Installing vCloud Director 1.x – Prerequisites

There’s a right way and a wrong way to install VMware’s vCloud Director (vCD). Identifying the wrong way is quite simple — it just won’t work. There’s actually a lot more to that — caveats, best practices, redundancy, add-ons — which I will cover in the next post. For now, we’ll focus on what you need before the install.

Installing vCD can be a daunting task if you don’t have all the prerequisites in place prior to rolling out the goods. Below is a quick list of to-do’s and links to the associated resources. The actual install of vCD is the quickest part of this entire process assuming all these pieces are in place. Do this right and the rest will be easy as pie…

VM’s (OS Requirements):

VMware vCenter Server 4.1
OS: Windows 2008 R2 x64

vCenter on a VM is fully supported. There are some caveats to consider, but I’ll cover that in the next post. For starters, make sure the vCenter VM is utilizing a standard vSwitch vs. a dvSwitch for net connectivity. This can apply to the majority of your management (core) VMs.

vSphere 4.1
OS: ESXi 4.1 U1

Licensing at the vSphere Enterprise Plus level isn’t absolutely required, but highly recommended to enable the use of several vCD capabilities that otherwise would be unavailable (vCD-NI, I/O Control, etc).…

0 to Cloud in 6 Posts, Part 5: Delivering ITaaS with vCloud Director

Post 5 of 6: Delivering IT as a Service with vCloud Director

Building your cloud infrastructure is only half the battle. Let’s just assume the notion of ‘cloud’ is now defined and well aligned with your business requirements, infrastructure is in place, best practices followed, and you’re ready to power this sucker up. Then what? The presence of the hypervisor has been assumed throughout this series — much is gained with vSphere adding that prerequisite abstraction of bare-metal resources. But virtualization is only half the battle when the end goal is delivering a cloud — or IT as a Service (ITaaS). To get there, you’ll need to take a moment to understand what exactly you’re trying to accomplish. What does cloud mean to your organization in the first place? Are you looking to streamline your IT infrastructure internally (i.e. Private Cloud) or perhaps deliver next-generation IT services externally (Public Cloud)…or both (Hybrid)? No matter your flavor of cloud, one thing holds true — you will be successful only if you employ the right enablement tools and technologies. You should also step back and take a moment to understand the concepts. I made a decision to embrace these concepts and technologies a little more than a year ago.

0 to Cloud in 6 Posts, Part 4: xBlock- Designing a Repeatable Architecture

Post 4 of 6: xBlock- Designing a Repeatable Architecture

I have lost count of how many pre-integrated infrastructure offerings are now available through the various software, network, storage, and compute partnerships out there – all competing for their stake as your cloud’s foundation (for those who still think ‘the cloud’ is a hardware offering with some antiquated management slapped on top, please reexamine the definition of cloud). A well-designed infrastructure is a great (and required) start, but software is where the magic happens…but I digress. Whether it’s a vBlock (EMC, Cisco, VMware), FlexPod (NetApp, Cisco VMware), Dell’s vStart, or any of the dozens of combinations out there worth mentioning, one thing holds true…all (well, most) are examples of what a robust reference architecture can do for your cloud. Sure each offering will add it’s special sauce as a value proposition – proven, pre-engineered, specialized, best-of-breed, etc. – but, more importantly, these solutions provide the core components for your cloud’s infrastructure – Storage, Compute, Network, and the glorious Hypervisor – and use the Lego approach for scaling the infrastructure out as needed.
Scale Happens.  Cloud infrastructures are meant to be elastic, agile, and designed to scale beyond your wildest imagination. [insert joke about the company that markets the “cloud in a box”]. 

