Announcing VMware Cloud Foundation 4.4.1 on Dell VxRail 7.0.371
Wed, 25 May 2022 14:07:35 -0000|
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With each turn of the calendar, as winter dissipates and the warmer spring weather brings new life back into the world, a certain rite of passage comes along with it: Spring Cleaning! As much as we all hate to do it, it is necessary to ensure that we keep everything operating in tip top shape. Whether it be errands like cleaning inside your home or repairing the lawn mower to be able to cut the grass, we all have them, and we all recognize they are important, no matter how much we try to avoid it.
The VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) on Dell VxRail team also believes in applying a spring cleaning mindset when it comes to your VCF on Dell VxRail cloud environment. This will allow your cloud environment to keep running in an optimal state and better serve you and your consumers.
So, in the spirit of the spring season, Dell is happy to announce the release of Cloud Foundation 4.4.1 on VxRail 7.0.371. Beginning on May 25, 2022, existing VCF on VxRail customers will be able to LCM to this latest version while support for new deployments will be made available beginning June 2, 2022.
This new release introduces the following “spring cleaning” enhancements:
- New component software version updates
- New VxRail LCM logic improvements
- New VxRail serviceability enhancements
- VCF and VxRail software security bug fixes
- VCF on VxRail with VMware Validated Solution Enhancements
VCF on VxRail life cycle management enhancements
New VxRail prechecks and vSAN resync timeout improvements
Starting with this release, the VxRail LCM logic has been modified to address scenarios when the cluster update process may fail to put a node into Maintenance Mode. This LCM logic enhancement is leveraged in addition to similar SDDC Manager prechecks that already exist. All VxRail prechecks are used when SDDC Manager calls on VxRail to run its precheck workflow prior to an LCM update. SDDC Manager does this by using its integration with the VxRail Health Check API. SDDC Manager also calls on these prechecks during an LCM update using its integration with the VxRail LCM API. So, VCF on VxRail customers benefit from this VxRail enhancement seamlessly.
Failing to enter Maintenance Mode can cause VxRail cluster updates to fail. Finding ways to mitigate this type of failure will significantly enhance the LCM reliability experience for many VCF on VxRail customers.
Figure 1: VCF on VxRail LCM
The following list describes scenarios in which a VxRail node could fail to enter maintenance mode, but are improved with the latest enhancements:
- If VMtools are mounted to customer VM workloads: VxRail LCM precheck now checks for this state to detect if VMtools are mounted. If this exists, it is the administrator’s responsibility to address the issue in their environment before initiating a VxRail cluster update.
- If VMs are pinned to specific hosts: VxRail LCM precheck will now detect whether there is host pinning configured for VMs. If this exists, it is the administrator’s responsibility to address the configuration in their environment before initiating a cluster update.
- vSAN Resync Time Timeout: During the cluster update process, a VxRail node can fail if vSAN resync takes too long. When the system waits before the node is put into Maintenance Mode, it causes a timeout. To prevent this from happening, the VxRail vSAN Resync timeout value has been increased by 2x while the cluster update waits for the vSAN resync to finish.
VCF on VxRail serviceability enhancements
Support for next generation Dell secure remote service connectivity agent and gateway
VxRail systems will now use the next generation secure remote service connectivity agent and the Secure Connect Gateway to connect to the Dell cloud for dial home serviceability. This new connectivity agent running within VxRail will also be used on all Dell infrastructure products.
Figure 2: Next Generation Dell Secure remote connectivity agent and gateway architecture
The Secure Connect Gateway is the 5th generation gateway that acts as a centralization point for Dell products in the customer environment to manage the connection to the Dell cloud. This remote connectivity enables a bi-directional communication between the product and Dell cloud. Products can send telemetry data and event information to the Dell cloud which can be used to facilitate remote support by Dell services as well as to deliver cloud services such as CloudIQ, MyService360, Licensing Portal, and Service Link.
The latest generation remote service connector is intended to provide a uniform telemetry experience across all Dell ISG products. By providing standardization, customers can reduce redundant infrastructure used to provide remote services for all their Dell products. The connectivity agent also introduces a simpler setup experience by streamlining and automating setup process of the secure remote service for new VxRail cluster deployments.
