As posted a couple of weeks ago the Beta Program for the new SP Release of vCloud Director was announced and the kickoff was held yesterday morning (1st of June) Pacific time. When I joined the call there where about 200 other callers signed in which must have been a pleasing number for the vCD Team and shows that there is still significant interest in vCloud Director as a Cloud Management Platform.

The vCloud Product team went through a few of basic concepts of the value of running vCD as a natural extension of vCenter while being able to leverage the economics of the Public Cloud through providing IaaS. Possibly a case of preaching to the converted but there is always room for marketing slides and it gave a good overview of how VMware still see vCD as a going concern for SPs to offer Cloud Services.

Again, the power of the vCloud Air Ecosystem was talked about and vCloud Air Network Providers offer an existing install base that covers a good chunk of the Total Addressable Cloud Market in conjunction with VMware’s vCloud Air offering. As was the message last year…Hybrid Cloud is the key to short to medium term success for SPs before the likes of Containers and 3rd Platform Apps gain traction.

The above slide goes through vCD’s main benefits as seen by VMware and in truth there is no better way to consume VMware Compute and Storage Resources and being able to offer a different approach to IaaS compared to the likes of AWS, Azure and other Public Cloud providers that offer an instance based approach. There is much to be said in offering clients the flexibility of a Pool of Virtual DataCenter Resources from which to deploy Virtual Machines and Applications over the fixed VM instance types you find in the SPs mentioned above.

What’s New:

As listed in my previous post, there is a fairly extensive list of new features with the highlight for me being the improvement to the vApp construct in making it more flexible for customers to consume while also making it easier for SPs to deploy and provision vApps and VMs from the one complete API tool set.

While nothing new has been exposed by way of features the interoprability between vCD 8 and vSphere 6.0 and NSX 6.1.x lays important groundwork for what may come. There also seems to be a focus on resource control and improved Tenant Throttling. One interesting thing I noted was that there are already provisions to start to include vCloud Air services such as DRaaS into future releases and I was heartened to hear that a full future product roadmap would be made available

To get a full list and explanation around the new features, i’d encourage those interested to register at the Beta site and download the Webinar.

https://beta.vchs.vmware.com/callout/?callid=A14E81A118AC471C833BEF9FBEF34A87

Reactions:

The Q&A session at the end was dominated by questions around the fact that the GUI hasn’t been upgraded or improved since 5.5 and all new features are only accessible via API calls. In this lies the single biggest issue for current providers offering vCD…The GUI is outdated, tired and has always been somewhat unintuitive.

The solution to this from the vCD Product Team is for SPs to write their own UI (which Zettagrid does) or work with ISV Vendors who are developing separate fontends for vCD but the reaction to this was along the lines of…”You want us to pay externally for a GUI?” I detected that the majority of SPs in the room are not happy with the fact that development has continued without UI improvements.

Even though I myself am learning more and more around the consuming of Cloud Platforms via APIs I appreciate that the majority of the current vCD user base don’t have the luxury of a UI team and don’t wont to be forking more money to pay for an 3rd Party UI to access the new features.

What’s Required:

While I am not privy to the reasons behind the vCD Team stopping the development of the UI…what I can suggest is that if something isn’t done to at least bring the UI up to date to include the newer features (let alone making it more current) more and more vCD customers will turn to alternatives like OpenNebua vOneCloud, Platform9 or any variance of OpenStack to run their Public or Private IaaS Platforms.

For those that are participants of the Beta, please use the Feature Request Submission page to voice your own opinion around the state of the UI…maybe there will be enough noise for someone up the chain to take note.

VMware have somewhat resurrected vCloud Director from the ashes over the past 12 months, but if they don’t give it the attention it deserves it will continue to be known as a decent functional Cloud Management Platform that could have (and should have) been great.