vCloud Director 5.1 Features and their vSphere Dependency

I see more and more customers are migrating from vCloud Director 1.5 to vCloud Director 5.1. One question they have is: “Do we have to migrate to vSphere 5.1 at the same time”? The answer is definite no. vCloud Director 5.1 supports vCenter 5.0 and ESXi 5.0 and even ESX(i) 4.0U2 if managed by vCenter 5.

I always recommend to upgrade vCloud Director in two phases.

Phase 1 (vCloud Director Upgrade)

  • vCloud Director Cell operating system (RHEL). RHEL 5 is still supported but if customer wants to use RHEL 6 he will need to deploy a new cell as RHEL 5 to RHEL 6 upgrade is not possible.
  • vCloud Director runtime upgrade
  • vCloud Director database schema upgrade
  • vShield Manager upgrade
  • vShield Edges upgrade

Phase 2 (vSphere Upgrade)

  • Installation of SSO
  • Installation of Inventory Service
  • Installation/upgrade of Web Client
  • vCenter Server upgrade
  • ESX hosts upgrade
  • distributed virtual switches upgrade

As the phases can be spread out in time this brings the main topic of the article – which new vCloud Director 5.1 features depend on vSphere 5.1 and will not be available during the time between Phase 1 and Phase 2? I have compiled a table which lists the new vCloud Director features and if that feature will be available with vSphere 5.0 (vCenter 5.0 + ESX 5.0. Note: I don’t dare to consider ESX 4).


vSphere 5.0

VM Snapshots

Storage Profiles

Elastic VDC

Allocation pool Org VDC type can span multiple clusters. Online migrations and merging of Provider VDCs.
Provider Single Sign On vCenter SSO required
Customer Single Sign On

VXLAN Networks vSphere 5.1 vmkernel module is required
Storage clusters (SDRS)

VM placement engine leverages SDRS. Migration of linked clones supported. Difference in shadow VM handling¹
New Edge Gateway Features

Performance, HA, Load balancing, DNS relay, Rate limits, Multiple interfaces, IP allocations, SNAT and DNAT rules
Virtual Hardware 9 Requires vSphere 5.1 (64 vCPUs)
Additional Guest OS Support


Depends on ESX version (Windows 8/2012 requires ESXi 5.0 U1), but Virtual Hardware 9 is recommended (KB 2034491)
NFS VAAI Fast Provisioning Requires vSphere 5.1 (hardware accelerated linked clones)
Clustered database support

¹) With vSphere 5.0 vCloud Director does not use SDRS recommendation for linked clone placement (Fast Provisioning). vCloud Director picks individual datastore and optionally deploys shadow VM. With vSphere 5.1 vCloud Director fully leverages SDRS recommendations, shadow VMs are deployed by vSphere SDRS.

Table in PNG format.

Disclaimer: I don’t claim this table is complete and that it is an official VMware document. If you think something is missing, please comment and I will edit the table.

Edit 27 April 2013: Explained difference in linked clone placement.

3 thoughts on “vCloud Director 5.1 Features and their vSphere Dependency

  1. with vshield manager 5.1.2 it is required esxi5.1 for vxlan with nexus 1000v? Or esx5.1 is required only when vmware dvs is used for vxlan?

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