VIA is a virtual appliance used by system integrators or administrators deploying Cloud Foundation to image physical racks. During imaging, VIA pre-configures the Cloud Foundation software stack on the rack.

A physical rack consists of a management switch, two Top of Rack (ToR) switches and 4 to 32 physical servers. If you have multiple physical racks in your datacenter, the second rack must contain two inter-rack switches for inter-rack connectivity.

For imaging the rack, VMware provides the VIA OVF template and the Cloud Foundation software bundle. The software bundle consists of SDDC components - vSphere, NSX, vSAN, and vRealize Log Insight.

The imaging infrastructure at the customer or partner site includes a laptop running Workstation or Fusion, desktop, or ESXi host (referred to as the management host) and a supported 24-port 1GE Managed Switch with RJ45 ports and Cat 5/5E cables. The VIA OVA template is installed on the laptop or management host and the software bundle is uploaded on the VIA VM. The laptop or management host is connected to the corporate network as well as to the private network used by the VIA VM to image the individual servers and switches. You use a browser (on the laptop) or jump VM (on the management host) to connect to the VIA VM and image the physical rack. The managed switch allows for multiple racks to be imaged simultaneously by creating VLANs.

Figure 1. VIA Deployment

During imaging:

  • The ToR and inter-rack switches (if applicable) are configured

  • The Hardware Management Service (HMS) VM is installed on the SDDC Manager Controller VM

  • VMware ESXi is installed on each host in the physical rack

  • The Cloud Foundation software, SDDC Manager, is installed on host 0 of rack 1.

After imaging is complete, VIA compiles a manifest file that provides an inventory of the physical rack components. The rack is now ready to be configured for Cloud Foundation.