Tuesday, 13 January 2015

First experience with VMware vCloud Air

That was my first experience with vCloud Air and I am afraid I can't call it pleasant.

I applied for Early Access program back in November 2014 and VMware promised $1000 credit on my account.

A couple of weeks later I received an invitation from VMware for this program and I went through the registration forms filling all details including credit card number. Once the registration was finished I received another email from VMware which contained common VMware links and confirmation that my account was successfully created, but it didn't have any links or instructions on how to use vCloud Air.

When I checked my account I noticed that the status of VMware vCloud Air service was "provision pending". I contacted VMware Support and was told that I need to wait for couple of days as it takes time to get service arranged.

I have waited for two weeks, but the services stayed in the same status "provision pending"
Opened another support ticket and we started usual email ping-pong game. The case was escalated finally, but it took me several emails and direct contact with the support manager to get this thing going.

45 days after I had applied for this service I was finally provided the root cause of the problem, but not the fix. Apparently VMware couldn't provision vCloud Air for me because my currency at the registration step was set to Australian Dollars which is pretty logic for me because I live in Australia.

Another 2 weeks later VMware managed to fix the problem and provided the access to vCloud Air.

The first bug I noticed is that I couldn't see $1000 credit in my account. Another email to support and I was explained that it was a temporary issue and it would be fixed soon.

The very next thing I did was deploying new VM from the preconfigured templates in public catalog.
I chose W2012 R2, but once it was powered on I couldn't log in using the password I found in the VM properties in Customization section.

I though I might did something wrong. I killed VM and deployed a new one now manually setting the password for VM. Well, it didn't work either but that time I noticed that the VM didn't reboot as it was supposed to do once the customization is over. I have also tried to use the option "Power on and force customization" on the vApp, but this attempt failed too - the VM didn't want to reboot after first power on.

I gave up to solve this problem myself and contacted VMware support for the 4th time. Turned out it was another bug. When you deploy a new Windows VM from a VMware catalog it is provisioned with E1000 NIC which has some driver conflict. This prevents system customization to complete, and thus the admin password is never set.

Here is the VMware KB which explains how to resolve the issue - http://kb.vmware.com/kb/2098020

Lastly, I was going to test performance of VM with some simple Excel macro. I have already tested it on AWS and Azure VMs and in our hosted environment. Unfortunately, non of the cloud providers were able to get close to the results I got on my vSphere farm, and vCloud Air was my last hope.
However, the results were disappointing - Amazon and Microsoft showed way better results.

not much of fun, isn't it?

I really hope all the problems will be fixed soon and that cheap and old fashioned GUI will be replaced with descent portal.