Figure 3: Enabling secure remote gateway connectivity
For existing VxRail clusters running an earlier version than VCF 4.4.1 on VxRail 7.0.371 in a VCF on VxRail deployment, the migration effort to adopt the new secure connect gateway requires the administrator to first upgrade their older generation dell serviceability gateways in their environment (whether it’s the 3rd generation Secure Remote Service gateway or the 4th generation Dell SupportAssist Enterprise gateway).
Once the gateways are upgraded to the latest 5th generation Dell Secure Connect Gateway, the VCF on VxRail administrator can perfrom the VxRail cluster update for the migration, as part of the standard VCF on VxRail LCM process. The built-in VxRail LCM precheck steps will inform the administrator to upgrade their gateways if necessary. The VxRail cluster update will now retrieve the gateway configuration for the connectivity agent and convert the device or access key to a unique connectivity key for remote connection authentication. Administrators should be aware that this additional migration work may add a one time 15 minutes or so time increase to the total cluster update time.
New nodes that are shipped with VxRail 7.0.350 or higher will also now include a unique connectivity key for the secure remote gateway. Dell manufacturing will embed this key into the iDRAC of the VxRail nodes. So, instead of a user logging onto the Dell support portal to retrieve the access key to enable secure remote services, the enablement process will automatically retrieve this unique connectivity key from iDRAC for the connectivity agent to enable the connection. This feature is designed to simplify and streamline the secure connect gateway serviceability setup experience.
Customers can also have a direct connection to Dell cloud bypassing having a gateway deployed. This option is available for any clusters running VxRail 7.0.350 and higher.
VxRail dial home payload improvements
VxRail dial home payload improvements have been introduced to help provide Dell support with additional key cluster information in the dial home payload itself and capture more system error conditions to help further improve VCF on VxRail serviceability and reduce time to resolution of any VxRail related issues.
Additional payload information now includes:
- Smart Logs: Smart logging automatically collects the logs on the node of the call-home event, which provides additional information to the Support team when necessary. Starting with VCF 4.4.1 on VxRail 7.0.371, smart logging functionality has been redesigned to achieve the following tasks:
- Adapt smart logging workflow to the new secure remote gateway architecture
- Associate smart log with Dell Service Request (SR) such that the smart log file can be included in the SR as a link.
- Sub-component details: These include information such as the part number and slot number for CRU/FRU items such as disk drives and memory DIMMs for more efficient auto-dispatch of these failed components.
- VxRail cluster personality identifier information: To help making the troubleshooting experience more efficient, this cluster metadata information allows Dell Support to know that the VxRail clusters are deployed within a VCF on VxRail environment.
Also included are additional error conditions that are now captured to bring VxRail events in parity with existing PowerEdge events and additional ADC error states. And finally, to reduce the cost of service and improve the customer experience by avoiding a deluge of unnecessary event information, some events are no longer being reported.
VxRail physical view UI update now includes Fiber Channel HBA hardware view
New support for FC HBA Physical HW views have been introduced as part of the VxRail Manager vCenter Plugin Physical View UI for E560F, P570F, and V570F VxRail nodes that support externally attached storage.
Supported FC HBAs include the following Emulex and QLogic models:
- Emulex LPE 35002 Dual Port 32 Gb HBA
- Emulex LPE 31002 Dual Port 16 Gb HBA
- QLogic 2772 Dual Port 32 Gb HBA
- QLogic 2692 Dual Port 16 Gb HBA
Figure 4: Fiber Channel HBA physical hardware view in VxRail Manager vCenter Plugin – firmware
This new functionality provides a similar UI viewing experience to what administrators are already used to seeing, regarding physical NICs and NIC ports. This new FC HBA view will include port link status and firmware/driver version information. An example of the firmware/driver views is shown in Figure 4.
VCF on VxRail security enhancements
VCF and VxRail software security vulnerability fixes
This release includes several security vulnerabilities fixes for both VxRail and VCF software components.
VxRail Software 7.0.371 contains fixes that resolve multiple security vulnerabilities. Some of these include:
- iDRAC8 Updates
For more information, see iDRAC8 184.108.40.206 Release Notes
For more details on the DSAs, see the Dell Security Advisory (DSA) portal and search for DSA IDs.
