Dell EMC PowerFlex and VMware Cloud Foundation for High Performance Applications
Thu, 25 Jun 2020 13:10:33 -0000|
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The world in 2020 has shown all industries that innovation is necessary to thrive in all conditions. VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) hybrid cloud platform was crafted by innovators who realize the biggest asset our customers have is their information technology and the data that runs the business. The VCF offering takes the complexity out of operationalizing infrastructure to enable greater elasticity, growth, and simplification through improved automation. VCF enables options available using on-premises and multi-cloud deployments to address ever changing enterprise needs.
VMware included design factors that anticipated customers’ use of varying storage options in the flexibility of implementing VCF. VMware vSAN is the standard for VCF hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) deployments and is directly integrated into vSphere and VCF. For those circumstances where workloads or customer resource usage require alternative storage methods, VMware built flexibility into the VCF storage offering. Just as we see a wide variety in desktop computing devices, one size doesn't fit all applies to the enterprise storage products as well. Dell Technologies’ PowerFlex (formerly VxFlex) provides a software-defined mechanism to add a combination of compute and storage with scale out flexibility. As customers look to software-defined operational constructs for agility, PowerFlex provides an adjustable means to add the right balance of storage resources while enabling non-disruptive additions without painful migrations as demands increase.
Joining the Dell Technologies Cloud family as a validated design, Dell EMC PowerFlex helps customers simplify their path to hybrid cloud by combining the power of Dell EMC infrastructure with VMware Cloud Foundation software as supplemental storage. As a high-performance, scale out, software-defined block storage product, PowerFlex provides a combination of storage and compute in a unified fabric that's well equipped to service particularly challenging workloads. The scalability of compute and/or storage in a modular architecture provides an asymmetrical (2-layer) option to add capacity to either compute or storage independently. PowerFlex makes it possible to transform from a traditional three-tier architecture to a modern data center without any trade-offs between performance, resilience or future expansion.
PowerFlex significantly reduces operational and infrastructure complexity, empowering organizations to move faster by delivering flexibility, elasticity, and simplicity with predictable performance and resiliency at scale for deployments. PowerFlex Manager is a key element of our engineered systems providing a full lifecycle administration experience for PowerFlex from day 0 through expansions and upgrades which is independent, but complementary to the full stack life cycle management available through VCF via SDDC Manager. A cornerstone value proposition of VCF is administering the lifecycle management of OS upgrades, vSphere updates, vRealize monitoring, automation and NSX administration. PowerFlex manager works in parallel with VCF to deliver a comprehensive lifecycle experience for the physical ingredients and for the PowerFlex software-define storage layer. PowerFlex also offers a vRealize Operations plug-in for a unified monitoring capability from VMware vRealize Suite which is included in most VCF editions. From a storage management perspective, PowerFlex utilizes a management system that complements VCF and VMware vSphere by working within the appropriate vCenter management constructs. PowerFlex Manager provides the administration of PowerFlex storage functions, while VCF and vCenter manages the allocation of LUNs to provisioned VMFS file systems to provide data stores for the provisioned workloads.
PowerFlex systems enables customers to scale from a small environment to enterprise scale with over a thousand nodes. In addition, it provides enterprise grade data protection, multi-tenant capabilities, and add-on enterprise features such as QoS, thin provisioning, compression and snapshots. PowerFlex systems deliver the performance and time-to-value required to meet the demands of the modern enterprise data center.
Does Supplemental Storage Mean Slow or Light Workload Use Cases?
PowerFlex provides a Dell Technologies validated design as a supplemental storage platform for VCF, unlocking the value of PowerFlex to be realized by customers within the VCF environment. By providing sub-millisecond latency, high IOPS and high throughput with linearity as nodes join the fabric, the result is a very predictable scaling profile that accelerates the VCF vision within the datacenter.
PowerFlex, as a part of VCF, can help solve for even the most demanding of applications. Using the supplemental capabilities to service workloads with the highest of efficiency provides a best of class performance experience. Some illustrative examples of demanding application workloads validated with PowerFlex, independent of VCF, include the following:
SAP HANA certified for PowerFlex integrated rack in both 4-socket and 2-socket offerings (certification details). Highly efficient in hosting up to six production HANA instances per 4-socket server. Our capabilities outperform external competitors by hosting 2x the capacity. The Configuration and Deployment Best Practices for SAP HANA white paper provides details. While this white paper illustrates a single layer architecture, even better performance characteristics are achievable using the VCF aligned 2-layer architectural implementation of PowerFlex.
