The VMware software layer is also employed when you start communicating with your running machines. You can open up the SSH port if you like, but the simplest path is to use VMware's remote client. One screen on your portal shows a list of all of your virtual machines. If you click on one row, the VMware remote client will start up a connection in another window of your browser. This process was a bit glitchy for me, but I finally got it to work with Firefox. Once it started going, I was able to fiddle with the server from my desktop. The video wasn't as snappy, but that's the price of working across the country from the server.
To get a feel for the speed of Dell's cloud machines, I pushed a Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual machine through the DaCapo benchmarks, a set of Java routines that tests many common Java server applications. As with other virtual machines in other clouds, the results varied greatly. Many of the benchmarks were 50 to 100% faster than an Amazon High-CPU instance (14.5 cents per hour). But others, such as the image rendering tests (batik and sunflow), ran neck and neck.
These differences mean you must try out your application yourself to see if you're getting the performance you want. For instance, the lucene indexing routines were faster on the Dell medium than on the Amazon High-CPU box, but the searching tests ran in the same amount of time. The good news is you can fiddle with the VMware machine on your desktop until you get the right combination of software packages and device routines to improve your performance.
If you like VMware, you'll like Dell Cloud. Here, the Dell Cloud portal offers a visual depiction of the virtual machines you have running in your VMware vApp.
The network you knowDell is also offering the same kind of transparency for the network configuration. You can choose between a number of different networking options for your VM once you get it running. You can configure internal and external networks, as well as reconfigure your virtual boxes in much the same way as you would your real servers. When you want your machines to speak to the outside, you can monkey around with NAT and DHCP to pass out the external IP addresses.
I'm a bit torn about this approach. Some of the other clouds sweep all of this under the rug and simply connect your box to the outside Internet. You get a root password and an IP address open to all. It's much easier to get rolling, but of course there's no flexibility.