vCloud Air Review

With the VPC, you can run your workloads in an active state, use it for development work and for hosting SQL/Exchange Servers in IaaS; RaaS/DaaS for DR activities.


What is our primary use case?

•DR service and Business Continuity Plan (RaaS) 

•Extension of key production environments in vCloud Air (IaaS)

•Horizon view desktops for remote users and clients (DaaS)

How has it helped my organization?

The projects that I have delivered on vCloud Air have definitely helped clients in having a full DR solution in cloud, for their head office as well as for the remote sites. The solution helped the customers reduce costs and recovery time for hosting their DR environment in vCloud Air, rather than the service provider.

Projects:

  • The customer required the disaster recovery (DR) solution for internal VDI desktops and servers during a data center relocation.
  • DR to be cloud-based using the Replication-as-a-Service to protect around 100 VMs.
  • Active-passive setup for physical SQL and Exchange Servers hosted on-prem and standy servers in IaaS in the vCloud Air Project, to be completed within tight time frames for a customer that outsources internal IT services to multiple organizations.

Solutions:

  • Performed discovery and assessment of the existing environment.
  • Provisioned and integrated cloud environments including the on-premise cloud networking.
  • Replicated production workloads into the cloud, created cloud VDI images, SQL/exchange in IaaS and conducted DR tests.

Results:

  • The Cloud DRaaS solution provided the organization with new levels of flexibility and cost control, together with rapid expansion capability.
  • A key example was the request and provisioning of an additional 6TB of cloud storage within 24 hours.
  • Data center migration successfully de-risked.

What is most valuable?

All three components of the vCloud Air are equally valuable and important, i.e., IaaS, DaaS and RaaS.

I like the Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) offering compared to the Dedicated Cloud. It gives me the flexibility to utilize the pay-as-you-go option. You can run your workloads in an active state at reasonable prices. I have seen lots of companies use it for their development work, as well as for hosting SQL and Exchange Servers, i.e., in the active-passive mode instead of Replication (RaaS).

Disaster Recovery is also a great feature that is affordable and easy to use. Disaster Recovery is a great component of the vCloud Air, where you can protect the on-premises cloud infrastructure, by providing self-service recovery options using the vSphere Replication.

Some of the features that really stand out and I have used in my projects are:

  • Direct Connect: It provides high speed and private line connectivity.
  • Offline Data Transfer: For encrypted bulk data transport.

What needs improvement?

  • I feel the user interface/portal can be improved further. I did experience timeout issues and the UI was performing slowly at times.
  • Multiple recovery of VMs in the cloud are limited to around 8-10 VMs at a time.

I know there have been significant improvements around these features in the latest release.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I did not encounter any stability issues. The platform was always stable and available while delivering the project for the end client.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

There were no scalability issues as such. As mentioned above, during some of the vCloud Air projects, the clients requested additional storage and compute resources for VPC offering. This was provisioned within hours of completing the request form on vCloud Air VPC portal.

How is customer service and technical support?

The support that I received on vCloud Air projects from the client relationship manager to the technical support was really outstanding.

As the scale and scope of project was huge, I did require technical assistance at times. To make it a success too, the vCloud Air technical support people were assigned by VMware. It was an absolute pleasure to meet both ends and have their support on the DR test day.

Which solutions did we use previously?

I have not used another cloud platform other than the vCloud Air. However, I have done integration of the AWS, vCloud Air and the on-prem infrastructure for a client, who wanted to access to all three environments from one another.

How was the initial setup?

It was pretty straightforward to set up VPC in the vCloud Air in order to give access to the users as well as to integrate and provision cloud networking. It was also very easy to setup replication from vCenter to vCloud Air, once the firewall rules were opened up.

What about the implementation team?

It was in partnership with VMware vCloud Air Team

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It depends on the client's requirements and the scope of the project. You have to highlight the pros and cons for both the VPC and the vCloud Air Dedicated Cloud packages. At the end of the day, the platform needs to cater to all of the requirements of the client.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There were a couple of options considered such as the AWS and Azure. Because clients were familiar with vSphere and found it user-friendly, we selected this solution. It was easy to integrate the vCloud Air solution with their existing vSphere/vCenter setups.

What other advice do I have?

- Make the most of Role-based User Account Management.

- Plan for Performance

- Keep it cost effective

IaaS – vCloud Air

  • Create a plan for VLAN/routing and firewall, prior to implementing it in vCloud Air.
  • Only provision compute and storage resources that you need (CPU/memory/disk).
  • Use VMXNET3 for networking.
  • Make VMs public-facing (NAT) or give internet access to VMs, only if its required as public; IPs are chargeable.

RaaS – vCloud Air

  • Upgrade the on-prem environment to the latest vSphere (vCenter/ESXi/VMFS/VMXNet3 etc) and make sure it is compatible with the vCloud Air. You can make maximum use of all the additional supported features.
  • Install the latest version of vSphere Replication.
  • Make sure that the on-prem VMs that you would like to replicate in cloud are not over-provisioned with the compute resources or with the storage.
  • Work out the on-prem firewall and NAT rules that you would like to replicate in RaaS vCloud Air.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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