Building a VMware Cloud with VCF (a short history)
After playing around with NSX-T for a while (and that certainly hasn’t stopped), I wanted to take a look into VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF). VCF is in the heart of VMware’s vision for the future.
In the olden days, all companies who started working with VMware’s virtualization software had to deploy this completely manual. And although the software was usually well behaved, a lot of choices needed to be made to have a smoothly running virtual environment, tailored to the wants and needs of the organization deploying it.
I have deployed many environments in my days and usually, there were differences between them, but not that many.
When you deploy a lot of environments, you usually start off with a standard design and work your way through the design requirements and adjust the standard, where needed.
I remember doing a vSphere 4.0 design workshop, during a VMware Partner Exchange in Orlando in 2011. The room was filled with over 100 people doing this workshop, and we were all divided into multiple segments.
You were part of a table, where four or five people were seated and together you were responsible for creating a design. When a part of the design was finished, you would discuss this with the zone you were sitting in, consisting of (if memory serves me well) about nine tables. After this discussion was done, it was time to choose one of the designs and present them centrally. There were four groups of nine tables, so you got to see thirteen designs in total.
What struck me was the level of creativity that was shown there. All designs had their reasoning and almost every time this reasoning was completely sound, yet totally different from other designs. It was very interesting to see the diversity of the solutions. The one that stuck by me was a solution based on RamSan. Expensive, but fast as hell!
But off course, we were all working from the same handbook, which contained the best practices that VMware had thought of for implementing vSphere 4. Remember this is a long time ago, way before VVD and VCF.
Those best practices were very useful in the field, but we were taught that a best practice is just a proposal based on experience. When you felt a need to differ from a best practice and had good reasoning to do that, go right ahead. But it did give some direction, which was very useful.
Those were the days of using just vSphere, but along the way, VMware bought and created a lot more products. More and more interoperability choices needed to be made and the size of environments and the arriving of new functionality made creating a complete VMware stack, more and more challenging, from a design perspective. For VMware, this was a trigger to create something called the “VMware Validated Design” (or VVD). This was a set of documents, which described the best (and validated) way to deploy an environment, containing multiple VMware products.
But deploying such an environment was still a manual process (although currently this can also be done in an automated fashion).
With the introduction of a new product, called VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware really hit the nail on the head. This time, instead of manually creating an environment based on an extensive set of documentation, it was all decided ánd deployed automatically. This was done through the use of VMware Cloud Foundation or VCF.
VCF was not only the basis for VMware Cloud on AWS, but also became available as a method for deploying on-premises environments. And more and more organizations are looking for this method to automatically implement ánd maintain their environment.
VMware has now really put the peddle to the metal on this VCF thing, introducing and announcing new VMware Cloud on … solutions left and right. Now we have VMware Cloud on Dell/EMC and VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts for on-premises environments and VMware Cloud on AWS for Cloud environments (and we also see support for VMware environments arising in Azure and Google Clouds through CloudSimple (although not with VCF in those cases)).
I do expect even more integrations with other vendors in the VMware Cloud on … line, so hopefully vendors like HPE and others will also join the family.
I have been involved in a project for the last couple of months, where we deployed VCF and I wanted to also implement it in our demo-environment. And to document the process in this blog.
So next up, the first steps of deploying VCF in our demo environment.
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