An overview of VMware tools

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As VMware bundles its management tools into the new vCloud Suite, experts will have to get used to a new style. The package includes the complete product range for service provisioning and operations management and exists in a Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise Edition, among which VMware divides the tools included in the various editions roughly into "cloud management" and "cloud infrastructure" sections.

Besides the vCenter Site Recovery Manager for automated planning, testing, and execution of disaster recovery, all vCloud suite versions include the complete "cloud infrastructure" stack with vCloud Director [3] (Figure 2), based on vSphere virtualization. Also included are the vCloud Connector and vCloud Networking and Security Suite, which among other things is responsible for providing security and availability.

Figure 2: vCloud Director is the hub of the VMware cloud stack and creates a pool of freely distributable cloud resources from virtualization resources (from vmware.com).

The Advanced and Enterprise Editions of vCloud Suite also include the vCenter Operations Management Suite in different expansion stages, such as for monitoring, performance management, and capacity management (Figure 3). The Enterprise edition also includes the vCenter Site Recovery Manager, vFabric Application Director, and vCloud Automation Center. For the first time, the Enterprise version of vCloud Suite supplements the standard tools for cloud infrastructure and operations management with tools for automated provisioning, thanks to vFabric Application Director and vCloud Automation Center.

Figure 3: vCloud suite architecture (from vmware.com).

vFabric Application Director

The vFabric middleware suite [4], consisting of Data Director, SQLFire, GemFire, PostgreSQL, and RabbitMQ, serves as a run-time platform for Java Spring applications. Technically, the Java platform optimized for the Spring Framework consists of an extension for the Tomcat Java application server and vFabric Elastic Memory for Java (EM4J), and a vFabric HTTP server, a commercial variant of Apache. The vFabric Application Director lets you assemble a virtual machine for multitier applications and lets users freely combine all the necessary components (e.g., operating systems, middleware, databases) via drag and drop. Each of the configurations created in this manner can be saved as a blueprint so that other users can produce additional instances of the application when needed.

For the first time, the new version 5.0 of vFabric Director is no longer limited to Linux and now also allows Windows configuration, including desired programs such as SQL Server, Exchange, or SharePoint. Compared with other providers, VMware vFabric Application Director allows you to model applications to suit other infrastructures, such as AWS.

vCloud Automation Center

The new vCloud Automation Center is responsible for provisioning. The software provides users with functions for requesting and deploying IT resources. This means that authorized users can order desired services and benefits single-handedly using a Self-Service Portal.

The software can also track down and, when necessary, recall resources that are no longer needed. It's not just about the provision of vSphere resources, logical partitions, or other virtual infrastructure components furnished with the vCloud Director. In addition to physical hardware, the software also supports foreign hypervisors (KVM, XenServer, Hyper-V) and cloud APIs, such as AWS.

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