VMware Cloud Foundation General FAQ

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General FAQ
Q. How can I deploy Cloud Foundation for private cloud?
A. There are two main options for private cloud deployment:
(1) Purchase a turnkey integrated system solution that
includes Cloud Foundation SW pre-loaded on qualified
HW from select OEM vendors, currently available in the
form of Dell EMC VxRack SDDC or (2) Deploy Cloud
Foundation software on qualified Ready Systems (i.e,
combination of qualified vSAN™ Ready Nodes and
qualified switches) from leading hardware OEMs. Refer
to the Compatibility Guide for more information. In this
case, the deployment can be achieved either through
self-installation or working with your Solution Provider /
System Integrator.
Q. What Ready Systems hardware is supported?
A. Cloud Foundation is supported on qualified vSAN Ready
Node server hardware from select vendors, including Dell,
HPE and QCT, and on qualified hardware switches from
select switch vendors, including Cisco and Arista. Refer to
the Compatibility Guide for the current list of qualified
hardware. We will continue building out our partner
ecosystem over time.
Q. Does the VxRack SDDC integrated system support all
the features of the latest version of Cloud Foundation?
A. Dell EMC must undertake a qualification process of the
integrated system hardware upon new releases of the
Cloud Foundation software. For specific information
about supported software versions and features in
VxRack SDDC, refer to the Dell EMC product
documentation on their product page.
Q. Who supports Cloud Foundation software
and hardware?
A. When purchasing a Cloud Foundation integrated system,
such as one from Dell EMC, the OEM partner will be the
Single Point of Contact (SPOC) for support of both
hardware and software. When Cloud Foundation software
is purchased from VMware separately from the qualified
hardware, the support model will follow the standard
practice of other VMware products with VMware GSS
delivering support for the Cloud Foundation software.
Q. Where can I find more information and resources?
A. Product Page: www.vmware.com/products/cloud-
Documentation Page: www.vmware.com/support/pubs/
Hands-on-Labs: www.vmware.com/go/cloud-
Hardware Compatibility Guide: www.vmware.com/
Q. What is VMware Cloud Foundation?
A. VMware Cloud Foundation™ is VMware’s new unified
Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) platform for
private and public clouds. Cloud Foundation brings
together VMware vSphere® (compute), vSAN™ (storage),
and NSX® (network) virtualization into a natively integrated
stack through automation and lifecycle management
capabilities of the new VMware SDDC Manager™. Cloud
Foundation can be deployed on-premises in a private
cloud or run as a service from the public cloud.
Q. How can I consume Cloud Foundation for public cloud?
A. Select service providers from the VMware vCloud® Air
Network will oer cloud services powered by Cloud
Foundation. IBM Cloud is the first partner to provide
Cloud Foundation as a service. Reach out to the specific
service providers for more information.
VMware Cloud on AWS (currently in tech preview) is a
new on-demand service operated, managed and sold
by VMware. VMware Cloud on AWS will be powered by
VMware Cloud Foundation. Invite-only betas are expected
to start in the beginning of 2017 with availability expected
to be in the mid-2017 time-frame. If you are interested in
applying for the beta, please fill out this interest form.
VMware vCloud Air will soon oer services powered by
VMware Cloud Foundation. If you are interested in
applying for the beta, please fill out this interest form.
Note: All following Q & A focus on Cloud Foundation for
on-premises deployment
FAQ | 2
Cloud Foundation is the cloud infrastructure platform
that delivers the software-dened foundation, whereas
vRealize Suite is the cloud management platform that
automates the delivery and ongoing management of the
cloud infrastructure to apps and VMs using a service
model approach. The two complement each other and
are the key ingredients to build a VMware based private/
hybrid cloud.
Note that both Cloud Foundation and vRealize Suite are
hybrid cloud solutions that extend to public clouds. Cloud
Foundation is oered via IBM Cloud today. vRealize today
manages vCloud Air Network clouds, AWS and Azure (via
Professional Services support) end-points.
Q. Why is vRealize Suite not part of Cloud Foundation?
A. VMware is all about choice. VMware Cloud Foundation
can be used in conjunction with other 3rd party Cloud
Management Platforms. Similarly, vRealize Suite can be
used with other cloud infrastructure platforms,
including other hypervisors, as well as multiple public
cloud vendors.
