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Today, VMware announced VMware Cloud Foundation™ 4 during the App Modernization in a Multi-Cloud World online launch event.  VMware Cloud Foundation 4 brings together the latest innovations in VMware vSphere 7, VMware vSAN 7, VMware NSX-T, and VMware vRealize Suite 2019, along with new capabilities from VMware Tanzu to support Kubernetes, cloud-native architectures and app transformation in your business.

VMware Cloud Foundation has already been shown to reduce TCO for organizations that build their hybrid cloud on the VMware Cloud Foundation platform¹.  By delivering enterprise agility, reliability, and efficiency from initial deployment through Day 2 operations, Cloud Foundation helps you to deploy the full HCI stack as the foundation of your private cloud.

Complexity of Modern AppsWe know that modern applications are rapidly evolving.  They are being deployed more often and are needed faster to meet line of business objectives.  Modern apps can be built using a combination of VMs, containers, microservices and serverless functions.  As such, a hybrid cloud platform that only supports virtual machines is insufficient to meet the needs of today’s applications.

VMware Cloud Foundation 4 brings full-stack integration of the HCI infrastructure layer together with native Kubernetes capabilities built into the stack to provide an automated, turnkey hybrid cloud solution that will help you manage complex Kubernetes environments, deliver a developer experience that greatly reduces risk and increases IT operational efficiency.

By consolidating Kubernetes clusters & VM workloads on the Cloud Foundation platform – managed with existing vSphere tools, processes and skillsets – customers will recognize improved economics.  That same platform can extend across the Hybrid Cloud to deliver the portability of vSphere-based workloads to modern apps.

VMware Cloud Foundation 4 adds a new component to the full HCI stack – VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid.  With Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, developers can manage consistent, compliant and conformant Kubernetes clusters running on vSphere through Kubernetes tools and restful APIs.  At the same time, vSphere 7 with Kubernetes (previously known as ‘Project Pacific’) will deliver hybrid infrastructure services, all accessible through Kubernetes and RESTful APIs, including:

  • vSphere Pod Service extends Kubernetes with the ability to run pods directly on the hypervisor. When developers deploy containers using the vSphere Pod service, they get the same level of security isolation, performance guarantees and management capabilities that VMs enjoy.
  • Registry Service allows developers to store, manage and better secure Docker and OCI images using Harbor.
  • Network Service allows developers to manage Virtual Routers, Load Balancers, and Firewall Rules.
  • Storage Service allows developers to manage persistent disks for use with containers, Kubernetes and virtual machines

Together with vSAN 7, NSX-T and vRealize Suite 2019, Tanzu Kubernetes Grid and vSphere 7 with Kubernetes deliver a new level of consistency in infrastructure and operations across hybrid clouds.

Learn more about how Cloud Foundation 4 delivers Kubernetes at scale here: http://blogs.vmware.com/cloud-foundation/2020/03/10/delivering-kubernetes-at-cloud-scale-with-vmware-cloud-foundation-4.

Modern App Storage, Networking and Management – Built Into the Platform

Running containers side-by-side with VMs, with complete Kubernetes orchestration integrated into the stack is an important new capability.  With Cloud Foundation 4, support for modern apps doesn’t stop with simply running container-based workloads; storage and networking services are also enhanced to deliver cloud-native capabilities to modern app workloads.

In vSAN 7, VMware integrates file services to vSAN, enabling ease of management for lightweight applications that require combined block and file storage, test and dev environments and cloud-native applications. Admins can quickly provision and configure file services VMs in a single workflow.  Additionally, customers get the benefit of scaling out files instead of existing solutions today, which require large, upfront purchases and large scale-up buys. vSAN reduces the complexity of capacity planning with scale-out architecture as well.

vSAN 7 will start with the NFS 4.1 and 3 protocols. NFS 4.1 is used by many cloud-native applications, and NFS 3 is the most common NFS protocol in use.  vSAN file shares receive critical data services similar to other storage objects in vSAN, including: high availability, encryption, granular policy-based management, and elastic scalability.

