VMware is giving their customers more and more the option to move towards a subscription-based licensing model. In general, companies are moving away from the large pay-up-front deals and replace them with recurring subscriptions. Vendors like VMware are making a lot of investments to provide the structures, processes and capabilities to offer subscription licenses (and SaaS services). Organizations see the benefits of subscription licenses and this blog describes the current options if you want to move your vSphere perpetual licenses towards vSphere subscription.
vSphere+ Advantage – vSphere Subscription Service
Since December 2021, VMware offers vSphere Advantage in limited regions (aka Initial Availability).
vSphere Advantage gives you the flexibility to manage and operate your on-premises vSphere infrastructure while leveraging several VMware Cloud capabilities:
Transition from vSphere perpetual to vSphere subscription-based consumption for your vSphere deployments
Complete view of the globally distributed on-premises vSphere inventory
VMware-managed vCenter Servers (aka Project Arctic, not GA yet)
From a centralized VMware Cloud Console you can monitor events, alerts, capacity utilization, and the security posture of your vSphere infrastructure.
It is also possible now for you to plan and upgrade your existing vSphere licensing keys and replace them with vSphere Advantage, which enables you to make use of keyless entitlements. This keyless entitlement makes it very easy for customers to stay compliant all the time and to understand the current subscription usage.
To start using vSphere Advantage, you must enable communication between your on-premises vCenter Server and VMware Cloud by using a vCenter Cloud Gateway. This requires an outbound connection (443, HTTPS) only, no VPN is needed.
Current vCenter Server Requirements:
The vCenter Server version must be 7.0 Update 3a and later
Configure the vCenter Server with a backup and restore mechanism
Dedicate at least three ESXi hosts for the vCenter Server. (Recommended)
The vCenter Server must be self-managed. It must manage its own ESXi hosts and virtual machines
Unsupported vCenter Configurations:
Ensure that the vCenter Server is not configured in High Availability mode
If the vCenter Server is configured in Enhanced Linked Mode (ELM), unlink it from ELM. See Repoint a vCenter Server Node to a New Domain. ELM is no longer required because with vSphere Advantage you can monitor your entire vSphere inventory in a single pane of glass.
Ensure that the vCenter Server is not configured with NSX for vSphere, vRealize Operations Manager, Site Recovery Manager, vCloud Suite, or vSAN.
Project Arctic – VMware-Managed vCenter (Roadmap)
VMware introduced Project Arctic at VMworld 2021. Now it’s called vSphere Advantage. While a hybrid cloud operating model for vSphere becomes default now, it’s not yet possible to let VMware manage your vCenter Servers. We can expect that this capability will be shipped and made generally available somewhen in 2022.
VMware Edge Compute Stack
Edge Compute Stack (ECS) is a purpose-built stack that is available in three different editions (information based on initial availability from VMworld 2021):
As you can see, each VMware Edge Compute Stack edition has the vSphere Enterprise+ (hypervisor) included. Software-defined storage with vSAN is optional, but Tanzu for running containers is always part of each edition.
Note: The Edge Compute Stack includes vSphere subscription licenses.
If you are running the VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) stack and look for a managed service offering, which includes subscription-based licensing, have a look at the following alternatives:
VMware revealed their edge computing vision at VMworld 2021. In VMware’s view the multi-cloud extends from the public clouds to private clouds to edge. Edge is about bringing apps and services closer to where they are needed, especially in sectors like retail, transportation, energy and manufacturing.
In verticals like manufacturing the edge was always important. It’s about producing things than you can sell. If you cannot produce, you lose time and money. Reliability, stability and factory uptime are not new requirements. But why is edge becoming so important now?
Without looking at any analyst report and only providing experience from the field, it is clear why. Almost all of the large enterprises are migrating workloads from their global (central) data centers to the public cloud. At the same time, customers are looking at new innovations and technologies to connect their machines, processes, people and data in a much more efficient way.
Which requirement did all my customers have in common? They didn’t want to move their dozens or hundreds of edge infrastructures to the public cloud, because the factories should work independently and autonomously in case of a WAN outage for example. Additionally, some VMware technologies were already deployed at the edge.
VMware Edge Compute Stack
This is why VMware introduced the so-called “Edge Compute Stack” (ECS) in October 2021, which is provides a unified platform to run VMs alongside containerized applications at the far edge (aka enterprise edge). ECS is a purpose-built stack that is available in three different editions (information based on initial availability from VMworld 2021):
As you can see, each VMware Edge Compute Stack edition has the vSphere Enterprise+ (hypervisor) included, software-defined storage with vSAN is optional, but Tanzu for running containers is always included.
