Hydra 1303

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VCF 4.0: The Delta

from the Hydra High Council May 5th 2020

9:00 a.m. Cloud Strategy Meeting

The data center is changing fast. Your developers are building modern apps that live in containers instead of VMs and they are multiplying like rabbits (the containers, not the developers). Often, these containerized applications have to play nice with databases which, more often than not, are old school and not containerized. You have workloads running on-prem and off. You want to be able to move them back and forth without refactoring. The meeting is to discuss how to handle all of this. Sound familiar?

VCF 4.0

The overall play with VMware Cloud Foundation is to provide a hybrid cloud platform based on the vision of any to any. Any application to any platform.

One of the biggest changes in this new version, VCF 4.0, is vSphere 7 with Kubernetes (a.k.a. Project Pacific). By embedding Kubernetes into vSphere, not only is deployment, management, and the learning curve made easier for admins, but these vSphere-native pods deliver better performance than pods on bare metal. This has a lot to due with the scheduler matching a particular job with the right CPU. With VCF 4.0, VMs and containers can live side by side, no longer treating containers like the odd cousins you only see at reunions. Instead, everything is managed together instead of having to jump back and forth between managing environments.

vSphere 7 is included with the Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise editions of VCF 4.0. If you're going with the VCF Starter edition, no vSphere 7 for you.

What's Included?

The new version of VMware Cloud Foundation has:

  • vSphere 7 with Kubernetes (Project Pacific)
  • vSAN 7
  • SDDC Manager 4.0
  • NSX-T
  • vRealize Automation (vRA) 8.1
  • vRealize Network Insight (vRNI) 5.2
  • vRealize Operations (vROps) 8.1
  • vRealize Log Insight (vRLI) 8.1
  • vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager (vLCM) 8.1
  • Workspace ONE Access 3.3.2 with native HA support

In the previous versions of VCF, the management domain had to be NSX-v. In 4.0, the managment domain is NSX-T. Because of the architectural difference, you won't be able to automatically upgrade from VCF 3.x to 4.0. However, this is on the roadmap.

Improvements have been made to lifecycle management, especially when it comes to vSAN. Up until now, if you wanted lifecycle management to handle both software upgrades for VCF components and firmware updates for storage, Dell EMC's VxRail was the only way to go. The new version of VCF makes it possible for other vendors' hardware to eventually get the same love. VMware is currently working with HP and Lenovo to make this happen soon.

The Management Domain has gone on a bit of a diet. By making it smaller, it makes deployments faster and easier to manage. Another reason it is shrinking a bit in size is that PSCs are now embedded.

For high level admins that aren't at the highest level, there's now a new role: Operator. An Operator can do just about everything a full blown administrator can, except when it comes to managing passwords and backups.

Limitations in the Dot Oh version

There are a few things the new VCF 4.0 version can't do... yet.

vSphere 7 with Kubernetes so far is not supported by VCF 3.x and earlier. The initial release will only work with VCF 4.0 and therefore, VCF 4.0 is only recommended for greenfield deployments so far.

Additionally, a couple of extra features whose automations were fully supported in earlier VCF 3.x versions, now are not. Not yet. These include automation for VMware PKS and for VMware Horizon.