In the first of the “Meet the Engineer” series, we are speaking with Priyanka Tembey, a senior member of the technical staff on VMware Cloud Foundation, with primary responsibility over the SDDC Manager architecture and functionality.
Interviewer: What is your role on the VMware Cloud Foundation R&D team?
PRIYANKA: Within VMware Cloud Foundation, I look at the SDDC Manager component and the architecture for it, specifically how do we bootstrap the software-defined data center (SDDC) by bringing up VMware software ingredients.
Interviewer: For those who are new to VMware Cloud Foundation, what is the SDDC Manager?
PRIYANKA: The SDDC Manager provides a single pane of glass for users to bootstrap and manage a software-defined data center. It automates the Day 0 to Day N operations for the SDDC. The Day 0 operations include initial bringup, automating the workflows, bootstrapping the compute, storage and networking components of the SDDC, and setting up the management software, such as the vRealize Suite, that can work on top of Cloud Foundation. As for Day N operations, the SDDC Manager automates the patch and upgrade process for all the underlying Cloud Foundation components, such as vSphere, vSAN, and NSX. The SDDC Manager also provisions workload domains by carving out storage, compute, and network capacity into Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) workload domains.
Interviewer: Does SDDC Manager replace vCenter or the vRealize products?
PRIYANKA: No, the SDDC Manager compliments the tools you’re already familiar with such as vCenter or vRealize. The SDDC Manager manages the lifecycle of your cloud infrastructure stack from initial bring-up to configuration and provisioning of physical capacity to upgrades and updates. To manage your VMs, you would continue leveraging vCenter and to automate consumption of your software-defined infrastructure, you would continue leveraging vRealize Suite.
Interviewer: What challenges do you face technically in your work?
PRIYANKA: I think there are two aspects to this. For one, VMware has a very rich ecosystem of products and Cloud Foundation touches almost all of them. While I was already familiar with vSphere and vCenter, I had to learn about vSAN and NSX, which are deep technologies. Also, what we are trying to do is take a very customer-centric viewpoint and simplify building and managing the SDDC for the end customer. It would have been easy to learn about what the individual technologies do independently, but what we are trying to do here with SDDC Manager is solve a real challenge that customers face, which is using these products to build and manage an actual software-defined data center. We need to take care of the deployment and ongoing management challenges. As an example, for many of our customers today, building out an SDDC can take months or weeks, so we need to identify where we can optimize the experience.
Interviewer: In the most recent January release, what are some of the key changes?
PRIYANKA: In the recent release, some of the key updates include updated versions of the VMware infrastructure software stack and further improvements on the bring-up time for building out the SDDC stack. Also, we’ve reduced the minimum deployment size to 4 nodes with workloads deployed within the management cluster; this will make it easier for customers who either have smaller environments or are looking at a proof-of-concept prior to a larger deployment.
Interviewer: Looking forward a little bit, what are the key priorities or objectives from an R&D perspective?
PRIYANKA: Looking ahead, one of the main focuses is further integration with the rest of the VMware stack to solve more challenging automation problems such as bringing up vRA. The need to cater to varying configurations in on-premise customer deployments points to a need for greater flexibility and extensibility in bootstrapping and managing the SDDCs. The SDDC Manager is evolving to support more flexible deployments and SDDC management. Also, further enabling the public cloud side of Cloud Foundation – that is, SDDC Manager on top of IBM Softlayer, AWS and other vCAN partners – each cloud service provider has varying deployment requirements. Finally, evolving our support for workload domains and their capacity management remains a strong area of focus.
Interviewer: Priyanka, thank you for sharing your insights and work on Cloud Foundation.
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