VxRail HCI System Software consists of multiple, integrated software elements that extend VMware native capabilities to deliver a seamless, automated, operational experience, keeping the infrastructure in a pre-validated configuration to ensure workloads are consistently up and running. VxRail HCI System Software is pre-installed on the VxRail system as a single virtual machine, the VxRail Manager VM. The VxRail Manager VM operates outside the IO path for applications and workloads running on VxRail. The software services in VxRail HCI System Software can be grouped into three main areas: lifecycle management for predictable outcomes, management flexibility and extensibility, and simplified services and support experience. Lifecycle management for predictable outcomes:
Management flexibility and extensibility:
Simplified services and support experience:
VxRail HCI System Software architecture is shown in Figure 9. When used for a cloud deployment use case, the VxRail HCI System Software sits in between the infrastructure layer and cloud orchestration software. Local management features include vCenter Plug-ins, LCM, Serviceability via eServices and SRS, and Health Alerts. The extensibility of VxRail HCI System Software is available to VMware SDDC solutions like VMware Cloud Foundation including backend APIs, SaaS multi-cluster management, and open REST APIs for configuration management solutions (i.e. Puppet, Ansible).
VxRail Manager features user-friendly workflows for automating VxRail deployment and configuration and monitoring the health of individual systems in the entire cluster. It also incorporates functionality for hardware serviceability and system platform lifecycle management. For instance, it guides system administrators through adding new systems to an existing cluster, and it automatically detects new systems when they come online. VxRail Manager is also used to replace failed disk drives without disrupting availability, to generate and download diagnostic log bundles, and to apply VMware updates or software patches non-disruptively across VxRail nodes.
With VxRail Manager plug-in for vCenter Server, all VxRail Manager features are integrated with and accessible from the vCenter Server so that users can benefit from these valuable capabilities on a familiar management interface. With the VxRail Manager plug-in, the vCenter Server can manage physical hardware of the VxRail cluster.
VxRail also leverages VMware vRealize Log Insight to monitor system events and provide ongoing holistic notifications about the state of virtual environment and system hardware. It delivers real-time automated log management for the VxRail system with log monitoring, intelligent grouping, and analytics to provide better troubleshooting at scale across VxRail physical, virtual, and cloud environments. Furthermore, VxRail HCI System Software simplifies system platform lifecycle management by delivering patch software and update notifications that can be automatically installed without interruption or downtime.
Dell EMC Secure Remote Services (SRS), also accessible from within VxRail Manager plug-in or REST API, provide enterprise-class support and services. SRS includes online chat support and Dell EMC field-service assistance.
In addition to SRS-specific support, the VxRail Support page on vCenter Server links to VxRail Community pages for Dell EMC Knowledge Base articles, user forums for FAQ information and VxRail best practices.
The VxRail Manager functionality visible through the HTML5 vCenter plugin can be illustrated with the following screenshots. Figure 11 displays a vCenter view showing the VMware Cloud Foundation management domain and workload domain built on VxRail clusters.
Figure 12 displays navigating to the vSAN cluster level, choosing the Monitor tab and selecting Appliances to get to the link to open the VxRail Manager provided physical view for this cluster.
The top level four node management cluster VxRail Hardware view is displayed in Figure 13.
Drilling down on the physical views can present additional detail including the display shown in Figure 14 of a hardware view used for instance for disk hardware replacement.
Detailed VxRail hardware component level events and alerts are collected by VxRail Manager and displayed in vCenter as part of the integrated vCenter HTML5 plugin. This provides holistic, system-level health awareness within the SDDC management framework. Failure events are passed to vCenter. Alarms from VxRail start with the prefix ‘VXR’. Figure 15 shows an example in vCenter displaying VxRail hardware alarms.
With VxRail HCI Software version 7.0.010 (and above), VxRail Manager supports geographic location tags for VxRail nodes. The capability allows for important user defined node meta data that can assist many customers in gaining greater visibility of the physical location mapping of the HCI infrastructure that makes up their cloud. Customers can leverage this data to choose VxRail the node/host order they want to be displayed in the VxRail Manager vCenter plugin Physical View. These geo_location host attribute tags can be applied during VxRail Day1 cluster installation or during node expansion and host edit Day 2 operations.
This provides customers with full stack physical to virtual infrastructure mapping to help further extend the VMware Cloud Foundation management experience and simplify operations only available with VCF on VxRail.
VxRail HCI System Software includes APIs that enables you to leverage the full power of automation and orchestration services across your data center. This extensibility enables you to build and operate infrastructure with cloud-like scale and agility and streamlines the integration of the infrastructure into your IT environment and processes. Instead of manually managing your environment through the graphical user interface, repeatable operations can be triggered and executed programmatically by software. More and more customers are embracing DevOps and Infrastructure as Code (IaC) models as they need reliable and repeatable processes to configure the underlying infrastructure resources required for applications. IaC leverages APIs to store configurations in code, making it repeatable and greatly reduces errors.
VxRail API is a feature of VxRail HCI System Software, that exposes management functions with a RESTful application programming interface. It’s designed for ease of use by VxRail customers and ecosystem partners, who would like to better integrate 3rd party products with VxRail system.
VxRail API was designed to complement VMware REST APIs, such as vSphere Automation API, and focuses on the underlying infrastructure and unique automated lifecycle management capabilities. VxRail API can be used in combination with VMware Cloud Foundation on Dell EMC VxRail API, which is supported since version 4.0 of the platform. Most of the operations that required SDDC Manager UI can now be executed using API. This is an area of extensive development with new capabilities growing over time, important especially for service providers, who are leveraging VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail as a platform to deliver cloud-based services for their customers.