At VMworld 2012 the new VMware vCloud Suite was introduced. vCloud Suite consists of various applications: a.o. vSphere, vCloud Director, Site Recovery Manager and Chargeback Manager. VMware vFabric Application Director is also part of the vCloud Suite.
vFabric Application Director, or just App Director, is not so well known. It’s a stranger in our midst.
So, what is App Director? App Director let you configure and deploy (multi tier) applications in an IAAS cloud environment. To find out what App Director actually is, I attended the VMworld lab “Manage Your Cloud Applications with VMware vFabric Application Director“. This lab showed me what App Director was able to do.
App Director offers a webinterface which allows you to configure the App Director and which enables you to define applications profiles (so called blue prints). These blueprints let you deploy applications…automatically!
Before you can use the App Director you have to connect it to vCloud Director. vCloud Director is used to deploy the actual application.
You’re connecting the App Director to a Virtual Datacenter (VDC) within the vCloud Director.
In the catalog of App Director you can define the various applications. Each application contains details, properties and actions.
Examples of application details are:
- A name;
- A version number;
- Tags (always handy);
- OS that are supported;
- And the components that are supported;
On top of that you can configure certain properties for an application. Properties are custom values which are specific for the application instance you are deploying. The IP address which can be used by the application is an example of a property.
Actions for an App Director application are e.g. install, configure, start and/or update the application. This part brings the magic into the App Director. An action is linked to the install/configure/start or update script. This script can be a bash script for linux or e.g. a powershell script for a Windows application. An example script is shown below, this script was taken from the VMworld Lab (it’s a bash script):
Creating a bash script is a task for the application admin/owner. It contains specific information on how to deploy and configure the application. The configured application properties for the application will be used in the script and determine how the script behaves.
In this screenshot you will found a list of applications that are available in the App Director (taken from the VMworld lab):
Creating a blueprint
After defining one or more applications and linking a VM template to App Director you can create a so called blue print. A blue print contains the definition for your multi tier application. The definition describes which VM template(s) to use and which applications shall be installed on those template(s).
A simple drag and drop interface lets you create the application. When you’re finished you can deploy the application with a click of the mouse.
In most cases you have will dependencies in your multi-tier application. The database has to be available before the application can be deployed. These dependencies can also be configured within the App Director. By configuring these dependencies you are assured the application is deployed properly.
The following screenshot was taken from the VMworld lab and shows you a multi tier application in App Director containing three VMs, the application to be installed on these VMs and the dependencies between these applications:
After you have everything ready you hit the deploy button and the application will be deployed to vCloud Director! In this 4 step deployment process you have to select:
- The deployment environment – where in the cloud is the application deployed?
- You have to set the application properties – e.g. the used IP addresses;
- The execution plan is showed;
- A review of the deployment is shown in step 4. If you’re satisfied you can deploy the new application.
You will end up with a ready to use deployed multi-tier application in vCloud Director. Is that cool or what? App Director is also capable in updating and/or extending the application.
I think this article will give you a good first impression of the VMware Application Director solution. More information about this solution (including a trial download) is available on the VMware website.