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Oracle Cloud VMware Solution Multi-Cloud

Oracle Cloud VMware Solution: Spring Release

New hardware, new features and new integrations with native Oracle Cloud and VMware, products and services

Oracle recently announced the Oracle Cloud VMware Solution (OCVS) Spring Release, with new hardware, new features and capabilities, as well as some really exciting integrations with both native Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) and VMware, products and services. You can read the Oracle post here, but in this post we’ll walk through the announcements and look at each in turn. Rest assured, we will be delving deeper into these new capabilities in future posts.

Here’s the high-level overview of what’s new for this season:

  • New OCVS ESXi host in the form of the AMD EPYC powered E4 Dense bare metal “shape” for memory-intensive and storage heavy VMware workloads
  • Shielded VMware Instances to help defend against ransomware attacks
  • OCVS ESXi host integration with OCI File Storage Services providing secondary storage which can scale to 8 exabytes
  • Integration with OCI Monitoring and Notification Services through Email, PagerDuty and Slack
  • Validation of VMware Site Recovery Manager™ and VMware vRealize® Cloud Management™ with OCVS
  • Validation of VMware Horizon® on OCVS
  • Validation of VMware Tanzu® Standard on OCVS

That’s quite the list, so let’s start working through it. First the new OCVS offerings, then the OCI integrations and finally the VMware products and services which are now validated for use with OCVS.

New OCVS hardware and capabilities

Greater choice and flexibility with the introduction of E4 Dense AMD Compute Shapes

Until now, OCVS has solely offered the Intel-based DenseIO2.52 bare metal shape. But one size doesn’t fit all, and the Spring Release sees the addition of new E4 Dense ESXi compute shapes, in three configurations. The AMD x86 EPYC-based hosts are available in 32-, 64- and 128-core configurations, with a base clock frequency of 2.55GHz and a max boost of up to 3.5GHz. With 256MB of L3 cache, this processor is ideally suited for certain workloads where smaller cache sizes can adversely impact performance.

All three configurations couple this with 2TB of RAM (yes, 2000GB!), 100 Gbps of network bandwidth and 54.4TB of raw NVMe internal storage, making these shapes great for memory intensive, high network throughput applications. Ideally suited for workloads like video streaming or AI/ML applications which typically require this level of performance, they can also, of course, consolidate larger, less demanding workloads, onto fewer hosts than might otherwise be possible. They could also make ideal hosts for virtual desktop workloads…

Shielded VMware Instances to help defend against ransomware attacks

Shielded OCVS ESXi host compute instances use a combination of Secure Boot and Trusted Platform Module (TPM) to ensure that the system is only booted from validated and authenticated software. By integrating this into the OCVS Provisioning Service new SDDCs can be provisioned with this feature enabled across all hosts in the cluster. Once enabled, the ESXi instance won’t load UEFI drivers or apps unless the operating system’s bootloader is cryptographically signed, and only digitally signed vSphere Installation Bundles (VIBs) can be installed. When configured in your OCVS environment, the TPM 2.0 chips in each host attest to the integrity of the platform, and you can view this attestation status of the host in the vSphere Client.

By reducing the attack surface of the environment and restricting the ability of malware to execute non-cryptographically signed code on the hosts, we add one more defensive layer against ransomware. You can read more about ESXi Secure Boot on the VMware product page here, and its implementation in OCVS in the Oracle blog post here.

New integrations with native OCI services

Integration with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure File Storage Services

It’s possible to argue that storage isn’t always the most exciting topic, but it is vitally important. No matter how awesome the compute platform is, without performant, scalable storage, the user-experience won’t win the architect any prizes, in fact often, quite the opposite! Fortunately, OCVS hosts provide high performance storage, with a three-node cluster offering over 120TB of fast, useable vSAN storage. But what is the answer for those really storage heavy applications? Adding more hosts to increase the available storage when the additional compute capacity they bring is unnecessary is an expensing option when all that is needed is storage, and that’s where the OCI File Storage Services can help.

Working closely together, Oracle and VMware have validated presenting OCI’s highly performant, available and scalable storage service to OCVS ESXi hosts as an Network File System version 3.0 (NFSv3) presented datastore. Mixing the flexibility of fully customer managed OCVS with the ability to extend storage to the scale offered by the File Storage System enables customers to host even more of their most demanding applications on the platform. You can read more about the resilience, security and operation of the service here and its use with OCVS in this blog post.