VCF 4.4.1 Software: This contains fixes that resolve issues in NSX-T by introducing support for NSX-T 220.127.116.11.2. For more information about these issues, see the VMware KB Article.
vRealize Suite Software: In the last VCF 4.4 on VxRail 7.0.320 release we introduced vRealize Flexible Upgrades. Read more about it here. As a result, the vRealize Suite components (other than vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager) are no longer a part of the VCF core software package. So if there are security vulnerabilities that are discovered and relevant patches that need to be applied, the process of doing so has changed. No longer will those vRealize component software updates be delivered and applied through VCF software update bundles. Administrators now must apply them independently using vRSLCM starting from the VCF 4.4 on VxRail 7.0.320 release.
I bring this up because there has been some vRealize Suite component security patches that have also been released that are relevant to VCF 4.4.1 on VxRail 7.0.371 deployments. See this blog post, written by my peers on the VMware team, describing the issue related to VMSA-2022-0011 and how to apply the fixes for it.
VCF on VxRail with VMware Validated Solution enhancements
New VCF on VxRail qualification with VMware Validated Solutions
For those of you who aren’t aware, VMware Validated Solutions are technical validated implementations built and tested by VMware and VMware Partners. These solutions are designed to help customers solve common business problems using VMware Cloud Foundation as the foundational infrastructure. Types of solutions include Site Protection and Disaster Recovery for VMware Cloud Foundation using multi-site VCF deployments with stretched NSX-T networks and Advanced Load Balancing for VMware Cloud Foundation using VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer for workloads on VCF. These validated solution designs have been enhanced over time to include VMware developed automation scripts to help customers further simplify and accelerate getting these implemented. You can learn more about them here.
Although this solution is not directly tied to this latest VCF 4.4.1 on VxRail 7.0.371 release as a release feature itself, VMware and Dell can now qualify the VMware Validated Solutions on VCF on VxRail. All VVS solutions that are qualified will be marked with a VxRail tag.
Figure 5: VMware Validated Solutions Portal
These solutions get updated asynchronously from VCF releases. Be sure to check the VMware VVS portal for the latest updates on existing solutions or to see when new solutions are added.
That’s a wrap
Thanks for taking the time learn more about VMware Cloud Foundation on Dell VxRail. For even more solution information, see the Additional Resources links at the bottom of this post. I don’t know about you, but I feel squeaky clean already! Can’t say the same about my outdoor landscaping though...I should probably go address that…
Author: Jason Marques
Related Blog Posts
Running Dell ObjectScale on VMware vSphere with Tanzu
Fri, 17 Jun 2022 18:24:53 -0000|
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Underlying HCI infrastructure architecture considerations
As many organizations embrace digital transformation and the application modernization journey that is involved in this process, Dell Technologies and VMware supporting customers by providing them with modern cloud infrastructure and storage solutions that support the demands of this new set of cloud native applications.
Dell ObjectScale, VMware vSphere with Tanzu, and the vSAN Data Persistence Platform (vDPp) are all examples of next generation cloud native technologies that deliver simple, scalable, and enterprise grade Kubernetes native S3 compatible object storage services on a Kubernetes runtime built into the vSphere hypervisor. To learn more about the details of this powerful set of technologies, check out these great blog posts from my colleagues over at VMware here and here. A recently published reference architecture white paper also walks through the steps of deploying these technologies together.
Now let’s get into our primary topic for this blog, which is the underlying HCI infrastructure architecture considerations for running ObjectScale on vSphere with Tanzu.
Setting the stage
Cloud infrastructure administrators have a lot of flexibility in terms of what and how to configure the infrastructure on which Dell ObjectScale runs. These options not only come at the underlying HCI infrastructure implementation layer but also at the VMware SDDC layer. This gives administrators choices on mixing the right combination of the two layers that best meet their business and operational requirements.
So, what are the layers that make up these options? For this discussion we will break it down as follows:
HCI Infrastructure Layer Options
- Construct – Dell vSAN Ready Nodes
- Consume – Dell VxRail HCI Integrated Systems
VMware SDDC Software Layer Options
Construct - VMware vSphere with Tanzu + VMware NSX-T
- Consume - VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) with Tanzu
After we review these options, we will highlight how they can be used to align to your ObjectScale architecture design and workload requirements.