While ECS is great, the purpose of this article is about highlighting different solutions and technologies that help you to build the foundation for a digital manufacturing platform.
You most probably have a mix of home-grown and COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) software, that need to be deployed in your edge locations (e.g., factories, markets, shops etc.). In manufacturing, OT (operational technology) vendors have just started the adoption of container technologies due to unique technology requirements and the business model that relies on proprietary systems.
The OT world is typically very hardware-centric and uses proprietary architectures. These systems and architectures, which were put into production 15-20 years ago, are still functional. It just worked.
While these methods and architectures have been very good, the manufacturing industry realized that this static and inflexible approach resulted in a technology debt, that didn’t allow any innovation for a long period of time.
Manufacturing companies are moving to a cloud-native architecture that should provide more flexibility and vendor interoperability with the same focus in mind: To provide a reliable, scalable and flexible infrastructure.
This is when VMware becomes relevant again with their (edge) compute stack. VMware vSphere allows you to run VMs and containers on the same platform. This is true for IT and OT workloads, that’s IT partial IT/OT covergence.
You may ask yourself how you then would design the network. I’ll answer this topic in a minute.
IT platform teams, who design and manage the edge have to expand their (VMware) platform capabilities that allow them to deploy and host containers. Like I said before, this is why Tanzu is included in all the VMware Edge Compute Stack editions. Kubernetes is the new Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and so it makes only sense that the container deployment and management capability is included.
How do you provide centralized or regional Kubernetes management and operations if you don’t have a global (regional) data center anymore?
With a hybrid approach, by using Tanzu for Kubernetes Operations (TKO), a set of SaaS services that allow you to run, manage, connect and secure your container infrastructure across clouds and edge locations.
Now you have the right platform to run your IT and OT workloads on the same hypervisor or compute platform. You also have a SaaS-based control plane to deploy and manage your Kubernetes clusters.
As soon as you are dealing with a very dynamic environment where containers exist, you are having discussions about software-defined networking or virtualized networks. Apart from that, every organization and manufacturer are transforming their network and security at the edge and talk about network segmentation (and cybersecurity!).
Traditionally, you’ll find the Purdue Model implemented, a concept model for industrial control systems (ICS) that breaks the network in two zones:
In these IT and OT zones you’ll find subzones that describe different layers and the ICS components. As you can see as well, each level is secured by a dedicated physical firewall appliance. From this drawing one could say that the IT and OT world converge in the DMZ layer, because of the bidirectional traffic flow.
VMware is one of the pioneers when it comes to network segmentation that helps you driving IT/OT convergence. This is made possible by using network virtualization. As soon as you are using the VMware hypervisor and its integrated virtual switch, you are already using a virtualized network.
To bring IT and OT closer together and to provide a virtualized network design based on the Purdue Model including a zero-trust network architecture, you would start looking at VMware NSX to implement that.
In level 2 of the Purdue Model, which hosts the systems for supervising, monitoring and controlling the physical process, you will find components like human-machine interfaces (HMI) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) software.
In level 3, manufacturing execution systems (MES) can be found.
Nowadays, most companies already run their HMIs, SCADAs and MES software in virtual machines on the VMware vSphere hypervisor.
The next big thing is the virtualization of PLCs (programmable logic controller), which is an industrial computer that controls manufacturing processes, such as machines, assembly lines and robotic devices. Traditional PLC implementations in hardware are costly and lack scalability.
That is why the company SDA was looking for a less hardware-centric but more software-centric approach and developed the SDA vPLC that is able to meet sub 10ms performance.
This vPLC solution is based on a hybrid architecture between a cloud system and the industrial workload at the edge, which has been tested on VMware’s Edge Compute Stack.
Monitoring & Troubleshooting
One area, which we haven’t highlighted yet, is the monitoring and troubleshooting of virtual machines (VMs). The majority of your workloads are still VM-based. How do you monitor these workloads and applications, deal with resource and capacity planning/management, and troubleshoot, if you don’t have a central data center anymore?
With the same approach as before – just with a cloud-based service. Most organizations rely on vRealize Operations (vROps) and vRealize Log Insight (vRLI) for their IT operations and platform teams gain visibility in all the main and edge data centers.
You can still use vROps and vRLI (on-premises) in your factories, but VMware recommends using the vRealize Cloud Universal (vRCU) SaaS management suite, that gives you the flexibility to deploy your vRealize products on-premises or as SaaS. In an edge use case the SaaS-based control plane just makes sense.
In addition to vRealize Operations Cloud you can make use of the vRealize True Visibility Suite (TVS), that extends your vRealize Operations platform with management packs and connectors to monitor different compute, storage, network, application and database vendors and solutions.
