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Private cloud management software: VMware vCloud Director vs. vCenter

SingleHop explains why it chose VMware vCenter over vCloud Director for its private cloud management software, and why enterprises like private cloud.

VMware's vCloud Director cloud management software works great for public clouds, but, according to one cloud hosting company, private cloud services are still better managed with vCenter. And enterprises like private clouds.

SingleHop, a cloud hosting company based in Chicago, hosts public and private cloud computing services on its VMware infrastructure in U.S. and international data centers. SingleHop started offering VMware-based services with the public cloud option in February 2013 and soon added VMware Enterprise Private Cloud.

Whereas the company's public cloud customers don't really need to know that the infrastructure is VMware, private cloud users are involved in the infrastructure and have more access to the VMware tools in use, according to Ricardo Talavera, vice president of engineering and Andy Pace, chief operating officer. They explain why vCenter is SingleHop's private cloud management software of choice, the benefits of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and private vs. public cloud management. 

Describe your VMware infrastructure for private cloud.

Andy Pace: We host private clouds on vSphere Enterprise Plus with ESXi hosts and vCenter control. Enterprise Plus offers advanced vSphere features, such as SRM and others. Out of the box, demand [for the management tool] was for vCenter, not vCloud Director.

Ricardo Talavera: Most often, enterprises don't use vCloud Director yet. It's a multi-tenant solution. VCloud Director works great in a public cloud setup with multiple organizations and resource management.

Private cloud users have requested that we leave vCloud Director off [for private cloud management]. These customers want to duplicate their on-site data center in the private cloud. Most of the time, they aren't using vCloud in their on-site environments. We do install it for private cloud users when requested.

Why do users change from on-premises workloads to your VMware IaaS setup?

Talavera: It's a matter of choosing an [operating expenditures] opex model over [capital expenditures] capex. The customers adopting private cloud hosting are generally SMBs [small and medium-sized businesses] and enterprises -- not as many Web hosting customers. SMBs and enterprises don't have the need for multi-tenant [cloud] offerings. We can take their existing infrastructure, export it into OVF files and port it over to the vSphere private cloud.

Pace: Their old on-premises servers are collecting dust, and with Infrastructure as a Service, hardware refreshes are worry-free and are done at a lower cost. We also have managed services for users that want to take advantage of those.

Talavera: And they get the best environment for VMware [by hosting their workloads in] our data centers: 40 Gb network backbones, a SAN environment and all the advanced vSphere features available in Enterprise Plus.

Pace: That's getting a $100,000 environment for a much lower cost and much faster than building it out in your own data center.

What's missing with vCloud? What would you like to see VMware do for private cloud operators?

Talavera: Private cloud users would love to be able manage their [virtual desktop infrastructure] VDI environment within vCloud. The path to vCloud Director is certainly easier for some people, but it can be an irritating product to vCenter users. VCloud Director could do a better job with VM management and hosted desktop integration.

How is the vSphere single sign-on feature?

Talavera: We started at the [vSphere] 5.1 level, so we haven't had any of the setbacks that some people see with upgrades. We do most of our work at the [application programming interface] API level, such as the Web services API and the vCloud API. In that sense, 5.1 has more features, but it hasn't necessarily gotten easier to use. Our in-house development work focuses on automation.

Pace: On that note, some of the legacy APIs clash with the new ones. And along those lines, vCloud Director references things completely differently than vSphere does at times.

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