Construct HCI and Construct VMware SDDC – Dell ObjectScale on Dell vSAN Ready Nodes with VMware vSphere with Tanzu + VMware NSX-T
This option involves deploying ObjectScale on vSphere with Tanzu enabled Dell vSAN Ready Node clusters and then manually deploying and configuring the rest of the required VMware SDDC software stack including NSX-T. This is essentially the builder’s approach to implementing the HCI infrastructure stack and the VMware SDDC stack. This gives infrastructure administrators the most control over their infrastructure configuration and components. The tradeoff, however, is that it adds a bit more complexity and more manual steps to get to an outcome that is ObjectScale ready.
Consume HCI and Construct VMware SDDC – Dell ObjectScale on Dell VxRail with VMware vSphere with Tanzu + VMware NSX-T
With this approach, infrastructure administrators can take advantage of consuming pre-validated and co-engineered Dell VxRail HCI integrated systems, enabling vSphere with Tanzu on them, and then manually deploying the NSX-T components of the solution. This speeds up and simplifies the HCI infrastructure management and operations portion of the stack while still delivering on the required SDDC infrastructure foundations needed for ObjectScale to run.
Construct HCI and Consume VMware SDDC – Dell ObjectScale on VMware Cloud Foundation with Tanzu on Dell vSAN Ready Nodes
This option delivers infrastructure administrators with granular control in constructing the underlying HCI HW components while simplifying the VMware SDDC layer and consuming it as a full cloud platform using VMware Cloud Foundation. This helps streamline the VMware SDDC to include NSX-T out of the box and can automate the deployment and configuration of the VMware SDDC components that are required to enable vSphere with Tanzu and run ObjectScale.
Consume HCI and Consume VMware SDDC – Dell ObjectScale on VMware Cloud Foundation with Tanzu on Dell VxRail
This option provides a true full stack turnkey cloud infrastructure platform for infrastructure administrators to consume. This co-engineered solution between VMware and Dell Technologies delivers the fastest path to hybrid cloud and Kubernetes. Administrators gain the operational and feature benefits of VxRail, the only HCI system with deep VMware Cloud Foundation integration, with the out of the box simplicity and automation of the VMware Cloud Foundation SDDC cloud platform. From an ObjectScale use case perspective, infrastructure administators can accelerate getting all the needed underlying cloud infrastructure up and running so that ObjectScale can be deployed quickly and easily at scale and with a standardized cloud infrastructure architecture built in.
Choosing the right ObjectScale deployment infrastructure architecture
All these options deliver the necessary infrastructure prerequisites required to deploy and run ObjectScale, just through different implementation approaches that align to an organization’s operating model. ObjectScale, however, can also be deployed in several different ways, which can affect the implementation of your underlying infrastructure.
Let’s review what these options are, how our infrastructure can support these deployment models, and when would be the best time to choose one over the other.
First, let’s call out the ObjectScale deployment architecture options available:
- Co-locate ObjectScale data services on the same clusters where user application workloads run
- Run ObjectScale data services on dedicated cluster infrastructure separate from user application workloads
How an infrastructure administrator would configure the underlying HCI and VMware SDDC stack based on these options will ultimately depend on which SDDC deployment method was used, vSphere with Tanzu + NSX-T or VCF with Tanzu.
The infrastructure implementation design details vary slightly since VCF implements a prescriptive cloud architecture using the concept of workload domains. This means that cloud infrastructure administrators must consider how to deploy vSphere with Tanzu enabled clusters to run ObjectScale within the context of this VCF’s workload domain architecture. On the other hand, if administrators were using the build approach of deploying individual vSphere with Tanzu enabled clusters, architecture design decisions are a bit more open ended. Either way, both implementation methods support both ObjectScale deployment architecture models of co-located and dedicated and can be run on both Dell vSAN Ready Nodes and Dell VxRail HCI Integrated Systems.
So, what would the first option look like when co-locating ObjectScale data services on the same cluster as where user application workloads are run?
