Build Next Gen Apps Cloud Migration VMware Cloud on AWS

VMware Cloud on AWS Operations Blog Series – Part 3

VMware Cloud on AWS brings VMware’s enterprise class Software-Defined Data Center software to the AWS Cloud, and enables customers to run production applications across vSphere-based private, public and hybrid cloud environments. Delivered, sold and supported by VMware as an on-demand service, customers can also leverage AWS’s breadth of services including storage, databases, analytics and more.

IT teams manage their cloud-based resources with familiar VMware tools – without the hassles of learning new skills or utilizing new tools. However, administrative responsibilities for the vSphere cluster deployed as part of the Cloud Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) will be shared between the VMware Cloud on AWS service and the on-premises administrator.

This blog series will describe the differences between running the VMware SDDC software on-premises vs. in VMware Cloud on AWS, and will go over the new operation model that administrators will need to adopt when using this service.

VMware Cloud on AWS Operations: Part 1, Host Configuration
VMware Cloud on AWS Operations: Part 2, Administration

Customers are free to consume the available cluster resources to their likings. The can decide how many virtual machines to run inside the cluster. Virtual machines storage policies determine the fault tolerant method of the virtual machine data and the degree of storage capacity consumption. A default resource pool is created at the same level as the management virtual machines resource pool and supports child resource pools. The customer cloud administrator has full virtual machine and resource pool permission to configure the resource pools to align with their business requirements. The customer cloud administrator can create, edit and delete virtual machines.

The Cloud SDDC contains a group of virtual machine folders. By default, Workload VMs are provisioned in the folder “Workloads”.

Virtual Machine Compatibility
Virtual Machines provisioned in Cloud SDDC with a hardware version 13 configuration. This can impact hybrid cloud operations if the on-premises SDDC cluster containing hosts running ESXi 6.0 or older.

Content Library
vCenter Content Library is the perfect service to keep the availability of OVA, ISO images and scripts in sync between on-premises and Cloud SDDC deployments. Template support will be added in a future release. The customer cloud administrator has full permissions to manage the Content Library. The recommended setup during on boarding of VMware Cloud on AWS is to use on-premises Content Library and publish the content to the Cloud SDDC. The Cloud SDDC acts as a subscriber to the on-premises Content Library.

Cold Migration
Cold Migration is available to migrate workloads between on-premises environments and the Cloud SDDC without reformatting the virtual machine. Cold Migration involves powering down the virtual machine for the duration of the migration process. The lead time of the migration process depends on the available bandwidth and the file size of the virtual machine. After the virtual machine is powered down, use the migration wizard in vCenter to migrate the virtual machine to the Cloud SDDC. Hybrid Linked mode must be set-up in able to select the Cloud SDDC cluster as a destination. Live Migration with vMotion is not available in Initial Availability of VMware Cloud on AWS. Please note that the firewall rules must be configured to allow inbound and outbound connectivity with the on-premises vCenter and ESXi hosts.

Service Lifecycle
VMware Cloud on AWS is a service and as a result VMware handles all patching. The customer cloud administrator does not have access to patch or upgrade the underlying infrastructure. VMware has developed automated workflows that are optimized for managing many Cloud SDDCs at scale. Wherever sensible, existing components, such as VUM, are leveraged as components of the overall management framework. This is largely transparent to customers using the VMware Cloud on AWS service.

SDDC Version Control
The version of ESXi that makes up the foundation of your SDDC on VMware Cloud on AWS is a variant of the traditional vSphere release, but completely compatible from the application point of view. ESXi running on VMware Cloud on AWS may have a more frequent update cadence so that customers can take advantage of regular service enhancements. VMware controls the ESXi and component versions. There are no plans to offer customer-selectable version options for the underlying infrastructure components. This consistency enables VMware to operate at scale.

VM Tools Version Control
VMware will provide installers for a designated release of VMware Tools for all supported guest operating systems, and will update those from time to time. The customer cloud administrators will have the option of specifying their own repository of VMware Tools installers so that a particular release can be standardized between on-premises and VMware Cloud on AWS. This configuration will be available through a new documented API.

Maintenance Windows
When the Cloud SDDC is scheduled for updating, a one-week window is presented to the customer cloud administrator. This notification is sent via a series of emails and a banner is also displayed on the VMware Cloud on AWS portal. The customer cloud administrator has the option to have the update begin immediately or schedule the update to begin at a particular time during the upcoming week. Workloads are able to continue to run during Cloud SDDC software updates.

ESXi Host Patching
When VMware Cloud on AWS hosts are patched, vMotion enables zero-downtime migration of virtual machines so that these updates can be executed transparently. Customers are not required to maintain N+1 capacity – the upgrade workflow will automatically provision additional resources as needed in order to support the customer applications without negatively impacting performance. At initial availability of the VMware Cloud on AWS service an additional ESXi host is provisioned to avoid ESXi host resource reduction during maintenance operations. Data is not evacuated during maintenance operations to avoid performance regression and bandwidth consumption.

Management Components Patching
All elements of the SDDC are considered when implementing update workflows. Dependencies, such as vCenter Server updates, are all resolved and executed as part of an overall maintenance workflow. Customers can expect short periods of service unavailability due to the nature of certain types of upgrades, but none of these will impact the availability of virtual machines and applications running on VMware Cloud on AWS.

Whenever a Cloud SDDC update is scheduled, an advanced maintenance notification email is sent to the customer. This maintenance notification can be expected usually one week ahead for regular updates. In case of an emergency update, a notification email is sent one to two days ahead of the scheduled update.

When the maintenance begins, a notification is sent and the control plane process is initiated. During the control plane update it is possible that vCenter is not available for customer connections. Once the control plane update is complete a notification is sent to the customer and the data plane update begins. As mentioned, an additional host is added to the cluster to maintain the same level of host resources. Once the data plane update is complete, a notification is sent to the customer.

Maintenance Cadence
Due to the nature of software updates, this can and will be done on an as-needed basis. For planning purposes, VMware anticipates monthly updates to infrastructure during the initial availability, and expects to transition to quarterly updates as the service matures.


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