I'm catching up on my reading of VMware vSphere API and sitting right there are service catalogs as a core enabler for the VMware cloud.
Essentially, for cloud computing to work at all, you need to have very well defined set of standards, policies and configuration dials. Without these, it's all manual, error-prone processes that take forever. The very anti-theses of cloud computing. The back and forth requirements process has to give way to very standardized IT "services" you get from the catalog.
So having a catalog is critical. I've written before about this in No Catalog, No Cloud.
vSphere (and imagine Microsoft, Citrix and others) are introducing a new set of objects that need to be discovered and brought into the catalog. A few concepts to ground my assesment (directly from the vSphere API guide):
An Organization can support one or more Catalogs, which contain references to entities such as vApp templates and Media files such as ISO images of installable software. A vApp template can be instantiated and deployed from a catalog. Similarly, a deployed vApp can be saved back into a catalog as a template.
A virtual application (vApp) is a software solution, packaged in OVF containing one or more virtual machines. A vApp can be authored by Developers at ISVs and VARs or by IT Administrators in Enterprises and Service Providers.
A virtual application (vApp) is a software solution comprising one or more virtual machines, all of which are deployed, managed, and maintained as a unit. Each virtual machine in a vApp typically contains a pre‐installed, pre‐configured operating system and an application stack optimized to provide a specific set of services. A vApp can be as simple as an individual virtual machine installed with a specific operating system, or as complex as a complete corporate Web site.
Essentially, these three concepts are building from the bottom up an IT technical service, and maybe a Business Service as well. Now the notion of catalog here is on the one hand simplistic given my experience, but on the other hand, it's impressively rich compared to other areas of IT.
Being the glass-half full kind of guy I am, color me impressed.
This is why newScale added support for VMware vCenter first and next vSphere. There's an emerging operating model here where there's a service catalog and lifecycle front end that needs to map to the infrastructure standard definitions in that catalog.
Remember: No catalog, no cloud. You heard it first here, and now everwhere. Even Paul Maritz, CEO of VMware, was praising the virtues of service catalog at vmworld this morning's keynote.
If you are curious as to how all this is going to work in real life, you may want try our free trial version for VMware. It's an VM appliance, with great built in videos. You'll get a good sense of what your cloud is going to look like.