Some of your factories may need virtual apps or desktops and for edge use cases there are different possible architectures available. Where a factory has a few hundred of concurrent users, a dedicated standalone VDI/RDSH deployment might make sense. What if you have hundreds of smaller factories and don’t want to maintain a complete VDI/RDSH infrastructure?
VMware is currently working on a new architecture for VMware Horizon (aka VMware Horizon Next-Generation) and their goal is to provide a single, unified platform across on-premises and cloud environments. They also plan to do that by introducing a pod-less architecture that moves key components to the VMware-hosted Horizon (Cloud) Control Plane.
This architecture is perfectly made for edge use cases and with this approach customers can reduce costs, expect increased scalability, improve troubleshooting and provide a seamless experience for any edge or cloud location.
Management for Enterprise Wearables
If your innovation and tech team are exploring new possibilities with wearable technologies like augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR) head-mounted displays (HMDs), then VMware Workspace ONE Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) can help you to securely manage these devices!
Workspace ONE UEM is very strong when it comes to the modern management of Windows Desktop and macOS operating systems, and device management (Android/iOS).
As you can see, VMware has a lot to offer for the enterprise edge. Organizations that are multi-cloud and keep their edge locations on-premises, have a lot of new technologies and possibilities nowadays.
VMware’s strengths are unfolded as soon as you combine different solutions. And these solutions help you to work on your priorities and requirements to build the right foundation for a digital manufacturing platform.
According to Gartner, regulated industry customers (such as finance and healthcare) and governments are looking for digital borders. Companies in these sectors are looking to reduce vendor lock-in and single points of failure with their cloud providers, whose data centers sometimes are also outside their country (e.g., Switzerland based customer with an AWS data center in Frankfurt).
The market for cloud technology and services is currently dominated by US and Asian cloud providers and many (European) companies store their data in these regions. There are European regions and data centers, but the geopolitical and legal challenges, concerns about data control, industry compliance and sovereignty are driving the creation of new national clouds.
That is why Gartner sees sovereign clouds as one of the emerging technologies, which is currently at the start of the August 2021 published hype cycle:
As an example and first use case I would mention the Swiss federal administration, which doesn’t see the need for an independent technical infrastructure under public law.
In June 2021 they published the statement that they notified the following cloud providers to become part of the federal administration’s initial multi-cloud architecture:
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
There are several reasons (pricing, market share, local data center availability) that led to this decision to build a multi-cloud architecture with these cloud providers. But it was interesting to read that the government did an assessment and concluded that no technical independent infrastructure is needed – no need for a local sovereign cloud.
This means that they want to keep their existing data centers to provide infrastructure and data sovereignty.
Interestingly, the Swiss confederation is exploring initiatives for secure and trustworthy data infrastructure for Europe and is examining participation in GAIA-X.
Use Case 2 – Current Sovereign Cloud Providers
There are other examples where organizations and governments saw the need for a sovereign cloud. Having a public cloud provider’s data center in the same country does not necessarily mean, that it’s a sovereign cloud per se. Hyperscale clouds often rely on non-domestic resources that maintain their data centers or provide customer support.
Governments and regulated industries say that you need domestic resources to provide a true sovereign cloud.
A good example here is the UK government, who has chosen the provider UKCloud, that delivers a consistent experience that spans the edge, private cloud and sovereign cloud.
Another VMware sovereign cloud provider is AUCloud, who provides IaaS to the Australian government, defense, defense industries and Critical National Industry (CNI) communities.
The third example I would like to highlight is Saudi Telecom Company (STC), that brings sovereign cloud services to Saudi Arabia.
What do UKCloud, AUCloud and STC have in common? They all joined the pretty new VMware Sovereign Cloud initiative and built their sovereign clouds based on VMware technology.
Use Case 3 – Cloud Act
Another motivation for a sovereign cloud could be the Cloud Act, which is a U.S. law that gives American authorities unrestricted access to the data of American IT cloud providers. It does not matter where the data is effectively stored. In the event of a criminal prosecution, the authorities have a free hand and do not even have to notify the data owners.
What does this mean for cloud users? Because of the Cloud Act, they cannot be sure whether when and to what extent their data or the data of their customers will be read by foreign authorities.
Use Case 4 – GAIA-X
Let me quote the official explanation of GAIA-X:
The architecture of Gaia-X is based on the principle of decentralization. Gaia-X is the result of many individual data owners (users) and technology players (providers) – all adopting a common standard of rules and control mechanisms – the Gaia-X standard.
Together, we are developing a new concept of data infrastructure ecosystem, based on the values of openness, transparency, sovereignty, and interoperability, to enable trust. What emerges is not a new cloud physical infrastructure, but a software federation system that can connect several cloud service providers and data owners together to ensure data exchange in a trusted environment and boost the creation of new common data spaces to create digital economy.
