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VMware Validated Design for SDDC 3.0 – Now Available!

Jonathan McDonaldBy Jonathan McDonald

I mentioned all the fun details on the VMware Validated Design in my previous blog post. I am happy to report that we have just released the next revision of it, version 3.0. This takes what everyone already knew and loved about the previous version—and made it better!

In case you have not heard of VMware Validated Designs, they are a construct used to build a reference design that:

  • Is built by expert architects who have many years of experience with the products, as well as integrations
  • Allows repeatable deployment of the end solution, which has been tested to scale
  • Integrates with the development cycle, so that if an issue is identified with the integrations and scale testing, it can be quickly identified and fixed by the developers before the products are released

All in all, this is an amazing project that I am excited to have worked on, and I am happy to finally talk about it publicly!

What’s New with the VMware Validated Design for SDDC 3.0?

There are quite a lot of changes in this version of the design. I am not going to go into every detail in this blog, but here is an overview of the major ones:

  • Full Dual Region Support—Previously, in the VMware Validated Design, although there was mention made of having dual sites, there was only implementation guidance for a single site. In this release we have full guidance and support on configuring a dual region environment.
  • Disaster Recovery Guidance—With the addition of dual region support, guidance is needed for disaster recovery. This includes installation, configuration, and operational guidance for VMware Site Recovery Manager, and vSphere Replication. Operationally, plans are created to not only allow for failover and failback of the management components between sites, but also to test these plans as well.
  • Reduced minimum footprint with a 2-pod design —In the prior versions of the VMware Validated design, we focused on a 3-pod architecture. This architecture used 12 ESXi hosts as a minimum recommended architecture:
    • 4 for management
    • 4 for compute
    • 4 for the NSX Edge cluster

In this release the default configuration is to use a 2-pod design which collapses the compute and Edge clusters. This allows for the minimum footprint to be 8 ESXi hosts:

  • 4 for management
  • 4 for shared Edge and compute functions

This marks a significant reduction in size for small or proof-of-concept installations, which can be later expanded to a full 3-pod design if required.

  • Updated bill of materials—The bill of materials has been updated to include new versions of many software components, including NSX for vSphere and vRealize Log Insight. In addition, Site Recovery Manager and vSphere Replication have been added to support the new design.
  • Upgrade Guidance—As a result of the upgraded bill of materials, guidance has been provided for any component which needs upgrading as a result of this revision. This guidance will continue to grow as products are released and incorporated into the design.

The good news is that the actual architecture has not changed significantly. As always, if a particular component design does not fit the business or technical requirements for whatever reason, it can be swapped out for another similar component. Remember, the VMware Validated Design for SDDC is one way of putting an architecture together that has been rigorously tested to ensure stability, scalability, and compatibility. Our design has been created to ensure the desired outcome will be achieved in a scalable and supported fashion.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at some of the changes.

Virtualized Infrastructure

The SDDC virtual infrastructure has not changed significantly. Each site consists of a single region, which can be expanded. Each region includes:

  • A management pod
  • A shared edge and compute pod
    jmcdonald_compute-management-pod

This is a standard design practice that has been tested in many customer environments. The following is the purpose of each pod.

Management Pod

Management pods run the virtual machines that manage the SDDC. These virtual machines host:

  • vCenter Server
  • NSX Manager
  • NSX Controller
  • vRealize Operations
  • vRealize Log Insight
  • vRealize Automation
  • Site Recovery Manager
  • And other shared management components

All management, monitoring, and infrastructure services are provisioned to a vCenter Server High Availability cluster which provides high availability for these critical services. Permissions on the management cluster limit access to only administrators. This limitation protects the virtual machines that are running the management, monitoring, and infrastructure services.

Shared Edge and Compute Pod

The shared edge and compute pod runs the required NSX services to enable north-south routing between the SDDC and the external network and east-west routing inside the SDDC. This pod also hosts the SDDC tenant virtual machines (sometimes referred to as workloads or payloads). As the SDDC grows, additional compute-only pods can be added to support a mix of different types of workloads for different types of SLAs.

Disaster Recovery and Data Protection

Nobody wants a disaster to occur, but in the worst case in case something does happen, you need to be prepared. The VMware Validated Design for SDDC 3.0, includes guidance on using VMware Products and technologies for both data protection and disaster recovery.

Data Protection Architecture

VMware Data protection is used as a backup solution for the architecture. It allows the virtual machines involved in the solution to be backed up and restored. This allows you to meet many company policies for recovery as well as data retention. The design goes across both regions, and looks as follows:

jmcdonald_vsphere-data-protection

Disaster Recovery

In addition to back ups, the design includes guidance on using Site Recovery Manager to back up the configuration. This includes a design that is used for both regions, and includes guidance on using vSphere Replication to replicate the data between sites. It also details how to create protection groups as well as recovery plans to ensure the management components are failed over between sites, including vRealize Automation and vRealize Operations Manager VMs where appropriate.

The architecture is shown as follows:
jmcdonald_vrealize-replicated

The Cloud

Of course, no SDDC is complete without a cloud platform and the design still includes familiar guidance on installation of the cloud components as well. vRealize Automation is definitely a part of the design and has not significantly changed, other than adding multiple region support. It is a big piece but I did want to show the conceptual design of the architecture here because it provides a high level overview of the components, user types, and operations in workload provisioning.

jmcdonald_workload-provisioning-end-user

The beauty here is that the design has been tried and tested to scale in the Validated design. This will allow for issues to be identified and fixed before the platform has been deployed.

Monitoring and Operational Procedures

Finally, last but not least, what design is complete without proper monitoring and operational procedures? The VMware Validated Design for SDDC includes a great design for both vRealize Operations Manager as well as vRealize Log Insight. In addition, it also goes into all the different practices for being able to backup, restore, and operate the actual cloud that has been built. It doesn’t go as far as a formal operational transformation for the business, but it does a great job of showing many standard practices can be used as a basis for defining what you—as a business owner—need in order to operate a cloud.

To show a bit of the design, vRealize Operations Manager contains functional elements that collaborate for data analysis and storage, and supports the creation of clusters of nodes with different roles:

jmcdonald_remote-collector

Overall, this is a really powerful platform that revolutionizes the way that you see the environment.

Download It Now!

Hopefully, this overview of the changes in the new VMware Validated Design for SDDC 3.0 has been useful. There is much more to the design than just the few items I’ve told you about in this blog, so I encourage you to check out the Validated Designs webpage for more details.

In addition—if you are interested—VMware Professional Services are available to help with the installation and configuration of a VMware Validated Design as well.

I hope this helps you in your architectural design discussions to show that integration stories are not only possible, but can make your experience deploying an SDDC much easier.

Look for myself and other folks from the Professional Services Engineering team and Integrated Systems Business Unit from VMware at VMworld Europe. We are happy to answer any questions you have about VMware Validated Designs!


Jonathan McDonald is a Technical Solutions Architect for the Professional Services Engineering team. He currently specializes in developing architecture designs for core Virtualization, and Software-Defined Storage, as well as providing best practices for upgrading and health checks for vSphere environments