The infrastructure and orchestration domain contain the various NFVI abstractions for compute, storage, and networking and the resource orchestration component, also known as the Virtual Infrastructure Manager (VIM).

Compute - VMware ESXi

ESXi is the hypervisor software that abstracts the physical x86 server resources from the VNFs. Each compute server is called a host in the virtual environment. ESXi hosts are the fundamental compute building blocks of vCloud NFV OpenStack Edition. ESXi host resources can be grouped to provide an aggregate set of resources in the virtual environment that is called a cluster. Clusters logically separate the management and VNF components and are discussed in details in the Core Reference Architecture section. ESXi hosts are managed by the VMware vCenter Server Appliance that is part of the VIM components.

Key new features introduced in ESXi:

  • Single reboot upgrade. vSphere upgrades can now be completed with one single reboot.

  • ESXi quick boot. Allows a system to reboot in less than two minutes as it does not reinitialize the physical server.

  • Instant Clone. Enables a user to create powered-on VMs from the running state of another powered-on VM without losing its state.

  • NVDIMM devices. Support for next generation of storage devices that use persistent DRAM memory.

  • Enhanced vMotion Capability. Define minimum CPU preferred features per VM to ensure CPU aware migration.

  • Hugepages. The Size of Hugepages has now been extended to 1GB, improving memory access performance due to lower TLB misses.

  • Enhancements for NSX-T Data Center. Together with NSX-T Data Center, vSphere introduces a new N-VDS Enhanced mode for switching to deliver substantial switching performance.

  • RDMA over Converged Ethernet. RDMA provides low latency and higher-throughput interconnects with CPU offloads between the end-points.

  • Higher security enhancements for TLS 1.2 and FIPS 140-2 cryptography.

  • Increases performance and availability.

Host Management - VMware vCenter Server

VMware vCenter Server® is the centralized management interface for compute and storage resources in the NFVI. It provides an inventory of allocated virtual to physical resources, manages inventory-related information, and maintains an overview of the virtual resource catalogs. vCenter Server collects data about the performance, capacity, and state of its inventory objects. It exposes APIs to other management components for fine-grained control, operation, and monitoring of the underlying virtual infrastructure.

Networking - VMware NSX-T Data Center

NSX-T Data Center is the successor to NSX for vSphere. It allows CSPs to programmatically create, delete, and manage software-based virtual networks. These networks are used for communication between VNF components, and to provide customers with dynamic control of their service environments. Dynamic control is provided through tight integration between the resource orchestration layer and NSX-T Data Center. Network multitenancy is implemented by using NSX-T Data Center, by assigning customers their own virtual networking components and providing different network segments. A two-tiered architecture is used in the NSX-T Data Center design to implement a provider and tenant separation of control across the logical switching and routing fabric. Logical switching is supported in two modes, N-VDS Standard with support for overlay and VLAN backed networks and N-VDS Enhanced for DPDK acceleration and VLAN backed networks. The fully distributed routing architecture enables routing functionality closest to the source. This structure gives both provider and tenant administrators complete control over their services and policies.

NSX-T Data Center also implements a separation of management, control, and data planes. The NSX Manager, Controller, and Edge are components of this architecture that are discussed in the sections to follow.

Storage - VMware vSAN

vSAN is the native vSphere storage component in the NFVI virtualization layer, providing a shared storage pool between hosts in the vSphere cluster. With vSAN, storage is shared by aggregating the local disks and flash drives that are attached to the host. Although third-party storage solutions with storage replication adapters that meet the VMware storage compatibility guidelines are also supported, this reference architecture discusses only the vSAN storage solution.

Resource Orchestration - VMware Integrated OpenStack

VMware Integrated OpenStack is the component that vCloud NFV OpenStack Edition exposes as the interface to the VNF services. It leverages the vCenter Server Appliance and NSX Manager to orchestrate compute, storage, network, and imaging infrastructure services from a single, programmable interface. The components that are used to enable the services include the Horizon, Keystone, Nova, Neutron, Cinder, Glance, and Heat OpenStack projects.

VMware Integrated OpenStack in addition extends the execution environment to deploy and maintain enterprise class Kubernetes clusters in an OpenStack environment. The implementation provides full heterogeneity and choice of native VM-based workloads and containerized micro-services. Kubernetes clusters are configured to use VMware Integrated OpenStack enterprise-grade services such as Keystone authentication for the cluster, Block Storage Cinder to provide persistent storage for stateful applications, and Neutron Load Balancing as a Service (LBaaS) for application services. Container networking is fully integrated into NSX-T Data Center by using the Container Network Interface (CNI) framework that can be configured in a consistent manner.

In addition, feature enhancements include support for elastic Tenant vDCs spanning multiple clusters, Keystone Federation to have unified identity management across multiple VMware Integrated OpenStack instances, Neutron QoS to shape bandwidth consumption per tenant, improved manageability, and API security using rate limiting.