VMware Cloud Foundation brings the best in breed virtualisation of network, storage and compute in a pre-validated and automated package. VMware cloud is used in VMware based public cloud solutions such as; VMware cloud on AWS and IBM cloud for VMware solutions. VMware Cloud Foundation lets you spin up a private cloud environment in a much-reduced time frame and deliver a reliable hybrid cloud environment.

VMware Cloud Foundation 3.0 was announced only a few months ago at VMworld US 2018. Version 3.0 removed the requirement to use Cisco or Arista switches. Now any switch provider that is on the VMware Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) can be used which will allow for VCF fitting into existing environments.  VMware has now also added all vSAN ready nodes which opens up far more flexibility with hardware.

A number of management of improvements were also made also assist with enterprise deployments. These included the ability to skip upgrades of vCenter and ESXi which helps with compatibility of 3rd party solutions). Cloud Foundation 3.0 also supports multiple clusters in a workload domain to allow for larger workload domains and reduced size of failure domain and specific use cases which require small clusters (such as licensing) and stretch clusters.

Now only a few months later the next release 3.5 is announced and brings a raft of new features including support for NSX-T and PKS (Pivotal Container Service), support for composable infrastructure (initially HPE Synergy) and support for external NFS (which allows the use of existing storage for workloads).

Including NSX-T in VMware Cloud Foundation shows the direction that VMware are heading towards with much larger use cases for NSX-T.

What is VMware Cloud Foundation?

VMware’s Cloud Foundation was born out of the VMware EVO SDDC (Software Defined Data Centre) platform and is designed to make private and public clouds easy to deploy, manage and secure. It also allows cloud providers such as IBM and VMware Cloud on AWS, as well as private data centres, to quickly deploy and scale out a cloud platform.

“VMware’s Cloud Foundation allows cloud providers to quickly deploy and scale out a cloud platform” 

VMware Cloud Foundation is a Hyper Converged Infrastructure platform that that delivers software defined compute, storage and networking services (NSX) to allow agile delivery of virtual servers or containers. The solution is made up of vSphere, VSAN and NSX overlaid with a management solution (the SDDC manager) which is used for both setup and day 2 operations such as patching and monitoring.

Cloud Foundation version 3.5 has just been released and includes the latest releases of all VMware products including vSphere 6.7U1, vSAN 6.7U1, NSX-V6.4.3, NSX-T 2.3 and optionally vRealize Automation 7.5. and vRealize Operation 7.0, vRealize Log Insight 4.7

Delivery Model

VMware Cloud Foundation is available in three delivery models:

  • Through a public cloud provider such as VMware Cloud on AWS or through one of the VMware Cloud Provider Program providers such as IBM or Rackspace
  • As an engineered solution such as Dell EMC’s VxRack solution which comes preconfigured and installed (however customers have informed me this at present introduces a delay while the configuration is certified
  • Deploying on any vSAN ready nodes from any vendors including Dell EMC, Cisco, Fujitsu, HPE, Hitachi and Quanta

Cloud Foundation can speed up the delivery of an SDDC solution by having a pre-validated and tested solution using VMware best practices. This can reduce the complexities and lead times associated with traditional datacentre infrastructures. VMware on AWS will be the proving ground for many new features on VMware Cloud Foundation and as the suite is all based in software VMware will be able to rapidly add features.

“Cloud Foundation can speed up the delivery of an SDDC solution” 

The management of Cloud Foundation is via the VMware SDDC Manager. From within here you can do the initial bring up which just requires a few details such as time, network settings and DNS and NTP servers. The SDDC manager will bring up the entire stack including switch configuration, host configuration and a management cluster (a four-node cluster containing a dedicated vCenter, NSX manager and vSAN). Once the bring up procedure has been completed, you are then able to deploy workload domains which are policy driven based on the performance and availability requirements. The workloads can either be virtual server infrastructure or virtual desktop infrastructure where the SDDC manager will automatically deploy a fully functional VMware view environment.

Is VMware Cloud foundation right for my company?

Whether Cloud Foundation is right for your organisation for not depends on what your commitment to other hardware solutions such as a SAN or blade enclosures are. In these cases, it may not be best to change your entire infrastructure to start using Cloud Foundation, but if you have end of life hardware or you are looking at putting in NSX to virtualise your organisation’s networking then it could help to reduce the time to get the new platform up and running. In addition, with the lifecycle management included it will reduce some of the burden associated with keeping your cloud platform up to date.

If your organisation has previously struggled with setting up new technology or it has taken an excessively long amount of time to deploy and expand, then VMware Cloud Foundation could be the right solution for your organisation. VMware will allow you to transfer existing unused licenses for individual components to Cloud Foundation.

VMware Cloud Foundation has similarities to other solutions such as Nutanix, which provide a simplified management for their hyper converged platform. However, the inclusion of technology such as NSX in the platform is more advanced than some of VMware’s competitors.

“Cloud Foundation takes VMware’s best of breed technology and wraps a management layer around them”. 

Version 3.5 also offers the latest versions of VMware products which was part of VMware’s commitment to reduce the time between when products were released individually and when they are available as part of VMware cloud foundation.

Closing thoughts

VMware Cloud Foundation has become a very comprehensive solution for organisations looking to deploy there SDDC in a reliable and standardised fashion whilst reducing timescales for design and deployment. It takes VMware’s best of breed technologies and wraps a management layer around them. As companies look to move towards a buy rather than build strategy with their infrastructure then VMware Cloud Foundation is on point to be a tried and tested solution. VMware are starting to open up options of hardware in this release which will make Cloud Foundation to suitable for many more organisations who are looking to upgrade or deploy a new SDDC or to put them on the path to the hybrid cloud journey via NSX hybrid connect.

 

If you are interested in VMware cloud services and solutions and want to know how they can benefit your organisation Xtravirt can help. We provide advisory, design and implementation services to create the right solution for your organisation. Contact us and we’ll be happy to use our wealth of knowledge and experience to assist you.