The following figure provides a visual depiction of what this option may look like in a VCF on VxRail deployment using a single VI workload domain with a single vSphere with Tanzu enabled VxRail cluster in it. In this example, we would deploy ObjectScale to the Supervisor Cluster running on this WLD cluster. Application teams would then have their user application workloads running on the same cluster infrastructure and share the underlying physical HCI compute, network, and storage resources.
Figure 1: VCF on VxRail – ObjectScale co-location cluster deployment
This approach has advantages in terms of minimizing the infrastructure footprint required to run both workload types. It can also help drive improved resource utilization of the HCI infrastructure that has been deployed. This can also be a great fit for minimizing licensing costs if you have containerized user workloads and VM-based workloads that need to consume ObjectScale storage since there is only one cluster you need to enable vSphere with Tanzu on and vSphere can support running containers and VMs on the same vSphere cluster. However, there are possible downsides. These include resource contention for user workloads since you are sharing the same infrastructure to run ObjectScale data services and lack of independent scalability and right sizing of infrastructure resources for ObjectScale and the user applications.
Option 2, running ObjectScale data services on dedicated cluster infrastructure separate from user application workloads, eliminates the resource contention by running ObjectScale on its own dedicated cluster infrastructure separate from user workloads. In a VCF on VxRail deployment, this may be implemented in a couple of ways. The first is to create a single VI WLD with two or more VxRail clusters in it. One cluster would have vSphere with Tanzu enabled on it and is where ObjectScale would be deployed. The other cluster, depending on the types of workloads running (whether they be VM-based only or a mix of containers and VMs) may not require vSphere with Tanzu be enabled on it and can just be used to run user application workloads.
By running ObjectScale on its own workload domain cluster resources, we now have physical resource isolation for both ObjectScale and user application workloads. This avoids resource contention between the two and now have the flexibility to independently scale resources for both as needed. Using this VCF workload domain organizational model may be helpful if your organization is aligning ObjectScale storage and the workloads that consume it as part of a single business unit and you may want to keep all of that together and managed within a single managed pool of cloud infrastructure resources. The following diagram provides an illustration of how this would look.
Figure 2: VCF on VxRail – ObjectScale dedicated cluster deployment with single VI WLD
The other VCF workload domain design approach is to deploy two VI workload domains. One would contain one or more VxRail clusters with vSphere with Tanzu enabled on them and ObjectScale would be deployed on top. The other VI workload domain would contain one or more VxRail clusters that may or may not have vSphere with Tanzu enabled on them and would run user application workloads only. This method still gets you separation of physical resources to avoid resource contention as well as independent scaling for both workload types, but organizationally we have deployed workload domains based on infrastructure service function.
Deploying ObjectScale into its own dedicated workload domain provides the possibility of maximum scale of how many clusters we can deploy into a single domain that can be used solely for running ObjectScale data services. We can also help simplify the networking for those clusters since we only need to accommodate for the networking needs of ObjectScale and not also for user applications workloads, too.
The following example uses dedicated NSX-T instances for each VI workload domain. In VCF, it is possible to share an NSX-T instance across multiple VI workload domains. If we would have done this, we wouldn’t have to deploy another cluster of NSX Edge appliances and could have just used the NSX Edge appliance deployed in VI Workload Domain 2 to meet the requirements that are needed when enabling vSphere with Tanzu on vSphere clusters. But since we are using separate dedicated NSX-T instances, each VI workload domain will require NSX Edge appliances to meet these vSphere with Tanzu and ObjectScale minimum requirements for the clusters contained within them. The following figure shows an illustration of what this multi-workload domain organizational model would look like.
Figure 3: VCF on VxRail – ObjectScale dedicated cluster deployment with two VI WLDs
It is important to call out that these same co-located and dedicated cluster ObjectScale architecture models can be used in vSphere with Tanzu + NSX-T on Dell vSAN Ready Nodes/VxRail deployment options as well and are not tied to just the VCF on VxRail examples shown here. The same overall ObjectScale logical and physical layout considerations would apply. Administrators who choose to approach running ObjectScale in this way would be responsible for determining where the NSX-T Manager VM’s, Edge appliances, and vCenter components would run as there would be no Management Domain construct defined as part of a cloud platform architecture like VCF has.
