vCloud Director 9.0: Digging into the new Standalone VM Feature

vCloud Director 9.0 was released late last month and brought with it a number of big new features and enhancements. If you are interested in a overview of what’s new, head here to my launch post. Getting back to this post I wanted to focus on what I think is a significant change to the way in which workloads are thought about in vCD…the Standalone VM.

Standalone Virtual machines can be instantiated and viewed along with virtual machines as part of a vApp container. A filter button creates a list based on Virtual machines, virtual applications or both.

The vApp container construct in vCloud Director carries divided opinion from both services providers and customers of vCD with one side liking the fact that VMs could be grouped into logical vApps and treated as a like group or VMs such as an Exchange Cluster. While others wanted the ability to deploy standalone VMs that where more like VM instances you find in public clouds. Historically from a programatic point of view the creation of a VM within a vApp had it’s challenges in a chicken and egg type of scenario where by the composition and recomposiontion of the VM within the vApp required a specific order. This was improved from 8.0 with enhancements to vApp functionality, including the ability to reconfigure virtual machines within a vApp, and network connectivity and virtual machine capability during vApp instantiation.

Standalone Virtual Machines:

In vCloud Director 9.0 you can now create and configure individual Virtual Machines form the new HTML5 Tenant UI. Under the compute menu you now have a Virtual Machines and vApps tab. From here you can view either standalone VMs, VMs in a vApp or both. This is also where you can create a new VM. Note that you can’t create new vApps from the new UI just yet…that still needs to be done in the Flash based UI.

You now have the ability to choose from three pre-canned instance sizes which come with default resources depending on the type of VM selected. However you can still customize the VM as shown below.

When provisioned the VM is available from the new tenant UI with all the normal operations possible. The biggest difference here is that you don’t need to worry about the vApp state and that it’s independent from any other VMs. As a side note as it’s not 100% obvious, to view the console of the VM click on the icon top right of the Virtual Machine box.

Standalone VMs in vCenter and Flash UI:

Taking a look under the covers of the HTML5 UI the standalone VMs are represented slightly differently in vCenter. in Previous versions each VM was created with the VM name plus a UUID…when a standalone VM is created the VM name is just that…the VM name.

However what is interesting is when you look in the Flash UI you will see that in fact the standalone VM is still contained within a vCD vAPP construct.

So in effect, that HTML5 UI is presenting the VM as standalone, but in actual fact there is still a one to one relationship with a vApp under the covers. Taking a look back in vCenter under the folder view it’s more representative of what you see in the Flash UI.

Standalone VMs via the API:

Querying the API shows that the Standalone VMs are indeed composed within a traditional vCD vApp.

References:

https://docs.vmware.com/en/vCloud-Director/9.0/rn/rel_notes_vcloud_director_90.html

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