OCI Monitoring and Notification Service Using Email, PagerDuty and Slack

Being able to bring existing on-premises operations, management and monitoring tools to manage OCVS instances is one less major headache on the journey to a hybrid multi-cloud solution. But there’s a layer of hardware beneath OCVS in the form of the bare-metal hosts. We use the OMM tools to keep an eye on things because, as Sheryl Sage so rightly says in the original Oracle blog post, we want to “expect the best, and plan for the worst”. Part of that planning for the worst is of course, finding out, promptly, when things are not as they should be.

As part of the OCVS SDDC provisioning, OCI Infrastructure Health Monitoring is established for the OCVS bare-metal hosts. Using OCI Observability Service, administrators can set up bespoke alarms and notifications based upon the infrastructure metrics. These alarms can operate in parallel with existing tools, or, thanks to the service’s comprehensive integration capabilities, “hook” right into them. You can read more about OCI Infrastructure Health Monitoring and the key oci_compute_intfrastructure_health metric here, the Monitoring and notification services here and, as a bonus third link, you can read more about those notification integrations over in the Oracle Developers’ blog here.

New validated VMware product and services integrations

In this final section we’ll look at the VMware products and services which have been validated against OCVS. We validate one VMware product or service against another, the OCVS SDDC in this case, not just technically, but to ensure Oracle and VMware customers get the best experience as they purchase, deploy, operate and receive support on these products and services.

In this release we’re excited to announce the following VMware products and services have completed their validation with Oracle Cloud VMware Solution.

VMware Disaster Recovery with Site Recovery Manager

Site Recovery Manager is the product VMware customers should deploy and then hope they never need to use for real (recovery testing is fine, and should be carried out regularly, of course). It can be used to protect on-prem workloads to and from OCVS as well as between OCVS locations. You can read much more about Site Recovery Manager with OCVS over on Cato Grace’s blog post here, and the Oracle Site Recovery Manager on OCVS Playbook here. Site Recovery Manager for OCVS is included in the “Site Recover Manager for Hyperscalers” license and if you happened to be looking for a Solution Overview, you might just want to take a look here.

vRealize Cloud Management

Deploying an OCVS SDDC in any one of the (at the time of writing) 37 global OCI cloud Regions, is quick and relatively simple. Managing a deployment of Cloud resources across multiple global locations is, well, less so. That’s where the vRealize Cloud Management suite of products comes in. Now fully supported, the following products can be used with OCVS:

  • vRealize Operations Cloud
  • vRealize Automation Cloud
  • vRealize Log Insight Cloud
  • vRealize Network Insight Cloud

There’s so much in the vRealize Cloud Management suite that it deserves a post all to itself, and, thanks to Lefteris Marakas, you can read exactly that, here.

VMware Horizon on OCVS

Deploying VMware Horizon on OCVS takes the virtual desktop to the Cloud while retaining the familiar look and feel of an on-prem deployment. Using the advanced networking capabilities which underpin Oracle Cloud Infrastructure allows us to maximize the performance of the OCVS SDDC. Coupling this with the specs and performance of the new AMD EPYC bare-metal ESXi hosts we saw earlier creates an ideal environment for resilient, cloud-hosted desktops and applications to support users in scale-out, infrastructure refresh/replacement, or net-new scenarios. We’ve already seen lots of interest in running VMware Horizon on OCVS, and a number of customers have been doing exactly that during out Technical Preview phase. You can read more about the components, features and version which are now fully supported in Knowledge Base article KB 88202.

This is also another huge topic, so watch out for more on this over on Tech Zone as well as here on the VMware Cloud blog where, over the coming weeks, you’ll see a reference architecture, deployment methodology and discussion of scaling deployments to support larger desktop estates.

VMware Tanzu Standard edition on OCVS

Last but by no means least, the validation of VMware Tanzu Standard edition brings multi-cloud Kubernetes to Oracle Cloud VMware Solution extending customers’ ability to realize the benefits of running and managing Kubernetes at scale, consistently and efficiently from on-premises to Oracle Cloud VMware Solution. Just as application modernization is not a simple, single-step process, this support of Tanzu on Oracle Cloud is only the first step, and we’re already working on more.

You can learn much more about VMware Tanzu Standard edition at tanzu.vmware.com and more on the integration of OCI networking with Tanzu on OCVS in future blog posts here on the VMware Cloud blog.

That’s a wrap!

Things have been pretty busy behind the scenes getting the elements in this release together, but there’s no time to rest, so it’s back to work for the teams at Oracle and VMware to bring even more capabilities and integrations to help customers on their multi-cloud journeys. While we get on with that, the teams will, of course, be supporting our joint customers as they take advantage of the new features in this release and use them to migrate even broader types of workloads to OCVS.

Post Updated: 2022/05/10 – Additional Horizon links added.