New Year’s Resolutions Fulfilled: Cloud Foundation on VxRail
Thu, 10 Feb 2022 13:24:57 -0000|
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New Year’s Resolutions Fulfilled: VMware Cloud Foundation 4.4 on VxRail 7.0.320
Many of us make New Year’s resolutions for ourselves with each turn of the calendar. We hope everyone is still on track!
The Cloud Foundation on VxRail team wanted to establish our own resolutions too. And with that, Dell Technologies and VMware have come together to fulfill our resolution of continuing to innovate by making operating and securing cloud platforms easier for our customers while helping them unlock the power of their data.
And as a result, we are happy to announce the availability of our first release of the new year: VMware Cloud Foundation 4.4 on Dell VxRail 7.0.320! This release includes Cloud Foundation and VxRail software component version updates that include patches to some recent widely known security vulnerabilities. It also adds support for Dell ObjectScale on the vSAN Data Persistence Platform (vDPp), support for additional 15th generation VxRail platforms, new security hardening features, lifecycle management improvements, new Nvidia GPU workload support, and more. Phew! So be resolute and read on for the details.
VCF on VxRail Storage Enhancements
Support for vSAN Data Persistence Platform and Dell ObjectScale Modern Stateful Object Storage Services
Initially introduced in vSphere 7.0 U1, the vSAN Data Persistence Platform (vDPp) is now supported as part of in VCF 4.4 on VxRail 7.0.320. Check out this great VMware blog post to learn more about vDPp.
Beginning in this release, support for running the new Dell ObjectScale data service on top of vDPp is also available. This new next-gen cloud native software defined object storage service is geared toward those IT teams who are looking to extend their cloud platform to run Kubernetes native stateful modern application data services. To learn more about ObjectScale please refer to this blog post. Note: VCF on VxRail currently supports using vDPp in a vSAN “Shared Nothing Architecture Mode” only.
The following figure illustrates the high-level architecture of vDPp.
Figure 1 – vDPp and ObjectScale
As a result of this new capability, VCF on VxRail customers can further extend the storage flexibility the platform can support with S3 compatible object storage delivered as part of the turnkey cloud infrastructure management/operations experience.
Giving customers more storage flexibility resolution: Check!
VCF on VxRail Lifecycle Management Enhancements
Improved SDDC Manager LCM Prechecks
This release brings even more intelligence that is embedded into the SDDC Manager LCM precheck workflow. When performing an upgrade, the SDDC Manager needs to communicate to various components to complete various actions as well as requiring that certain system resources be configured correctly and are available.
To avoid any potential issues during LCM activities, VCF administrators can run SDDC Manager prechecks to weed any issues out before any LCM operation is executed. In this latest release SDDC Manager now adds six additional checks. These include:
- Password validity (including expired passwords)
- File system permissions
- File system capacity
- CPU reservation for NSX-T Managers
- Hosts in maintenance mode
- DRS configuration mode
All these checks apply to ESXi, vCenter, NSX-T, NSX-T Edge VMs, VxRail Manager, and vRealize Suite components in the VCF on VxRail environment. Figure 2 below illustrates some examples of what these prechecks look like from the SDDC Manager UI.
Figure 2 – New SDDC Manager Prechecks
Giving customers enhanced LCM improvements resolution: Check!
vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager Flexible Upgrades
VCF 4.4 has been enhanced to allow vRealize suite products to be updated independently without having to upgrade the VCF SDDC stack.
Figure 3 – vRSLCM Flexible Upgrades
This means that from VCF 4.4 on, administrators will use vRSLCM to manage vRealize Suite update bundles and orchestrate and apply those upgrades to vRealize Suite products (vRealize Automation, vRealize Operations, vRealize Log Insight, Workspace ONE Access, and more) independently from the core VCF version upgrade to help better align with an organization’s business requirements. It also helps decouple VCF infrastructure team updates from DevOps team updates enabling teams to consume new vRealize features quickly. And finally, it enables an independent update cadence between VCF and vRealize versions which boosts and improves interoperability flexibility. And who doesn’t like flexibility? Am I right?
One last note with this enhancement: SDDC Manager will no longer be used to manage vRealize Suite component update bundles and orchestrate vRealize Suite component LCM updates. With this change, future versions of VCF will not include vRealize Suite components as part of its software components. vRSLCM will still be a part of VCF software components validated for compatibility for each VCF release since that will continue to be deployed and updated using SDDC Manager. As such, SDDC Manager continues to manage vRSLCM install and update bundles just as it has done up to this point.
Giving customers enhanced LCM flexibility resolution: Check!
VCF on VxRail Hardware Platform Enhancements
Support For New 15th Generation Intel-Based VxRail Dynamic Node Platforms
VxRail 7.0.320 includes support for the latest 15th Generation VxRail dynamic nodes for the E, P, and V series models. These can be used when deploying VMFS on FC Principal storage VxRail VI Workload Domain clusters. Figure 4 below highlights details for each model.
