The Cloud Provider Pod is a product that I was involved with since the beginning of the development phase. All information are accurate, but for sure some comments or opinions are biased ;-).
Within the session Introducing VMware Cloud Provider Pod Yves Sandfort and Wade Holmes presented a new VMware solution for VMware’s Cloud Service Provider Program (CSPP) (View the session online here). The goal of the Cloud Provider Pod is to easily enable service provider to setup a fully featured and supported vCloud Director environment based on the requirements of the service provider.
In the first step a service provider (or an upcoming vCloud Director provider) uses a browser to access a website, the Cloud Provider Pod Designer – to deliver relevant input parameter that are required for the deployment (like network information, customer data, design options). After going through the wizard the Cloud Provider Pod backend is going to do 2 things.
1) Creation of Documentation Package (Design Documents, Configuration Sheets, Implementation Guides) based on the input data that will be send to the customer via email
2) Creation of Deployment relevant data (Config Files and vRealize Orchestrator Package that is going the be used for the deployment)
Those generated files will be used to deploy vCloud Director in a greenfield environment automatically. The deployment will be initiated via the Cloud Pod Initiator which comes as an OVA file that can be used at a workstation (VMware Fusion / Workstation) or an ESXi host within the datacenter. During the deployment phase a complete SDDC stack will be deployed (blank / naked servers will be used) including vSphere, vCenter, NSX, vCloud Director, RabbitMQ, Cassandra and more depending on the customers input (e.g. vSAN, vRealize Operations, vRealize Network Insights, etc.)
What is the advantage of the Cloud Provider Pod?
- The Cloud Provider Pod reduces the time to design and deploy a fully featured and documented vCloud Director instance to a minimum.
- The Installation is based on VMware’s validated design (VMware Cloud Verified).
- Service Provider can focus their efforts and energy on services around the standardized Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS platform)
- The solution is based on VMware validated designs and fully documented – great for compliance & regulations, isn’t it?
Why vCloud Director?
vCloud Director has been proved to be the platform to create a multi-tenant Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) service for customers to offer catalog and self-service functionality. Over the last years the product has made huge improvements in integrating VMware’s SDDC products like
vSAN, NSX or vRealize Operations more and more into a solution product.
Further developments to the vCloud Director included feature to integrate the vRealize Orchestrator (to deliver XaaS), use it as a Container Platform or customize / create an own UI around the new html5 interface.
How does the Cloud Provider Pod and it’s automatic deployment differ from VMware Cloud Foundation?
While VMware Cloud Foundation offers a great solution to deploy and manage a SDDC, it is not capable of creating a multi-tenant capable cloud environment based on vCloud Director. The Cloud Pod Deployment offers the option to not soley rely on vSAN (even though vSAN usage is definitely encouraged if you ask me ;-) as the storage choice for a service provider. All VMware validated and vSphere compatible hardware can be used for the Cloud Pod Deployment if they fullfil the minimum requirements (e.g. min of 4 ESXi for the management cluster and minimum of 4 ESXi hosts for the workload cluster depending on the amount of availability zones).
How about the costs?
Within VMware’s Cloud Service Provider Program the cost is based on points. The Service Provider is billed per month and only pays for customer workload (in GB memory) that is powered on. The more SDDC functionality (e.g. vCloud Director, NSX, vSAN) the Service Provider is using, the more points are accounted. The Cloud Provider Pod as a solution does not add any additional costs.
What do I think about it?
I believe the Cloud Provider Pod offers a lot of benefit for service provider to focus on their core strength. In times of hyperscalers like AWS or Azure they must differentiate. What I see in the market is that there is still a huge market for customized managed services (Hardware, virtual Servers, OS, Applications). To stay competitive initial investment and operational costs must be reduced. Those costs can be reduced offering vCloud Director functionalities (self-service, catalog). Being able to quickly deploy new vCloud Director instances via the Cloud Pod will have a great reduction in initial costs, a higher quality by being VMware Cloud Verified and a less-error-prone automatic deployment.
During the VMworld session of Yves Sandfort and Wade Holmes the attendees were quite excited about the announcement. vCloud Director creates a huge complexity initially that is tried to being mitigated. Having a complete and environment aligned documentation will help service provider to focus on their core-strength and services they will build around vCloud Director.