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 220.127.116.11 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
Related Blog Posts
Innovation with Cloud Foundation on VxRail
Mon, 30 Mar 2020 15:24:55 -0000|
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VCF 3.9 ON VxRail 4.7.300 Improves Management, Flexibility, and Simplicity at Scale
As you may already know, VxRail is the HCI foundation for the Dell Technologies Cloud Platform. With the new Dell Technologies On Demand offerings we combine the benefits of bringing automation and financial models similar to public cloud to on-premises environments. VMware Cloud Foundation on Dell EMC VxRail allows customers to manage all cloud operations through a familiar set of tools, offering a consistent experience, with a single vendor support relationship from Dell EMC.
Joint engineering between VMware and Dell EMC continuously improves VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail. This has made VxRail the first hyperconverged system fully integrated with VMware Cloud Foundation SDDC Manager and is the only jointly engineered HCI system with deep VMware Cloud Foundation integration. VCF on VxRail to delivers unique integrations with Cloud Foundation that offer a seamless, automated upgrade experience. Customers adopting VxRail as the HCI foundation for Dell Technologies Cloud Platform will realize greater flexibility and simplicity when managing VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail at scale. These benefits are further illustrated with the new features available in the latest version of VMware Cloud Foundation 3.9 on VxRail 4.7.300.
The first feature expands the ability to support global management and visibility across large, complex multi-region private and hybrid clouds. This is delivered through global multi-instance management of large-scale VCF 3.9 on VxRail 4.7.300 deployments with a single pane of glass (see figure below). Customers who have many VCF on VxRail instances deployed throughout their environment now have a common dashboard view into all of them to further simplify operations and gain insights.
The new features don’t just stop there, VCF 3.9 on VxRail 4.7.300 provides greater networking flexibility. VMware Cloud Foundation 3.9 on VxRail 4.7.300 adds support for Dell EMC VxRail layer 3 networking stretch cluster configurations, allowing customers to further scale VCF on VxRail environments for more highly available use cases in order to support mission-critical workloads. The layer 3 support applies to both NSX-V and NSX-T backed workload domain clusters.
Another area of new network flexibility features is the ability to select the host physical network adapters (pNICs) you want to assign for NSX-T traffic on your VxRail workload domain cluster (see figure below). Users can now select the pNICs used for the NSX-T Virtual Distributed Switch (N-VDS) from the SDDC Manager UI in the Add VxRail Cluster workflow. This allows you the flexibility to choose from a set of VxRail host physical network configurations that best aligns to your desired NSX-T configuration business requirements. Do you want to deploy your VxRail clusters using the base network daughter card (NDC) ports on each VxRail host for all standard traffic but use separate PCIe NIC ports for NSX-T traffic? Go for it! Do you want to use 10GbE connections for standard traffic and 25GbE for NSX-T traffic? We got you there too! Host network configuration flexibility is now in your hands and is only available with VCF on VxRail.
Finally, no good VCF on VxRail conversation can go by without talking about Lifecycle Management. VMware Cloud Foundation 3.9 on VxRail 4.7.300 also delivers simplicity and flexibility for managing at scale with greater control over workload domain upgrades. Customers now have the flexibility to select the clusters within a multi-cluster workload domain to upgrade in order to better align with business requirements and maintenance windows. Upgrading VCF on VxRail clusters is further simplified with VxRail Smart LCM (4.7.300 release) which determines exactly which firmware components need to be updated on each cluster, pre-stages each node in a cluster saving up to 20% of upgrade time (see next figure). The scheduling of these cluster upgrades is also supported. With VCF 3.9 and VxRail smart LCM, you can streamline the upgrade process across your hybrid cloud.
As you can see the innovation continues with Cloud Foundation on VxRail.
VCF on VxRail – More business-critical workloads welcome!
