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What You Need To Know About VMware Cloud Foundation

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Before the breakout sessions were announced for VMworld this year, I anticipated a heavy focus on software-defined solutions such as vSAN and NSX, as well as a renewed emphasis on cloud solutions. I won that bet, although I did lose a couple of others betting on Mayweather vs. McGregor, the super fight held just one night before VMworld kicked off. 

One announcement in particular had me pleasantly surprised: VMware Cloud Foundation. It’s one thing to have best of breed offerings around virtualization (vSphere), virtual desktop infrastructure (View), network micro-segmentation (NSX), software defined storage (vSAN) and so much more. It’s altogether a different thing to have them all integrated into a simple-to-use suite which can run natively in a public, private, or hybrid cloud infrastructure. 

While I’m always happy to grab out the whiteboard marker and get technical, this blog post will be deliberately high-level. Because that’s the most impressive piece of VCF to me: how it handles all of the technical nuts and bolts for you.

With that said, here are the basics of VCF 2.2: 

  • VCF Ready Nodes are already available from vendors including Dell EMC, Cisco, Fujitsu, HPE, Hitachi and Quanta.
  • Integrated Systems (think full self-contained rack scale) options include Dell EMC, Fujitsu, Hitachi and HPE.
  • Public Cloud Providers include Amazon AWS, IBM, OVH (formerly vCloud Air), CenturyLink, RackSpace and Fujitsu.

But what does it do? For one, it will absolutely reduce the complexity and time to deployment for VMware environments.

A couple of clicks in Cloud Foundation’s “SDDC Manager” will take perform a lot of tasks for you. vCenter: installed and configured. External PSCs: deployed. But there are more tricks. NSX gets installed and configured. As does vSAN. And LogInsight. If you’re creating a VDI based cluster, so does View. It reaches upstream to your switches and configures your VLANs.

But that’s just an initial deployment. SDDC Manager includes full lifecycle management as well. That includes patching and upgrading vCenter, ESXi, NSX, vSAN, and the PSCs today. Soon, LogInsight and vRealize Operations will also be supported for automatic patching and updates.

vSphere Replication and Site Recovery Manager are also supported (if not quite fully integrated to SDDC Manager yet), and VMware was quick to point out alternative replication and orchestration products also work well, including Veeam and Zerto. 

Running in your private cloud or the public cloud is easy, as is doing both. And there’s ever increasing supported for stretched layer 2 networks. 

I like the integrated systems – such as Dell EMC’s VxRack SDDC – with integrated networking (including out of band management). I love the dedicated management cluster, where things like your various vCenters, the PSCs, NSX controllers, etc., all run without affecting the rest of your workload demands. Incidentally, while each “Workload Domain” gets its’ own dedicated vCenter, you only need a single vCenter license – thanks VMware!

And I absolutely love that each Ready Node or Integrated System is a validated reference design. There are huge choices within the families for CPUs, Memory and Storage options, but everything is tested in the labs, meaning those automated updates and upgrades won’t carry any nasty surprises in your environment.

VMware Cloud Foundation already scales very well. In today’s shipping version, you can scale to eight racks with 256 compute nodes. When I managed a VMware environment full time, I would have done a lot for such a solution. One-click deployment. Private cloud. Public cloud. Automated updates. Pre-configured monitoring.

It’s an exciting time to be in virtualization. To be able to deploy a fully backed VMware cluster including software-defined networking and storage in minutes will potentially revolutionize the definition of agile deployment of services. And save tons of money in IT resources, and professional services.

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