Q. What is the dierence between SDDC Manager, part
of Cloud Foundation, and vRealize Automation, part
of the vRealize Suite?
A. SDDC Manager and vRealize Automation automate
dierent aspects of building and running private and
public clouds. SDDC Manager automates the lifecycle
management of the cloud infrastructure stack (from
bring-up, to configuration, infrastructure provisioning,
upgrades/patches, etc.), making it extremely simple for
the cloud admin to build and maintain the cloud stack
(vSphere, VSAN and NSX). vRealize Automation
automates the delivery and management of the virtual
machines and apps enabling end users to consume these
as services and at scale.
Q. Does SDDC Manager replace other existing
management tools, such as vCenter Server, vRealize
Operations Manager, vRealize Log Insight?
A. No. SDDC Manager complements VMware vCenter
Server® and vRealize Suite products by delivering new
functionality that helps cloud admins build and maintain
the cloud infrastructure software stack. The cloud admin
will continue to leverage vCenter Server and the cloud
management platform of choice for VM management,
monitoring, alerting, provisioning, etc.
Q. How can I purchase Cloud Foundation software?
A. There are four ways to purchase Cloud Foundation
(1) directly from VMware, (2) from VMware channel
partners (3) as part of an integrated system from OEM
vendors and (4) as a subscription service from a service
Q. Can I install the Cloud Foundation software myself?
A. Yes. VMware provides documentation for customers to
deploy the Cloud Foundation software on their own.
You can also work with VMware Professional Services or
your Solution Provider to receive assistance with your
deployment. Visit the Documentation page for more
information on how to deploy Cloud Foundation.
Q. How does Cloud Foundation dier from vRealize Suite?
A. To build a private cloud, IT needs to:
1) Modernize infrastructure by virtualizing compute,
storage, network and security with a software-defined
2) Automate the delivery and ongoing management of the
virtualized infrastructure, enabling end users to consume
it as a service.
VMware allows customers to accomplish this through
Cloud Foundation and vRealize Suite.
Cloud Foundation helps customers quickly and
eciently stand-up and manage the cloud infrastructure
foundation through SDDC Manager. SDDC Manager
automates the lifecycle management of the cloud
infrastructure stack (from bring-up, to configuration,
infrastructure provisioning, upgrades/patches, etc.),
making it extremely simple for the cloud admin to build
and maintain the cloud stack.
vRealize Suite plugs on top of Cloud Foundation and
provides the management layer that helps customers to
eciently manage their virtualized infrastructure and
workloads and oer them as service. vRealize Suite
provides Day 1 automation capabilities (self-service
catalogue, automated workload provisioning, policy based
governance, API functionality) and Day 2 operations
capabilities (workload monitoring, troubleshooting,
capacity management, business planning).
FAQ | 3
Q. What are the software components in
Cloud Foundation?
A. The Cloud Foundation stack includes VMware vSphere,
vSAN, NSX and SDDC Manager. Customers can purchase
separately a VMware Horizon add-on for Cloud
Foundation, and any edition of the VMware vRealize Suite.
Note: while these additional components are licensed
separately, the SDDC Manager will always deploy and
configure, the Horizon, vRealize Operations and vRealize
Log Insight software components as part of a Cloud
Foundation implementation.
Q. What is the licensing model for Cloud Foundation?
A. Cloud Foundation is sold on a per processor (CPU)
licensing metric with a perpetual license model.
Q. Can I transfer existing licenses for components of
Cloud Foundation I already own?
A. Yes. Customers who possess unused licenses for
individual components (vSphere, vSAN or NSX) can
transfer them towards a Cloud Foundation deployment,
and complete the licensing of the Cloud Foundation
environment by purchasing the missing components
of the stack.
Q. Can I buy SDDC Manager separately?
A. SDDC Manager is only available through Cloud
Foundation. In situations where the customer brings his/
her own licenses of vSphere, vSAN and NSX, an SDDC
Manager licenses can be purchased incrementally.
Q. Is vCenter Server included with Cloud Foundation?
A. No. Customers must provide their own vCenter Server
licenses to a Cloud Foundation environment. However,
only one vCenter Server license is needed per SDDC
Manager instance, regardless of the number of vCenter
Server instances (e.g workload domains) that are
deployed in the environment. Note: while licensed
separately, SDDC Manager deploys and configures
vCenter Server as part of each workload domain.
