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Hybrid cloud architectures have become more varied and have expanded the ways in which they can be implemented. Now it's not just about a clear line diving public clouds being off-prem and private clouds on-prem. Public cloud services now exist running in your own data center or the other way around, private clouds running off-prem. Vendors, of course, haven't lost the pace of these rapid innovations in hybrid cloud management, and VMware Cloud is one of them.
In this article we want to present you with the main VMware Cloud services which involve, in most cases, a hybrid cloud approach in conjunction with major public cloud providers.
What Is VMware Cloud?
VMware Cloud Foundation is a complete stack that integrates VMware technologies vSphere (compute virtualization), vSAN (storage virtualization), NSX (network virtualization), and vRealize Suite (cloud management and monitoring) into one software-defined data center platform, or SDDC, which can be deployed on-prem, entirely in the public cloud, or in a hybrid cloud approach.
SDDC relies on the concept called hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI), in which all the IT resources such as network, storage, CPU, and security are pooled and virtualized for provisioning.
SDDC Manager is the management and automation component of Cloud Foundation from where you can provision, manage, and control the virtualized resources of the whole stack. The vRealize Suite can be integrated into SDDC Manager to add capabilities such as:
- Performance and capacity analysis.
- Monitoring consumption costs for cloud services from AWS, GCP, and Azure.
- Automated cloud resource deployment through Infrastructure-as-a-Service.
Since VMware Cloud Foundation supports a multicloud strategy, it gives you a powerful capability to manage and integrate an entire organization's IT environment spanning on-prem and multicloud locations, bringing effectiveness and versatility to your IT deployments.
VMware Cloud Foundation has a range of services, including deployment options on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and some other services which allow you to consume Datacenter-as-a-Service and other hybrid architectures. In the next section we’ll look at all of these offerings in brief.
VMware Cloud Services
Cloud Foundation can manage VMware environments hosted either on-prem or in multicloud locations, however most of the VMware cloud services are utilized in hybrid architectures.
The main concept for VMware Cloud Foundation is to give users an easy way to integrate multiple environment types into one single platform and apply those services to a diverse setup. VMware Cloud services are grouped into three categories:
- Services which you can use anywhere in your hybrid configuration within Cloud Foundation.
- Services available natively in the cloud.
- Services offered as Datacenter-as-a-Service.
VMware Cloud Storage
As mentioned above, vSAN serves as the storage component for VMware Cloud Foundation. vSAN is a software-defined storage solution that enables a hyper-converged infrastructure, or a cluster of hosts, to group together all of their storage resources and present them as a single available datastore. This logical grouping of storage resources allows for a great deal of flexibility when provisioning storage and protecting data.
These are some of the important features vSAN has to offer:
- Policy-based provisioning: Instead of creating volumes or LUNs and then assigning those to particular resources, vSAN provisions storage based on a storage policy you assign your resources (such as a virtual machine) as you create them, based on specific service level parameters. vSAN looks into the datastore of available resources that could meet those requirements defined by the policy and provisions storage as needed.
- Software-level RAID: vSAN does not use hardware RAID. Instead, it protects data at the software layer by replicating VMDK files across hosts that are part of the cluster based on fault tolerance parameters associated with the storage provisioning policies mentioned above.
- Vendor agnostic: vSAN has been designed to run on industry standard x86 hardware and is vendor independent. Since it is a software-based storage solution, it can run on any hardware that meets the requirements.
All the VMware cloud offerings that we are about to review implement this vSAN technology into their bare-metal infrastructures.
VMware Cloud on AWS
As mentioned above, the VMware SDDC deployment architecture uses virtualization of all the IT resources you need through VMware's core technologies: vSphere, vSAN and NSX, all of which you can deploy on-prem. VMware Cloud on AWS, on the other hand, runs SDDC on dedicated, elastic, bare-metal AWS infrastructure.
Here are some details of the underlying infrastructure:
- The service runs on EC2 storage optimized high I/O instances with Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVME) SSDs.
- Each SDDC host (up to 16 hosts allowed in one SDDC cluster) has 36 cores, 512 GB of memory, and 15.2 TB of NVME storage.
- Elastic Block Storage (EBS) is now available for SDDC hosts through EC2 R5.metal instances.
You can manage this SDDC environment through the Cloud Foundation platform and integrate it with your on-prem SDDC workloads. This easy and seamless integration brings important advantages:
- An easy migration process of all your Virtual Machines to the cloud. VMware has a step-by-step migration guide available for customers planning to move everything to AWS. You can even migrate live workloads using vMotion.
- No need to rearchitect or refactor apps for use in the cloud. Basically, the lift and shift approach.
- Manage hybrid apps with all existing VMware tools through Cloud Foundation such as vServer, VMware Horizon, or vCenter Server.
Access to all the full range of native AWS services such as Amazon Redshift, Amazon S3, AWS ELB, RDS, and more from your AWS SDDC cloud environment. AWS SDDC is directly connected to the customer's VPC (virtual private cloud) using ENI (Elastic Network Interface) through which the customer has access to all the range of AWS services.
