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1.3. Cloud Computing and VMware vCloud

Cloud computing leverages the efficient pooling of an on-demand, self-managed, virtual infrastructure that is consumed as a service. VMware vCloud is the VMware solution for cloud computing that enables delivery of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Additional “as a Service” reference architectures can be layered on top of a VMware vCloud built using vCAT.

1.3.1. VMware vCloud Requirements

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the key components of a cloud are on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service. VMware aligns with the definition of cloud as elastic, lightweight entry and exit, available over Internet protocols, and running on a shared infrastructure.

A cloud always starts with a shared, virtual infrastructure. If any resource is dedicated to only one customer, you have a managed hosting platform, not a cloud infrastructure. Similarly, it is not considered a cloud if the cloud administrator or service provider must perform manual procedures to provision cloud resources following a consumer request. This is why workflow automation and orchestration are included as part of a vCloud solution.

The VMware vCloud blueprint follows these basic NIST requirements as the foundation for an IaaS cloud:

  • A cloud must be built on a pooled, virtual infrastructure. Pools include not only CPU and memory resources, but also storage, networking, and associated services.
  • The cloud should provide application mobility between clouds, allowing the consumer to enter and leave the cloud easily with existing workloads. The ability to use existing consumer tools to migrate workloads to or from the cloud is highly desirable. Mobility of workloads between clouds requires cross-cloud resource management.
  • The cloud should be open and interoperable, allowing the consumption of cloud resources over open, Internet-standard protocols. Access to cloud resources does not require any other specific network protocols or clients.
  • Cloud consumers should pay only for resources they consume or commit to consuming.
  • The cloud should be a secure, trusted location for running cloud consumer workloads.
  • Cloud consumers should have the option and capability to protect their cloud-based workloads from data loss.
  • Cloud consumers are not responsible for maintaining any part of the shared infrastructure and do not need to interact with the cloud provider to maintain the infrastructure. They are not responsible for storage and network maintenance, ongoing cloud infrastructure patches, or business continuity activities. The cloud should be available to run high-availability workloads, and any faults occurring in the cloud infrastructure should be transparent to cloud consumers as a result of built-in availability, scalability, security, and performance guarantees.

1.3.2. VMware Alignment to Standards

VMware continues to develop technologies that align with evolving cloud standards as defined by NIST and other global standards organizations.

vCloud solutions focus on the following areas:

  • People: People who develop solutions, architect the design, operate the implementation, and consume the resources. (See Operating a VMware vCloud and Consuming a VMware vCloud.)
  • Process: Processes for architects, operators, and consumers.
  • Technology: Alignment with successful design, deployment, and integration considerations. VMware technologies address the relevant areas within the standards.

Standards are still evolving for private, public, community, hybrid, and other types of clouds. vCAT focuses on the most common core design areas. The technology is the same, but operations and vCloud resource consumption vary according to the type of vCloud, the type of vCloud provider, and specific consumer requirements.

  • A private vCloud is operated by an organization and secured behind a firewall.
  • A public vCloud is generally accessible to users on the Internet.
  • A community vCloud is a specific public vCloud use case in which access is limited to specified groups that share a common set of requirements.
  • A hybrid vCloud is characterized by a connection among multiple vCloud instances. Typically, a bridge between two private vCloud instances has a dedicated and secured connection. The underlying network resides behind an Internet-facing firewall.

As cloud computing continues to evolve, many cloud definitions will arise. The information in this toolkit is a valuable aid in support of your vCloud projects, regardless of your chosen definition.

1.3.3. vCloud Definitions

vCAT uses the terms private vCloud, public vCloud, and hybrid vCloud, based on a specific set of definitions that NIST provides.

  • Private cloud:

    A private vCloud (also known as an internal vCloud) operates on private networks, where a single company maintains accessible resources behind the firewall. In many cases, all the tenants share one legal entity. For example, a university might offer IaaS to its medical and business schools, or a company might do the same for various groups or business units. The private vCloud can be managed by the enterprise and hosted on-premises or operated on a dedicated infrastructure provided by a vCloud service provider or systems integrator. In any case, a private vCloud must conform to the organizational security constraints.

  • Public cloud:

    A public vCloud offers IT resources as a service through external service providers and is shared across multiple organizations or the Internet. This can be viewed as a vCloud infrastructure that one organization operates and that multiple, legally separated organizations use.

    A public vCloud is provisioned for open access and might be owned, managed, and operated by one or more entities.

    A public vCloud provider might also support a private, community, or hybrid vCloud.

  • Hybrid cloud:

    A hybrid vCloud combines the benefits of the private and public vCloud, with flexibility and choice of deployment methods.

    A hybrid vCloud consists of multiple, linked vCloud infrastructures. These distinct vCloud infrastructures can be private, community, or public; but they must meet a set of requirements that the providers define and the consumers agree to. Connecting these vCloud instances requires data and application mobility, as well as management.

    When load-balancing between vCloud instances (cloud bursting), use a consistent monitoring and management approach when migrating an application or data workload. For the theory behind cloud bursting, see the Cloud Bursting document.

  • Community cloud:

    A community vCloud is a specific public vCloud use case in which the cloud is shared, and typically owned, by a group of organizations with a common set of requirements. In many cases, the organizations also include some level of legal separation. Community vCloud resources are shared, with some parts under central control and other parts with defined autonomy. A vCloud built for government, education, or healthcare is an example of a community vCloud.

    A community vCloud can be offered by a traditional service provider, by a member of the community, or by a third-party vendor and hosted on one or more sites. It can be placed on-premises at one or more of the organizations’ sites, off-premises at a vCloud provider site, or both on- and off-premises.

1.3.4. Solution Area to Technology Mapping

When considering various technology solutions for your vCloud architecture, evaluate the solution and operational requirements to provide justification for the proposed solution. As VMware continues to develop Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) technologies, we will update the matching Infrastructure as a Service component. Figure 1.2 shows the categories of design considerations for building both a cloud and the underlying SDDC, with the related product technology that is used.


FIGURE 1.2. Technology areas

Figure 1.3 shows the technologies this vCAT release covers.


FIGURE 1.3. Technology areas in vCAT VMware Professional Services

VMware offers professional services that align with vCloud use cases. These range from a proof of concept (POC) that might be used as a demonstration environment, to a production deployment that requires management, workflow automation, compliance enforcement, and validation. The following services are available:

  • VMware vCloud POC Jumpstart Service: Provides knowledge transfer workshops and hands-on product installation, configuration, and use demonstrations for the vCloud solution.
  • VMware vCloud Accelerator Service: Rapidly delivers a functioning VMware vCloud implementation suitable for deploying applications in a limited-scale preproduction environment. If all prerequisites are met, this service engagement can be completed in fewer than 30 business days.
  • VMware vCloud Design and Deploy Service: Provides a comprehensive architectural design for VMware vCloud that addresses the customer’s unique business requirements and operational demands, helping to pave the way to vCloud computing. This service is designed for enterprises that have a well-established, vSphere-based virtualization strategy for production workloads and that are ready to take the next step toward building their production vCloud infrastructure.
  • VMware Operational Readiness for Cloud Computing Service: Offers a four- to six-week engagement in which VMware consultants examine existing operational practices to evaluate performance across more than 150 attributes in five key areas. They uncover unknown or hidden barriers to success and highlight areas in which additional focus on people or process can deliver increased productivity, streamline operations, and improve overall vCloud solution results.

Services can be combined or customized to meet your specific requirements.

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