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A common challenge faced by every IT department is keeping up with the inevitable and never-ending flow of software updates. This becomes even more critical in a modern Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC), where compute, network and storage virtualization are interwoven into a unified data center fabric. Special attention is needed to ensure that not only are security and bug fixes readily identified and tracked, but they are thoroughly tested and validated prior to implementing to ensure ongoing compatibility and interoperability. Not to mention the need to apply them in a timely manner and with minimal risk to the business.

To achieve this, VMware Cloud Foundation leverages the advanced automation capabilities of the VMware SDDC Manager. In this post, I’ll introduce you to the lifecycle management capabilities of VMware Cloud Foundation and show how the SDDC Manager makes it easy for you to keep up with the flow of software updates constantly streaming into your private cloud. By simplifying the update process, Cloud Foundation helps you keep your private cloud just as secure and up to date as your public cloud.

VMware Cloud Foundation Lifecycle Automation

Cloud Foundation combines the core SDDC building blocks of compute (vSphere), storage (vSAN) and network virtualization (NSX) into a first-of-its-kind engineered solution. Included in this solution is the SDDC Manager, which provides advanced lifecycle automation across the SDDC software stack. Cloud Foundation provides automation from the initial deployment of the software stack (day 0), to configuring the private cloud capacity and host user workloads (day 1), and tracking and applying software updates, or what is often referred to as lifecycle management (day 2). In this post, I am going to focus on that last step and show how Cloud Foundation makes it simple!

Cloud Foundation combines the software components that make up the SDDC into a software bill of materials (BOM). Before each release, VMware does extensive testing and validation across the BOM to ensure interoperability and compatibility across the full SDDC stack. As software updates become available that include patches (bug and security fixes) and upgrades (new features), they are also extensively tested and validated prior to release. Nothing is more frustrating than applying a software patch for one product and discovering that it actually breaks another product. We update the BOM and make a new software bundle available only after VMware conducts a successful validation of the software updates and their compatibility across the stack. The updated bundle is then posted to a VMware-hosted software depot and made available to the SDDC Manager running in your private cloud.

By default, the SDDC Manager is configured to check the VMware depot every 24 hours for new updates. When a new update bundle becomes available, it provides a notification to the cloud administrator, who can view details about the update and, when ready, download and apply the update.

The “Easy Button” for Lifecycle Management

Once the update arrives, it only takes a few clicks to download and apply the update to the private cloud. When downloading and applying updates, the SDDC manager:

• Automatically checks for updates and notifies you as they become available. You can choose which updates you want to apply and when.
• Applies updates at the workload domain level, allowing you to selectively update the infrastructure hosting your workloads.
• Enforces software dependencies. The SDDC manager ensures that software components are installed in the correct order and that dependencies are met.
• Coordinates the update process. The SDDC manager orchestrates workflows to apply the updates, taking care of any needed workload migrations and reboots in the background. It’s completely non-disruptive.
• Notifies you when the process is done.

With Cloud Foundation and the powerful lifecycle automation capabilities of the SDDC Manager, you can track and apply software updates across the SDDC stack with confidence. Because updates are always tested and validated against a standardized architecture before they are released, you can apply them with confidence to your private cloud that is running the same standardized architecture. With built-in notifications, you don’t have to worry about missing updates. And, because dependencies are enforced, you don’t need to keep track of the order in which updates need to be applied. Finally, when the entire process is fully automated, it’s easy for you to keep your private cloud up to date and free from known software bugs and security vulnerabilities.

Fear-Free Update Process

IT administrators and managers are busy and have long to-do lists, with many tasks that should have been done last year. Too often, they are forced to cut corners and skip applying software updates because of time constraints and risks like introducing problems or even breaking something. That doesn’t have to be the case. With VMware Cloud Foundation and the powerful lifecycle automation capabilities of the VMWare SDDC Manager, you will drastically simplify the way you manage software updates across your private cloud. In making it quick and easy for you to apply software updates, Cloud Foundation frees you up to tackle the other items on your to-do list, helping you become more efficient and more productive.

When you reach the end of your career, do you want to be the one who says, “I spent way too much time patching,” or do you want to be the one who says, “You know what? I found a way to implement a technology that was transformational, that helped make my business successful and beat the competitors”? I choose the second option.

Find out more about VMware Cloud Foundation 2.3 and how it can simplify lifecycle management.

Test drive Cloud Foundation 2.3 for free with the Hands-on Lab.