Arif Altalib, VCF Director, Product Management
The rapid growth of VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) is opening up many more applications and use cases, which is driving demand to move the full stack compute power beyond the boundaries of the data center and out to the network edge. In order to scale, edge computing needs to leverage a consistent cloud operating model to the outermost layers of the network by moving compute power much closer to the data sources, consumers and endpoints. This is the impetus behind announcing these new VCF Remote Clusters configurations.
Many industry sectors including retail, manufacturing, energy, defense, public safety, logistics, transportation and healthcare are all driving demand for distributed compute processing outside of the data center, it’s no surprise that the product teams have seen a lot of customer demand for VCF running at remote office and edge locations. Beyond use cases for local compute processing at the edge and ROBO (Remote Office Branch Office) locations, there is a significant growth opportunity for edge compute driven by emerging technologies such as Telco 5G, Cloud Native Apps, machine learning, analytics, artificial intelligence, robotics and many more. These are only some of the requirements that led to the VCF Remote Cluster configurations that have recently completed field validation testing in customer locations as well as testing by the VMware Office of the CTO (OCTO) with support by the Dell Technologies Solution Innovation Lab as documented in this blog.
Figure 1: VCF Remote Clusters Deployment Model
What are VCF Remote Clusters?
VCF Remote Clusters are a feature that extend a VCF Workload Domain or a VCF cluster in order to operate at a site that is remote from the central VCF instance from which it is managed. VCF Remote Clusters takes the power of the existing VCF operational capabilities which are now delivered to edge locations to support widely distributed compute processing, managed from a central data center out to multiple remote locations. With VCF Remote Clusters, customers experience a consistent cloud operational model across the data center and the remote edge sites which are centrally managed from Cloud Foundation. All of the Cloud Foundation operational management can be administered from the central or the regional data center out to the remote sites. Central administration and management is an important aspect because:
- It eliminates the need for having technical or administrative support personnel at the remote locations resulting better efficiencies with much lower operating expenses.
- Edge compute processing also allows customers to comply with data locality requirements that are driven by local government regulations.
- VCF Remote Clusters establishes a means to standardize operations and centralize the administration and software updates to all of the remote locations.
Figure 2: Use Cases for VCF Remote Clusters
Remote Compute Cluster Characteristics
To deploy edge compute clusters properly, it’s important to be able to support the scale of widely distributed organizations in the most cost-effective manner. VCF Remote Clusters accomplishes this by extending the full-stack compute power to remote locations using smaller clusters to minimize cost and footprint. It is also important to be able to tolerate network latencies that may otherwise impact the performance and effectiveness of systems to support workloads for AI and IoT. VCF Remote Clusters places the HCI processing power as close to the endpoint device as possible to minimize latency.
Figure 3: VCF Remote Clusters Design Criteria
VCF Remote Clusters can operate with a minimum of 3 nodes and is currently limited to a maximum of 4 nodes. These edge clusters require network connections of 10Mbps or greater and can tolerate network latencies of up to 50msec. For those customers that have requirements outside of these latency requirements, you can contact your local VMware sales specialist and ask about our design partnership qualification programs.
There are several deployment options that are currently available for VCF Remote Clusters, which can be deployed as a workload domain with independent vCenter Servers or an Edge cluster with a central vCenter Server.
- VCF Remote Clusters Site Deployed as a Workload Domain.
Figure 4: VCF Remote Clusters Deployed as a Workload Domain
- VCF Remote Clusters Deployed as a Cluster
Figure 5: VCF Remote Clusters Deployed as an Edge Cluster
VCF Remote Clusters provides Cloud Foundation customers with the ability to extend the VCF operational capabilities to remote edge sites, delivering consistent infrastructure and consistent operations for many more use cases. By extending the full-stack HCI processing power as close to the data source as possible, VCF Remote Clusters fits into a number of advanced use cases that can be deployed at much lower costs than independent VCF instances.
To learn more about the technical capabilities of VCF 4.1 and VCF Remote Clusters, you can attend VMworld Session HCI 1678 in addition to checking the following blogs and resources. Stay tuned to this blog for additional updates to this exciting new VCF Remote Cluster capability.