An introduction to VMware vCloud Automation Center

One of the less known solutions of VMware is vCloud Automation Center or vCAC for short. The foundation of vCAC is based on DynamicOps Cloud Automation Center 4.5 software. DynamicOPS  was acquired by VMware in July 2012. The current version of vCAC is 5.1

vCAC enables automated provisioning of both virtual machines and physical servers (including the guest operating system). Provisioning of both on-premises and cloud infrastructures is supported. vCAC enables authorized end-users to quickly have access to servers without IT having to perform the provisioning. Provisioning is so reduced from days to minutes.

Agility, speed of provisioning and reducing costs are the top 3 business drivers for companies looking to deploy private and hybrid cloud infrastructures.

Typical use case scenario’s for vCAC are service providers, large organizations and organizations which do a lot of testing and development. Those environments are very dynamic with relatively many changes.
Supported resources (vCAC calls them endpoints) are VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V 2008 and Citrix XenServer. KVM support is on the roadmap for first half of 2013. Supported public clouds are all cloud providers which support VMware vCloud standard (over 150 providers worldwide) and Amazon Web Services Elastic Cloud Computing EC2.  Supported physical servers are those equipped with HP iLO, Dell iDrac and Cisco UCS.  There is no out of the box Windows Azure endpoint available. However  integration with vCAC can be provided via VMware Professional services.  For IBM bare metal server support VMware Professional services can be approached as well. Also offered is interfacing to VMware vCenter Orchestrator 5.1 and Powershell.

vCAC does lifecycle management as well. At request for a new VM the end of life of the VM can be set. At the end of the use period the VM is deleted automatically by vCAC.  Also chargeback is possible.

vCAC supports a wide range of image deployment tools. Microsoft SCCM and Citrix Provisioning Server are a few examples. See the image below for a complete overview.

vcac-image-support
For a full overview of supported systems see the vCloud Automation Center Support Matrix.

vCAC enables IT-departments to serve as a  broker service for internal cloud consumers. End-users are able to create virtual machines/physical servers from a self service portal consuming the resources that have been allocated to them by the IT-administrator. Gartner predicts that IT organizations will increasingly be assuming internal “cloud services brokerage” roles — overseeing  the provisioning and consumption of  heterogeneous and often complex cloud services for “their internal users and external business partners.”

You can think of vCAC as a abstraction layer above hypervisors, public clouds and physical servers. It’s functionality pretty much looks like vCloud Director. Only vCloud Director is limited in its support; it supports VMware infrastructures (vCenter, ESX) only. cVAC can connect to vCloud Director and to vCenter Server. vCAC will be integrated with  VMware vFabric Application Director in 2013 to be able to perform Platform as a Service.

In an IT-world in which hybrid clouds are becoming the standard it is interesting to see what the roadmap  of vCloud Director and vCAC will be. Will VMware continue develop both solutions?

vCAC is available as a standalone license and as well as part of the VMware vCloud Enterprise suite.

More information

VMware has a free online eLearning course available on vCAC. Register here.

Viktor van den Berg has a detailed posting on vCloud Automation Center here.

Dailyhypervisor.com has a series of postings on how to install vCloud Automation Center. vcacteam.info also has a lot of information.

Randy Stanley, VCDX #94 and blogger at Killerclouds.com has a series of postings on vCAC as well.

VMware vCloud Automation Center – vCAC Posts

VMware documentation

YouTube video: vCloud Automation Center Product Overview
vCloud Automation Center Reference Architecture
vCloud Automation Center Operating Guide
vCloud automation Center Frequently Asked Questions

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About Marcel van den Berg
I am a technical consultant with a strong focus on server virtualization, desktop virtualization, cloud computing and business continuity/disaster recovery.

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