In addition to the core features and capabilities provided by the individual components of the software stack, Cloud Foundation adds several unique capabilities.

Natively Integrated Software-Defined Stack

Cloud Foundation delivers a natively integrated software-defined data center stack that includes the core infrastructure virtualization, vSphere, vSAN and NSX. In addition, Cloud Foundation includes Cloud Foundation, which automates the entire system lifecycle (from initial bring-up, to configuration and provisioning, to upgrades and patching), and simplifies day-to-day management and operations. You can optionally deploy other software components such as VMware Horizon.

Automates Hardware and Software Bring-Up

Cloud Foundation automates the installation of the VMware software stack. Once the physical components have been installed in the rack, cabled, and powered on, SDDC Manager leverages its knowledge of the hardware bill of materials and user-provided environmental information (such as DNS, IP address pool, etc.) to configure the hardware components in the rack and deploy the SDDC software stack. Time savings varies by customer, but software installation time is estimated to be reduced from several weeks to as little as two hours due to the automation of certain previously manual functions. These include provisioning the management domain, including automated provisioning of networks, and allocation of resources based on service needs. When the process completes, you has a virtual infrastructure ready to start deploying vSphere clusters and provisioning workload domains.

Simplifies Resource Provisioning by Creating Workload Domains

Cloud Foundation introduces a new abstraction, workload domains, for creating logical pools across compute, storage, and networking. A workload domain is a policy based resource container with specific availability and performance attributes that combines vSphere, vSAN and NSX into a single consumable entity.

There are two types of workload domains - the management domain (contains the management components to manage the infrastructure) and compute workload domains.

Each workload domain provides the needed capacity with specified policies for performance, availability, and security. For example, a cloud administrator can create one workload domain for test workloads that have balanced performance and low availability requirements, while creating a separate workload domain for production workloads requiring high availability and high performance.

SDDC Manager automatically implements a deployment workflow to translate the workload domain specifications into the underlying pool of resources. Workload domains automate the provisioning of infrastructure in accordance with best practices, making it easy to achieve operational goals.

A workload domain can be created, expanded, and deleted as part of the SDDC lifecycle operations.

Automates Lifecycle Management

Data center upgrades and patch management are typically manual, repetitive tasks that are prone to configuration and implementation errors. Validation testing of software and hardware firmware to ensure interoperability among components when one component is patched or upgraded requires extensive quality assurance testing in staging environments. Often strapped for time, IT must sometimes make the difficult decision to deploy new patches before they are fully vetted or defer new patches, which slows down the roll-out of new feature or security and bug fixes. Both situations increase risk for the private cloud environment.

SDDC Manager automates upgrade and patch management for the SDDC software stack, thereby freeing resources to focus on business critical initiatives, while improving reliability and consistency.

Lifecycle management in SDDC Manager can be applied to the to the SDDC software stack or to individual workload domains, and is designed to be non-disruptive to tenant virtual machines (VMs). By utilizing live VM migration together with vSphere Dynamic Resource Scheduler (DRS), SDDC Manager can patch software to improve infrastructure security and reliability. VMware does extensive validation testing of the software stack prior to releasing software updates, which reduces risk and helps to instill confidence.

Integrates Management of Physical and Virtual Infrastructure

SDDC Manager understands the physical and logical topology of the software defined data center and the underlying components’ relation to each other, and efficiently monitors the infrastructure to detect potential risks, degradations and failures. SDDC Manager provides stateful alert management to prevent notification spam on problem detection. Each notification includes a clear description of the problem and provides remediation actions needed to restore service. Degradations or failures are aggregated and correlated to workload domains to enable a clear view of the impact of any issue to the business services being deployed within a domain. Therefore, SDDC Manager can greatly reduce the mean time to resolution across organizational and technology silos.

Scalability and Performance

Cloud Foundation delivers a private cloud instance that can be easily deployed within an existing corporate network. Based on a scale-out, hyper-converged architecture, a Cloud Foundation implementation can start can start with a single rack containing four servers. Additional capacity and performance can easily be added linearly in increments as small as one server at a time within a single rack, scaling out to eight full racks containing 256 servers. Cloud Foundation adds the new capacity into the larger pool of available capacity for use.