Data center upgrades and patch management are typically manual, repetitive tasks prone to configuration and implementation errors. Validation testing of software and hardware firmware to ensure interoperability among components when one component is patched or upgraded requires extensive quality assurance testing in staging environments. Strapped for time, IT must sometimes make the difficult decision to deploy new patches before they are fully vetted or to defer new patches, which slows down the roll-out of new features, security and bug fixes. Both situations increase risk for the customer environment.
To help understand lifecycle operations details, it is helpful to better understand the VMware Cloud Foundation concept of a Workload Domain. A Workload Domain is a policy-based resource container with specific availability and performance attributes that combines compute (vSphere), storage (vSAN), and networking (NSX) into a single consumable entity. In the case of running VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail, these workload domains are built using VxRail clusters and leverage the native VxRail operations experience for tasks such as automated cluster builds and cluster expansions as examples.
Infrastructure building blocks can be created based on native VxRail clusters that can scale up and out incrementally. Customers can scale up leveraging the flexible hardware configurations available within a VxRail node to increase storage capacity or memory. Customers can similarly scale out by adding nodes in single node increments to a cluster. The physical compute, storage and network infrastructure becomes part of a single shared pool of virtual resources that is managed as one cloud infrastructure ecosystem using the SDDC Manager.
From this shared pool, customers can organize separate pools of capacity into what are defined as Workload Domains, each with its own set of specified CPU, memory and storage requirements to support various workloads types such as cloud native, VDI or business critical apps like databases, etc. As new VxRail physical capacity is added, it will be recognized by the SDDC Manager and be made available for consumption as part of a workload domain. Scaling workload domains beyond a single cluster gets even easier with the ability to add multiple VxRail clusters within a workload domain.
Workload Domains can be created, expanded, and deleted. They can also be patched/upgraded independently, providing customers with the flexibility to align workload domain infrastructure requirements to the applications running on them. And it is in this concept that we come back to our lifecycle management discussion. With VMware Cloud Foundation, all lifecycle management occurs at the workload domain level. Note, that with the enhancements introduced in VMware Cloud Foundation 4.0.1, if needed customers may manage upgrades on a more granular, cluster level, including VMware Tanzu enabled clusters.