Figure 4 – New 15th Generation VxRail dynamic node models
Also, as it relates to using VxRail dynamic nodes when deploying VMFS on FC Principal storage, support for using NVMe over FC configurations has also been introduced since it is a part of the VxRail 7.0.320 release that VCF on VxRail customers can just inherit from VxRail. It’s like finding a fifth chicken nugget in the bag after ordering the four-piece meal! Wait, it is New Year’s—I should have used a healthier food example. Oops!
Support For New 15th Generation Intel-Based VxRail With vSAN Platforms (S670 and E660N)
In addition to new 15th generation dynamic nodes, this release introduces support for two new 15th generation VxRail node types, the S670 and E660N. The S670 is our 2U storage density optimized hybrid platform based on the PowerEdge R750 while the E660N is our 1U “everything” all NVMe platform based on the PowerEdge R650.
Giving customers more hardware platform choices resolution: Check!
VCF on VxRail Developer and AI-Ready Enterprise Platform Enhancements
NVIDIA GPU Options for AI and ML Workload Use Cases
As AI and ML applications are becoming more critical within organizations, IT teams are looking at the best approaches to run them within their own data centers to ensure ease of manageability and scale, improved security, and maintaining governance.
As a follow on to the innovative and collaborative partnerships between Dell Technologies, VMware, and NVIDIA that were first introduced at VMworld 2021, we are happy to announce, with this VCF on VxRail release, the ability to run GPUs within VMware Cloud Foundation 4.4 on VxRail 7.0.320 to deliver an end-to-end AI-Ready enterprise platform that is simple to deploy and operate.
Figure 5 – VCF with Tanzu on VxRail + NVIDIA AI-Ready Enterprise Platform
VMware Cloud Foundation with Tanzu, when used together with NVIDIA certified systems like VxRail and NVIDIA AI Enterprise Suite software, deliver an end-to-end AI / ML enterprise platform. And with VxRail being the first and only HCI Integrated System certified with NVIDIA AI Enterprise Suite and its supported GPUs, IT teams can deliver and provision GPU resources quickly in a variety of ways, while also allowing data scientists to easily consume and scale GPU resources quickly when they need it.
While getting into all the details on getting this set up is beyond the scope of this blog post, you can find more information on using NVIDIA GPUs with VxRail and NVIDIA AI Enterprise Software Suite using the link at the end of this post. VMware has additional information about this new support in a blog post that you can check out using the link at the bottom of this page.
Giving customers a simple path to unlock the power of their data resolution: Check!
VCF on VxRail Operations Enhancements
Configure DNS/NTP From SDDC Manager UI
This new feature simplifies and streamlines DNS and NTP Day 2 management operations for cloud administrators. In previous releases, all DNS and NTP configuration was included in the VCF Bring Up Parameter file that was used by Cloud Builder at the time of VCF on VxRail installation. But there was no straightforward way to make updates or changes to these settings once VCF on VxRail has been deployed. Now, if additional modifications are needed to these configurations, they can be performed within the SDDC Manager UI as a simple Day 2 operation. This feature integrates SDDC Manager with native VxRail APIs to automate VxRail cluster DNS/NTP settings. The figure below shows what this looks like.
Figure 6 – DNS/NTP Day 2 Configuration From SDDC Manager UI
Giving customers a simpler and more flexible day 2 operations experience resolution: Check!
VCF on VxRail Security Enhancements
Activity Logging For VCF REST API Call-Driven Actions
Administrators can now ensure audit tracking for activity that takes place using the VCF REST API. In this release, SDDC Manager logs capture SDDC Manager API activity from SDDC Manager UI and other sources with user context. This can be used to ensure audit tracking of VCF activity and making analyzing logs easier to understand. Figure 5 below illustrates this activity. The log entries include the following data points:
- Client IP
- User agent
- API called
- API method
Figure 7 – SDDC Manager REST API Activity Logging
Each of the SDDC Manager core services has a dedicated activity log. These logs are in the respective /var/log/vmware/vcf/*service*/ service directories on the SDDC Manager VM.
Giving customers enhanced security logging resolution – Check!
Enhanced Access Security Hardening
This release disables the SSH service on ESXi hosts by default, following the vSphere security configuration guide recommendation.
This applies to new and upgraded VMware Cloud Foundation 4.4 on VxRail 7.0.320 deployments.
Giving customers enhanced default platform security hardening resolution: Check!
Log4j and Apache HTTP Server Fixes
No security conversation is complete without addressing the headache that has been the talk of the technology world recently and that is the Log4j and Apache HTTP Server vulnerability discoveries. VCF on VxRail customers can be rest assured that as a part of this release fixes for these vulnerabilities are included.
Kicking Log4j and Apache HTTP bugs to the curb resolution: Check!
To wrap up…
Well, that about covers it for this new batch of updates. For the full list of new features, please refer to the release notes listed below. There are additional resource links at the bottom of this post. We hope to continue making good on our VCF on VxRail platform resolutions throughout the year! Hopefully, we all can say the same for ourselves in other areas of our lives. Now, where is that treadmill...?
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