Gaia-X aims to mitigate Europe’s dependency on non-European providers and there seems to be no pre-defined architecture or preferred vendor when it comes to the underlying cloud platform GAIA-X sits on top.
While one would believe that a sovereign cloud is mandatory for GAIA-X, it looks more like a cloud-agnostic data exchange platform hosted by European providers and customers.
I am curious how providers build, operate and maintain a sovereign cloud stack based on open-source software.
How real is the need for Sovereign Cloud?
If a company or government wants to keep, extend, and maintain their own local data centers, this is still a valid option of course. But the above examples showed that the need for sovereign clouds exists and that the global interest seems to be growing.
What is the VMware Sovereign Cloud Initiative?
In October 2021 VMware announced their VMware Sovereign Cloud initiative where they partnering with cloud service providers to deliver a sovereign cloud infrastructure with cloud services on top to customers in regulated industries.
To become a so-called VMware Sovereign Cloud Provider, partners must go through an assessment and meet specific requirements (framework) to show their capability to provide a sovereign cloud infrastructure.
VMware defines a sovereign cloud as one that:
Protects and unlocks the value of critical data (e.g., national data, corporate data, and personal data) for both private and public sector organizations
Delivers a national capability for the digital economy
Secures data with audited security controls
Ensures compliance with data privacy laws
Improves control of data by providing both data residency and data sovereignty with full jurisdictional control
VMware aims to help regulated industry and government customers to execute their cloud strategies by connecting them to VMware Sovereign Cloud Providers (like UKCloud, AUcloud, STC, Tietoevry, ThinkOn or OVHcloud).
Sovereign Cloud Providers in Switzerland
Currently, there is no official VMware sovereign cloud provider in Switzerland. We have a few and strong VMware cloud provider partners as part of the VMware Cloud Provider Program (VCPP):
Let us come back to the use case 1 with the Swiss federal administration. They are building a multi-cloud and would have in Switzerland a potential number of at least 10 cloud service providers, which could become an official VMware Sovereign Cloud Provider.
Public cloud providers build local data centers and provide data residency. Sovereign clouds provide data sovereignty. Resident data may be accessed by a foreign authority while data sovereignty refers to data being subject to privacy laws and governance structures within the nation where that data is collected.
Controlling the location and access of data in the cloud has become an important task for CIOs and CISOs and I personally believe that sovereign clouds are not becoming important in 2 or 3 years, they are already very important and relevant, and we can expect a growth in this area in the next months.
My conclusion here is, that sovereign clouds and the public clouds are not competitors, they complement each other.
VMware Cloud on AWS (VMC on AWS) brings VMware’s software-defined data center (SDDC) stack to the AWS cloud. By using the same vSphere-based virtualization/cloud technology on-premises and in the public cloud, you can create a true hybrid cloud architecture, that enables you to get consistent operations by using consistent infrastructure.
This solution comes with optimized access to the AWS services and is delivered, sold and supported by VMware, AWS and their partner networks.
As you can see above, VMC on AWS comes with the same VMware tools and integrates the VMware Cloud Foundation stack (vSphere for compute, vSAN for storage, NSX for networking) along with vCenter for management.
Note: 99.9% SLA for non-stretched clusters, 99.99% for stretched clusters
Single Host Starter Configuration
VMC on AWS allows you to deploy a starter configuration with a single host only (not available with i3en.metal hosts).
This small SDDC configuration allows customers to get their first experiences with this hybrid cloud offering during a 60-day time period. Such a setup is only appropriate for test and development or proof of concept use cases. You can run production workloads on this small VMC on AWS environment if you scale up to the minimum of two hosts before the 60-day period ends, otherwise your evaluation ends with you losing data.
Note: Not all features of the standard VMC service offering are available in this limited setting. The VMC on AWS service level offering also does not apply to this one-node offering.
Included VMware Software
The following software is included in single host and production configurations:
Single Hosts (non-production environments)
Production (minimum 2 hosts)
VMware SDDC software: vSphere, vSAN, NSX-T, vCenter Server
Dedicated Amazon EC2 Bare Metal Instances
VMware Global Support
VMware Site Recovery
VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery
VMware vRealize Automation Cloud
VMware vRealize Operations Cloud
VMware vRealize Log Insight Cloud
VMware vRealize Network Insight Cloud
VMware Tanzu Standard
Lifecycle management by VMware (updates, patches and upgrades)
High Availability (HA) and Stretched Clusters
Service Level Agreement (SLA)
VMware SDDC software: vSphere, vSAN, NSX-T, vCenter Server
VMware Tanzu Services: TKG Service + TMC Essentials
Dedicated Amazon EC2 Bare Metal Instances
VMware Global Support
Lifecycle management by VMware (updates, patches and upgrades)
Support for High Availability (HA) and Stretched Clusters
Service Level Agreement (SLA)
VMware Site Recovery
VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery
VMware NSX Advanced Firewall
VMware vRealize Automation Cloud
VMware vRealize Operations Cloud
VMware vRealize Log Insight Cloud
VMware vRealize Network Insight Cloud
VMware Tanzu Standard
VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts
If you want to get the agility and innovation of (VMware) Cloud in your own data center, delivered as a service, then VMC on AWS Outposts is for you.
