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Jennifer Lawrence on Remote Clusters

from the Hydra High Council Jan 15th 2021

Last week, we spotted Jennifer Lawrence wearing a ‘vSAN Man’ shirt in an interview promoting her latest movie to be released later this year on Netflix. When the interviewer asked about the shirt, she started excitedly talking about how she’s a huge VMware Cloud Foundation fan and that she loves the remote cluster feature. We contacted her agent and asked if she would be willing to sit down and talk with our team here at Hydra 1303. She agreed and we set up the call.  

Hydra: Could you explain how remote clusters work with VMware Cloud Foundation?

Jennifer Lawrence: Of course! I have a data center here in Santa Monica where I grew up. It’s only a couple of miles from my home. So convenient. I was looking for a way to extend one of my workload domains to a small site in San Francisco, but all I had on hand at the time was three Ready Nodes. In terms of sizing of the workload, that was the perfect capacity. But the more I thought about it, I realized it wouldn’t be that simple to set up.

Hydra: What do you mean?

Jennifer Lawrence: I would also need an SDDC Manager to run the show there. Which meant I’d need another four Ready Nodes to build out a management domain for it to live in, on top of the three hosts I planned to use for the workload. So, seven hosts altogether.

Hydra: Could you have gone with a consolidated design in San Fran? You know, with just a management domain with the workload running alongside the management components?

Jennifer Lawrence: I thought of that, but it would still require at least four nodes and I only had three.

Hydra: Good point.

Jennifer Lawrence: But even if I wrangled a fourth server, went with a consolidated design, and tied the SDDC Managers together in a VCF Federation, I’d be getting farther and farther away from what I was trying to accomplish in the first place.

Hydra: What do you mean?

Jennifer Lawrence: I wanted it to be easy. I wanted to take a nice drive up the coast, deploy just these three hosts, and extend my existing workload domain from Santa Monica so that managing everything all stays exactly the same. But the consolidated design doesn’t even have a workload domain to extend to AND I would still need that fourth host. I almost gave up, but then saw an article talking about this new remote cluster feature added to VCF 4.1. That was the ticket!

Hydra: But you still needed the fourth host, right?

Jennifer Lawrence: No, I didn’t! That’s the cool part. I was able to drive up to San Francisco and extend the existing workload domain with just those three servers. I was back home later that night.

Hydra: So then, what’s the magic sauce?

Jennifer Lawrence: With remote clusters, you don’t need to have a separate remote SDDC Manager, or separate management domain, for that matter. It’s just the workload domain at the remote site. A single SDDC Manager at the primary data center handles both the primary and remote sites. I can use it to do all the patching, manage certificates, passwords… just like I can for my existing components in Santa Monica. And it shares the same workload domain vCenter.

Hydra: So in terms of support staff at the remote site, it sounds like they wouldn’t have that much to worry about.

Jennifer Lawrence: I don’t even have dedicated support staff there. All of the management components live in the management domain of the primary site. I use those same components to manage everything.

Hydra: What about latency requirements? Are they restrictive?

Jennifer Lawrence: Not at all. It just has to be within 50 milliseconds with a bandwidth of at least 10 megabits. Super easy to achieve at that distance.

Hydra: So I guess you can just add more servers to the remote site as you grow?

Jennifer Lawrence: Yes… but you can only have up to four in a cluster. Three is the minimum.

Hydra: Ah. So that’s the catch! You can’t grow past four servers.

Jennifer Lawrence: No, no. It’s just the size of the cluster that maxes out at four-servers. If you need more capacity, just add more clusters. You can have multiple clusters in the same workload domain. You can even have a standalone workload domain.

Hydra: What do you mean?

Jennifer Lawrence: I mean that you don’t have to already have a workload domain running at the primary data center that is then extended to the remote site. You could have a workload domain that only exists at the remote location. It works like this. You log into SDDC Manager at the primary site and create a new workload domain. It will want to know where the servers are located and you specify the ones at the remote site. Then SDDC Manager will automatically deploy a new vCenter in the management domain of the primary DC to handle the remote workload domain. You’ve got deployment options. Anyway… I hate to cut this short, but I gotta run.

Hydra: Thanks for taking the time to meet with us.

Jennifer Lawrence: Of course. Glad to.