This is not the end, it’s just the beginning…
I hope you have found this information helpful as you work through your ObjectScale adoption journey. This is not the end of your journey, however. For more information about VxRail and ObjectScale, check out the links at the bottom of this post.
Author: Jason Marques
Improved management insights and integrated control in VMware Cloud Foundation 4.5 on Dell VxRail 7.0.400
Tue, 11 Oct 2022 12:59:13 -0000|
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The latest release of the co-engineered hybrid cloud platform delivers new capabilities to help you manage your cloud with the precision and ease of a fighter jet pilot in the cockpit! The new VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) on VxRail release includes support for the latest Cloud Foundation and VxRail software components based on vSphere 7, the latest VxRail P670N single socket All-NVMe 15th Generation HW platform, and VxRail API integrations with SDDC Manager. These components streamline and automate VxRail cluster creation and LCM operations, provide greater insights into platform health and activity status, and more! There is a ton of airspace to cover, ready to take off? Then buckle up and let’s hit Mach 10, Maverick!
VCF on VxRail operations and serviceability enhancements
Support for VxRail cluster creation automation using SDDC Manager UI
The best pilots are those that can access the most fully integrated tools to get the job done all from one place: the cockpit interface that they use every day. Cloud Foundation on VxRail administrators should also be able to access the best tools, minus the cockpit of course.
The newest VCF on VxRail release introduces support for VxRail cluster creation as a fully integrated end-to-end SDDC Manager workflow, driven from within the SDDC Manager UI. This integrated API-driven workload domain and VxRail cluster SDDC Manager feature extends the deep integration capabilities between SDDC Manager and VxRail Manager. This integration enables users to VxRail clusters when creating new VI workload domains or expanding existing workload domains (by adding new VxRail clusters into them) all from an SDDC Manager UI-driven end-to-end workflow experience.
In the initial SDDC Manager UI deployment workflow integration, only unused VxRail nodes discovered by VxRail Manager are supported. It also only supports clusters that are using one of the VxRail predefined network profile cluster configuration options. This method supports deploying VxRail clusters using both vSAN and VMFS on FC as principal storage options.
Another enhancement allows administrators to provide custom user-defined cluster names and custom user-defined VDS and port group names as configuration parameters as part of this workflow.
You can watch this new feature in action in this demo.
Now that’s some great co-piloting!
Support for SDDC Manager WFO Script VxRail cluster deployment configuration enhancements
Th SDDC Manager WFO Script deployment method was first introduced in VCF 4.3 on VxRail 7.0.202 to support advanced VxRail cluster configuration deployments within VCF on VxRail environments. This deployment method is also integrated with the VxRail API and can be used with or without VxRail JSON cluster configuration files as inputs, depending on what type of advanced VxRail cluster configurations are desired.
- The legacy method for deploying VxRail clusters using the VxRail Manager Deployment Wizard has been deprecated with this release.
- VxRail cluster deployments using the SDDC Manager WFO Script method currently require the use of professional services.
Proactive notifications about expired passwords and certificates in SDDC Manager UI and from VCF public API
To deliver improved management insights into the cloud infrastructure system and its health status, this release introduces new proactive SDDC Manager UI notifications for impending VCF and VxRail component expired passwords and certificates. Now, within 30 days of expiration, a notification banner is automatically displayed in the SDDC Manager UI to give cloud administrators enough time to plan a course of action before these components expire. Figure 1 illustrates these notifications in the SDDC Manager UI.
Figure 1. Proactive password and certificate expiration notifications in SDDC Manager UI
VCF also displays different types of password status categories to help better identify a given account’s password state. These status categories include:
- Active – Password is in a healthy state and not within a pending expiry window. No action is necessary.
- Expiring – Password is in a healthy state but is reaching a pending expiry date. Action should be taken to use SDDC Manager Password Management to update the password.
- Disconnected – Password of component is unknown or not in sync with the SDDC Manager managed passwords database inventory. Action should be taken to update the password at the component and remediate with SDDC Manager to resync.
The password status is displayed on the SDDC Manager UI Password Management dashboard so that users can easily reference it.