VMC on AWS Outposts is a fully managed on-premises as-a-service offering, that stretches VMC on AWS to your data center or edge location. You’ll get dedicated Amazon Nitro-based EC2 bare-metal instances delivered on-premises with VMware Cloud Foundation running on top.
What’s included in the offering?
AWS Outposts 42u rack (we can also expect a half-rack offering in the future)
3-8 hosts configurations based on i3en.metal
Dark host capacity included (for remediation, EDRS, scale-out and lifecycle management purposes)
Installed by AWS
AWS managed dedicated Nitro-based i3en.metal EC2 instance with local SSD storage
VMware managed SDDC software – vSphere, vSAN, NSX-T, vCenter Server
VMware Cloud Console
Support by VMware SREs
Supply chain, shipment logistics and onsite installation by AWS
Ongoing hardware monitoring with break/fix support.
VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts is made for multiple use cases:
Local data processing
Branche Office or large edge modernization
But this offering and VMC on AWS in general come with multiple other use cases which help orgnaizations to fulfill their cloud strategy.
VMware Cloud on AWS provides an infrastructure platform option for customers to modernize their existing enterprise applications on and enables them to run their enterprise workloads of today and tomorrow. With VMware Cloud on AWS, customers can run, monitor, and manage their Kubernetes clusters and virtual machines – all on the same infrastructure. VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid provides a consistent, upstream-compatible distribution of Kubernetes, that is tested, signed, and supported by VMware. Tanzu Kubernetes Grid is central to many of the offerings in the VMware Tanzu portfolio.
VMC on AWS can help customers to expand to new locations. Maybe it’s an unplanned project or there are temporary or seasonal capacity needs. Some customers are also using such an offering to build a flexible test, lab or training environment in the public cloud.
Adopt a robust, feature-rich cloud platform for virtual desktops and applications that can be used to deliver complete VDI infrastructure from the cloud. Or you can extend an existing on-premises VDI environment for desktop bursting, protection or proximity to applications running in AWS. Optimize infrastructure costs with flexible, consumption-based billing while paying only for what you use.
Another typical use case is disaster recovery. Customers are looking for an offsite approach with which they can prepare themselves for different kind of scenarios with “warm standby” or “active/active” configurations. There are different architectural options and also different solutions from VMware available, e.g.:
How can you bridge the gap between on-premises data centers and VMC on AWS to enable application migrations or workload mobility? HCX creates an encrypted, high-throughput, WAN-optimized, load-balanced, traffic-engineered hybrid interconnect automates the creation of network extensions.
In short: VMware HCX can interconnect different vSphere-based clouds and with that you achieve a fabric for workload mobility by using vMotion over different clouds. It even preserves existing network connections!
Imagine how much easier and faster application migrations can be done now.
Let’s see if there is a future, that customers need full workload mobility where regular migrations from and to different clouds can be done. Maybe there is a customer, who migrates workloads today from on-prem to VMC on AWS, tomorrow to Azure VMware Solution, the next week to Google Cloud VMware Engine, and in the end back to an on-premises data center where another fully managed service like VMC on Dell EMC is deployed. 😀
VMware Cloud on AWS with Tanzu Services
It was mentioned above already, VMware Cloud on AWS includes “Tanzu Kubernetes Service” and “Tanzu Mission Control Essentials”.
VMware Cloud with Tanzu Services has been introduced at VMworld 2021 as the “Easy path to enterprise-grade Kubernetes on a fully managed, multi-cloud ready IaaS and CaaS platform”:
This was also when Tanzu Services became available for VMC on AWS with the following capabilities:
Managed Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Service: Provision Tanzu Kubernetes clusters within a few minutes using a simple, fast, and self-service experience in the VMware Cloud console. The underlying SDDC infrastructure and capacity required for Kubernetes workloads is fully managed by VMware. Use vCenter Server for managing Kubernetes workloads by deploying Kubernetes clusters, provisioning role-based access and allocating capacity for Developer teams. Manage multiple TKG clusters as namespaces with observability, troubleshooting and resiliency in vCenter Server.
