vCloud Connector: Public Cloud Transfers with no Private vSphere Environment

I have already blogged quite extensively about vCloud Connector – a tool for transfers of VMs, vApps and catalogs between public and private vSphere or vCloud Director based clouds. This post is dedicated to one particular use case, let’s call it ‘Developer Use Case‘. Here the user is not VI Admin, but a developer that wants to deploy his apps to public clouds. He has no access to private vSphere environment and obviously to vCenter Server.

vCloud Connector (vCC) consists of vCloud Connector Server, vCloud Connector Nodes and vCloud Connector Client. In the past the vCloud Connector was accessible either through vCenter Server plugin or through web interface at http://vcloud.vmware.com/connector. However as of April 2nd 2013 VMware discontinued the web interface access which means that vCenter Server plugin is currently the only option to use vCloud Connector.

The web portal was great for the Developer Use Case. The developer did not need to have access to vSphere, vCenter, vSphere client or even a Windows machine and could use vCloud Connector from his Mac or Linux browser.

What now follows in this article is basically a description how the Developer Use Case can still be fulfilled even after April 2nd. The idea is to use vCenter Server Appliance and deploy it to the cloud together with vCloud Connector Server. This vCenter Server Appliance will not manage any ESX hosts and will be basically used only for the instantiation of the vCloud Connector Client interface. The thick (.NET) vSphere Client is still needed (as at the moment there is no vCC plugin for vSphere Web Client), this also means a Windows OS, so the developer will need either physical Windows desktop, or a virtual one on his PC or running also in the cloud and accessible via RDP.

How to deploy vCenter Server to the public vCloud Director cloud

  1. From VMware website download vCenter Server Appliance. I have used the version 5.1.0b which comes as one large OVA file.
  2. As we cannot import OVA file to vCloud Director we first need to unzip the file to get the OVF format. This can be done easily by adding .zip extension to the downloaded file and using WinZip or similar utility.
  3. Import the OVF file into your organization catalog.
  4. As I also had vCC Server and vCC Node in the catalog I deployed them together into one vApp.
    vCloud Connector vApp
  5. After accepting EULA, selecting Storage Profile and setting hostnames it is important to put the VMs on one internet routable network and manually assign IP addresses from the static pool of the organization VDC network. We cannot just rely on Guest Customization as the IP address assignment is part of the vApp property which is applied when the vApp is deployed. So in my case I used (the default) 192.168.1.0/24 subnet for the org VDC network, where IP 192.168.1.1 was used for the internal interface of the Edge Gateway and IPs 192.168.1.2-192.168.1.4 were used for vCenter Server, vCloud Connector Server and vCloud Connector Node.IP Assignment Static - Manual
  6. On the next page we are presented with the vApp properties. Here we have to again manually assign the correct IP addresses as specified in the previous step. As I am deploying 3 imported vApps at once it looks quite confusing as the properties of each are merged into one screen. The default gateway address is the Edge Gateway internal interface and subnet is 255.255.255.0.Imported vApp Network Properties
  7. After the deployment is finished we will get vCloud Connector vApp which looks like this:vCloud Connector vApp Networking Diagram
  8. We will need to access all three VMs from the internet to configure their Virtual Appliance Management Interface (VAMI) which runs on TCP port 5480. If you have 3 external IP addresses you can set up destination NAT (DNAT) rules for each VM on the Edge Gateway. vCC Node and vCC Server will also need to access internet therefore source NAT (SNAT) rule must be created for them. We could actually get away with just one external IP address: we could use port forwarding for the VAMI interface of each VM runnning on port 5480 (or we could even configure them over console from another VM with supported browsed deployed in the cloud). Please refer to my other post linked at the beginning of the article for the advanced networking information. In my lab I have luxury of 3 external IP addresses represented by 10.0.2.151-10.0.2.153 range.
    NAT rules
  9. Next we need to create firewall rules. As I already mentioned we need TCP port 5480 for VAMI interface. We also need TCP port 443 for vSphere Client connectivity to vCenter and TCP port 443 for incoming and outgoing traffic for vCloud Connector Node.
    Firewall Rules
  10. Now we can start the vApp and start configuring the VMs. I will skip the vCC Server and Node configuration and will focus on the vCenter Appliance part.
  11. The inital configuration of vCenter Appliance is done via browser pointing to the 5480 port. In my case I am accessing the external NATed IP: https://10.0.2.151:5480. Default login is ‘root’ and password ‘vmware’.
  12. After accepting EULA on the Configure Options screen I set custom configuration
    vCenter Configure Options
  13. The I chose embedded database and embedded SSO and did not enable Active Directory.
  14. After the vCenter Server service (together with database and SSO) is started (which takes a while) do not forget to change the default password and optionally disable not needed services.
    vCenter Services
  15. Now we can register vCC Server with this newly deployed vCenter Server. As they are on the same org VDC network I am using vCenter internal IP address (192.168.1.2).
    vCC Server vCenter Server registration
  16. That’s it. Now we can download vSphere Client and connect to the external IP address of vCenter Server and access the vCloud Connector Plugin in the Solutions and Applications section of the vCenter home page.
    vCC Plugin

Licensing

There is one catch. Unlike the standard edition of vCloud Connector, vCenter Server is a licensed product. We can use the evaluation version for 60 days but what happens then? It turns out that even with expired license of vCenter Server you can still access the vCloud Connector plugin. So from technical standpoint it is possible to use vCenter Server without a license with vCloud Connector. Not sure what are the legal implications though (IANAL).

Expired vCenter Server License

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One thought on “vCloud Connector: Public Cloud Transfers with no Private vSphere Environment

  1. Nice Idea 🙂

    Nested vCenter Environment within vCloud, I think it’s a very useful tip/trick to test/educate vCloud Connector, but might also confuse people at first, if they aren’t used to vCloud / Nested / tricks like this one. (I think it also fits perfectly your developer use case).

    Way to go !

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