VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) provides an integrated stack which bundles Compute Virtualization (VMware vSphere), Storage Virtualization (VMware vSAN), Network Virtualization (VMware NSX) and Cloud Management and Monitoring (VMware vRealize Suite) into a single platform which can be deployed on-premises wherein the customer is responsible for managing the physical infrastructure and the virtual machine workloads or can also run As-a-Service in public cloud where cloud provider manages the underlying infrastructure and the responsibility of the customer is to manage the virtual machine workloads.

What are the core components of VMware Cloud Foundation?

VMware Cloud Foundation is fully integrated software composed of (vSphere, NSX, vSAN, and SDDC Manager) based on the concepts of Hyper-Converged Infrastructure or HCI, which accelerates the delivery of Virtual Infrastructure (VI) or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or VDI.

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VMware Cloud Foundation uses VMware vCenter Server for virtual machine (VM) management, monitoring, and provisioning.

SDDC Manager is used to automate the bring up, configuration, and provisioning of the entire SDDC stack.

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vSAN eliminates the need for external storage and also simplifies virtual machine provisioning.

NSX for vSphere which provides network and security for our vSphere Environment and NSX T (focussed on emerging application frameworks) and vRealize Suite (vRealize Log Insight , vRealize Operations, vRealize Automation) is also integrated with cloud foundation enabling administrators to provision an application environment in a rapid, automated way versus the traditional manual process.

Workload Domains

Cloud Foundation introduced a new abstraction known as Workload Domains which consists of one or more vSphere clusters, provisioned automatically by SDDC Manager.

Workload domains are resource containers with specific policies configured for performance, availability, and security, and are of two types – Management domain and Compute Workload domain, where the later is further categorized as Virtual Infrastructure VI workload domains and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or VDI workload domain.

The Management domain uses storage from vSAN cluster and is created during the initial bring-up process which consists of ESXi, vCenter Server and Platform Services Controllers, NSX for vSphere components (NSX Manager and three NSX Controller VMs), vRealize Suite components such as vRealize Log Insight, vRealize Operations Manager (Optional Components). By default, each cloud foundation deployment has one management domain.

Virtual Infrastructure (VI) workload domains are implemented for user workloads wherein we can choose the storage option either vSAN or NFS and NSX for vSphere or NSX-T for each VI workload domain. VI workload domain can have one or more vSphere clusters with a minimum of three hosts and a maximum of 64 hosts. When Cloud Foundation creates and provisions VI workloads domains, it deploys a dedicated vCenter Server Instance, Configure ESXi hosts on vSAN Clusters and deploys NSX for networking.

When we create a VDI Workload Domain, cloud foundation deploys the VMware Horizon infrastructure required to support the VDI environment, it first provisions the Virtual Infrastructure workload domain with SDDC software stack and then deploys and configure Horizon stack for VDI environment on Virtual Infrastructure environment. As the deployment of the VDI workload domain is done on the base VI domain it contains other software components that support the VDI environment like (View Connection Server, Horizon Agent, Horizon View Administrator, View Composer.)

** SDDC Manager is used to create VI workload domain wherein we specify details with regards to the availability and performance, capacity and networking we are looking for the resources provisioned for the VI workload domain.

VMware Cloud Foundation Architecture Models

Now that we have a basic understanding of how VCF components are integrated together, let’s focus on VCF architecture models.

The Standard Architecture Model provides a dedicated management domain for all the management components of the Cloud Foundation. In the standard architecture model, the user workloads run in VI workload domain thus creating a separation between the management domain and VI Workload domains curated for user workloads. Standard architecture model targets medium to large deployments wherein the vCenter Server Instances run in linked mode with a maximum of 14 VI workload domains.

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The Consolidated Architecture Model is targeted to small scale deployments with six or fewer hosts wherein both the management and user workload domains run in the management domain and the isolation between the management domain and VI workload domain is provided with the help of vSphere resource pools.

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Image Courtesy – VMware


VMware Cloud Foundation provides us with a standard architecture based on VMware Validated Designs with the complete lifecycle automation of the entire stack, enabling the path to the hybrid cloud environment. With VMware Cloud Foundation SDDC Manager it’s a one-click upgrade, provisioning, configuration and deployment of (NSX, vSAN, vSphere) components thus enabling the enterprise to lower down the management overhead.

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Understanding VMware Cloud Foundation
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