VMware vCloud Director - Enterprise (Plus) only?

Please see the update in the follow up to this post.

OK VMworld is now over. I was actually not in San Francisco, but with all the updates from Twitter, the Keynotes, and #thecube I felt part of the conference. From all the feedback that I have heard from the show, it seems that it was a great event, and extremely beneficial.

I will not go over all the product releases that were announced over the past week, there have been more than enough posted last week.

I would like to go into a bit more detail about the vCloud offering that VMware has now made available.

Up till now I have been asked - a number of times

  • What are we doing for cloud in our organization?
  • How are we building the cloud?
  • What are we going to use for Cloud?

Cloud has been a very nice buzzword used at all levels - but is not really understood properly at any of the levels.

Those of you who have used in the past VMware Lab Manager - will recognize some similarities between the two products, be it the Libraries, Organizations and so on.

I would like to stress a few things

  1. I have not yet taken the product for a test drive yet (but I will)
  2. I would like to recommend Hany Michael's great tutorial on Taking vCloud Director for a Spin which provides a great introduction on how to get this up and running on your laptop/desktop with only 8GB of RAM.
  3. The only database that you can use is Oracle. At present there is no support for MS SQL in this release (It will be added soon)
  4. And last but least - this only works with dvSwitches.

For me the last item is the one that stands out most for me and is the most problematic. Let me explain why.

Approximately 15 months ago VMware released vSphere 4.0 and with it they decided to change their Licensing Model - and introduced a new Licensing level for some of the new features - Enterprise Plus. Originally the plan was to retire Enterprise edition completely, but due to several reasons - one of them I suppose was pressure from the customers - they decided to ditch that plan.

But - 2 Main features remained that were available only in Enterprise Plus - Host Profiles and Distributed Virtual Switches. NIOC and SIOC were added with the 4.1 release.

We have all been waiting for VMware to release a product to manage the cloud and until now my answers to all the question above were, "We are preparing - but as of today there is no product to actually manage it properly". This one seems to provide what it says. Till now this has been a concept only, with vCloud this is now a reality. We can create our own Private clouds - move the machines between our clouds - private or public. So this will be a product for everyone and from now on forward to deploy their VM's in the cloud.

But - And this is a big BUT….

vCloud Director will not work without dvSwitches (**Please see update Below**) - which means (at least from the way understand it) you have to have Enterprise Plus on all of your ESX hosts that are managed under the system. Yep.. Every Single one of them. But to be completely accurate - only those host in clusters that you will use as resources for vCloud.

I do not think that everyone will make use of this product - for the simple reason of licensing. Ian Koenig mentioned the fact that

Lab Manager was now dead and that the use case for the product would no longer be needed, now that we have vCloud Director.

I disagree - vCloud will be used and I think you would be stupid not to use it if you have the licensing already in place. But this is aimed at the high-end customers. Perhaps this will change in future but today - this is a high-end / enterprise level product only. Lab Manager will have its use cases as well.

But before we all go around and deploy our own clouds - remember - it something that you have to pay for - and it is not cheap..

Is this a bad thing? I do not think so. But time will tell.

*** Update ***

Duncan Epping has pointed out to me that vCloud Director will work on a regular vSwitch - which would make this completely a licensing issue and not a technical one.

I did go over the documentation that was released and found mention almost exclusively of only dvSwitch, not a regular vSwitch except in one place.

Add a network pool that is backed by port groups to register vSphere port groups for Cloud Director to use. Unlike other types of network pools, a network pool that is backed by port groups does not require a vNetwork distributed switch.

So I retract my statement about the technical requirement of dvSwitches for vCloud Director.

You still need Enterprise Plus Licenses for the product regardless. That does not change.