Upgrade your entire SDDC with VCF

These days moving to a (hybrid) cloud infrastructure is all the rage. At RedLogic we’re definitely noticing this trend, so we’re happy that VMware has the perfect product to enable customers to make this move. VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) is the answer to having a private/hybrid cloud. A combination of all the products that make virtualizing an environment easy; vSphere, NSX, vSAN and the vRealize Suite. In my previous blog post, I wrote about why one of our customers chose VCF. Today I’ll share a bit about another client and one of the benefits of having VCF as their environment.

Humble beginnings

Around May 2018 we finished our first VCF project with one of the leading universities in the Netherlands. Their desire for running a private cloud, which would serve as a starting point for realizing their vision of having a fully automated SDDC, prompted their journey into VCF. The following are the core values for this project:

  • Automate hardware management and maintenance
  • Create a uniform and microsegmented security model
  • Simplify the network design
  • Make scaling up easy
  • Automate the deployment of VMs and applications

All of these values find their place in VCF. Back in the day VCF was on version 2.2, which is almost an entirely different product than what you see today. Only recently RedLogic teamed up with VMware to migrate this client to a healthy 3.5 environment, after which it was a breeze to upgrade it to the more recent 3.7.2 (the next few updates are already scheduled).

Back then VCF was intended to completely take over all aspects of the SDDC, most notably including the Top-of-Rack switches. Today, with NSX doing the amazing job of virtualizing the network, these are excluded from the VCF stack. I’ll be honest; it’s good that they did.

Updating the entire SDDC

With more features and functionality added in each version, and each new version being released almost faster than you can say ‘patch Tuesday’ (just kidding, getting updates is great!), staying up to date is more important than ever. Usually patches come in a regular interval of about 6 weeks, which should give you plenty of time to upgrade, but not so much that you can take it slowly. Luckily, VCF is here to help you manage this stream of updates.

The SDDC manager is the ‘secret sauce’ that makes VCF. Even for a relatively small environment, patching and upgrading all the components of your environment can be quite time-consuming. But with the SDDC Manager, which is the orchestrator of your SDDC and sits above your vCenters, it becomes a breeze.

First, the SDDC manager allows you to upgrade one Workload Domain (WLD) at a time (with the newest release you can even do it per cluster). Each workload domain is basically a complete SDDC (one for each tenant), with one management WLD which contains all the vCenters and other common management components. Secondly; before each upgrade you can perform a precheck which makes sure that all components are ready to go (or tells you how to fix the issue), making sure you don’t run into issues halfway through the procedure.

Once you’re ready to go, just click the ‘update now’ button and the magic happens while you go get some coffee are free to do more important things! Or, click the ‘schedule update’ button and get your updating done during the night. So far, I’m even confident enough to do this during the night. Nothing like coming back in the morning with a freshly patched environment.

Things can always go wrong, that’s one of the universal truths of working in IT. Even then, VCF has got your back; when any part of the upgrade fails, the procedure stops and gives you detailed information where things went wrong. Once you’ve fixed the underlying cause, you can pick up where you left off. For even more peace of mind; the automatic upgrade never does more than one thing at a time, so the impact is limited.

The best part of the upgrade functionality? All the updates come in neatly packed bundles. VCF has a very specific list of build numbers associated with each version. Rather than costing you time getting each build exactly where it needs to be, the SDDC manager gives you the bundles you need, exactly as you need them.

Conclusion

My personal (and for RedLogic as a whole) experience with upgrading an entire customer’s VCF deployment has so far been nothing short of amazing. All your vSphere components, from vCenter all the way down to vSAN, upgraded with the click of a button. No more manually upgrading each component, no more checking the upgrade path. And best of all; very fast and low risk. VCF helps you to make sure your environment gets up to date fast, and stays that way, all while saving you time.