Intro: So you may have been following my VCA Dissected series, but in line with the recent expansion of VMware Cloud Services my role as a Cloud Specialist has diversified to include all things VMware & Cloud. With that in mind, a series name change is in order… So VCA Dissected becomes VMware Cloud(s) Dissected.
All of the (VMware) Clouds…
Holy moly, it’s been a crazy few months on the road with VMWorld! So many game changing announcements delivered through keynotes, breakout sessions and group discussions. In addition to general announcements on vSphere 6.5, EUC and Cloud Native Apps, we were also introduced to several new VMware public cloud offerings and associated services. For the purposes of clarity, I’m going to give a high-level break down of each platform within VMware’s Cross Cloud Architecture (not including Cross Cloud Services) to try and illustrate where each will be most effective.
First things first. If you haven’t watched day one keynote from VMWorld Europe, I highly recommend you do so… (click on image to view the recording. If you’re not interested in the reasoning behind the vision, skip to about 30 mins in).
To summarize, P.G. talked through his predictions for cloud consumption trends in the near (and not so near) future which set the stage to announce VMware Cross-Cloud Architecture; a set of converged software services incorporating major partnerships with leaders in hyper-scale cloud. So let’s dig a little deeper.
Note: There were plenty of disclaimers and forward looking statements on tech previews in the VMWorld presentations, public FAQ’s, demos and press releases, so please understand that anything I mention here is subject to change as more information is released.
VMware Cloud (VMC) on Amazon Web Services
Boom, the cat’s finally out of the bag. As many of the talking heads have pointed out this is about as significant as any cloud partnership could be. Here are some of the highlights I have chosen from the recent VMWorld VMC sessions.
The big stuff…
- The VMware SDDC stack (vSphere 6.5, VSAN & NSX) available within AWS Datacenter’s, on AWS infrastructure dedicated to this service.
- VMC procurement, provisioning and lifecycle is via the VMC customer portal.
- VMC upgrades, maintenance and billing are exclusively managed by VMware.
- Non-VMC services are still billed and managed by AWS directly.
- VMC can be consumed as a standalone platform on AWS, as a hybrid cloud through vCenter Enhanced Linked Mode, or (in the future) cloud-to-cloud between AWS regions/availability zones through the same mechanism.
- Continuous upgrades of the SDDC components (including vCenter) on AWS will be scheduled and executed by VMware.
- Billed by the hour, or procured for a reduced price over 12 or 36 months in a similar commercial model to AWS reserved instances. Customers will also be able to leverage their existing investments in VMware licenses through VMware customer loyalty programs.
- Availability mid-2017.
The technical stuff…
- Initial deployment of between 4 to 64 hosts, which can be scaled through manual process or by;
- Elastic Distributed Resource Scheduler (Elastic DRS) which dynamically adds and removes physical hosts based on predefined EDRS rules.
- Enhanced Linked Mode enables inventory management, content library synchronization, etc. of AWS VMC hosts from on-prem vCenter.
- Each tenancy uses the AWS VPC construct for logical isolation.
- Edge/perimeter services are provided by NSX Edge Services Gateway, not AWS VPC network services.
- Full VMC integration with AWS Direct Connect.
- VMC and AWS user accounts are linked, but separate interfaces and authentication is required for services unique to each vendor.
- Administrators have direct access to vCenter UI and REST APIs.
- VMware defined RBAC limits the install of untested third party software with custom VIB’s.
- Simply put, industry leading SDDC platform on an industry leading hyper-scale public cloud. Truly the best of both worlds.
- The ability to easily integrate and extend our VMware IaaS platform to incorporate AWS storage, data, application and automation specific services.
- Intra region/availability zone efficiency through low latency connectivity to AWS services, avoiding costs incurred when data and network traffic leaves the AWS region.
- Zero downtime workload migration to VMC-on-AWS through Cross vCenter Server vMotion.
- Maintenance and upgrade of SDDC platform components managed entirely by VMware.
There’s not a whole bunch of detailed information on VMC right now as it’s early days, but Frank Denneman’s blog and the AWS blog is a good place to start. Note, during the ‘Closer Look’ VMWorld breakout session it was also acknowledged that a number of announcements are still to be revealed at AWS Re:Invent at the end of November.
VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) on IBM Softlayer
VMware Cloud Foundation is the same SDDC stack (vSphere, VSAN, NSX) as VMC but with VMware SDDC Manager as the overlay software which handles platform deployment, configuration and ongoing SDDC lifecycle tasks for specific use cases. What makes VCF different from VMC (other than the obvious partnerships), is that Cloud Foundation can be deployed privately within our own datacenters in addition to public cloud.
