• Abhishek Shukla

VMware Cloud Foundation

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Modern technology is no less than a miracle. It promises productivity, continuity, flexibility, efficiency and most importantly simplicity. The digital transformation has taken the technology world into another level where everything is available on your fingertips. Today's datacenters are made up of compute, storage, networking and security. VMware is one of the great player in the market to make that happen and provided the solution called VMware Cloud Foundation. Let's read about that.

VMware Cloud Foundation or VCF is defined as a unified software defined data center (SDDC) platform that brings together with VMware ESXi (compute), VMware vSAN (storage), VMware NSX (networking) and vRealize Suite (management) into a stack to deliver enterprise-ready cloud infrastructure for the private and public cloud. Basically VCF automates the underlying infrastructure and provide a virtual platform. This has broken the barrier of traditional administrative silos in data centers merging compute, storage, networking provisioning and cloud management to facilitate end-to-end ease for deployment.

VCF uses vCenter server for VM management, monitoring and deployment though it integrates with vRealize suite and support products like VMware Openstack and Containers. To manage the infrastructure in cloud, VCF introduces a very important component called "SDDC manager". SDDC manager automates the creation, configuration and provisioning of the entire SDDC stack as well as lifecycle management stack.

Components of VCF

1. SDDC Manager

SDDC Manager automates the entire system lifecycle from initial set-up, to configuration and provisioning and simplifies day-to-day management and operations.

2. VMware vSphere

The two core components of vSphere are ESXi and vCenter Server.

  • ESXi is the virtualization platform where you create and run virtual machines and virtual appliances.

  • vCenter Server is the service through which you manage multiple hosts connected in a network and pool host resources.

3. VMware vSAN

VMware vSAN aggregates local or direct-attached data storage devices to create a single storage pool shared across all hosts in the vSAN cluster. vSAN eliminates the need for external shared storage, and simplifies storage configuration and virtual machine provisioning. Built in policies allow for flexibility in data availability.

4. VMware NSX

NSX-v or NSX for vSphere provides networking and security functionality for your vSphere environment which allows networks and network services to be abstracted from the physical infrastructure. The ability to manage the network through software allows for rapid changes and increased security policies to be implemented.

NSX-T is focused on emerging application frameworks and architectures that have heterogeneous endpoints and technology stacks. NSX-T Data Center allows IT and development teams to choose the technologies best suited for their applications.

VI workload domains support the NSX for vSphere and NSX-T platforms . (I explained "Workloads Domain" in later section of this blog)

5. vRealize Suite

VCF is integrated with the vRealize Suite of products.

a) vRealize Log Insight

Log Insight delivers heterogeneous and highly scalable log management with intuitive and actionable dashboards, sophisticated analytics, and broad third-party extensibility. It provides deep operational visibility and faster troubleshooting across physical, virtual and cloud environments.

Log Insight is installed by default for the management domain. You can add licenses to enable Log Insight for VI workload domains.

b) vRealize Automation

vRealize Automation is a cloud automation tool that accelerates the delivery of IT services through automation and pre-defined policies, providing high level of agility and flexibility for developers, while enabling IT teams to maintain frictionless governance and control. This is an optional component.

c) vRealize Operations Manager

vRealize Operations Manager delivers intelligent operations management with application-to-storage visibility across physical, virtual, and cloud infrastructures. Using policy-based automation, operations teams automate key processes and improve IT efficiency. This is an optional component.

What is Workload Domain?

VCF introduces a new terminology "workload domains, for creating logical pools across compute, storage, and networking.

A workload domain consists of one or more clusters (group of ESXi hosts), provisioned automatically by SDDC Manager.

There are two types of workload domains -

  1. Management Workload Domain (Mgmt WLD) and

  2. Virtual Infrastructure Workload Domain (VI WLD).

The management domain is created during the initial set-up process. It contains the VCF management components. This includes an instance of vCenter Server and required NSX for vSphere components (NSX Manager and three NSX Controller VMs) for the management domain. All vRealize Suite components, such as vRealize Log Insight, vRealize Operations Manager and vRealize Automation, are installed in the management domain. The management domain uses vSAN storage.

VCF implements Virtual Infrastructure workload domains for user workloads. You can choose the storage option (vSAN or NFS) and NSX Platform (NSX-V or NSX-T) for each VI workload domain. The workload domain can consist of one or more vSphere clusters. Each cluster starts with a minimum of three hosts and can scale up to the vSphere maximum of 64 hosts as per VMware compatibility guide. SDDC Manager automates creation of the workload domain and the underlying vSphere cluster(s).

For each NSX for vSphere VI workload domain, SDDC Manager deploys an additional NSX Manager instance in the management domain to manage that VI workload domain The three NSX Controller VMs are deployed in the VI workload domain cluster. These controller VMs communicate with the dedicated NSX Manager deployed in the management domain.

For the first NSX-T VI workload domain in your environment, SDDC Manager deploys a vCenter Server, NSX Manager, and three Controller VMs in the management domain. An additional vCenter Server is deployed for each subsequent NSX-T VI workload domain, but they share the same vCenter Server, NSX Manager, and NSX Controllers.

Last but not the least,

Automated Lifecycle Management (LCM)

SDDC Manager automates upgrade and patch management for the SDDC software stack.

VMware provides update bundles for the SDDC stack, ensuring compatibility of all patches with installed components in VCF environment. You can apply an update to the management domain or VI workload domains independent of the other workload domains.


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