Building vCloud Suite POC – Part 23: (Final) Thoughts & Conclusions

So… my proof of concept series conducted at a customer site comes to an end and now it is time to summarize and evaluate the concept. First off all, I must say that I really enjoyed building this POC. Reading documentation, implementing the products and troubleshooting (luckily a few) installation and configuration issues was a great experience and a really good learning curve on all products. When the POC implementation was finished, the customer got some weeks to evaluate it. The first impressions and test results were positive but in the end they decided to hold it off for a few months due to budget reasons and an upcoming datacenter move.

Anyway, here are some of my thoughts and conclusions regarding the products.

  • vCloud Director: when I look at the beginning of the deployment, the preparation and installation procedure is well documented by VMware and you should have no difficulties deploying the software on your own. However, the preparation process requires decent amount of manual input and a scripted installation would be welcome. Once installed the vCloud Director is easy to configure, I haven’t had any trouble configuring the settings. One thing to keep in mind is that you have to pay attention to what environment you are working on (system or an organization). I think you’ll agree that the most difficult part of configuration is networking in vCloud Director. If you don’t get the concept, you have trouble setting it up and not to mention troubleshooting. I’ve got one tip for you if you are designing networking in vCloud Director; make sure you label the networks with intuitive names and include the network function (organization name, vApp name) in the name. This makes troubleshooting a lot easier. There is also a visual aid for the networking part but it is quite basic. More extensible maps for networking, something like the maps in the vCenter Server, would be helpful. Overall, vCloud Director is a very extensible product. You need a decent amount of time to familiarize yourself with it but it provides a great cloud platform for your workloads. What the future will bring to vCloud Director is uncertain. This year (2013) there was an announcement that the vCloud Director functionality will be departed to vCenter Server so I think we will have to wait to see what will really change.
  • vCloud Networking and Security: if you remember, this is the old vShield and it must be deployed before the installation of vCloud Director. Installation is dead simple and it is managed via vCloud Director. You actually seldom touch the interface since vCloud Director communicates with vShield and deploys networks automatically.
  • vCloud Connector: one of the easiest setups I have ever done. I really like the simplicity of the deployment and use of the software. Moving virtual workloads between your datacenter and the cloud is very easy and what is more important, you can always move your virtual machines from the cloud back to your datacenter.
  • vCenter Chargeback Manager: chargeback manager is a very extensive and powerful reporting tool in my opinion. It takes some time to learn it but once set up correctly the reporting can easily be automated. An installation script or guided installer for the prerequisites (database setup, Windows firewall settings) would be a welcome feature.
  • vCenter Operations Manager: this is, once again, a very extensive and powerful product. There are a lot of possibilities out of box but in my opinion the real power of vCenter Operations Manager lies in the custom user interface. The custom dashboards can be configured to suit your organization needs. The product is easy to set up and intuitive in use. Custom additions and tweaks make the possibilities almost limitless.
  • vCloud Automation Center: just like the vCloud Director, the vCloud Automation Center is a very extensive product with a lot of options and possibilities for your environment. I haven’t found any major installation or configuration issues except one that I will post a blog about very soon. Setting up an authorization store can be painful but it is well documented and you shouldn’t have trouble setting it up when you follow the steps described in the documentation. The most cool feature in the deployment of vCenter Operations Manager is the prerequisite checker. Without it you will be lost, trust me. In this series I only described the integration of vCD with vCAC but the product is capable of much more and I think you should explore it more and see if it suits the needs of your environment. As I said earlier in the vCloud Director sub-section; some parts of vCloud Director will be departed to vCenter Server and others to vCloud Automation Center. Some info is already available but it is not yet official.
  • vCenter Infrastructure Navigator: one of the easies products to deploy and configure in the series. Just push the OVA, provide basic settings, register with the vCenter Server and you are good to go. The true power of this product is of course the mapping of application dependencies in your environment. This is a very useful and powerful feature for most administrators or troubleshooters since it visually presents the dependencies of services.

And so this concludes the series on the VMware vCloud Suite proof of concept. I must say, this was a very informative journey. I hope you enjoyed reading the entire series and maybe tried some of the products yourself 🙂 If you have any questions or comments feel free to post them!


– Marek.Z

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