“With regards to the upgrade path for SPs looking to deploy vCD SP there will be a build released approx. Q1 15 that will allow upgrades from 5.5.2”

On the 8th of October, VMware released the first vCloud Director build that was forked for the Service Provider Community. vCD for SP 5.6.3 (Build 2116763) represents a milestone for vCloud Director as a product and while Enterprises will start to move away from vCD and look to use vRealize Automation (previously vCloud Automation Center) For Service Providers the re-commitment to the Partner Network VMware in the launching of the vCloud Air Network means that VMware was not about to kill off vCD but continue to develop the platform for its own vCloud Air Services and in turn feed through feature upgrades in the form of regular vCD SP Build Updates.

As from the vCD SP 5.6.3 release, all development on the GUI has stopped and all new features are made available only through the API. As part of this release there is an extended list of SDKs added which makes developing against the platform more streamlined for SP dev teams and offers more choice. Previous to and during VMworld 2014 I had a chance to speak to the vCD Product Team and get insight into the vision for the platform moving forward. There is no doubt in my mind that VMware are serious about continuing to release features to Service Providers such as the ones mentioned at VMworld like Object Storage, DRaaS and DBaaS while there is possibility for 3rd Party ISV Solutions to be seamlessly plugged into an existing deployment.

Updates in the SP 5.6.3 GA include:

  • Virtual machine monitoring: Expose current and historical VM performance metrics to tenants through this tenant visible, multi-tenant safe API. Using the API, tenants can troubleshoot application performance problems, auto-scale their applications, and perform capacity planning.
  • VM Disk Level Storage Profiles – Allows a single virtual machine (VM) to access different tiers of storage such as storage area network (SAN), network-attached storage (NAS), and local storage to help balance storage cost vs. storage performance. VMware vCloud Director 5.6 also supports VMware Virtual SAN.
  • VMware NSX Support thru API Compatibility- Simple, secure software-defined networking using the NSX network virtualization platform in vCNS compatibility mode, in addition to the current VMware vCloud Networking and Security (vCNS) support
  • Updated Software Development Kits (SDKs) to the vCloud API – New set of Java, PHP, and .NET SDKs with documentation and samples available.

The first two represent significant enhancements to the platform and work to give tenants more visibility and choice if the Service Provider chooses to expose the features. It must be noted that the VM Disk Level Storage Profiles has a caveat in that it is obviously not exposed via the GUI, meaning SPs will need to write mechanisms for disks to be housed on separate vCenter Storage Policies or allow the tenants to make the change via PowerCLI commandlets for vCD. The downside to this is that in the dropdown menu of the VM in the GUI you will not see multiple polices and could trigger a move back to the one policy via the drop down configuration action.

The biggest feature in my opinion if the full support for NSX-v which effectively means an existing vCNS setup can be inplace upgraded to NSX which paves the way for hybrid solutions to be implemented. If you deploy a vCloud VSE once NSX-v has been deployed into an existing environment the Edge version will be at 5.5.3 and while there is no benefit in this Edge there is nothing stopping SPs from offering NSXs Enhanced 6.x Edges via VLAN backed PortGroup Direct Connect configurations.

https://www.vmware.com/support/vcd/doc/rel_notes_vcloud_director_56.html#featurehighlights

If you are a Service Provider, vCD SP 5.6.3 is now available for Download.

So that’s the good news…the bad news is that at the moment if your vCD deployment is currently running 5.5.2 and you upgrade to 5.6.3 vCD will break!! And while that’s about all the detail I have at the moment there is apparently an issues where some patches that were included in 5.5.2 are not compatible with 5.6.3. The frustrating part for SPs at the moment is that there were some key bug fixes in 5.5.2 so I would dare say that most providers have deployed this build. I’m currently chasing up more details and will update this post as they come to hand.