Built in support for Tanzu Mission Control Essentials: Attach upstream compliant Kubernetes clusters including Amazon EKS and Tanzu Kubernetes Grid clusters. Manage lifecycle for Tanzu Kubernetes Grid clusters and centralize platform operations for Kubernetes clusters using the Kubernetes management plane offered by Tanzu Mission Control. Tanzu Mission Control provides a global visibility across clusters and clouds and increases security and governance by automating operational tasks such as access and security management at scale.
Did you know that the Tanzu Mission Control Standard Package is included with TMC Essentials?
As of November 2021, new clusters registered with TMC will have the Carvel package manager (the kapp-controller), deployed within the cluster. The “Catalog” page in the Tanzu Mission Control console allows you to view packages available from the Tanzu Standard repository (and your own custom Carvel package repositories) and install them in your Kubernetes clusters.
Application Transformer for VMware Tanzu for VMC on AWS
Application Transformer for VMware Tanzu is a tool that aids organizations in discovering application types, visualizing application topology, choosing a modernization approach based on scores, and containerizing and migrating suitable legacy applications to enhance business outcomes. As an agentless tool, Application Transformer for Tanzu utilizes the VMware vCenter API to introspect VMs across an entire vSphere or VMware Cloud on AWS-based data center.
Application Transformer can help you to convert virtual machines and application components to OCI-compliant container images, that then can be deployed into the Tanzu Kubernetes stack.
There are several ways how customers get access to Application Transformer for VMware Tanzu:
Good news for everyone is that Application Transformer for VMware Tanzu became generally available in February 2022. With this, VMware Cloud on AWS customers also have limited access to this offering from now on. The access is through integration with VMware Cloud console. If customers desire full access to Application Transformer, they need to buy Tanzu Standard, Tanzu Advanced, Tanzu for Kubernetes Operations, or App Navigator.
Features & Roadmap
VMware provides a lot of information about the features and roadmap of VMware Cloud on AWS.
VMC on AWS FAQ
There is a large collection of FAQs available that can be found here.
VMware Cloud Foundation is a hybrid cloud platform that provides a full-stack hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) that is made for modernizing data centers and deploying modern container-based applications. VCF integrates different components like vSphere (compute), vSAN (storage), NSX (networking) and some parts of the vRealize Suite in a HCI solution with infrastructure automation and software lifecycle management. The idea of VCF follows a standardized, automated and validated approach that simplifies the management of all the needed software-defined infrastructure resources.
This standardized and automated software stack provides customers consistent infrastructure and operations in a cloud operating model that can be deployed on-premises, at the edge or public cloud.
Cloud Foundation has Tanzu Standard integrated to provide a unified platform that lets virtual machines (VMs), Kubernetes and containers co-exist on the same platform.
Note: The Tanzu Standard Edition is included in the VCF Standard, Advanced and Enterprise edition
What software is being delivered in Cloud Foundation?
The BoM (bill of materials) is changing with each VCF release. Let me take the VCF 4.3 release as example to list the components and software versions:
VMware SDDC Manager 4.3
vSphere 7.0 Update 2a with Tanzu
vCenter Server 7.0 P03
vSAN 7.0 Update 2
VMware Workspace ONE Access 3.3.5
vRealize Log Insight 8.4
vRealize Operations 8.4
vRealize Automation 8.4.1
(vRealize Network Insight)
Note: VCF 4.3 deploys vRealize Lifecycle Manager (VRSLCM) 8.4.1, which then deploys and provides ongoing lifecycle management for other vRealize components. Currently, vRealize Network Insight needs to be imported manually into VRSLCM and then deployed.
Which VMware Cloud Foundation editions are available?
VCF is made for greenfield deployments (brownfield not supported) and supports two different architecture models:
The standard architecture separates management workloads and lets them run on a dedicated management workload domain. Customer workloads are deployed on a separate virtual infrastructure workload domain (VI workload domain). Each workload domain is managed by a separate vCenter Server instance, which allows autonomous licensing and lifecycle management.
Note: The standard architecture is the recommended model, because it separates management workloads from customers workloads.
Customers with a small environment (or a PoC) can start with a consolidated architecture. This allows you to run customer and management workloads together on the same workload domain (WLD).
Note: The management workload domain’s default cluster datastore must use vSAN. Other WLDs can use vSAN, NFS, FC and vVols for the principal storage.
Does VCF provide flexible workload domain sizing?
Yes, that’s possible. You can license the WLDs based on your needs and use the editions that make the most sense depending on your use cases.
How many physical nodes are required to deploy VMware Cloud Foundation?