The global partnership with IBM was announced at VMWorld Las Vegas and they will be the first global cloud service provider to offer Cloud Foundation. vCloud Air will also join IBM in the near future in addition to other numerous VCAN providers throughout 2017.
Note, I’m not really going into any detail about VCF as this is a public cloud breakdown. I would recommend a read of Ray Heffer’s fantastic official VMware blog digging deeper into VCF’s underlying architecture.
In addition to the numerous benefits of VCF architecture here are some of the notes I have taken around the IBM partnership.
The big stuff…
- Fully automated deployment of the VCF stack (vSphere 6.5, VSAN & NSX) on IBM Softlayer dedicated infrastructure.
- All services are billed directly by IBM.
- VCF can be consumed as a standalone platform on IBM, as a hybrid cloud through vCenter Enhanced Linked Mode, or cloud-to-cloud between IBM regions through the same mechanism.
- vCenter-as-a-Service can be also procured as a subscription through IBM, but customers also have the option to procure perpetual licensing if non-VCF license ownership is desired.
- Availability; before the end of 2017 for IBM, early 2017 for VCA. Other VCAN partners TBA.
The technical stuff…
- SDDC Manager will not be directly accessible as it abstracted through the Softlayer Customer Portal. Provisioning, lifecycle tasks, patch management and upgrades are delivered through this portal.
- NSX completely removes the constraint of IBM Softlayer internal networking (3-4 VLANs).
- Integrated snapshot based backups of management layer components.
- VCF best practice single management layer governing multiple IBM Softlayer regions.
- Linking Cloud Foundation environments is achieved through vCenter Enhanced Linked Mode, not via SDDC Manager.
- Minimum deployment of four hosts (converged management and workload domains).
The value stuff…
- BYO-Cloud and consume the full VCF stack on a monthly basis.
- Low latency access to IBM Cloud services (Object Storage, Bluemix, Watson, etc.)
- Zero cost private datacenter interconnects between IBM Softlayer Regions.
- True BYO public cloud for those who require full access to all SDDC functions, including the upgrade and patching of individual SDDC components which is maintained by the customer, not VMware (or IBM without additional services).
- Ability to build and manage identical SDDC components both on-prem and in public cloud.
Note that VCF is not the only way to consume VMware on IBM Softlayer as IBM customers have previously been able to select individual VMware technologies and deploy them on IBM Softlayer bare metal. This also allows customers to bring their existing licensing to IBM Cloud, which can be a real bonus when migrating from, or replacing an existing datacenter. Note, as an example of how much complexity is actually involved with deploying an entire SDDC platform independently on IBM Softlayer I would suggest a read of the extremely comprehensive reference architecture here.
vCloud Air (non-VCF services)
Contrary to a number of blogs and articles I have read recently, vCloud Air is here to stay, albeit with a renewed focus to address specific VMware hybrid-cloud challenges. I’m not going to cover the existing vCloud Air service here as it has been available for a while now and we should all know it back to front, right? 🙂
In addition to VCF on vCloud Air, there were numerous announcements including;
- Enhancements to Hybrid Cloud Manager with the full release of version 2.0, including;
- Zero downtime Cross-Cloud vMotion utilizing fully integrated WAN opto, proximity routing. Note: This has no dependency on vSphere 6.x and can be used with vSphere 5.5 today.
- NSX policy migration.
- Proxy support.
- New services for Enterprise DR, Hybrid DMZ and DMZ lite.
- Enhanced Integrated Identity & Access Management.
- Increased DPC host memory capacity (up to 1TB per host)
Today, vCloud Air is still the only way to subscribe to a fully managed VMware cloud service and take full advantage of Hybrid Cloud Manager. As an added benefit, the entry point for Dedicated Private Cloud (as a direct comparison) is only a single N+1 host meaning the overall initial commitment is not as significant as the other services.
Although the these individual cloud offerings may seem to overlap they each address a different set of challenges by integrating with key partners who are market leaders in a specific hybrid/public cloud capabilities. This puts VMware customers in a unique position of having a choice of multiple clouds depending on individual requirements.
In addition to the above, VMware also has 4000+ vCloud Air Network partners who all offer unique services with VMware software at the core. If I even began to try and break down the breadth of services covered through these partners this blog would turn into War & Peace…
I have only covered a very small amount of high-level info here as I hope to flesh out each service as more information is released. Comments, opinions and feedback in general is always welcome. If your attending vForum Australia 2016 I will also be presenting a couple of sessions on VMware Cross-Cloud Architecture and demoing VMC on AWS, so come and say hello and give me your take on this new world…