The addition of file services to vSAN 7 complements the native control plane for container persistent storage that was introduced with vSAN 6.7 Update 3.  vSAN’s cloud-native storage supports all key storage API objects within Kubernetes. It also offers admins granular visibility into container volumes, empowering the administrator to quickly and easily control, monitor health and compliance information on a container volume basis.  These vSAN advancements enable stateful containerized workloads to be deployed on Supervisor and Guest clusters on vSAN datastores within Cloud Foundation workload domains.

VMware Cloud Foundation 4 also brings the latest innovations in VMware NSX-T to the platform.  In this release, NSX-T becomes standard in both the workload and management domains resulting in reduced operational overhead related to managing both NSX-V and NSX-T.  NSX has been designed-in as the default pod networking solution for VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid. NSX provides a rich set of networking capabilities to Tanzu Kubernetes Grid including distributing switching and routing, distributed firewalling, load balancing, and more.  Integrations with Kubernetes enable context-aware security policies with namespace isolation. Native integration with Cluster API helps to create load balancers making it easier to publish applications outside of the cluster.

Finally, VMware Cloud Foundation 4 brings with it support for vRealize Suite 2019’s most recent updates.  vRealize Automation 8.1 provides enhanced support for NSX-T to enable customers to implement Network Automation, and integration with vSphere with Kubernetes to help automate the management of supervisor Kubernetes clusters.  vRealize Operations 8.1 will enhance capabilities for performance, capacity, configuration and compliance management, and will extend to managing containers on vSphere 7 with Kubernetes.  vRealize Log Insight 8.1 also supports vSphere 7 with Kubernetes to extend operational visibility and intelligent analytics for better troubleshooting and security across Cloud Foundation-based clouds.  vRealize Network Insight 5.2 brings enhanced application discovery and troubleshooting, a new NSX-T Manager topology and dashboard to give you quick insights into your NSX-T deployment, VMware Cloud on AWS dashboard enhancements, and enhanced support for modern applications through Kubernetes Service topology and dashboards to give you quick insights into your Kubernetes Services, as well as new out-of-the-box Kubernetes events.  Cloud Foundation’s SDDC Manager and vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager 8.1 work together to keep the entire SDDC stack updated through automated workflows.

By combining the latest innovations found in vSphere 7 with Kubernetes, vSAN 7, NSX-T, and vRealize Suite 2019, Cloud Foundation 4 offers a compelling hybrid cloud platform that simplifies and accelerates the deployment of infrastructure that has been architected to meet the demands of modern applications.

Lifecycle Management Goes Deep

Previous versions of Cloud Foundation have simplified lifecycle management operations by enabling patching and updating of the core components of the VMware software stack at the Workload Domain level. In this release of Cloud Foundation, we’re introducing the integration of vSphere Lifecycle Manager (vLCM), a component of vSphere 7.  vLCM complements the capabilities already found in Cloud Foundation’s SDDC Manager by offering integration deeper into the stack with firmware management for qualified vSAN ReadyNodes.  vLCM will automatically validate the HBA firmware is on the hardware compatibility list, giving admins confidence that their updates will be successful before applying updates to match the defined desired state.  Integration with vLCM will further simplify lifecycle management of the full stack, including vSAN ReadyNode hardware, through Cloud Foundation.  At launch, Dell PowerEdge 14G and HPE Proliant Gen10 hardware are supported for vLCM-based updating.  Lenovo intends to support vLCM capabilities in the future.

Next Steps

VMware Cloud Foundation 4 is a significant evolution of our hybrid cloud platform, delivering a converged platform for both VMs and containers through the integration of vSphere with Kubernetes, vSAN 7, NSX-T and vRealize Suite 2019.  This evolution will help you shift towards application-centric management and help you adopt a cloud operating model for your IT environment, preparing you for a hybrid cloud rich with modern applications ready to meet the needs of your organization.   To learn more about VMware Cloud Foundation 4, visit https://www.vmware.com/products/cloud-foundation.html.

¹When Comparing Cloud Alternatives, For the Best TCO Leverage VMware Cloud Foundation, Taneja Group research, April 2019