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Sorry for such a basic question but...I was wondering if vSphere is the correct tool to use for provisioning virtual machines to users? Basically, I have development and QA teams working on multiple projects that periodically need additional temporary servers (linux and Windows) to do work. I want to be able to either allow them to provision their own servers as needed or at least have a sys admin provision them upon request. I was wondering if vSphere is the correct technology/tool or if there is something else that would be more appropriate? Of course, I know we have to have the proper hardware resources available to support the requested VMs. I am basically interested right now in the software and any special hardware requirements needed for a VM provisioning system.


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closed as not constructive by MDMarra, mdpc, mgorven, Ward, gWaldo May 17 '13 at 17:25

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I have seen an automated server checkout/checkin system using a combination of vSphere and another product. I believe there are two or three but can't recall their names, sorry. – mdpc May 16 '13 at 18:10

vSphere is the core virtualization suite from VMware. For self-service provisioning like you're talking about, you'll need both vSphere to support the core virtualization component as well as vCloud Director, which is an add-on component that runs on top of vSphere.

Of course, you can use Hyper-V with SCVMM and SC Orchestrator or things like OpenStack with Xen/KVM for this as well. But if you're using a VMware solution, you're looking for vCloud Director.

If you don't care about self-service and you just want admins to spin up a clone or template, then yes vSphere (vCenter + ESXi) will work fine for a VMware-centric solution.

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vCloud Director is probably overkill for what he is looking for. I think vCenter is more than sufficient for what he wants to do. – Rex May 16 '13 at 18:11
If he needs a self-service component, he should be using vCloud Director unless he wants to make his devs vCenter admins yuck. Edited for clarity nonetheless – MDMarra May 16 '13 at 18:12
True - he could also setup a couple hosts dedicated to test/dev connected to a separate vCenter that he can make his devs admins of to screw up to their hearts content :) – Rex May 16 '13 at 18:13
I tend to think that vCloud Director is probably overkill in this scenario as well. With a little work vCenter can be used to configure the appropriate level of access to the vSphere hosts/cluster for the devs to provision their own VM's. – joeqwerty May 16 '13 at 18:22

There are a variety of ways to handle this type of request...

You can go anywhere from a single VMware ESXi host with local permissions to a licensed vSphere host/cluster with AD/directory-linked granular permissions to a third-party private cloud solution like OnApp to a full-blown vCloud Director installation.

As someone who supports all of the above in different environments, I think you need to define your needs first, followed by budget, followed by the amount of technical expertise you have available to you.

If you have nothing right now, at least try to come up with a scope of how many systems you'll need to accommodate. That would help with sizing recommendations. Going into this without that information or the appropriate planning can be costly.

More information about the environment would be needed in order to make a better recommendation.

  • Do you have servers?
  • Do you have a dedicated sysadmin?
  • If so, what does your sysadmin prefer? Have you asked?
  • Do you have any existing virtualization in the environment?
  • Do you have Active Directory or some sort of centralized authentication?
  • What is your budget?
  • Are there any requirements to meter usage or implement chargeback to the users consuming this service?
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Microsoft System Center VMM has a lot of self-service-ness in mind. It can provision VMs on Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware and Citrix XenServer. Combine it with appcontroller for a web-based gui.

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You still need vCenter and XenCenter for VMM to provision VMware or Xen VMs though. :( – MDMarra May 16 '13 at 19:26

Another option, which is free, but needs a little effort, it to exploit the very well documented vSphere Web Services API. This is used by PowerCLI - VMware's PowerShell based administration toolkit, but you can access the Web Services directly. If your developers are fluent in SOA based apps, they could quite easily knock up a HTML front end that talks to vCenter via its Web Services interface.

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