Q. For which software components can SDDC Manager
automate the deployment?
A. The automation capabilities of SDDC Manager extend
beyond the core components of the Cloud Foundation
stack. This means that SDDC Manager can provide
lifecycle automation for VMware products that are sold
separately from Cloud Foundation. Currently, SDDC
Manager automates the deployment for all the following
VMware software components: VMware vSphere®, vSAN™,
NSX®, vCenter Server, vRealize Log Insight™, vRealize
Operations™ and Horizon®. vCenter Server, vRealize
products and Horizon are sold and licensed separately
from Cloud Foundation.
Q. Can I deploy SDDC Manager on top of existing
vSphere environments that don’t use the entire
Cloud Foundation stack?
A. No. The lifecycle automation capabilities of SDDC
Manager start and are predicated on the fact that SDDC
Manager automates the bring up process of the entire
Cloud Foundation stack. This means that SDDC Manager
cannot be used to manage existing deployments.
Q. How is Cloud Foundation dierent from the VMware
Validated Designs?
A. VVDs are documented reference designs that define
blueprints and guidelines on how to build and operate
an SDDC. VVDs are technical implementation designs
for customers that choose to build their own SDDC, either
by assembling the software components themselves or
through assistance from professional services from
VMware or VMware partners.
Cloud Foundation is a software product that integrates
multiple components of the VMware SDDC stack and
that implements a prescriptive design and software BOM.
Cloud Foundation embeds a validated design, but it
deploys and maintains this design using unique lifecycle
management automation capabilities in the form of the
SDDC Manager. The Cloud Foundation design is
developed and tested against the same set of best
practices and tested with the same rigor as the VVDs.
Q. What happened to EVO SDDC?
A. VMware Cloud Foundation builds from and expands the
capabilities oered by VMware EVO™ SDDC™. As such,
going forward Cloud Foundation will replace EVO SDDC,
which starting from September 1, 2016 will no longer
be available.
FAQ | 4
Q. What are the physical hardware requirements for a
Cloud Foundation private cloud?
A. A Cloud Foundation private cloud is comprised of
between 1 to 8 physical racks. Each rack is comprised of
between 4 to 32 1U or 4 to 16 2U qualified servers (subject
to power constraints), a pair of redundant Top-of-Rack
(ToR) switches and a single management switch. In a
multi-rack configuration, a pair of redundant rack-
interconnect switches is used to interconnect the racks.
Q. What are the physical scalability limits of a Cloud
Foundation private cloud deployment?
A. Each Cloud Foundation private cloud deployment can
span up to 8 physical racks with each rack consisting of
32 servers (subject to power constraints), for a total of
up to 256 servers across 8 racks.
Q. What are the physical server requirements?
A. The building block of the Cloud Foundation private cloud
is the vSAN Ready Node. Cloud Foundation provides
flexibility when selecting vendors and server models as
well as when choosing CPU speeds, core counts, memory
sizing, as well as physical disk capacity and SSD caching
capacity. Refer to the Compatibility Guide for a list of
qualified vSAN Ready nodes.
Q. What are the physical network requirements?
A. Cloud Foundation implements a self-contained network
topology using redundant Top-of-Rack switches in each
rack that are interconnected using a pair of redundant
rack-interconnect switches. Access to external networks is
achieved through a pair of redundant uplinks configured
on the ToR switches in the first rack.
Q. Can the qualified ready nodes be used with any of the
qualified networking switches?
A. Yes. The qualified ready nodes can be used with any of
the qualified switches. The only requirement is for both
the ToR and rack-interconnect switches to be from the
same vendor.
Q. Are rack-interconnect switches required even if there is
only one rack?
A. No, rack-interconnect switches are only required when
expanding beyond a single physical rack.
Q. Do I need to renew SnS for all the components of
Cloud Foundation?
A. In order to continue to use Cloud Foundation, all
underlying components must be properly licensed and
have active SnS contracts. However, if a customer should
want to move away from Cloud Foundation, they have the
option to renew the support contract of just a subset of
the Cloud Foundation components.
Q. Is SDDC Manager part of vCloud Suite?
A. No. SDDC Manager is not part of VMware vCloud Suite®.
SDDC Manager is available for use only with Cloud
Foundation deployments.
