VMware vCloud Air On Demand Part 1

Last week I was given access to the new vCloud Air OnDemand service and $1000 dollars in service credits to put it through its paces and then blog about it so that you can decide if it might be for you. I have to admit I was pretty excited about it too, because while I do maintain a lab and a colo environment, it’s always good to have options, plus anything I can offload from my home lab means less power usage 🙂

Anyhow my grand plan is to create some how to videos using the Techsmith’s SnagIt capture software, but until I get home and have some time to do that I thought I would just post up a general overview with screenshots on what the interfaces look like, and what you get access to as an OnDemand customer.

I’m sure you can handle logging in on your own so lets skip right to the main service interface. When you login you are presented with what looks like a generic Air portal… maybe they plan to expand the service offerings in the future and this is where you would see your “Air Object Storage” or something like that. For now however, all we have is the “Virtual Private Cloud OnDemand” icon. This will take us to the service portal.

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The first time you login you will be asked where you want your first VPC (or virtual private cloud) to be provisioned. I’m in the central U.S. so I picked Virgina as it’s the closest to me. If you are a global organization you might want to have multiple VPC’s spread out depending on your workload and where your users are coming from.

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After selecting where to provision your VPC you will see a message that it is doing it, it only took a couple of minutes for it to get mine ready.

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From there you see the service portal home page. This is basically a more simple interface that you can do the easy admin tasks from. However don’t forget that you also get full vCloud Director interface access, so if you are already used to vCloud Director you can jump over to that interface and do all your stuff from there.

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Creating your first VM

Let me start by saying that by default your new virtual private cloud is locked down pretty good in terms of security. So when you get done creating your first VM don’t be surprised when it cannot access the internet. This is because you will need to first create some firewall rules and NAT rules to allow your internal traffic outbound. I will cover how to add those rules in the next article.

So to create a VM you can click on the button in the middle of the service console, that will initiate a wizard that will also provide you with the VMware service catalog, which already has some templates that you can leverage to get up and running quickly. I picked the Ubuntu 12.04 64 bit template as I will create a simple web server for this article.

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After selecting a template you get the option to customize the amount of resources you want to give to the VM. In this case I toned it down a little, after all I don’t want to burn my entire credit on one VM. It’s pretty nice that it also gives you a price estimate per hour as you are adjusting your specs. Once done, click Create Virtual Machine and vCloud Director will get to work.

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Before you will be able to power on your VM there is a status bar at the top middle of the browser that will alert you to when the provisioning is complete. Just like with vCloud Director though sometimes if you click on something else then come back to the page you were on it will force it to refresh a little sooner.

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Once you select a VM you can power it on, or you can click on the Actions drop down button and get a whole list of available options. One of the handy ones is Manage in vCloud Director, which is a direct link into the vCloud Director portal that the VM resides in. Go ahead and power on your VM. Then click on its name. when you do you will see some details about the VM, but also the initial root password. you will need this to login to the console of the vm. Speaking of the console, you can also launch a console window from the VM details page.

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Once you launch the console and the VM does its initial customizations to make it personal to you, you will be able to login. Use root as the username and the initial password listed on the details page. (the #1 red dot shows you where I logged in). Immediately after logging in for the first time you will be forced to change the root password (#2 red dot). After changing your password you have your first VM up and running!

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Lastly let’s check to see what our new VM uses as its LAN ip address. you will want to make a note of this so we can use it in our NAT rules.

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Just remember there will be no external (i.e. Internet) access at this time. Check out Part 2 of my VMware vCloud Air On Demand articles to learn how to create the firewall and NAT rules needed to get outside the firewall. (Part 2 coming soon… when I’m not at 33k feet).

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