Cloud Foundation 50 Concepts

VCF 50 Concepts

When it comes to VMware (now Broadcom) Cloud Foundation, there are a series of concepts that we need to consider a "must" if we pretend to understand the whole solution.
In this Post, we will cover 50 VCF Concepts to understand the solution globally, including relationships, tips and best practices.

Let's get started!

First release: Dec 4th 2023 (the first ten concepts)

VCF: Stands for VMware Cloud Foundation. This virtualization platform is based on vSphere for Compute, vSAN for Storage and NSX for Networking and Security. VCF is based on the Software Defined Datacenter concept and provides the entire solution's lifecycle management. Cloud Foundation is also based on what we know as the "VMware Reference Architecture", following the best practices.
There are different versions like 4.5, 5.0, and 5.1, and some editions will include more or less functionalities and services.
Nowadays, VCF is "THE" virtualization solution based on SDDC for Private, Hybrid and Public Datacenters for Virtual Machines and Modern Applications.

BOM: Stands for Bill of Materials, and every VCF version is based on a particular BOM that defines the specific version of every component like the ESXi, vCenter Server, SDDC Manager, NSX Manager and more.
That list of versions was defined based on the matrix interoperability, providing an already validated compatibility in terms of interoperability.
You can check the VCF BOM in the Release Notes of every product version.

Cloud Foundation Bill of Materials

Cloud Builder: a virtual appliance that will run the bring-up to automate the initial deployment of the basic components of VCF, like the first vCenter Center with a 4-node vSAN Cluster, SDDC Manager and the NSX Manager Cluster. Those components are the basement of the Management Domain.
The virtual appliance won't be deployed in any of those 4 ESXi hosts that will be used for the Management Domain, so we can use any other host or just a Laptop. The Cloud Builder virtual machine will be deleted after the bring-up process is finished.
The size of the Cloud Builder OVA file is pretty heavy because it includes not just the Cloud Builder but the vCenter, SDDC Manager, and NSX Manager deployment files.

Bring-up: is the workflow that runs on top of the Cloud Builder virtual appliance for the initial deployment of VCF.
This workflow will need the "Deployment parameters", which is an Excel file or it can also be in JSON file format and defines the collection of parameters needed like the FQDN of the ESXi hosts, DNS servers, NTP, VLANs, passwords and more.
Depending on the hardware resources, the amount of time that the bring-up needs to deploy the Management Domain is about 2-3 hours.

Planning and Preparation Workbook: It's an Excel file that can be considered a masterpiece. Since the first meeting, we'll start defining a lot (I mean it) of things like sizing, hardware, network segments, resource distribution, uplinks, security and more. A lot more.
The Planning and Preparation file is a marvellous file that we will use for the proper collection of parameters needed for the whole project, like the amount of VI Workload Domains, the passwords, VLANs, FQDNs, NTP and a considerable amount of parameters.
This file will be used for the entire project and not just for the Management Domain.
You can download the Planning and Preparation Excel file from the product documentation page, and it must match the exact version of the VCF that will be deployed.

VCF Planning and Preparation

Deployment Parameters: Excel or JSON file that defines all the required parameters needed to run the bring-up. This file will be attached to the Cloud Builder wizard and, first, will be used for the initial validation, and then, if validation succeeds, will be used during the bring-up.
All the required parameters can be obtained (manually) from the Planning and Preparation, and the file can be downloaded from or during the Cloud Builder wizard.
Again, it's a must to use the exact same Deployment Parameters version as the VCF version that will be deployed.

Domain: VCF resources are logically grouped based on Domains.
A VCF deployment will have one and only one Management Domain. Based on the design, the VCF instance can have from 1 up to 14 VI Workload Domains. It is even possible to work with what is called a Consolidated Architecture, which uses only a Management Domain.

Management Domain: The Management Domain is originally based on four ESXi hosts working on a DRS, HA and vSAN Cluster. The bring-up will deploy five virtual machines in the Management Domain. Those virtual machines are the SDDC Manager, vCenter Server (for Management) and three NSX Managers.
Depending on the VCF design, it will be possible to deploy an NSX EDGE Cluster for Management.
When a VI Workload is created, the vCenter Server virtual machine will be deployed in the Management Domain Cluster. If that new VI Workload Domain will be deployed with their own NSX Cluster, then the three NSX Manager virtual machines will be deployed in the Management Cluster.

VI Workload Domain: VI stands for Virtual Infrastructure. Any workload that is not part of the Management will be deployed on top of a vSphere Cluster that belongs to one VI Workload Domain.
There are different use cases for the deployment of the VI Workload Domains: Production Critical, Production non-critical, QA, Tanzu, VDI and more.

Note: Do not be confused with the Workload Management. Workload Management is the name used in the inventory of the vSphere Client where you will deploy or manage the Supervisor Cluster (Tanzu).
You will see a Workload Management in the SDDC Management, but that will be only for pre-deploy vSphere with Tanzu validation purposes.

SDDC Manager: Virtual appliance that provides the HTMLv5 UI for the Management of the VCF that also includes an API and a command line resource.
The SDDC Manager includes a series of embedded workflows for the lifecycle of all the components in Cloud Foundation.
It is easy to say the SDDC Manager is for VCF the same as vCenter is for vSphere.

VCF 5.1 SDDC Manager

And these were the first 10 VCF concepts! Did you like it? Can you help me to share it?

Looking forward to hearing your feedback.

Next step -> Cloud Foundation 50 Concepts - Part II

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