Oracle RAC & Microsoft SQL
Flexibility to run compute and storage on separate hardware results in significant reduction of database licensing cost.
- Oracle RAC Solution (white paper) – Get over 1 Million IOPs with less than 1ms latency with Oracle 12c RAC database transactions in just six nodes delivering 33GB/sec throughput (5.6GB/sec per node).
- Oracle 19c RAC TPC-C achieving more than 10 Million TPMs in eight nodes (white paper).
- MS SQL 2019 Solution (white paper) or MS SQL 2019 Big Data Cluster with Kubernetes (white paper) delivering approximately 9 Million SQL Server transactions (TPMs) with less than 1ms latency using just five storage nodes.
Validated/certified by SAS for running SAS mixed analytics workloads (white paper) providing an average throughput of 210 MBs per core (40% greater than their recommended 150 MB/sec needed for certification).
The validated solution (white paper) with Elastic provides customers with the required high-performance, scalable, block-based IO with flexible deployment options in multiple operating environments (Windows, Linux, Virtualized/Bare Metal). Elastic validated the efficiency of PowerFlex using only three compute and 4 storage nodes to deliver ~1 billion indexing events measured by Elastic’s Rally benchmarking tool.
The validated PowerFlex solution for Epic delivers 6x9’s availability and high performance for critical the EPIC hyperspace workloads while simultaneously enabling hosting the VDI with the operational and analytical databases for a completely integrated infrastructure option.
For customers deploying Kubernetes container-based database deployments like Cassandra, PowerFlex provides 300,000 operations/second for 10 million operations (Read intensive operations) with avg read latency of 1ms on just eight nodes.
PowerFlex gives Dell Technologies the ability to help customers address diverse infrastructure needs. For more information on all of the Dell Technologies storage options with Cloud Validated Designs for VMware Cloud Foundation, please view our white paper. The implementation guide for using PowerFlex for supplemental storage provides the simple steps to provide complementary storage options for VCF deployments. For more information on the PowerFlex product family and workload solutions, please see the product page here. The PowerFlex White Paper - Technical Overview also provides a comprehensive perspective how organizations can begin changing the way they think about a modern data center architecture. Please contact your local Dell sales representative for more information.
Other pre-tested Dell Technologies Storage products validated for VMware Cloud Foundation that provide the capabilities to independently scale storage and compute include the offerings below. You can find more details in the Dell Technologies Cloud Validated Designs document.
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The Latest VxRail Platform Innovation is Now Included in Your Cloud
Tue, 18 Aug 2020 15:32:11 -0000|
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The Dell Technologies Cloud Platform, VCF on VxRail, now supports the latest VxRail HCI System Software release featuring a new and improved first run experience, host geo-location tagging capabilities, hardware platform updates, and enhanced security features
Dell Technologies and VMware are happy to announce the general availability VCF 22.214.171.124 on VxRail 7.0.010.
This release brings support for the latest version of VxRail to the Dell Technologies Cloud Platform. Let’s review what these new features are all about.
Updated VxRail Software Bill of Materials
Please check out the VCF on VxRail release notes for a full listing of the supported software BOM associated with this release. You can find the link at the bottom of page.
VxRail Hardware Platform Updates
VxRail 7.0.010 brings about new support for ruggedized D-Series VxRail hardware platforms (D560/D560F). These ruggedized and durable platforms are designed to meet the demand for more compute, performance, storage, and more importantly, operational simplicity that deliver the full power of VxRail for workloads at the edge, in challenging environments, or for space-constrained areas. To read more about the technical details of VxRail D-Series, check out the VxRail D-Series Spec Sheet.
Also, this release is reintroducing GPU support that was not in the initial VCF 4.0 on VxRail 7.0 release.
New and Improved VxRail First Run Experience
A new Day 1 VxRail cluster first run workflow and UI enhancements have been updated. The new day 1 VxRail first run deployment wizard is comprised of 13 steps or top level tasks. This day 1 workflow update was required to support new VxRail HCI System software enhancements.
