New to VMware cloud hosting or thinking of using it for a future IaaS project? If so, you’ll soon find one of the benefits of the platform is its ease of use - both in terms of feature set and user interface (and, for first-time cloud users, an architecture that helpfully mirrors a real-world data centre).
However, one thing we still notice is that not all users make the most of the full range of capabilities that VMware and vCloud Director have to offer. Here, then, are three tips and tricks that should make your time spent in the VMware portal even more efficient, simple and productive.
1. Cloning, templating and cataloguing
Even with vCloud Director, setting up a VM to a specific set of requirements can be time-consuming - so it makes sense to reduce this low-value work as far as possible via the judicious use of VMware’s cloning, templating and cataloguing features.
As the name suggests, cloning a VM will create a complete duplicate of that machine, including configuration and storage (so any installed applications and services will also carry across). A template, on the other hand, can be redeployed as many times as you like, while a Catalog is a library of VM templates that can either be private to your organisation or shared with others. (Your VMware cloud hosting provider may be able to provide Catalogs you can deploy from, for example.)
2. Using snapshots
Taking a snapshot of a VM is a simple way to capture the status of that machine’s disks, memory and settings at a particular point in time, allowing you to roll back any changes or upgrades to the VM that have a detrimental impact on performance, stability or security.
As such, it’s a good habit to get into - regardless of whether or not you expect to encounter problems when making changes to your VMs. Problems with cloud infrastructure aren’t always easy to predict, and having a snapshot ready to restore within seconds can save you a lot of trouble if disruption is ever to occur.
VMware’s best practice notes state that snapshots can be kept for up to 72 hours (after which there can be a performance hit), which is more than long enough to detect any issues resulting from an upgrade.
3. Using the VMware load balancer
Load balancing involves routing network traffic to different servers depending on their current load, pre-empting resource bottlenecks and therefore ensuring consistent performance for all users of an application or service.
Not all IaaS projects require load balancing. However, if it’s something you think you may need from your VMware cloud hosting environment, it’s worth knowing that vCloud Director has a very capable load balancer built in. It’s not the most powerful or customisable when compared to hardware-based load balancers, but it’s well-suited to jobs like routing web traffic to different servers - something you’d want to do if you were running a high-traffic website, for example.