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vCloud Basics for IT Admins: Key Features

By: David Davis

In my experience with speaking at conferences and creating video software training courses, one of the primary obstacles I must overcome when discussing VMware’s cloud computing solutions is assisting VMware Admins in understanding what “vCloud “ is. 

Some people think vCloud is a third party public cloud solution. Some people think it creates private clouds. Some people think vSphere is vCloud. Because confusion is common, I thought I would write a short post explaining what vCloud is and key features VMware admins should be aware of when getting started with vCloud. 

First, I want to point out that I don’t work for VMware so these views are my own, and not VMware’s official marketing message. VMware’s official product pages for anything related to vCloud are located here. 

In this blog post I’ll discuss what vCloud is, what the solutions are that make it up, and how it can help you.

vCloud Overview

VMware says that vCloud looks like this:Vcloudbasics1However, let me explain it in my own words. From my perspective, it breaks down into just 2 basics things that you really must understand, like this: 

  • vCloud Director
  • vCloud Public Clouds

Before I explain these two, let me first cover some common misunderstandings about vCloud…

  • vCloud is not vSphere. vSphere is the underlying hypervisor that runs on physical hardware and makes vCloud infrastructure clouds possible, but they aren’t the same. Just because you use vSphere doesn’t mean that you have a vCloud or are using cloud computing.
  • vCloud isn’t a product. You don’t buy or sell “vCloud” by itself. There are a number of VMware products and services, as well as other companies’ services that start with the word vCloud. You may “use vCloud Director to implement a private infrastructure cloud” but you don’t just use “vCloud”.

vCloud is a family of products offered both by VMware and third-party service providers, with the primary two products being vCloud Director and vCloud datacenter services (such as vCloud Powered Services).

vCloud Director

Sold only by VMware and VMware partners, vCloud Director is used to create private clouds (by private companies) or public clouds (by service providers). It sits on top of vSphere and works with vCenter to provide:

  • Virtual datacenters
  • Fast provisioning with link cloning
  • Multi-tenant organizations
  • vShield security for secure multi-tenancy
  • Infrastructure service catalogs

One of the most powerful things about vCloud Director is the vCloud API that it offers, offering the ability to create custom applications or front-ends that interface with it. 


vCloud Director is available with a 60 day evaluation (that includes vSphere and vCenter).

vCloud Datacenter Services

When service providers use vCloud Director they can become vCloud Datacenter partners or providers of vCloud Powered services. These providers offer public infrastructure clouds, powered by vSphere and running vCloud Director.

There are eight VMware vCloud Datacenter partners worldwide, and over a hundred providers of vCloud Powered services. The directory of all vCloud providers (with the option to evaluate some of them for free) is found at vCloud.VMware.com.


To sum “vCloud” up, today, it’s vCloud Director used either within your company to create a private cloud or used by a service provider to create a public cloud.

So if you’re a VMware Admin or new to vCloud, I hope that this post has given you a better understanding of vCloud’s key features and how your organization can benefit from them. Learn more about VMware vCloud here.

David Davis is a VMware Evangelist and vSphere Video Training Author for Train Signal. He has achieved CCIE, VCP,CISSP, and vExpert level status over his 15+ years in the IT industry. David has authored hundreds of articles on the Internet and nine different video training courses for TrainSignal.com including the popular vSphere 5 and vCloud Director video training courses. Learn more about David at his blog or on Twitter and check out a sample of his VMware vSphere video training course from TrainSignal.com.


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