Mon, 30 Mar 2020 15:11:17 -0000|
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New platform enhancements for stronger mobility and flexibility
February 4, 2020
Today, Dell EMC has made the newest VCF 3.9.1 on VxRail 4.7.410 release available for download for existing VCF on VxRail customers with plans for availability for new customers coming on February 19, 2020. Let’s dive into what’s new in this latest version.
Expand your turnkey cloud experience with additional unique VCF on VxRail integrations
This release continues the co-engineering innovation efforts of Dell EMC and VMware to provide our joint customers with better outcomes. We tackle the area of security in this case. VxRail password management for VxRail Manager accounts such as root and mystic as well as ESXi have been integrated into the SDDC Manager UI Password Management framework. Now the components of the full SDDC and HCI infrastructure stack can be centrally managed as one complete turnkey platform using your native VCF management tool, SDDC Manager. Figure 1 illustrates what this looks like.
Support for Layer 3 VxRail Stretched Cluster Configuration Automation
Building off the support for Layer 3 stretched clusters introduced in VCF 3.9 on VxRail 4.7.300 using manual guidance, VCF 3.9.1 on VxRail 4.7.410 now supports the ability to automate the configuration of Layer 3 VxRail stretched clusters for both NSX-V and NSX-T backed VxRail VI Workload Domains. This is accomplished using CLI in the VCF SOS Utility.
Greater management visibility and control across multiple VCF instances
For new installations, this release now provides the ability to extend a common management and security model across two VCF on VxRail instance deployments by sharing a common Single Sign On (SSO) Domain between the PSCs of multiple VMware Cloud Foundation instances so that the management and the VxRail VI Workload Domains are visible in each of the instances. This is known as a Federated SSO Domain.
What does this mean exactly? Referring to Figure 2, this translates into the ability for Site B to join the SSO instance of Site A. This allows VCF to further align to the VMware Validated Design (VVD) to share SSO domains where it makes sense based upon Enhanced Linked Mode 150ms RTT limitation.
This would leverage a recent option made available in the VxRail first run to connect the VxRail cluster to an existing SSO Domain (PSCs). So, when you stand up the VxRail cluster for the second MGMT Domain that is affiliated with the second VCF instance deployed in Site B, you would connect it to the SSO (PSCs) that was created by the first MGMT domain of the VCF instance in Site A.
Application Virtual Networks – Enabling Stronger Mobility and Flexibility with VMware Cloud Foundation
One of the new features in the 3.9.1 release of VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) is use of Application Virtual Networks (AVNs) to completely abstract the hardware and realize the true value from a software-defined cloud computing model. Read more about it on VMware’s blog post here. Key note on this feature: It is automatically set up for new VCF 3.9.1 installations. Customers who are upgrading from a previous version of VCF would need to engage with the VMware Professional Services Organization (PSO) to configure AVN at this time. Figure 3 shows the message existing customers will see when attempting the upgrade.
VxRail 4.7.410 platform enhancements
VxRail 4.7.410 brings a slew of new hardware platforms and hardware configuration enhancements that expand your ability to support even more business-critical applications.
- New VxRail P580N model, features four-socket PowerEdge server platform with 2nd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors delivering 2x the memory per system* making it the optimal VxRail platform for SAP HANA and other in memory databases. The P580N provides 2x the CPU compared to the P570/F and offers 25% more processing potential over virtual storage architecture (VSA) 4S platforms that require a dedicated socket to run VSA. See Figure 4.
- New cost-effective E560N, an all NVMe platform for read intensive applications. See Figure 4.
- New configuration choices, including Mellanox 100GBe NIC cards for media broadcast use cases, 8TB high density disk drives for video surveillance. See Figure 5.
- GPUs now available in the E Series. For the first time GPU cards are supported outside the V Series. NVIDIA T4 GPUs in 1U E series platforms for entry level AI/ML, data inferencing and VDI workloads enable customers to expand the breadth of critical business applications across VMware Cloud Foundation on VxRail cloud infrastructures. See Figure 5 for the available options in VCF on VxRail configurations.
There you have it! We hope you find these latest features beneficial. Until next time…
Twitter - @vwhippersnapper