-depth and technical explanations of this cloud computing management tool.

VMware vCloud Director: Ready for launch
VCloud Director provides a management layer over numerous cloud technologies, but it differs significantly from VMware's vCenter virtualization-management tool. Unlike vCenter, vCloud Director hides the virtualization infrastructure from users, and it can monitor and create objects other than VMs.

Software and licensing requirements for vCloud Director
Because a cloud infrastructure comprises disparate parts, vCloud Director licensing can be challenging. The virtualization aspect calls for vSphere 4.0 Update 2 and an Enterprise Plus license. But you also need an Oracle database, VMware vShield and Red Hat licenses for the rest of the infrastructure.

Setting up VMware vCloud Director
VMware's new cloud computing management tool introduces new networking concepts, but setting up vCloud Director is relatively easy. If you have configured vCenter-dependent programs, several steps will seem familiar. Once vCD has been deployed, the user interface is a hybrid of VMware Lab Manager and View 4.5.

VCloud Director: The fine print
VMware cautioned that vCloud Director users should proceed carefully; vCD has design idiosyncrasies. At a VMworld 2010 session, the company explained some best practices that were learned from beta users. VCloud Director, for instance, can recognize only one storage tier per virtual data center, and it also requires specific RHEL components that must be manually installed.

VMware splits vCloud Director 
VMware plans to split intellectual property currently in vCloud Director into new integrations with vCenter and vCloud Automation Center, the company said this week.

This was last published in October 2010

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