Figure 2. Password status display in SDDC Manager UI
Similarly, certificate status state is also monitored. Depending on the certificate state, administrators can remediate expired certificates using the automated SDDC Manager certificate management capabilities, as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3. Certificate status and management in SDDC Manager UI
Finally, administrators looking to capture this information programmatically can now use the VCF public API to query the system for any expired passwords and certificates.
Add and delete hosts from WLD clusters within a workload domain in parallel using SDDC Manager UI or VCF public API
Agility and efficiency are what cloud administrators strive for. The last thing anyone wants is to have to wait for the system to complete a task before being able to perform the next one. To address this, VCF on VxRail now allows admins to add and delete hosts in clusters within a workload domain in parallel using the SDDC Manager UI or VCF Public API. This helps to perform infrastructure management operations faster: some may even say at Mach 9!
- Prerequisite: Currently, VxRail nodes must be added to existing clusters using VxRail Manager first prior to executing SDDC Manager add host workflow operations in VCF.
- Currently a maximum of 10 operations of each type can be performed simultaneously. Always check the VMware Configuration Maximums Guide for VCF documentation for the latest supported configuration maximums.
SDDC Manager UI: Support for Day 2 renaming of VCF cluster objects
To continue making the VCF on VxRail platform more accommodating to each organization’s governance policies and naming conventions, this release enables administrators to rename VCF cluster objects from within the SDDC Manager UI as a Day 2 operation.
New menu actions to rename the cluster are visible in-context when operating on cluster objects from within the SDDC Manager UI. This is just the first step in a larger initiative to make VCF on VxRail even more adaptable with naming conventions across many other VCF objects in the future. Figure 4 describes new in-context rename cluster menu option looks like.
Figure 4. Day 2 Rename Cluster Menu Option in SDDC Manager UI
Support for assigning user defined tags to WLD, cluster, and host VCF objects in SDDC Manager
VCF on VxRail now incorporates SDDC Manager support for assigning and displaying user defined tags for workload domain, cluster, and host VCF objects.
Administrators now see a new Tags pane in the SDDC Manager UI that displays tags that have been created and assigned to WLD, cluster, and host VCF objects. If no tags exist, are not assigned, or if changes to existing tags are needed, there is an assign link that allows an administrator to assign the tag or link and launch into that object in vCenter where tag management (create, delete, modify) can be performed. When tags are instantiated, VCF syncs them and allow administrators to assign and display them in the tags pane in the SDDC Manager UI, as shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5. User-defined tags visibility and assignment, using SDDC Manager
Support for SDDC Manager onboarding within SDDC Manager UI
VCF on VxRail is a powerful and flexible hybrid cloud platform that enables administrators to manage and configure the platform to meet their business requirements. To help organizations make the most of their strategic investments and start operationalizing them quicker, this release introduces support for a new SDDC Manager UI onboarding experience.
The new onboarding experience:
- Focuses on Learn and plan and Configure SDDC Manager phases with drill down to configure each phase
- Includes in-product context that enables administrators to learn, plan, and configure their workload domains, with added details including documentation articles and technical illustrations
- Introduces a step-by-step UI walkthrough wizard for initial SDDC Manager configuration setup
- Provides an intuitive UI guided walkthrough tour of SDDC Manager UI in stages of configuration that reduces the learning curve for customers
- Provides opt-out and revisit options for added flexibility
Figure 6 illustrates the new onboarding capabilities.
Figure 6. SDDC Manager Onboarding and UI Tour Experience
VCF on VxRail lifecycle management enhancements
VCF integration with VxRail Retry API
The new VCF on VxRail release delivers new integrations with SDDC Manager and the VxRail Retry API to help reduce overall LCM performance time. If a cloud administrator has attempted to perform LCM operations on a VxRail cluster within their VCF on VxRail workload domain and only a subset of those nodes within the cluster can be upgraded successfully, another LCM attempt would be required to fully upgrade the rest of the nodes in the cluster.
Before VxRail Retry API, the VxRail Manager LCM would start the LCM from the first node in the cluster and scan each one to determine if it required an upgrade or not, even if the node was already successfully upgraded. This rescan behavior added unnecessary time to the LCM execution window for customers with large VxRail clusters.
