vCloud Architecture Toolkit for Service Providers – What is it?

VMware recently released the latest version 2.5 of the vCloud Architecture Toolkit for Service Providers (vCAT-SP). But I know that many service and cloud providers around the globe don’t know what that is and that something like that even exists.

I will therefore try to give a brief overview and introduction to this topic and hopefully show how powerful this toolkit can be for your business.

If you are a VMware cloud provider, like my company, you may have built your cloud environment in the past with a traditional approach: vSphere as base, SAN storages for data placement and a physical network with VLANs for connectivity. And there’s nothing wrong with that. For many of us it has worked for more than a decade.

But now, we are in 2018. Everybody is talking about scaling, software defined anything and integration of different types of cloud. And that’s where vCloud Architecture Toolkit comes in.

What is this vCloud Architecture Toolkit?

I can’t put it better than the official VMware website, so I quote it:

The VMware vCloud Architecture Toolkit for Service Providers (vCAT-SP) is a set of reference documents for VMware Cloud Providers. It is designed to help IT managers and architects construct cloud platforms and service offerings using current technologies, recommended practices, and innovative tools.

vCAT-SP provides attested, validated, and optimized design and support solutions with the most efficient examples to help you make the right choices for your business.

It is therefore less a toolkit than a perfectly harmonized documentation collection of reference designs and best practices.

What do you need for building a SDDC based cloud platform

First you need an SDDC. Planning and setting up this alone can be very challenging. Therefore the reference designs and documentations are a real help.

In a nutshell: In a Software Defined Datacenter all infrastructure layers are virtualized. This includes computing, networking and storage. The desired scalability and automation can only be achieved through this hardware abstraction.

SDDC Stack

But that’s just the base. In addition, you need a cloud stack so that your customers can consume the cloud infrastructure on their own. And a monitoring environment is no less important. Maybe you want to offer a possibility for migrating workloads from on-premise to your cloud, too? Or you would like to offer a DR solution? And finally, VMware requires a metering solution for the license costs.

Therefore, a possible architecture overview could be:

vCloud Architecture Toolkit - Overview

And that’s the practical thing. You don’t have to implement or use all of it. There are some features and products that are mandatory to match the reference design and other modules are optional. There is a table in the vCAT-SP reference design listing what the core functions are and what you need to use and what you can, but don’t need to use.

You can also be flexible with the software versions used. As long as it is on VMware’s Product Interoperability Matrix, it is supported. But VMware can guarantee performance on comparable hardware with the proposed and tested versions.

What are the key benefits of the vCloud Architecture Toolkit?

There are some advantages over developing a solution yourself. For example:

  • Who else has the know-how to create a certified reference design, if not VMware itself?
  • These designs are based on the experience of many service providers.
  • Since these are certified reference designs, they are checked and fully supported across all stacks. Therefore, there are no incompatibilities between individual products.
  • The certified reference designs are scalable and provide the best possible performance and stability. And these are important key aspects for every service provider.
  • You don’t have to gather all necessary information yourself. They are collected in one place: The vCloud Architecture Toolkit for Service Providers.


I am convinced that this collection of documents can help many service providers to provide a stable and powerful cloud environment for customers.
It contains everything you need for this. From recommended products and versions to reference designs, architecture details and performance test metrics. Therefore, the vCloud Architecture Toolkit provides the foundation and all the information needed to build a modern cloud platform for the future today.

Further reading


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