The VMware Cloud Foundation features provide automated deployment and life cycle management of your SDDC, and enable provisioning of customer virtualized workloads and containers.

Automated Software Bring-Up

You prepare your environment for VMware Cloud Foundation by installing a baseline ESXi image on vSAN ReadyNodes. After the hosts are physically racked and cabled, VMware Cloud Foundation uses the physical network details you provide (such as DNS, IP address pool, and so on) to automate the bring-up and configuration of the software stack. During bring-up, the management domain is created on the four hosts you specified. When the bring-up process completes, you have a functional management domain and can start provisioning VI workload domains.

Simplified Resource Provisioning with Workload Domains

In VMware Cloud Foundation, a workload domains is a policy-based resource construct with specific availability and performance attributes. See Workload Domains in VMware Cloud Foundation.

Virtual Machines and Containers Onto the Same Platform

By using the VMware Tanzu integration with VMware Cloud Foundation, you can deploy and operate the compute, networking, and storage infrastructure for vSphere with Tanzu, also called Workload Management. vSphere with Tanzu transforms vSphere to a platform for running Kubernetes workloads natively on the hypervisor layer. When enabled on a vSphere cluster, vSphere with Tanzu provides the capability to run Kubernetes workloads directly on ESXi hosts and to create upstream Kubernetes clusters within dedicated resource pools.

The Kubernetes concept of namespace is integrated into vSphere and becomes the unit of management. By grouping VMs and containers into logical applications via namespaces, Virtual Infrastructure (VI) admins who used to manage thousands of VMs can now manage just dozens of applications which is a massive reduction in cognitive load.

Automated Lifecycle Management

VMware Cloud Foundation offers automated life cycle management on a per-workload basis. Available updates for all components are tested for interoperability and bundled with the necessary logic for proper installation order. The update bundles are then scheduled for automatic installation on a per-workload domain basis. This allows administrators to target specific workloads or environments, for example development vs. production, for updates independent from the rest of the environment.

vSphere Lifecycle Manager, a vCenter Server service, is integrated with VMware Cloud Foundation. By using vSphere Lifecycle Manager, you can create cluster images for centralized and simplified life cycle management of ESXi hosts including firmware. When you select the image-based life cycle management mode at VI workload domain creation, you can update and upgrade the ESXi version on all hosts in the cluster collectively. You can also install and update vendor add-ons and components on all ESXi hosts in a cluster.

Stretched Deployment

You can set up two availability zones in your environment and introduce high availability of management and customer workloads by configuring vSAN stretched clusters by using the SDDC Manager API. Availability zones protect against failures of groups of hosts. These group can consist of hosts in the same data center, for example, installed in different racks, chassis or rooms, or in different data centers with low-latency high-speed links connecting them. Using two availability zones can improve availability of management components running the SDDC, minimize downtime of services, and improve SLAs.

NSX Federation

You can use NSX Federation to propagate configurations that span multiple NSX instances in a single VMware Cloud Foundation instance or across multiple VMware Cloud Foundation instances. You can set up global networking, enabling failover of segment ingress and egress traffic between VMware Cloud Foundation instances, and implement a unified firewall configuration.

In the management domain in a deployment with multiple VMware Cloud Foundation instances, you use NSX-T Data Center to provide cross-instance services to SDDC management components which do not have native support for availability at several locations, such as vRealize Automation and vRealize Operations. In a management domain, you can use NSX Federation only to connect to the management domains of other VMware Cloud Foundation instances. Avoid connecting a management domain with VI workload domains in a single NSX Federation instance.

You configure NSX Federation in VMware Cloud Foundation manually.

VMware Cloud Foundation+

Starting from VMware Cloud Foundation 4.5, you can connect your on-premises deployments to VMware Cloud by using a VMware Cloud Foundation+ subscription. By connecting VMware Cloud Foundation to the cloud, you use a simplified subscription model and keyless entitlement across multiple on-premises deployments. You also have access to administrator services, such as inventory management, infrastructure monitoring and virtual machine provisioning centrally from VMware Cloud Console. See What is VMware Cloud Foundation+?.