At VMworld, various cool new technologies were previewed. In this series of articles, I will write about some of those previewed technologies. Unfortunately, I can’t cover them all as there are simply too many. This article is about VMware Cloud Foundation, which was session HBI1432BUR. For those who want to see the session, you can find it here. This session was presented by Mark Chuang and Jayanta K Dey. Please note that this is a summary of a session which is discussing the technology direction of the products, the discussed features may never be released, and this direction does not represent a commitment of any kind, and is subject to change. Now let’s dive into it, what is happening in the VMware Cloud Foundation space?
Jayanta kicked off with an introduction, and I believe most of you understand why we need to simplify IT, and if not, it is all about optimizing cost and improving speed/agility/time to market. This can only be achieved when you have a platform that caters for this, or basically a platform that enables you to focus on delivering services which are valuable to the business instead of focussing on the underlying infrastructure. This is where VMware Cloud Foundation comes in to play. It is a consistent and prescriptive full-stack hyperconverged infrastructure which can run any application.
Mark was up next and provided some examples of customers using VCF and what their use cases are for using it. I think the common denominator was decreasing cost, scalability, and ease of operations. He also discussed what VCF provides you as a customer. But that is not why you are reading this article. Let’s skip forward and discuss what is coming in the future and what was just released. I think the main recently released functionality is definitely the ability to easily deploy a Kubernetes cluster through the automated deployment of VMware PKS. Also, the support for NSX-T, allowing your cloud-native workloads to be connected and protected is definitely a key feature.
Going forward the VCF team’s strategy is all about being able to have VCF on-prem, in the cloud, and in the edge, providing the simplest path to the hybrid cloud. On-prem is something VCF has been doing from Day 1, and cloud is something which is happening as we speak, edge is currently being worked on. How do we do this? Well, it means we will need to make sure first of all VCF remains the number 1 player on-prem for full-stack HCI. We will do this by ensuring we will provide even better container support. But also for instance by ensuring the cloud-native storage control plane is integrated. We will also need to provide mobility for containers and VMs between different cloud offerings. On top of that VCF will need to provide a level of abstraction for developers, and make life easier for administrators through self-driving operations. All of these items have been individually discussed at VMworld, on my blog in the various articles, and on Cormac and Frank’s blog. Sounds simple, but it means the platform will need to be able to deploy all of these solutions, manage, monitor, and upgrade them as well.
Next Mark and Jayanta showed some great demos. The first one was very interesting. It was all about multi VCF instance management. In other words, if you have many different locations how do you manage your VCF fleet? Also, what would it take to get this functionality? Well, the great thing is that this functionality will be included in SDDC Manager. It will provide you an option to create a “federation” and within that federation, you can then add members. When you have added your members, you have a nice map overview which shows you where your instances are running, and you will also see the health of the instance immediately. When you click on the icons you will be provided with the info of each of the locations, things like resources available etc.
Of course, you can also start drilling down, you can go to a list view and look at all of the environments in more detail. You can drill down within that list view to see what is happening within a location when the status is not green. In the screenshot below you can see that the vSAN Datastore is filling up in the Delhi location. When you would click the Delhi vSAN Datastore it would then take you to the details page in SDDC Manager for that particular location. A great way of providing a single global view of your VCF fleet!
The next demo that was shown was around compliancy. This is a pain-point for many customers. For instance, how do I ensure my environment is PCI-DSS compliant? Or how do I make sure I am following all known VMware best practices? Well, you simply select the framework that needs to be applied and apply it to the workload domain you select in the interface. Literally a couple of clicks to ensure you are PCI-DSS compliant. Before you have applied the framework you can also see how far you are from being compliant, in other words, you can do a gap analysis of your workload domain against the selected framework. it will show you the deviations and it will show you the compliance percentage, and of course, also will provide you the severity of the deviation and detailed info about each of the deviations on how to resolve it. It even gives you manual steps on how to remediate the deviations and it will also give you the PowerCLI code to make the system compliant… Or you just click “Remediate All” and have VCF do it for you. (Which makes more sense to me.)
The third demo was about machine learning. It showed how you create a workload domain with NSX-T and VMware PKS. I demoed this last year at the HCI Keynote in Barcelona so I know this was possible already, what I did not realize is that we have a fling for deploying a machine learning platform on top of VMware Cloud Foundation, using Kubeflow. Would be interesting to see this implemented as well into VMware Cloud Foundation, especially when it can be combined with Bit Fusion technology.
The last demo was about how to move from an existing environment with a custom design to a VMware Validated Design. Mark showed us a tool which analysis the environment and then provides you insights in what would need to be changed in order to be compliant with the recommendations and suggestions in the VMware Validated Design’s. The demo showed the analysis of the environment, but the vision for this tool is that it should also be possible to remediate automatically in the future.
Great session by Mark and Jayanta, providing a good insight into what VMware is planning for Cloud Foundation. Worth watching online, or to attend in person at VMworld Europe!