A minimum of four physical nodes is required to start in a consolidated architecture or to build your management workload domain. Four nodes are required to ensure that the environment can tolerate a failure while another node is being updated.
VI workload domains require a minimum of three nodes.
This means, to start with a standard architecture, you need to have the requirements (and money) to start with at least sevenphysicalnodes.
What are the minimum hardware requirements?
These minimum specs have been listed for the management WLD since VCF 4.0 (September 2020):
What about edge/remote use cases?
When you would like to deploy VMware Cloud Foundation workload domains at a remote site, you can deploy so-called “VCF Remote Clusters”. Those remote workload domains are managed by the VCF instance at the central site and you can perform the same full-stack lifecycle management for the remote sites from the central SDDC Manager.
Prerequisites to deploy remote clusters can be found here.
Does VCF support HCI Mesh?
Yes. VMware Cloud Foundation 4.2 and later supports sharing remote datastores with HCI Mesh for VI workload domains.
HCI Mesh is a software-based approach for disaggregation of compute and storage resources in vSAN. HCI Mesh brings together multiple independent vSAN clusters by enabling cross-cluster utilization of remote datastore capacity within vCenter Server. HCI Mesh enables you to efficiently utilize and consume data center resources, which provides simple storage management at scale.
What is SDDC Manager?
SDDC Manager is a preconfigured virtual appliance that is deployed in the management workload domain for creating workload domains, provisioning additional virtual infrastructure and lifecycle management of all the software-defined data center (SDDC) management components.
You use SDDC Manager in VMware Cloud Foundation to perform the following operations:
Commissioning or decommissioning ESXi hosts
Deployment of workload domains
Extension of clusters in the management and workload domains with ESXi hosts
Adding clusters to the management domain and workload domains
Support for network pools for host configuration in a workload domain
Product licenses storage
Deployment of vRealize Suite components.
Lifecycle management of the virtual infrastructure components in all workload domains, and of vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager components.
Password management and rotation
NSX-T Edge cluster deployment in the management domain and workload domains
How many resources does the VCF management WLD need during the bring-up process?
We know that VCF includes vSphere (ESXi and vCenter), vSAN, SDDC Manager, NSX-T and eventually some components of the vRealize Suite. The following table should give you an idea how the resource requirements look like to get VCF up and running:
If you are interested to know how many resources the vRealize Suite will consume of the management workload domain , have a look at this table:
How can I migrate my workloads from a non-VCF environment to a new VCF deployment?
VMware HCX provides a path to modernize from a legacy data center architecture by migrating to VMware Cloud Foundation.
Where can I get more information about VMware Tanzu and the Tanzu Standard edition?
In November 2020 I wrote an article called “VMware Cloud Foundation And The Cloud Management Platform Simply Explained“. That piece was focused on the “why” and “when” VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) makes sense for your organization. It also includes business values and hints that VCF is more than just about technology. Cloud Foundation is one of the most important drivers and THE enabler for to fulfill VMware’s multi-cloud strategy.
To summarize the two above mentioned articles, one can say, that VMware Cloud Foundation is a software-defined data center (SDDC) that can run in any cloud. In “any cloud” means that VCF can also be consumed as a service through other cloud provider partners like:
Additionally, Cloud Foundation and the whole SDDC can be consumed as a managed offering called DCaaS or LCaaS (Data Center / Local Cloud as a service).
Let’s say a customer is convinced that a “VCF everywhere” approach is right for them and starts building up private and public clouds based on VMware’s technologies. This means that VMware Cloud Foundation now runs in their private and public cloud.
Note: This doesn’t mean that the customer cannot use native public cloud workloads and services anymore. They can simply co-exist.
The customer is at a point now where they have achieved a consistent infrastructure. What’s up next? The next logical step is to use the same automation, management and security consoles to achieve consistent operations.
A traditional VMware customer goes for the vRealize Suite now, because they would need vRealize Automation (vRA) for automation and vRealize Operations (vROps) to monitor the infrastructure.
The next topic in this customer’s journey would be application modernization, which includes topics containerization and Kubernetes. VMware’s answer for this is the Tanzu portfolio. For the sake of this example let’s go with “Tanzu Standard”, which is one of four editions available in the Tanzu portfolio (aka VMware Tanzu).
Let’s have a look at the customer’s bill of materials so far:
VMware Cloud Foundation on-premises (vSphere, vSAN, NSX)
VMware Cloud on AWS
VMware Cloud on Dell EMC (locally managed VCF service for special edge use cases)
Tanzu Standard (includes Tanzu Kubernetes Grid and Tanzu Mission Control)
Looking at this list above, we see that their infrastructure is equipped with three different VMware Cloud Foundation flavours (on-prem, hyperscaler managed, locally managed) complemented by products of the vRealize Suite and the Tanzu portfolio.