The VxRail Retry API has made LCM even smarter. During an LCM update where a cluster has a mix of updated and non-updated nodes, VxRail Manager automatically skips right to the non-updated nodes only and runs through the LCM process from there until all remaining non-updated nodes are upgraded. This can provide cloud administrators with significant time savings. Figure 7 shows the behavior difference between standard and enhanced VxRail Retry API Behavior.
Figure 7. Comparison between standard and enhanced VxRail Retry API LCM Behavior
The VxRail Retry API behavior for VCF 4.5 on VxRail 7.0.400 has been natively integrated into the SDDC Manager LCM workflow. Administrators can continue to manage their VxRail upgrades within the SDDC Manager UI per usual. They can also take advantage of these improved operational workflows without any additional manual configuration changes.
Improved SDDC Manager prechecks
More prechecks have been integrated into the platform that help fortify platform stability and simplify operations. These are:
- Verification of valid licenses for software components
- Checks for expired NSX Edge cluster passwords
- Verification of system inconsistent state caused by any prior failed workflows
- Additional host maintenance mode prechecks
- Determine if a host is in maintenance mode
- Determine whether CPU reservation for NSX-T is beyond VCF recommendation
- Determine whether DRS policy has changed from the VCF recommended (Fully Automated)
- Additional filesystem capacity and permissions checks
While VCF on VxRail has many core prechecks that monitor many common system health issues, VCF on VxRail will continue to integrate even more into the platform with each new release.
Support for vSAN health check silencing
The new VCF on VxRail release also includes vSAN health check interoperability improvements. These improvements allow VCF to:
- Address common upgrade blockers due to vSAN HCL precheck false positives
- Allow vSAN pre-checks to be more granular, which enables the administrator to only perform those that are applicable to their environment
- Display failed vSAN health checks during LCM operations of domain-level pre-checks and upgrades
- Enable the administrators to silence the health checks
Display VCF configurations drift bundle progress details in SDDC Manager UI during LCM operations
In a VCF on VxRail context, configuration-drift is a set of configuration changes that are required to bring upgraded BOM components (such as vCenter, NSX, and so on) with a new VCF on VxRail installation. These configuration changes are delivered by VCF configuration-drift LCM update bundles.
VCF configuration drift update improvements deliver greater visibility into what specifically is being changed, improved error details for better troubleshooting, and more efficient behavior for retry operations.
VCF Async Patch Tool support
VCF Async Patch Tool support offers both LCM and security enhancements.
Note: This feature is not officially included in this new release, but it is newly available.
The VCF Async Patch Tool is a new CLI based tool that allows cloud administrators to apply individual component out-of-band security patches to their VCF on VxRail environment, separate from an official VCF LCM update release. This enables organizations to address security vulnerabilities faster without having to wait for a full VCF release update. It also gives administrators control to install these patches without requiring the engagement of support resources.
Today, VCF on VxRail supports the ability to use the VCF Async Patch Tool for NSX-T and vCenter security patch updates only. Once patches have been applied and a new VCF BOM update is available that includes the security fixes, administrators can use the tool to download the latest VCF LCM release bundles and upgrade their environment back to an official in-band VCF release BOM. After that, administrators can continue to use the native SDDC Manager LCM workflow process to apply additional VCF on VxRail upgrades.
Note: Using VCF Async Patch Tool for VxRail and ESXi patch updates is not yet supported for VCF on VxRail deployments. There is currently separate manual guidance available for customers needing to apply patches for those components.
Instructions on downloading and using the VCF Async Patch Tool can be found here.
VCF on VxRail hardware platform enhancements
Support for 24-drive All-NVMe 15th Generation P670N VxRail platform
The VxRail 7.0.400 release delivers support for the latest VxRail 15th Generation P670N VxRail hardware platform. This 2U1N single CPU socket model delivers an All-NVMe storage configuration of up to 24 drives for improved workload performance. Now that would be powerful single engine aircraft!
Time to come in for a landing…
I don’t know about you, but I am flying high with excitement about all the innovation delivered with this release. Now it’s time to take ourselves down for a landing. For more information, see the following additional resources so you can become your organization’s Cloud Ace.
Author: Jason Marques