Q. What is VMware SDDC Manager?
A. The SDDC Manager is the centralized SDDC management
component used to automate the entire lifecycle of the
SDDC stack, from bring-up, to configuration, to
infrastructure provisioning, to upgrades/patches, etc..
Q. What are the Hardware Management Services?
A. The Hardware Management Services (HMS) is a feature in
SDDC Manager that is responsible for hardware discovery,
bootstrap, configuration and monitoring. The HMS uses
vendor aware plug-ins to interface with qualified
hardware components.
Q. What is the VIA?
A. The VIA is an imaging appliance used to perform the
initial imaging of a new Cloud Foundation rack in
preparation to being configured by the SDDC manager.
Visit the Documentation page for more information
about the VIA.
Q. How are multiple physical racks managed?
A. In a multiple rack configuration, the separate racks are
interconnected using a high-speed network topology. All
the systems across the dierent racks are managed as a
logical pool of resources from a central instance of the
SDDC Manager.
FAQ | 5
Q. What is a management domain?
A. The management domain is a special purpose workload
domain that is used to host the infrastructure components
needed to instantiate, manage, and monitor the Cloud
Foundation private cloud infrastructure. The management
domain is automatically created using SDDC Manager
when the first rack is initially configured.
Q. How many nodes are required for the
management domain?
A. The management domain leverages vSAN for storage
and requires a minimum of 4 nodes.
Q. What types of workload domains can be created?
A. There are two types of workload domains at this time:
1. A Virtual Infrastructure (VI) workload domain which
consists of a single vSphere cluster with a dedicated
vCenter Server instance.
2. A Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) workload domain
which consists of a dedicated vSphere cluster with a
dedicated vCenter Server Instance along with the Horizon
software components.
Q. How many vSphere clusters can I have in a
workload domain?
A. Currently, Cloud Foundation supports one vSphere
cluster per workload domain.
Q. How many vCenter Server instances can be deployed in
a workload domain?
A. Each workload domain has one dedicated vCenter Sever
instance. (Pricing and Packaging note: Only one vCenter
Server license is needed per SDDC Manager instance)
Q. What is the minimum and maximum number of
vSphere hosts that can be in a Virtual Infrastructure
Workload Domain?
A. Workload domains leverage vSAN and as such require a
minimum of three hosts. The current maximum is 64 hosts.
Q. What is the minimum and maximum number of
vSphere hosts that can be in a Virtual Desktop
Infrastructure Workload Domain?
A. Workload domains leverage vSAN and as such require a
minimum of three hosts. The current maximum number
of hosts in a VMware Horizon® cluster is 20 hosts.
Q. What are the physical switch requirements for the
Top-of-Rack (TOR) and Rack-Interconnect switches in a
Cloud Foundation private cloud?
A. Only qualified ToR and rack-interconnect switches can be
used with Cloud Foundation. Refer to the Compatibility
Guide for a list of qualified switch vendors.
Q. What are the physical switch requirements for
the management switch in a Cloud Foundation
private cloud?
A. Only qualified management switches can be used with
Cloud Foundation. Refer to the Compatibility Guide for a
list of qualified switch vendors.
Q. What does the Cloud Foundation server qualification
involve? Why can’t all vSAN Ready Nodes be
automatically certified for Cloud Foundation?
A. Cloud Foundation uses the VIA (imaging appliance) to
image the server with the appropriate version of ESXi
including the server specific configuration e.g., the
appropriate VIBs to be included for that server (this
information is obtainable from the server vendor). Other
server specific configuration includes how to number the
NICs for Cloud Foundation operation. This server specific
information is validated and then included as part of the
imaging bundle for Cloud Foundation.
In addition, the server needs to be validated with HMS.
This involves server configuration and management using
both the inband and out of band management interfaces.
To perform this validation, a pre-requisite is for the server
to be imaged with the correct ESXi version and the
appropriate VIBs as indicated earlier.
After tests are run successfully with both the VIA and
HMS based management using the bundle updated with
the server specific VIBs, the server is a candidate for
certification. The bundles are published by VMware and
the server added to the Hardware Compatibility Guide.
Workload Domains
Q. What is a workload domain?
A. A workload domain is a subset of resources carved out
of the Cloud Foundation infrastructure based on specific
capacity, performance, and availability characteristics.
Each workload domain comprises a single vSphere cluster
and can span multiple physical racks.
