Cloud Services

From Your Workstation to the Cloud

If you’ve used VMware Workstation lately you might have noticed something a bit new since version 11 was released: native, built-in integration with VMware vCloud® Air™.

A little while back I wrote a post on how to migrate a VM built in VMware Fusion to vCloud Air.  In this post, I’ll be doing something similar, however we’ll be looking at the new vCloud Air integration with VMware Workstation.

Before I begin, I did want to point something out: to support vCloud Air OnDemand, users would need to upgrade Workstation to version 11.1.  You can download it from here. This post assumes a vCloud Air subscription service, but behaves the same way in OnDemand.

In addition to the great new features for running and managing local Virtual Machines (i.e. VM’s running on the Windows or Linux computer I’m actually sitting in front of), users are now given the ability to upload, download and manage workloads in vCloud Air. This is an exciting feature that both the Workstation team and the vCloud Air teams are proud of.

Having been a team lead on the Workstation and Fusion support group earlier in my career this release is near and dear to my heart, so I couldn’t be happier to see these two worlds collide.

So, why would you do this?  Well, for starters it’s a great way to test some things, get a website punched out quickly, or just use it like a backup for your VM (which will make more sense with “OnDemand” billing only for storage resources if the VM is powered off).  The reasons why are many, and this is what makes having the same technology on prem and in the cloud a winning combination.

One of the things that I’ll do is have my website contained in a VM, and after the first upload, I’ll re-upload that VM if I make fundamental code changes or am pushing an entirely new release of my site.  Same goes the other way — if I make some changes in production, say a security patch to the Guest OS, I can pull down a copy and import that into my Workstation.  (Today the ‘pull’ operation would go through the vCloud Director backend interface in vCloud Air, download and save as OVF, but bi-directional copy directly within Workstation is something we’re working on.)

In my case, it’s just WordPress and I don’t do a lot of customization, but because it’s all self-contained I can take my toys and play in a different sandbox if I want. I like having that choice, because there are a lot of interesting vCloud partners who have compatible services similar to vCloud Air.

After going through building and migrating things to a couple of other clouds in the market today, this choice is a bigger deal than I think people make noise about. I’m just a one-man shop (in the case of my little website, anyway), but if I were on a team and under a deadline, and needed to make sure things would work in the future, I would have had a much harder time and I’d have to learn a whole new set of stuff. If we’re on a team that is used to things a certain way, and we’re under the gun in terms of time and budget, all those cycles learning how to ‘cloud’ all over again just end up being time that could be better spent elsewhere.

Like I wrote in my book “Getting Started with VMware Fusion,” one key principle when working with VMs is to separate ‘Your Data’ from ‘Your Application.’  In this case, WordPress (‘My Data‘) is getting backed up through standard means (in my case a WordPress plugin/extension), and the rest of the OS, php runtimes and DB that support it are all a part of the VM (‘My Application’).  They don’t change often (only really for security patches), so I don’t need a granular snapshot of that, but I definitely want the ‘App’ to be as portable as possible.

So, with this solution I’m covered. Website get hacked? Restore from the ‘Gold’ Template that we uploaded to the cloud, import WordPress backup. DDoS? Fire up another instance, set up load balancing (which is FREE in vCloud Air, by the way), or go big with CloudFlare, Dyn DNS or Google DNS (coming soon!) services and load balance that app in multiple vCloud Air locations across the globe.

Anyway, I could wax poetic all day about all the interesting things that now become possible when the Hypervisor on my desk is the same as the Hypervisor I use in my cloud.

Not only does this make an independent IT consultant more nimble and able to move around, but it’s also pretty handy if you’re in a corporate environment. If you’re a vSphere shop, to be able to give your IT guy the ‘big new project’ you’ve been working on as a single file is pretty great and saves a lot of steps trying to package things. Get the latest Template from IT, build your thing, give them a copy of the VM to put into production. Easy.

But again, that’s just one of the many potential use-cases here. I could go on, so let’s jump in and take a look.

Workstation_vCloud2If you notice in the screenshot, it’s Workstation 11, which is actually running in VMware Fusion 7.1.0, managing my workloads in vCloud Air. That’s pretty meta (oh, and it’s running inside Windows 10 Preview, because why not?).

What’s interesting about the feature is that it’s very similar to the vCloud Air integration we developed for our vSphere Web Client. It allows a user to quickly log into vCloud Air, and manage VMs that the user has entitlement for.


Admins can, for instance, create end users that are only able to view a small subset of Virtual Machines running in vCloud Air.  When the end user connects, they will only see their authorized workloads represented.Workstation_vCloud4

Here, I’m a full admin so we can see the Virtual Data Centers that I’ve created in my Dedicated Cloud environment, but I can also see workloads in my other vCloud Air environments, including DR.

Once we’ve connected, we can do some interesting things. For starters, we can use VMRC to access the console.


We can also upload to vCloud Air. This is where it gets interesting.


We select which Virtual Data Center we want to drop this into, and we’re off to the races!


Once uploaded, it shows up in the Portal as well as in the vSphere Client if you’ve connected the Hybrid Cloud plugin.




To finalize things in the cloud, we should make sure to attach the VM to an appropriate network. The VM needs to be powered off for this, so right after we upload is as good a time as any.



DHCP should take care of the rest, but depending on the config of the local Guest, you might have to manually edit the networking information.

I already have a Firewall rule to allow outbound traffic, and a NAT rule to map my Cloud VMs to the Gateway IP, so I didn’t need to do anything new there, but if you haven’t set that up yet you’ll need to. Have a look here at the Networking Guide for the details on how to do that.

One of the limitations at this point is that we can’t do power controls from Workstation yet, so we need to power it on from the Portal or the vSphere client. This will be addressed in a point release.

Once the VM is uploaded and powered on, we can see that back in Workstation.


And we can use VMRC to interact with the VM, again right from Workstation.


So there you have it! The cloud, right in your hands through VMware Workstation and vCloud Air! What a time to be alive!

Ready to get started with the cloud for Development and Testing? Sign up today for VMware vCloud Air OnDemand.

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4 comments have been added so far

  1. Hi Michael

    Looking at T&C for OnDemand im unable to locate the statement you refer to here..

    “just use it like a backup for your VM (which will make more sense with “OnDemand” billing only for storage resources if the VM is powered off). “

    According to the documentation here:

    It should be from when it is assigned..

    The CPU and Memory resources allocated to your virtual machines are metered on a per-minute basis when powered on, and storage on a per-minute basis from the time of allocation to a virtual machine. The Public IP addresses are metered per-minute upon initial allocation to Gateways.


  2. Great, i totally read that statement as having the VM powered on.. not off… it’s to early this morning it seems

    i’m sorry for the confusion 😉

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