The new UI provides for improved levels of configuration data entry flexibility during deployment. These options include things like allowing unique hostnames for each ESX host without forcing a name configuration, allowing for non-sequential IP addresses for hosts in the cluster, support for a geographical location ID tag, e.g. Rack Name or Rack Location are now supported. It provides a cleaner interface with a consistent look and feel for Information, Warnings, and Errors. There is improved validation, providing a higher level of feedback when errors are encountered of validation checks fail. And finally, options to manually enter all the configuration parameters or upload a pre-defined configuration via a YAML or JSON file are till available too! The figure below illustrates the new first run steps and UI.
New VxRail API to Automate Day 1 VxRail First Run Cluster Creation
This feature allows for fast and consistent VxRail cluster deployments using the programmatic extensibility of a REST API. It provides administrators with an additional option for creating VxRail clusters in addition to the VxRail Manager first run UI.
Day 1 Support to Initially Deploy Up to Six Nodes in a VxRail Cluster During VxRail First Run
The previous maximum node deployment supported in the VxRail first run was four. Administrators who needed larger VxRail cluster sizes over four nodes would have needed to create the cluster with four nodes and once that was in place, perform node expansions to get to the desired cluster size. This new feature helps reduce time needed to initially create larger VxRail clusters by allowing for a larger starting point of six VxRail nodes.
VxRail Host Geo-Location Tagging
This is probably one of the coolest and most underrated features in the release in my opinion. VxRail Manager now supports geographic location tags for VxRail hosts. This capability allows for important admin-defined host metadata that can assist many customers in gaining greater visibility of the physical location of the HCI infrastructure that makes up their cloud. This information is configured as “Host Settings” during VxRail first run as illustrated in the figure below.
As shown, the two values that make up the geo-location tags are Rack Name and Rack Position. These values are stored in the iDRAC of each VxRail host. You may be asking yourself, “Great! I have the ability to add additional metadata for my VxRail hosts but what can I do with it?”. Well, together, these values help a cloud administrator identify a VxRail host’s position within a given rack within the data center. Cloud administrators can then leverage this data to choose the VxRail host order they want to be displayed in the VxRail Manager vCenter plugin Physical View. The figure below illustrates what this would look like.
As datacenter environments grow, VxRail host expansion operations can be used to add additional infrastructure capacity. The VxRail “Add VxRail Hosts” automated expansion workflows have been updated to include a new Host Location step which allows for the ability add geo-location Rack Name and Rack Position metadata for the new hosts being added to an existing VxRail Cluster. The figure below shows what a host expansion operation would look like.
In this fast paced world of digital transformation, it is not uncommon for cloud datacenter infrastructure to be moved within a datacenter after it has already been installed. This could be due to physical rack expansion design changes or infrastructure repurposing. These situations were also considered with using VxRail geo-location tags. Thus, there is an option to dynamically edit an existing host’s geo-location information. When this is performed, VxRail Manager will automatically update the host’s iDRAC with the new values. The figure below shows what the host edit would look like.
All these geo-location management capabilities provide VCF on VxRail administrators with full stack physical to virtual infrastructure mapping that help further extend the Cloud Foundation management experience and simplify operations! And this capability is only available with the Dell Technologies Cloud Platform (VCF on VxRail)! How cool is that?!
VxRail Security Enhancements
Added Security Compliance With The Addition of FIPS 140-2 Level 1 Validated Cryptography For VxRail Manager
Cloud Foundation on VxRail offers intrinsic security built into every layer of the solution stack, from hardware silicon to storage to compute to networking to governance controls. This helps customers make security a built part of the platform for your traditional workloads as well as container based cloud native workloads rather than something that is bolted on after the fact.
Building on the intrinsic security capabilities of the platform are the following new features:
VxRail Manager is now FIPS 140-2 compliant, offering built-in intrinsic encryption, meeting the high levels of security standards required by the US Department of Defense.
From VxRail 7.0.010 onward, VxRail has ‘FIPS inside’! This would entail having built-in features such as:
- VxRail Manager Data-in-Transit (e.g., HTTPS interfaces, SSH)
- VxRail Manager's SLES12 FIPS usage
- VxRail Manager - encryption used for password caching
Disable VxRail LCM operations from vCenter
In order to limit administrator configuration error by allowing for the performing of VxRail LCM operations from within vCenter rather than through SDDC Manager, all VCF on VxRail deployments will natively lockdown the vSphere Web Client VxRail Manager Plugin Updates screen out of the box. This enforces administrators to use SDDC Manager for all LCM operations which will guarantee that the full stack of HW/SW used have all been qualified and validated for their environment. The figure below illustrates what this looks like.
