As I’ve been speaking with various customers about the benefits of VMware’s new vCloud Suite on the Vblock, one persistent question that I’ve been receiving is this – “Is vCloud Automation Center [aka. DynamicOps] eventually replacing vCloud Director and if not, how do the two work together?” That’s a fair question given that the two products were previously considered competitors. And it is also true that the two products can be implemented independently of each other to stand up a Cloud. For example, EMC vSpecialist, tzik Reich, has an excellent blog post that details an EMC Cloud Service Delivery PoC, using vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) without vCloud Director (vCD).
It’s no wonder that some folks may view the marriage of DynamicOps with VMware as being akin to Johnny Damon joining the New York Yankees after having been with hated rival, Boston Red Sox. So how exactly will vCD integrate with vCAC? To provide my take on this, I want to very briefly summarize and illustrate the integrations points between the two products.
High-Level View of vCAC
I’ve been helped by thinking of and describing vCAC as a multi-tiered Cloud management framework (Illustrated below in a VMware deck providing an overview of vCAC 5.1). Note that the tier model and names are my own and do not represent official VMware terminology and the tiers are not strictly separated but do overlap.
- Presentation Tier – The upper tier is the interface to the end-users/consumers who access resources and applications provisioned from the Cloud. This access is provided via a self-service web portal that allows users to request resources from a catalog of services.
- Policy Tier – The tier below provides the policies and governance which dictate what and how consumers can access requested resources. These policies can be applied to either physical or virtual resources that sit underneath.
- Resource Tier – Physical and virtual resources provisioned from the underlying infrastructure are assigned to reservation pools (Cloud Blueprints and Resource Reservations) and prepared for consumption, in compliance with customized business and IT policies.
- Infrastructure Orchestration Tier – The bottom tier orchestrates the provisioning of the underlying resources for a customer’s Hybrid Cloud. These resources can be physical infrastructure, virtual data center, or a Public Cloud.
vCAC Integration with vCD The integration of vCD with vCAC primarily resides within the Resource Tier that I described above. vCAC can discover vDC and vApp resources and import them into its reservations pools; it can also import vCD vApp catalogs and expose them to consumers as vCAC virtual blueprints that can be requested.
Below are some screenshots showing this vDC and vApp integration:
They key here is to understand that vCD is providing the resource pools on top of which vCAC can build out vSphere-based services to be consumed via their self-service portal. vCAC resource pools can also be created from non-vSphere resources, such as non-virtualized operating systems, other hypervisors, or Public Clouds, by leveraging those specific resources’ available tools.
The vCloud Suite
Some of the acknowledged weaknesses of vCD has been at the presentation and policy tiers; the web portal is not as customizable as most users would like and vCD lacks the ability to apply a variety of business policies and governance to its resources. It also lacks the orchestration and workflow capabilities for automating the provisioning of virtual and physical infrastructure. With the introduction of vCAC into the Enterprise version of the vCloud Suite, these capabilities that are lacking in vCD can now be handed off to vCAC. In the new vCloud Suite 5.1, vCAC focuses on the presentation and policy tiers and leverages vCenter Orchestrator (vCO) to automate the provisioning of the underlying infrastructure.
I would appreciate feedback on this post and rather the multi-tiered model is helpful in explaining the integration between vCD and vCAC. In particular, please let me know if there is anything that is unclear or needs to corrected in may explanation.