FAQ | 6
Q. Does Cloud Foundation support all-flash vSAN storage?
A. Yes, Cloud Foundation supports both the Hybrid and All-
Flash vSAN configurations.
Q. Can I use Network Attached Storage (NAS) with Cloud
A. Yes, you can connect to external IP based storage (NFS/
iSCSI) from a Cloud Foundation based deployment .
Design and implementation of the networking paths for
access to external storage needs to be done outside of
the Cloud Foundation automaton/management.
Q. Can I use FCoE or Fibre Channel with Cloud
A. No, FCoE and Fibre Channel are not currently supported
with Cloud Foundation.
Patching and Upgrades
Q. What software components can be patched/upgraded
using SDDC Manager Lifecycle Management?
A. Currently, all vSphere, vSAN, NSX, and SDDC manager
components are patched/upgraded as part the SDDC
Manager Lifecycle Management. Other software
components will be added in the future.
Q. How am I notified when patches/upgrades
become available?
A. Users are automatically notified from SDDC Manager
when patches and upgrades become available.
Q. How often will VMware release software updates?
A. Patches are released as they become available and based
on criticality (e.g. a security patch). Upgrades are typically
released on a quarterly cadence.
Q. Can I schedule when patches and upgrades are
A. Yes, SDDC Manager allows patches and upgrades to be
scheduled as to coincide with regular maintenance
Q. Can I patch/upgrade workload domains independent of
each other?
A. Yes, patches and upgrades are scheduled on a per-
workload domain basis allowing updates to be “rolled-in
over time.
Q. How does Cloud Foundation determine how many
hosts to use when creating a workload domain?
A. The number of hosts assigned to a workload domain is
based on two factors: (1) the capacity parameters
provided by the administrator during the workload
domain creation and (2) the vSAN Availability Policies.
Q. Can I extend/delete a workload domain after it has
been created?
A. Yes, Cloud Foundation provides a fully automated
process for creating, extending, and deleting workload
domains using SDDC Manager.
Q. Can I reduce the size of a workload domain?
A. Cloud Foundation does not yet provide an automated
capability for reducing the size of a workload domain. This
is currently on the roadmap. In the meantime, a manual
process can be implemented to manually evacuate hosts
from a workload domain.
Q. In the network topology, do the ToR to rack-
interconnect links use L2 or L3? Is Spanning Tree used?
A. In Cloud Foundation all the physical racks are on the same
L2 network. The ToR switches are dual connected to two
rack-interconnect switches through redundant 40Gbps
links configured in a Multi-Chassis Link Aggregation Group
(MC-LAG). There is no Spanning Tree Protocol used as
looping is avoided using MC-LAG. In the future, the
network configuration may be modified to use L3 so
that each rack is on its own L2 network and you need to
route/Layer 3-switch inter-rack trac. This will enable
eciencies like ECMP (Equal Cost Multipath forwarding).
Q. Do all the switches (ToR, Rack-Interconnect and
Management) need to be from the same vendor?
A. The ToR and rack-interconnect switches must be from the
same vendor so that the plugins can work seamlessly. The
management switch can be from any supported vendor as
listed on the Compatibility Guide.
Q. Is vSAN required with Cloud Foundation?
A. Yes, vSAN is required.
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Q. What about other components of the vRealize Suite
like vRealize Automation and vRealize Business for
Cloud, will SDDC Manager automate the deployment
of these components as well?
A. Currently, SDDC Manager does not automate the
deployment of vRealize Automation or vRealize Business
for Cloud. These components can be manually deployed
and externally integrated with Cloud Foundation.
Q. How are management packs for the physical switches
used with vRealize Operations in a Cloud Foundation
private cloud environment?
A. Customers can manually install and configure relevant
vRealize Operations Management packs pertinent to their
Cloud Foundation private cloud environment. Note that it
may be required to re-install and reconfigure management
packs following Cloud Foundation Lifecycle Management
(LCM) activities such as patching and upgrades.
Q. Does Cloud Foundation perform firmware updates?
A. No. Firmware updates are not included as part of the
Cloud Foundation capabilities. Use vendor provided tools
to update firmware.
Q. What logs are sent to the vRealize Log Insight in the
Cloud Foundation management cluster?
A. Cloud Foundation sends event logs for ESXi, vSAN,
NSX, SDDC Manager, vCenter and Horizon into vRealize
Log Insight.

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