It is critically important when provisioning new infrastructure to consider the best practices and supported designs from the vendor to implement the technology in a way that is supported, performs well, and is stable. VMware has a set of design documents that allow customers to see the recommended way the VMware technologies are best implemented in the environment and how these technologies fit together from a total design perspective. This helps to eliminate issues that come from a poorly designed solution.

Typically, organizations today have either one or more locations where the VMware specific technologies would be implemented. Designing a solution to account for multiple datacenters and communications between them is also critically important. The VMware design documents are called VMware Validated Designs.

In this post, we will take a closer look at what is VMware Validated Design and use cases addressing specific business outcomes to examine more closely what they contain and take a look at a few of the areas they cover when provisioning VMware vSphere environments.

What is a VMware Validated Design?

VMware Validated Design covers solutions for data center designs that cover the areas of compute, storage, networking, and management. You can think of the VMware Validated Design, not as an exact mandate of every minute detail that you must follow in your design, but rather a guide or blueprint to help implement VMware’s Software-Defined Data Center SDDC solutions in the recommended way.

VMware Validated Designs are thoroughly tested by VMware to make sure that all components and individual versions work correctly together. This includes testing scaling and performance to ensure these are as expected. When comparing and contrasting VMware Validated Design with Reference Architectures, the VMware Validated Design implementations, do not focus on a specific vendor product but rather a holistic approach to designing VMware architecture in a full stack, regardless of the specific supported hardware or products used.

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Who are included in the primary intended audience of the VMware Validated Design?

The VMware Validated Design is intended for cloud architects, infrastructure administrators, cloud administrators and cloud operators who want to become familiar with the VMware Validated Design methodology and the recommended solutions to provisioning, managing, and architecting VMware solutions for the Software-Defined Data Center. By following the VVD guide, environments can be architected for meeting the demands of capacity, scalability, and BC/DR concerns using VMware technologies.

Obviously, the design requirements for serving out different sizes of workloads to different sized environments will vary from customer to customer. VMware takes these types of differences into consideration by providing three different VMware Validated Designs that helps to fit different types of implementation scenarios appropriately.

These three designs are as follows.

  • The first design is referred to as a “standard” implementation of the VMware Validated Design. This is a typical design scenario as it looks at implementing an SDDC design of a single or dual region data center architecture. The other implementations share elements with this first design such as the ROBO implementation
  • The ROBO implementation or Remote Office Branch Office implementation is a step further on the standard implementation in that it includes ROBO locations that do not require as many resources. This can include locations that are geographically separated but centralized management is desired. For a successful implementation of the ROBO design, you need to have the standard VMware Validated Design in place in the primary data center
  • The Consolidated SDDC implementation is the final VMware Validated Design that takes the standard implementation and consolidates the management and tenant workloads onto a single pod environment. This is generally a lower cost design and requires a smaller hardware footprint

Below, a look at the logical design of a VMware Validated Design SDDC, showing components, integrations, and flows.

VMware-Validated-Design

Logical view of the VMware Validated Design (image courtesy of VMware)

The design and purpose of the VMware Validated Design scenarios fits various business use cases that cover a wide range of supporting different business outcomes. There are many specific use cases that are addressed by the VMware Validated Designs including micro-segmentation, IT automation, and intelligent operations. However, in a broader sense, there are a number of use cases supported and optimized for many things such as integration, expansion, Day-2 operations, and future upgrades and updates just to name a few.

The VMware Validated Designs are updated as new product versions are released and these are tested with the holistic design. The designs are versioned also so you can differentiate between different versions of the Validated Design spec according to which product versions the design was tested with, etc.

The newest VMware Validated Design document at the time of this writing is version 4.3. It contains validated guidance using the following components and others.

VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus ESXi
vCenter Server Appliance
vSphere Update Manager
vSphere Replication
6.5 U2
6.5 U2
6.5 U2
6.5.1.3
VMware vSAN Standard or higher vSAN 6.6.1 U2
VMware NSX Data Center Advanced or higher NSX Data Center for vSphere 6.4.1
VMware vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager 1.2
VMware vRealize Operations Manager Advanced or higher vRealize Operations Manager 6.7

New Features in VMware Validated Design 4.3

The new VMware Validated Design version 4.3 contains a long list of new features and components that have been validated with this version of the document. Additional improvements and enhancements have also been made along the way. Please note the following:

  • The new and updated bill of materials (BOM) now includes vSphere 6.5 U2, vSAN 6.6.1 U2, NSX 6.4.1, vRealize Log Insight 4.6, vRealize Operations 6.7, vRealize Business 7.4, and vRealize Automation 7.4
  • New upgrade guidance is provided for the products listed in the bill of materials in the 4.3 version of the Validated Design for existing VVD 4.2 customers and it covers multi-availability zones and dual region deployments
  • vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager (vRSLCM) v1.2 is used to deploy the vRealize components in the Validated Design. It greatly simplifies the deployment of the VVD and can be used for the standard and consolidated versions of the designs
  • vRealize Automation appliance configuration is updated to support a three-node cluster and PostgreSQL automatic database failover. Existing two-node clusters can be easily upgraded to 3-node clusters by following the upgrade guide
  • NSX-T within a Compute Workload Domain document has been made available for early access. This includes the architecture and design guidance, with the detailed implementation guidance to follow at a later time
  • The SDDC Certification Tool is a VMware Fling that provides automation of the certification lifecycle outlined in the VMware Validated Design
  • The Consolidated SDDC design and deployment guidance has been made available alongside the core set of standard SDDC documents
  • The layout of the VMware Validated Design document has been reorganized and optimized which makes it much easier for customers to find the relevant information they are looking for throughout the document

Thoughts

Laying out the proper design and implementation of VMware vSphere components and integrations can be challenging for organizations building out infrastructure in one or more sites as well as implementing ROBO and consolidated designs of vSphere infrastructure. By leveraging the VMware Validated Design implementation, customers have access to a holistic look at the full VMware stack and how this should be implemented regardless of the hardware vendors and other infrastructure. This “blueprint” type approach allows customers to provision a thoroughly tested, well-designed full-stack VMware software-defined data center or SDDC without having to perform all the testing themselves as this Validated Design has already been put through the paces with the specified software solutions contained within the design. The VMware Validated Design is a versioned approach that spells out the entire process from planning to implementation, to Day-2 operations and other business-specific use cases that benefit from this methodology. By leveraging this approach, customers have all the tools and architecture completely thought through, designed, and tested beforehand so they can implement VMware solutions that are well-suited for capacity, performance, and scalability demands placed upon them by the business.

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