VMware vCloud Director Essentials: Introduction and Setup

Welcome to this two-part series on VMware vCloud Director. In part one, we’ll give you an overview of vCloud Director administration. We’ll go into the web Interface that vCloud Director admins would spend their time in, and then we’ll go through the different tabs and options and other things you might typically see when administering vCloud Director.

From there, we’ll move on and perform the first step in setting up vCloud Director from the Web Interface, which is to connect it to a vCenter Server and a vShield Manager virtual appliance. In part two of this series, we’ll show you how to create a Provider Virtual Datacenter and VM Deployment Template.

(Instructional video below provides a walkthrough of the steps contained in this article.)

vCloud Director Administration Overview

When it comes to administering VMware vCloud Director, things are primarily done at the Web Interface. The Web Interface is rich and it really has everything that you’ll need to administer vCloud Director. Whether you’re an administrator or an end user, you’ll spend most of your time with vCloud Director’s Web Interface.

To access the Web Interface, you can just type in the IP address or the domain name of your vCloud Director virtual machine or physical server (if you chose that route) into your Web browser.

ip address to vmware vcloud director

That’s most likely going to redirect you to:

where name-of-your-server is just the IP address/name of your vCloud Director server.

ip address to vmware vcloud director redirected

If you created a static DNS entry or alias for the IP address, then you can enter that into your browser instead and you’ll still be redirected to the same login screen.

If you log in using an administrator account, you will be brought to the administration homepage. On the upper-left corner of the screen, you should see the tabs: System, Home, Manage & Monitor, and Administration. On the other hand, if you log in as an end user, you will see a tab named My Cloud instead of Manage & Monitor and Administration.

vcloud director home page

You can navigate to the home screen, to Manage & Monitor (if you’re an administrator), or to My Cloud (if you’re an end user). From there, you can administer the VMWare vCloud virtual infrastructure, roll out new virtual machines, create new organizations, create virtual data centers, create new vApps, access virtual machine consoles, and so on.

A little lower on the same page is the Quick Start section, which you’ll be using to get vCloud Director up and configured with a connection to vCenter/vShield, a Provider virtual DataCenter, as well as other network and organizational stuff.

vcloud director home page - quick start

The items on the right-hand side, which consist of a nice Getting Started Guide, Help, VMware Support, Feature Request, and About, can also be accessed by clicking on the Help drop-down menu at the top.

help dropdown menu

Inside Preferences, you can set preferences for whatever account you’re logged in to.


There you can do things like:

Specify where you’d like to be brought the moment you log in;

preferences - start page

Configure alerts related to leases; or

configure alerts

Change your password.

change password

But if you’re an administrator, the tab where you would really spend most of your time would be in the Manage & Monitor tab. This is where you’ll be creating new organizations and provider data centers; managing networks; creating connections to vCenters, Resource Pools, Datastores, Switches and Port Groups; access Log files; and administer Blocking Tasks.

manage and monitor

The Administration tab, on the other hand, is where you would administer Users, Roles, as well as System Settings like Email, LDAP, Password Policies, Cloud Branding, Public Addresses, and Blocking Tasks.


When you click on each of those menus, you’ll notice a little gear at the top of the center panel. If you click on that gear, you’ll be presented with a set of actions which you can perform in the context of that particular menu. For example, you can create a new user or issue a notification.

submenus in gear

The (+) icon on that same row is also for adding a new user.

create a new user

Down at the bottom-left corner are links to access running and failed tasks. You can click on them to find out the status of your tasks, which is very similar to what you would find in your vSphere Client.

running and failed tasks

If you’re used to using the vSphere Client, you’ll find many similarities with it and this Web interface. It has even more similarities with the new vSphere Web Client.

Before we proceed to the next section, I’d like to talk about those two left and right arrows you see at the upper-left corner of the screen. Those function just like the backward and forward buttons of your Web browser. They can come in handy when you put your Web Interface in full-screen view because that’s when your browser’s back and forward buttons become hidden.

back and forward buttons

In the succeeding sections, we’ll be spending most of our time going through the Quick Start menu. Going through those 8 different tasks under Quick Start is really the best way to get started.

quick start

Once those steps are completed, the section called Tasks, located underneath Quick Start, will become accessible. You can then jump straight from the Home screen into managing provider virtual data centers, networks, network pools, organizations, organization vDCs, and so forth.


Connecting to vCenter and vShield

Now let’s talk about connecting VMware vCloud Director to vCenter and vShield. This is really the first thing you need to do once you go through that Initial Setup wizard. That’s why it’s the first task they will have you perform under the Quick Start menu.

Actually, you won’t be able to do anything with vCloud Director until you connect it to vCenter and vShield. There are two ways to do that. The first one is through the Quick Start menu. The other one is through the Attach a New vCenter Wizard under Manage & Monitor.

Typically, what admins do is use the Quick Start menu first to attach a new vCenter for their very first vCenter. Then later, when they already have other vCenters, they would do it under Manage & Monitor.

Make sure you have a vShield license key in vCenter. Don’t worry, we’ll cover that particular issue here as well.

To connect to vCenter and vShield, you start by logging in as administrator into the vCloud Director interface. You then go to the Home tab and click the Attach a vCenter link.

attach a vCenter

Once the Attach New vCenter dialog box appears, fill up the required fields. Enter the following information:

  • vCenter host name or IP address (you may have to use the corresponding FQDN),
  • Port number – you may take the default value,
  • User name – your administrator user name,
  • Password – your user name’s password,
  • vCenter – a name you make up, which will be shown in vCloud Director, and not the host name of the vCenter server,
  • Description – a brief description of this particular vCenter

After you’re done entering all that, click the Next button.

attach new vCenter

On the next screen, enter the host name or IP address of your vShield Manager as well as the administrative credentials for it, and then click Next.

connect to vShield Manager

The system will then show you the information you entered earlier. See whether you want to change any of those configurations. If you don’t see any, click Finish.

ready to complete

Wait while the system attaches you to vCenter.

attaching to vcenter

Once it’s done attaching, you should see a number of those disabled links under Quick Start (e.g. Create a Provider vDC and Create an external network) and Tasks (e.g. Manage Provider vDCs and Manage external networks) enable. Meaning, you’re now allowed to use them.

enable links

Now, if you go over to the Manage & Monitor tab and click on vCenters under vSphere Resources, you’ll see the vCenter you just configured.

configured vCenter

That means you successfully connected to vCenter. The entry shown under the vShield Manager column should also indicate that a connection has also been made to vShield Manager, but remember that vShield license key we mentioned earlier? That could cause a problem if you don’t go to the vSphere Client and enter it.

Launch your vSphere Client and navigate to Home.

home in vSphere Client

Go to Licensing.

licensing in vSphere Client

You should see a couple of items there that don’t have a license key yet. To add license keys, click on the Manage vSphere Licenses link.

manage vSphere licenses

Paste the needed license keys into the top box.

enter new vSphere license keys

After you’ve added the license keys, you should be able to see the details for those new license keys in the lower box. Review them to see whether you’ve got everything you wanted in there. If they are there, click Next.

new license keys

The next step would be to assign those licenses. Just go into their respective tabs, select the assets to license, and then choose the appropriate licenses for those assets. Finally, click Next.

assign license to asset

Verify that the changes to your licensing configuration are correct and then click Finish.

confirm changes to licensing configuration

manage vSphere licenses


With those licensing issues already out of the way, you should now be ready to proceed to the remaining steps, which we will go over in Part 2 of this post.