0 to Cloud in 6 Posts, Part 3: Hardware – choosing your infrastructure

Post 3 of 6: Hardware – choosing your infrastructure

Okay, let’s talk hardware. Choosing the right hardware and technologies are essential for the success of your cloud. This post covers the fundamentals of hardware selection for your cloud – pointers to get your brain cells focused on specs vs. brands, compute resources vs. servers…you get the idea. With all this hardware you will eventually have the means of building your reference architecture – but that’s the next post in this series. For the sake of delivering workloads to anyone from anywhere based on expected levels of service, your focus should be on raw performance, efficiency (to include total operating cost, overhead, and management), integration, and scalability. One point to remember – the most expensive components won’t necessarily ensure you meet SLA’s or make for a faster/better cloud. Cost is often just as important as performance, if not more important, and should be considered just as any other critical criteria. Keep this in mind as you disagree with the forthcoming pointers J
When I discuss hardware with my customers, I stick to performance levels and expectations, varying levels of integration, and the technologies that will tie the infrastructure all together. Choosing the right hardware doesn’t mean use Dell for this and EMC for that (although it might)…it means selecting the hardware components that will ensure you meet SLA’s and fulfill your business criteria…period.

0 to Cloud in 6 Posts, Part 2: Getting Started – defining a success criteria

Post 2 of 6: Getting Started – defining a success criteria

Next topic in this series is one that can make or break your journey to the cloud — defining what you will consider a “great success!” when all is said and done it is essential to keep things on track throughout the journey. You’ll need to set some realistic goals and objectives, get management buy-in, line up some IT/engineering resources, and maybe even get financial commitment (especially if this is usually a challenge) ahead of time. Determining where you are today vs. where you need to be ahead of time can not only accelerate the process, but will set some ground rules for everyone involved. Remember, this is a journey — it’ll take some time and commitment but you should never lose sight of the objectives.
Virtualize: So, what are your objectives? I’ll assume they are business-driven, a directive of sorts, or perhaps you’re at the starting line and need something to pitch because you know how the business will benefit with a cloud model. We’ll knock out the must have’s: reduce cost and overhead, be ‘green’, take control (of your infrastructure), simplify and centrally manage IT, and improve usability.

Caching In – the magic behind vSphere’s CPU scheduler

One of the most important objectives of virtualizing a new or existing infrastructure is efficiency…both operational and financial. Virtualization wouldn’t be where it is today without a means of getting the most bang for the buck and clearly demonstrating the value-add of system consolidation — whether within your labs, server rooms, datacenters, or across the entire enterprise. To justify virtualization projects of any significance you have to hit your leadership where it hurts (tickles)…the corporate wallet. What better way to do that than consistently reducing acquisition and operational costs to your project?

Of course I’m not suggesting you’ll be swimming in cash (or a nice bonus) the moment you deploy your first hypervisor, although this is a first step in the right direction. Witnessing a rack of 10 x 2U servers reduced to a single host (i’m being conservative), while centralizing management and often increasing performance, is nothing short of wonderful. How about 100 of these same servers into a single rack? 100 loaded racks into 10?  Enough said. VMware’s value proposition is very clear in this arena. In keeping with my promise of no sales pitches, i’ll spare you the ROI/TCO chatter.  Just consider this – the cost of maintaining 100 legacy servers is drastically greater than acquiring 10 brand new uber-hosts sporting the latest chipsets, energy efficiency, memory/cpu capacity, and all the necessary vSphere licensing.

0 to Cloud in 6 Posts, Part 1: defining the cloud

Post 1 of 6:  insert definition here – defining the cloud

If I had a dime for every time I found myself defining the “Cloud” I would have collected myself a small fortune. Okay, maybe not a fortune, but somewhere in the area of $70 (after taxes). But if I was required to use an identical definition each time…well, I’d be broke. This is because the Cloud has many different meanings, often depending on who’s asking. It is fairly understood what the ultimate goal of cloud computing is and it looks something like this: providing infrastructure as a service — from somewhere…anywhere…it doesn’t matter where — and delivering it seamlessly, using proven industry standards, across the ether to some (any) end node. Whether it be an application, operating or development environment, or a desktop, the idea is to provide some calculated level of compute capability to the downstream workloads or users who demand it…as they demand it.
Was that clear enough? I’m on month seven here at VMware and have been trying to wrap my mind around cloud computing at a massive scale. I have access to some of the most innovative people and technology in this arena and yet this is the best I can define the Cloud.