VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF): Consolidated and Standard architecture

VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) is an integrated platform that bundles the compute, storage and network virtualization products from VMware into a validated, automated deployment solution that customers can use to build a cloud-ready infrastructure. It combines the power of vSphere, vSAN, and NSX along with the automation engine (SDDC Manager) to create a powerful stack that can cater to many enterprise use cases.

VCF is going to be the layer that brings consistency on the infrastructure layer whether you are deploying it for on-premises private cloud or you are opting for a managed service offering like VMC on AWS from AWS. It solves the challenges and complexities of the current hybrid cloud models (a combination of private cloud and native public cloud). With VCF forming the consistent layer across different clouds, the movement of workloads becomes seamless and takes away the need for re-architecting and refactoring applications for native public clouds.

VMware Cloud Foundation is built as per VMware Validated Design (VVD) standards and inherits the concept of differentiating management and workload VMs using different clusters (different VCs in the case of VCF). This has been a standard architecture for enterprise deployments. VCF has a similar concept of Management and Workload domains. Management domain holds all the VMs (shown below) that are required for managing the workload and workload domains.

The Workload Domain (WD) holds all the customer workloads. Every workload domain comes with its own vCenter server and an NSX manager dedicated for that WD (shown below). The workload domains can either be general clusters that hold customer VMs or they can be built for specific use cases like Horizon View, PKS, Machine learning, etc.

A VCF deployment is called a “Standard Architecture” if there is a dedicated management domain and at least one workload domain.

VMware Cloud Foundation also has an option of “Consolidated architecture” for smaller deployments that have 6 or fewer nodes. This is because a standard architecture needs 4 nodes for the management domain and 3 nodes for the first workload domain, 7 in total. The consolidated architecture allows the management and customer workloads VMs to sit in the same cluster and leverages vSphere resource pools provide isolation between management and user workloads.

Now, this is clear from the deployment guide. The grey area is Where do you choose the deployment type while deploying VCF?

And the answer to the question is: you don’t get to choose the type. Every deployment of VCF starts with a consolidated architecture. When you deploy VCF, the management domain deploys with a default resource pool “<user-def>-user-vm” (shown below) that can be used for deploying customer workloads.

Customers can either the consolidated architecture deployment (or) use the SDDC manager UI to create a new workload domain. That makes it a standard architecture. This move doesn’t have to be during the bring up. If a customer wants to start with lesser than 6 hosts and then scale up depending on the workload growth, that too can be an option. I will cover this in the next topic. How to move workloads from the management domain to workload domain when you switch from consolidated to standard architecture.

So to summarize, there is no option to choose the type of deployment when you are deploying VCF and you can start with a small footprint and scale up when the workload demands it. This provides a flexible option for customers rather than creating separate architectures and making it hard to switch between the two.

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