Disable VxRail Host Rename/Re-IP operations in vCenter
Continuing with the idea of trying to limit administration configuration errors, this feature deals with trying to avoid configuration errors by not allowing administrators to perform VxRail Host Edit operations from within vCenter that are not supported in VCF. This helps maintain an operating experience in which all VCF on VxRail deployments will natively lockdown the vSphere Web Client VxRail Manager Plugin Hosts screen out of the box. The figure below illustrates what this looks like
Now those are some intrinsic security features!
Well that about covers all the new features! Thanks for taking the time to learn more about this latest release. As always, check out some of the links at the bottom of this page to access additional VCF on VxRail resources.
Twitter - @vwhippersnapper
VDI Connectivity to the Cloud
Wed, 29 Jul 2020 15:33:17 -0000|
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As the cloud operating model becomes more pervasive, solutions such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) are frequently deployed in a hybrid model, allowing them to take advantage of the benefits of both on-prem and public cloud environments for different use cases and user types.
VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) is a great hybrid cloud platform for managing VMs. It enables a secure and consistent infrastructure for your VMware Horizon deployment. Once set up, the administrative interfaces make management quite simple; however, understanding all the underlying components are key to a successful deployment. To help understand these components, I will guide you through a few key areas that need extra attention when setting up VCF to allow it to be connected to VMware Cloud on Amazon Web Services (VMC on AWS). Understanding these points when working with your Dell /VMware professional services teams will ensure a successful deployment.
Figure 1: VCF Overview
The checklist shown in Figure 2 goes through everything you need to have in place before you can deploy VCF. This checklist doesn’t do any system validation, so you should ensure these items are in place manually. If there are any misconfigurations, it will lead to the VMware Cloud Builder failing, so it is important to make sure this list is complete before you continue.
Figure 2: VCF Checklist
Once VCF has deployed, you can move on to choosing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) configuration and mapping out the network topology.
The set-up of VMware NSX will change depending on which VPN you plan on implementing, so it is best to know what direction you plan on going before you start this step. There are three options of VPN to use with VMC on AWS. See the VMware articles on the steps involved with setting up each type of VPN. The detailed configuration steps for each option are shown below, as well as links to VMware resources in relation to the configuration steps for each. I have laid out some basic pros and cons and use cases for each of the options below. However, more research and understanding may be needed to choose the best option for your type of infrastructure.
Route Based: This will use a routing protocol to tell the peer what networks it can reach, and then both the On-Prem and Cloud use that information to configure which traffic should be sent through the VPN.
Use Case: If you need to access multiple subnets or networks at the remote site and a dynamic routing protocol (BGP, OSPF, etc.) running across the VPN.
Can configure VPN tunnel redundancy.
Requires a routing protocol.
Requires a routed subnet.
Policy-Based: Uses policies to dictate how different traffic uses the VPN. If the network changes, the policies will have to be changed as well, or the changes will be ignored.
Use case: Need to access only one subnet or one network at a remote site using VPN.
Remote access VPN can be used.
When local network changes, this must be manually updated.
Easier to set-up
No Tunnel redundancy.
Direct-Connect: If a workload requires higher speed and lower latency between cloud and on-prem.
Use Case: If you are prohibited from transferring sensitive data across the public internet or need to run a workload that requires a low latency connection to the cloud.
Private connection between on-prem and AWS
Depending on what VPN is being set up, the NSX set-up will change. While most of the core components stay the same, there will be minor configuration differences. Have a look at the following VMware documentation to show how things will be configured depending on the VPN set up.
Once the VPN and NSX are set up and working on-prem, you can use these as guidelines to show how the set-up is done on the VMC on AWS side.
- VPN & Hybrid Linked Mode
- Hybrid Cloud Extension
- HCX Interconnect and Network Extension
- Live Migration
- Disaster Recovery
Hopefully, this post has helped you understand the different components needed to get connected to the cloud and how these components fit together.
To get more information on Dell EMC Ready Solutions for VDI, visit our info hub page:
VCF with VxRail ordering Guide:
Provides guidance for setting up VDI on Dell Technologies Cloud Platform (DTCP) using VMware Horizon: