VxRail HCI System Software consists of multiple, integrated software elements. They extend VMware native capabilities to deliver a seamless and automated operational experience, keeping the infrastructure in a prevalidated configuration to ensure that workloads are consistently up and running. VxRail HCI System Software is preinstalled on the VxRail system as a single virtual machine, the VxRail Manager VM.
The software services in VxRail HCI System Software can be grouped into three main areas: life cycle management (LCM) for predictable outcomes, management flexibility and extensibility, and simplified services and support experience.
Customers always have access to Dell Secure Remote Services for all included hardware and software within VxRail throughout the entire life cycle of the infrastructure.
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, life cycle management, serviceability using eServices and Secure Remote Gateway, and health alerts. The extensibility of VxRail HCI System Software is available to VMware SDDC solutions like VMware Cloud Foundation including backend APIs, SaaS multicluster management, and open REST APIs for configuration management solutions such as Puppet and Ansible.
VxRail Manager features user-friendly workflows for automating VxRail deployment and configuration and for monitoring the health of individual systems in the entire cluster. VxRail Manager also incorporates functionality for hardware serviceability and system platform life cycle management. For instance, it guides system administrators through the process of adding 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 apply VMware updates or software patches nondisruptively across VxRail nodes.
With the 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 them on a familiar management interface. With the VxRail Manager plug-in, the vCenter Server can manage physical hardware of the VxRail cluster.
VxRail HCI System Software simplifies system platform life cycle management by delivering patch software and update notifications that can be automatically installed without interruption or downtime.
The VxRail Manager functionality visible through the HTML5 vCenter plug-in is illustrated in the following screenshots. Figure 9 displays a vCenter view showing the VMware Cloud Foundation management domain and workload domain that is built on VxRail clusters.
Figure 10 displays going 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.
Figure 11 shows the top level four node management cluster VxRail hardware view.
Drilling down on the physical views can display additional details. For example, Figure 12 shows a hardware view used for disk hardware replacement.
Detailed VxRail hardware component level events and alerts are collected by the VxRail Manager and displayed in vCenter as part of the integrated vCenter HTML5 plug-in. 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 13 shows an example in vCenter that displays VxRail hardware alarms.
VxRail HCI version 7.0.010 introduced support for geographic location tags for VxRail nodes. The capability allows for important user-defined node metadata 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 the node/host order to be displayed in the VxRail Manager vCenter plug-in Physical View. These geo location host attribute tags can be applied during VxRail Day 1 cluster installation or during node expansion and host edit Day 2 operations (see Figure 14).
This functionality 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 VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail.
In addition, VMware Cloud Foundation 4.5 on VxRail 7.0.400 (and higher) allows customers to add user-defined tags to VCF objects within SDDC Manager. For instance, administrators can add user-defined tags to cluster objects for a logical grouping based on location, type of environment, workload, and so on.
VxRail HCI System Software includes APIs that enables customers to leverage the full power of automation and orchestration services across data centers. This extensibility allows infrastructure to operate with cloud-like scale and agility and streamlines the integration of the infrastructure into your IT environment and processes. Instead of manually managing environments through the user interface, repeatable operations can be triggered and performed programmatically by software. 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 reduces error risk.
VxRail API is a feature of VxRail HCI System Software that exposes management functions with a RESTful application programming interface. It is to simplify VxRail customer and ecosystem partner experiences, who would like to integrate third-party products with a 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 life cycle management capabilities. VxRail API can be used with VMware Cloud Foundation on Dell VxRail API, which is supported since version 4.0 of the platform. Most of the operations that required SDDC Manager UI can now be performed 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.
VxRail HCI System Software works with SaaS multicluster management, which is a centralized data collection and analytics platform. SaaS multicluster management streamlines the monitoring and management of a customer’s multiple VxRail clusters, improves serviceability, and helps the customer make better decisions to manage their HCI performance and capacity. It is a cloud-based analytics platform that uses advanced telemetry collected from the VxRail clusters for its infrastructure machine learning to provide reporting and actionable insight. Its infrastructure machine learning uses onboard knowledge of Dell best practices and more than 700 common issues. SaaS multicluster management provides aggregate health scores for the entire HCI stack to enable customers to quickly identify areas to troubleshoot and to address areas to efficiently scale based on projected growth of IT resources.
SaaS multi-cluster management functionality is entirely consumed through a Dell-hosted web portal, called CloudIQ, which provides a single global view of the customer’s VxRail environment. Note, VCF on VxRail supports the monitoring and capacity aspects of CloudIQ and not active cluster management LCM capabilities.