Update bundles VMware vRealize suite into Cloud Foundation infrastructure management platform

December 6, 2017

5 Min Read
Cloud platform

By Kurt Marko for Channel Partners Online

VMware today released Version 2.3 of its Cloud Foundation hybrid cloud platform featuring better integration with core compute, network, storage and application services; more automation and server support; and deeper integrations with partners including Dell EMC, Intel and Rackspace.

VMware was early to recognize the value of controlling virtual infrastructure resources as programmable software objects. The unveiling of its software-defined data center (SDDC) vision back in 2014 was driven by VMware executives realizing that the company’s core product, the hypervisor, had become a commodity, and that they needed to move higher up the infrastructure stack. SDDC slideware became a reality last year when VMware introduced Cloud Foundation, its platform for managing a full set of virtual compute, storage and network resources  enabled by vSphere, VSAN and NSX, respectively.

Cloud Foundation initially focused on deploying and operating core infrastructure with features like the ability to deploy an integrated stack of VMs, storage volumes and virtual networks based on rules and templates. It also simplified day-to-day management with centrally automated patching and updates and enforcement of consistent security policies. Missing, however, were features to handle higher-level management of applications, costs, performance and logs, or any assistance with infrastructure design and capacity planning. For these, VMware offered a separate vRealize suite with components for application/service automation, ongoing infrastructure operations, log insights and business tools for usage metering, pricing and service costing.

With Cloud Foundation 2.3, VMware is better integrating the two into a comprehensive hybrid cloud management portfolio.

The new Cloud Foundation SDDC Manager can automatically install and configure three vRealize components: Automation 7.3, Operations 6.6 and Log Insight 4.3. VMware said in an analyst briefing that the combination will be the simplest way to deploy and operate standardized VMware Validated Designs that include reference templates employing VMware best practices for common enterprise scenarios.

VMware stresses the hybrid nature of Cloud Foundation, since the same infrastructure and application blueprints can be deployed to on-premises systems built from certified hardware or pre-integrated Cloud Foundation systems or on hosted services from VMware cloud service partners.

While the release of VMware on AWS has gotten the most attention, native VMware services are also available from CenturyLink, Fujitsu, IBM and OVH, which acquired VMware’s vCloud Air group, and Rackspace. On-premises deployments can use pre-integrated converged infrastructure like the Dell EMC vxRack or certified Cloud Foundation nodes from Cisco, HPE, Lenovo and Hitachi. VMware has also jointly developed Intel Select Solutions for VMware Cloud Foundation that incorporate the new Skylake-generation Xeon Scalable processors in certified designs that bootstrap the deployment of on-premises clouds.

Cloud Foundation 2.3 now supports a heterogeneous mix of servers within a rack, allowing partners to create hosted VMware services tailored to different workloads and customer needs.

Until recently, VMware was its only reference customer for Cloud Foundation; however, the company announced…

…adoption by several large organizations, including DXC Technology, the IT consultancy/service provider formed when Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) bought HPE’s Enterprise Services business (formerly Electronic Data Systems); Liberty Global, an international TV and broadband provider; and the City of San Diego.

Cloud Foundation is most commonly used in six scenarios:

  1. Data center modernization with cloud infrastructure, especially attractive for small IT departments looking to rapidly build new systems.

  2. IT automation using vRealize to rapidly provision applications, which can cut deployment time from days to minutes.

  3. Hybrid cloud infrastructure to provide a standard, consistent application platform across clouds using a combination of on-premises hardware and shared VMware cloud services.

  4. Network security and regulatory compliance by automating the deployment of NSX and network micro-segmentation, in which each application and its data has a unique set of security policies and network control points.

  5. VDI by using the VMware stack to host client-desktop services like Horizon.

  6. Backup and DR in which Cloud Foundation automatically replicates an entire virtual environment, application and data to a remote, secondary data center.

VMware also announced the availability of the Pivotal Container Service (PKS) announced at VMworld 2017. A joint effort with Pivotal, PKS is a packaged container runtime and management system designed for enterprise deployments using Kubernetes for workload orchestration and Cloud Foundry BOSH for infrastructure provisioning. It’s compatible with Google Container Engine (GKE) for hybrid container environments. In conjunction with PKS, VMware announced a version of NSX, NSX-T, designed for container networking and security and that also integrates with Pivotal Cloud Foundry and other container-based PaaS software like OpenShift.

Partner Opportunities

Cloud Foundation 2.3 will be available by next February and introduce two new product SKUs that incorporate vRealize components. Although VMware hasn’t released pricing, a spokesman says that there will be no difference between the Cloud Foundation bundles and the aggregate cost of the individual products.

VMware’s dominance in the enterprise virtualization market means that it’s a critical platform for most partners to support. And, according to a VMware survey, 60 percent of its customers are using public cloud. Cloud Foundation allows partners to quickly build a set of VMware services that can be used to extend a client’s on-premises systems into a hybrid design. Indeed, by using Cloud Foundation and vRealize to manage both environments, partners can efficiently provide a consistent set of infrastructure, application and security services.

While the Cloud Foundation-vRealize combo pack has a compelling set of features, a critical question for partners will be pricing. Typically expensive VMware products are now competing against several commercial and open source cloud management point products and platforms. Thus, it’s imperative partners do a thorough TCO analysis before recommending and VMware’s hybrid cloud strategy.



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