This infrastructure with its different technologies, components and licenses has been built up over the past few years. But organizations are nowadays asking for more flexibility than ever. By flexibility I mean license portability and a subscription model.
VMware Cloud Universal
On 31st March 2021 VMware introduced VMware Cloud Universal (VMCU). VMCU is the answer to make the customer’s life easier, because it gives you the choice and flexibility in which clouds you want to run your infrastructure and consume VMware Cloud offerings as needed. It even allows you to convert existing on-premises VCF licenses to a VCF-subscription license.
The VMCU program includes the following technologies and licenses:
As Kit Kolbert, CTO VMware, said, “the idea is that VMware Cloud is everywhere that you want your applications to be”.
The VMware Cloud Console gives you view into all those different locations. You can quickly see what’s going on with a specific site or cloud landing zone, what its overall utilization looks like or if issues occur.
The Cloud Console has a seamless integration with vROps, which also helps you regarding capacity forecasting and (future) requirements (e.g., do I have enough capacity to meet my future demand?).
In short, it’s the central multi-cloud console to manage your global VMware Cloud environment.
vRealize Cloud Universal
What is part of vRealize Cloud Universal (vRCU) Enterprise Plus? vRCU is a SaaS management suite that combines on-premises and SaaS capabilities for automation, operations, log analytics and network visibility into a single offering. In other words, you get to decide where you want to deploy your management and operations tools. vRealize Cloud Universal comes in four editions and in VMCU you have the vRCU Enterprise Plus edition included with the following components:
Note: While vRCU standard, advanced and enterprise are sold as standalone editions today, the enterprise plus edition is only sold with VMCU (and as add-on to VMC on AWS).
vRealize AI Cloud
Have you ever heard of Project Magna? It is something that was announced at VMworld 2019, that provides adaptive optimization and a self-tuning engine for your data center. It was Pat Gelsinger who envisioned a so-called “self-driving data center”. Intelligence-driven data center might haven been a better term since Project Magna leverages artificial intelligence by using reinforcement learning, which combs through your data and runs thousands of scenarios that searches for the best regard output based on trial and error on the Magna SaaS analytics engine.
The first instantiation began with vSAN (today also known as vRAI Cloud vSAN Optimizer), where Magna will collect data, learn from it, and make decisions that will automatically self-tune your infrastructure to drive greater performance and efficiencies.
vRealize AI (vRAI) learns about your operating environments, application demands and adapts to changing dynamics, ensuring optimization per stated KPI. vRAI Cloud is only available on vRealize Operations Cloud via the vRealize Cloud Universal subscription.
VMware Skyline as a support service that automatically collects, aggregates, and analyzes product usage data, which proactively identifies potential problems and helps the VMware support engineers to improve the resolution time. Skyline is included in vRealize Cloud Universal because it just makes sense. A lot of customers have asked for unifying the self-service experience between Skyline and vRealize Operations Cloud. And many customers are using Skyline and vROps side by side today.
Users can now be proactive and perform troubleshooting in a single SaaS workflow. This means customers save more time by automating Skyline proactive remediations in vROps Cloud. But Skyline supports vSphere, vSAN, NSX, vRA, VCF and VMware Horizon as well.
VMware Cloud Universal Use Cases
As already mentioned, VMCU makes very much sense if you are building a hybrid or multi-cloud architecture with a consistent (VMware) infrastructure. VMCU, vRCU and the Tanzu portfolio help you to create a unified control plane for your cloud infrastructure.
Other use cases could be cloud migration or cloud bursting scenarios. If we switch back to the fictive customer before, we could use VMCU to convert existing VCF licenses to VCF-S (subscription) licenses, which in the end allow you to build a VMware-based Cloud on top of AWS (other public cloud providers are coming very soon!) for example.
Another good example is to achieve the same service and operating model on-prem as in the public cloud: a fully managed consumable infrastructure. Meaning, to move from a self-built and self-managed VCF infrastructure to something like VMC on Dell EMC.
How can I get VMCU?
There is no monthly subscription model and VMware only supports one-year or three-year terms. Customers will need to sign an Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) and purchase VMCU SPP credits.
Note: SPP credits purchased out of the program are not allowed to be used within the VMCU program!
After purchasing the VMCU SPP credits and VMware Cloud onboarding and organization setup, you can select the infrastructure offerings to consume your SPP credits. This can be done via the VMware Cloud Console.
I hope this article was useful to get a better understanding about VMware Cloud Universal. It might seem a little bit complex, but that’s not true. VMCU makes your life easier and helps you to build and license a globally distributed cloud infrastructure based on VMware technology.