VMware Cloud on Azure
Similar to VMware on AWS, VMware on Azure is built on VMware Cloud Foundation with the same SDDC offerings: virtualized compute, network, and storage. It runs on top of the same concept of hyper-converged infrastructure which sits on dedicated bare-metal Azure servers that share some of the characteristics mentioned before for the AWS case:
- Intel Xeon processors.
- Node with max capacity of up to 36 physical cores each.
- A maximum of 3.2TB of NVME cache per node.
- Up to 11.25 TB of flash storage per cluster.
Unlike VMware Cloud on AWS, which is a platform that was made and managed directly by VMware, VMware Cloud on Azure is a platform offered as a Microsoft service. Though certified by VMware in conjunction with CloudSimple, which facilitates VMware services in the public cloud, VMware Cloud on Azure remains a Microsoft-managed service. This means that under one single contract with Azure, you can get all the terms for both the Cloud Foundation on Azure product plus all the other range of services offered by Azure.
You can integrate your VMware SDDC with Azure services such as Azure storage, Azure Active Directory, Azure Analytics, or Office 365 (VMware Workspace ONE works great when integrated with Office 365).
VMware Cloud on Google Platform
This is the newest of the three main cloud partnerships signed by VMware. It was recently released at the end of 2019, and, like VMware on Azure, was also powered by CloudSimple. In this offering, Cloud Foundation SDDC runs on dedicated GCP hyper-converged bare-metal servers and it follows the same model, with Google offering and managing the service as opposed to VMware directly.
As with the other two public cloud-based offerings, VMware on GCP is built so you can seamlessly move on-prem VMware workloads to GCP without reconstructing apps or interrupting business continuity, all while keeping the ability to use existing VMware tools (vCenter, vRealize Automation, vRealize Orchestrator, etc.).
VMware Cloud on GCP can be integrated with leading AI, machine learning, and data analytics services available from Google Cloud.
Additional VMware Cloud Services
There are a number of other cloud-based services that VMware Cloud Foundation offers for users looking to incorporate Datacenter-as-a-Service, Infrastructure-as-Code, and end-user services into their deployments.
VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts
This is a Datacenter-as-a-Service option where VMware SDDC runs on AWS bare metal hardware installed on-prem and paid in a consumption-based model.
VMware HCX (Hybrid Cloud Extension)
VMware HCX allows you to seamlessly move virtual machines around your VMware Cloud Foundation environment.
VMware Horizon Cloud
VMware Horizon Cloud is a platform to seamlessly provision Virtual Desktops that can be accessed by all the organization end users from any device or location. Read more on virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI) here.
VMware vRealize Operations Cloud
VMware vRealize Operations Cloud (vROps) is an intelligent monitoring and operations management system. It uses machine learning to perform analysis and rapid actions related to capacity management, performance, cost, and intelligent remediation of issues.
VMware vRealize Automation
VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) is the Infrastructure-as-Code tool which you can use to provision cloud resources using code which powers automation and reduces human error when creating large cloud environments.
VMware has enabled a series of services which aim for hybrid cloud architectures by partnering with the major public cloud providers. These services are designed for seamless transition between on-prem and the public cloud and are all included in a single platform with the Cloud Foundation initiative.
Where does Cloud Volumes ONTAP fit in this approach? Cloud Volumes ONTAP can add important benefits to a VMware Cloud deployment. With features such as high availability across availability zones and automated replication, you can guarantee data is always going to be available. Also, data cloning with FlexClone® is a great utility for dev/test tasks and storage provisioning can be automated and treated as IAC using API calls. Cloud Volumes ONTAP also allows users in the VMware Cloud to directly access storage types like Amazon EBS and Azure disk, which isn’t otherwise possible. Read more about how Cloud Volumes ONTAP adds value to VMware Cloud on AWS and check out this blog on VMware on AWS and Cloud Volumes ONTAP to see how a major company saved millions by inserting Cloud Volumes ONTAP into their VMware solution.
VMware Cloud Q&A
Which Pricing Model is Available for VMware Cloud on AWS?
The pricing for VMware Cloud includes the software capabilities of VMware and bare metal infrastructure and support from AWS. This service is offered on-demand or as a 1 or 3 year subscription. If you opt for a subscription, you can pay upfront or on a monthly basis.
On-demand costs are billed at the end of each month, and yearly subscriptions are billed according to your monthly or upfront preferences. If you choose a long-term subscription you can get significant discounts over on-demand prices.
What are the Pricing Models for VMware on Google Cloud?
There are two main pricing options for deploying VMware Engine nodes on GCP:
- On-demand—basic prices for on-demand resources. Billing is based on hourly usage in a certain region.
- Commitment-based—you get significant discounts in exchange for committing to use the service for a long period of time—either one or three years. Billing is on a monthly basis.
You can find the most recent prices on the official VMware Engine page.