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VCloud Director: The fine print

By Beth Pariseau, Senior News Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — After the splashy, high-level announcement of VMware’s vCloud Director on Tuesday morning, reality set in at a VMworld 2010 session by Kevin Lees, VMware’s global vCloud delivery team lead. Lees detailed the lessons learned from beta deployments at a handful of enterprise and service-provider customers.

He emphasized repeatedly that users looking to deploy vCloud director should “take a stepwise, evolutionary approach.” He advised attendees to start simple by equating one back-end virtual data center with one vSphere cluster. He also recommended that ESX clusters running management utilities and the Oracle vCD database should be separated from resource pools in virtual data centers.

Lees also said careful planning is crucial for organizations looking to deploy vCloud Director at this stage. In particular, he advised users to follow a “60% rule,” particularly if they are setting up an Oracle vCD at a service provider data center.

“What we’ve found is that when you hit 60% utilization of the virtual data center, it’s better if the service provider doesn’t add any more organizations to it so there’s plenty of room for growth,” Lees said.

Organizations should ideally dedicate a “strong project manager” and possibly even a separate operations team to vCloud Director deployments. Well-defined roles and responsibilities, as well as cooperation with all levels of the IT organization, are essential, Lee said.

“This is not something that can be done from organic proof-of-concept processes — that can then just be turned into production,” he added.

Networking and security require special attention in the design phase, Lee continued.

“Design, design and most importantly, design,” he said. “Determine your templates early and get security to review it as early in the process as possible.”

Lees also provided more vCloud Director fine print to consider:

  • Only one storage tier can be assigned per virtual data center.
  • Currently, there isn’t a single sign-on in version 1 with existing portals.
  • Be careful when configuring Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, because it cannot be reset to default values.
  • A Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) utility called compat-libcom_err is required but does not automatically install in RHEL.
  • Network File System “transfer storage” is required for users to upload their own virtual machines (VMs) and vApps, but Lees recommended that user self-service follow after initial deployment. At first, he said that IT should control spinning up new VMs, then “evolve into letting end users into the environment directly.”

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