vCloud, vExpert, VMC, VMware Cloud on AWS

First Thoughts – VMware Cloud Director Service

One of the early benefits of being part fo the vExpert Cloud Provider subprogram, was that we where given a chance to get a first look and use of Cloud Director Service. This is basically hosted vCloud Director for VMware Cloud on AWS. These days we are dropping the little v from VMware Cloud Director (VCD) but essentially this offering allows providers to deploy a managed VCD instance and have it connect up to one or more VMware Cloud on AWS SDDCs which effectively become Provider resources from which to cut up resources for tenancies.

Quick Overview:

The service went into initial availability last week VMware Cloud on AWS and is a pre GA release that is somewhat feature limited restricted to some regions in North America only.

VMware Cloud Director service is a software as a service application providing multi-tenancy support for VMware Cloud on AWS SDDC in initial release. VMware Cloud Director service is a SaaS solution deployed outside of VMware Cloud on AWS and connects to the managed gateway via VPN to apply tenancy isolation and resource pooling over existing SDDC fabric. VMware Cloud Director service is backed by NSX-T so that it can connect and manage seamlessly into VMware

The key benefits being talked about by VMware for VMware Cloud Providers to take advantage of is that there is more flexibility and scalability in a service that is backed by, and built on a scalable public cloud platform. The idea is that SPs focus on delivery of services rather than the procurement and management of backend hardware and software. For those SPs that have existing capabilities it can be used to extend their own service offerings by allowing them to leverage compute, storage and networking in regions that they might not have had a footprint in previously. For those SPs that don’t have existing VCD capabilities, it allows them to start offering multi-tenant services with a known starting cost based around the ongoing consumption of the VMware Cloud model without having to invest in the skills required to stand up such services.

We had read only admin access and ORG level access for a week or so, thanks to John Dwyer and Daniel Paluszek. They took us through the deployment and setup of a CDS instance as well as configuration of a VMC SDDC as a Provider.

VMware Cloud Provider Hub:

This is the launching pad from which the provisioning and management of VMware Cloud Services is done for tenant organizations. This portal is similar to the existing VMware Cloud Console from which VMC resources are deployed and looks to incorporate the same Cloud Marketplace type setup. This is also used to manage the billing and support of tenants. More info on that can be found here.

Conclusion and Thoughts:

From the very moment VMware Cloud on AWS was announced, I thought about the opportunity that presented for SPs to consume it as a provider through vCD. While this isn’t exactly the vision I had in mind all the way back in 2016 (shown below) it comes close. Cloud Director Service to me is the biggest example yet of VMware’s recommitment and doubling down on vCloud Director that’s seen it enhance and evolve at rapid pace of the past couple of years. This is the Cloud Management Platform that will deliver multi-tenant extensibility across many services across many platforms.

The opportunity for SPs that consume this service extends beyond the traditional vCD Virtual Datacenter hosting, but there are some improvements that need to be made before its value could be fully realised. In initial availability, Cloud Director Service is not deployed with the RabbitMQ component, meaning any extensibility that has workflow will not work, such as DRaaS with Cloud Availability, Object Storage, Container Service Extension.

During the setup, there was still the feel the service was still raw with lots of manual steps, and the integration with NSX-T still seems like it’s not a natural, free flowing fit (integration wise) just yet. That said, there where some nice features of the setup through the console such as the easy importing and configuration of third party SSL certificates and custom branding per VCD instance. This is clearly still a work in progress and initial availability is just that.

The final thought to wrap up on, is one of price. I haven’t been able to dig too much into the cost, but it’s going to be roughly +10% of the total VMware Cloud on AWS SDDC operating costs per month. Wrongly or rightly, price has always been an issue for VMC so it will be interesting to see if the cost of running this service impacts its uptake… especially by those smaller providers that it might benefit the most.

Resources:

https://cloud.vmware.com/cloud-provider-hub/images/pdf/CDS-Datasheet.pdf

https://cloud.vmware.com/cloud-provider-hub/images/pdf/CDS-Solution-Brief.pdf

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