VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail makes operating the data center fundamentally simpler. It brings the ease and automation of the public cloud in-house by deploying a standardized and validated network flexible architecture with integrated life cycle automation for the entire cloud infrastructure stack, including hardware. As shown in Figure 2, full-stack automation is in place for Day 0, Day 1, and Day 2 operations. Day 0 operations consist of automating deployment and installing VxRail clusters and SDDC software. Day 1 operations include automating the environment configuration and resource provisioning. Finally, Day 2 consists of automating end-to-end infrastructure updating, upgrading, and the serviceability and support experience.
Figure 2. VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail delivers end-to-end stack life cycle automation
Core components for VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail come from VxRail and VMware Cloud Foundation. VxRail provides the base HCI hardware, ESXi, vSAN, VxRail Manager, and Dell Secure Remote Gateway appliance. VMware Cloud Foundation provides SDDC Manager, vCenter, and NSX. Optional add-on components include the VMware Aria Suite (formerly vRealize Suite: VMware vRealize Operations, VMware vRealize Log Insight, and VMware vRealize Automation). VMware Tanzu is also an optional add-on component.
To learn more about the VMware SDDC components listed above, see Appendix D: VMware Cloud Foundation and Appendix E: VMware SDDC common component details.
Every VxRail provides the benefits of a jointly engineered HCI system that is built for VMware and is powered by vSphere, vSAN, and VxRail HCI System Software (which includes VxRail Manager) according to standardized HCI designs. With VxRail, a customer gets several highly valuable integrated features that are driven by the capabilities of VxRail HCI System Software. These features include scalable VxRail deployments, VxRail cluster creation, node addition and removal capabilities, and serviceability and support creation in vCenter, vCenter plug-in for VxRail workflow automation, and more.
Every VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail deployment is based on a standardized VMware best practices architecture. VMware has validated the suite of components (vSphere, vSAN, NSX, Aria Suite, Tanzu, and others), that when used together, provide all the data center virtualization and cloud management services that a customer must build to have a full-stack HCI private cloud. VMware takes these components and performs interoperability testing on them, but also develops a set of standardized component-level designs for how they should be configured with each other according to these VMware best practices. Combining the component qualification with a standardized SDDC-level architecture creates a fully validated SDDC design.
The following figure shows how Dell Technologies joint engineering efforts for VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail fit together and the unique value-added features are introduced by each component.
Figure 3. VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail deep integration features and ecosystem advantages
The following list provides details of the VxRail integration features:
- Dell VxRail Manager
VxRail Manager is the primary management and automation tool used for VxRail cluster operations. It features end-to-end life cycle management of HCI software and hardware (optionally including FC HBAs and GPUs). It also features automated cluster deployment and configuration, and an integrated serviceability and support experience. Examples of these serviceability features are the native integration with VxRail Manager and Dell Secure Remote Gateway proactive phone-home support system and capabilities to automate serviceability tasks such as proactive drive replacements. VxRail Manager extensibility is a key enabler to how VMware Cloud Foundation and VxRail are integrated.
- VMware vCenter
The VxRail HCI System Software is integrated with vCenter through the VxRail Manager vCenter plug-in. This integration provides operational transparency that enables customers to manage 100 percent of VxRail Manager HCI system management tasks from within the familiar vCenter console. It also provides additional serviceability and support capabilities, also from within the vCenter console. These capabilities essentially eliminate any friction for customers who want seamless management of their VxRail from the vCenter interface. Examples of some of these management capabilities include: Physical and logical detailed graphical node views with integrated physical geo-location tags, centralized HCI system events and alerting, eServices access, automated failed disk drive serviceability automation, and VxRail dashboards.
- VMware Cloud Builder
This is a standardized automation tool for deploying and configuring VxRail according to VMware’s SDDC best practices and standardized architecture. This tool has been exclusively engineered to be “VxRail Aware” and integrate with VxRail to deploy the additional VMware Cloud Foundation components that have not already been deployed by VxRail Manager.This aligns the VMware Cloud Foundation deployment to existing VxRail deployment operating models.
- VMware SDDC Manager
This feature is responsible for the automated configuration and life cycle management of the SDDC software components. SDDC Manager is integrated with VxRail Manager. They work together to streamline how the layers of the stack are managed, leveraging a consistent operating experience that VxRail customers are already used to and extending that to include an end-to-end full-stack experience. SDDC Manager leverages the VxRail API to natively perform VxRail cluster management operations such as cluster deployments and LCM workflows, all from within the SDDC Manager UI.
In addition, VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail enables customers to take advantage of VxRail Additional Ecosystem Advantages, which include:
- Dell PowerSwitch with OS10
VxRail has been qualified with Dell PowerSwitch with OS10 Enterprise Edition networking switches. For information about deploying Dell network switches for VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail, see Appendix A: References. In addition, tools such as the Dell Networking Fabric Design Center are available to help create the right network architecture based on a customer’s requirements.
- Dell External Storage Integration
VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail deployments can inherit the benefits of integration efforts engineered between VxRail and Dell external storage systems with the support of VxRail dynamic nodes with Dell PowerMax, VMAX, PowerStore-T, and Unity XT systems. This enables administrators to leverage existing Dell external storage investments in their VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail environments while maintaining a simple and consistent operations experience. In a VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail use case, the integration of VxRail dynamic nodes with Dell external storage is taken to the next level with the co-engineered integration between VMware Cloud Foundation, VxRail, and external storage configuration support. With the introduction of VxRail dynamic nodes, Dell PowerMax, VMAX, PowerStore-T, and Unity XT storage can be used as a VxRail cluster’s principal storage. VMware Cloud Foundation is now aware of these dynamic nodes with external storage. It can automate the creation of a VI Workload Domains (VI WLDs) and the addition of VxRail dynamic node-based clusters into existing VI Workload Domains using the Dell external storage as the principal storage for those workload domain VxRail clusters. Customers now have additional flexibility on which type of storage (VxRail nodes with vSAN or VxRail dynamic nodes with VMFS on FC) they would like to use for their VI WLD clusters’ principal storage that best meets their workload requirements.