The following post is entirely my opinion and does not reflect the opinions of my employer.
VMware Cloud Foundation is the latest iteration of what started as EVO:Rack and became EVO SDDC. With another big emphasis at VMworld 2016, VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) saw the product become generally available to external customers. In my role at VMware, I have been able to see the sausage made and been heavily involved in the VCF product. As such, I thought it the product going GA, now would be a good time to talk about some of the products strengths and weaknesses. If you are unfamiliar with the VCF product, I encourage you to read the publicly available white paper published in August 2016.
VMware Cloud Foundation started out as an entirely hardware-based platform for private cloud, but has now evolved to also include a software-based platform that can be used to provide a hybrid cloud offering (public + private). In the interest of full disclosure, my experience has been entirely with the hardware-based platform running on several Dell hardware platforms. The most interesting piece of the VCF platform was the initial discussion of VMware trying to solve the holy grail of running a private cloud — updating the entire VMware software stack. I believe every vSphere administrator has seen how difficult it is to upgrade all of the vSphere components running inside the software stack — and has only gotten more difficult when new technologies like NSX have been added. The VCF platform has worked to solve the complexities by including a SDDC software lifecycle management component.
The hardware stack includes several options for hardware vendors, the common thread being the use of hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) with the nodes being listed on the vSphere and Virtual SAN HCLs. The network stack includes a leaf-spine topology with some minor modifications to allow Virtual SAN clusters to span multiple racks.
The software stack includes what I would consider the full vSphere SDDC stack — vSphere (ESXi & vCenter), Virtual SAN, NSX, vRealize Operations and vRealize Log Insight. The SDDC Manager is a new component, unique to the VCF platform, that provides a unified interface for executing the workflows for deployment, installation and upgrades of the SDDC components. The SDDC Manager will become an interface for the vSphere administrator during the deployment of new hardware and upgrades of the VMware software.
So lets talk about the strengths, everyone likes those right?
No product, from any company, is ever perfect. So what weaknesses have I seen?
The above points do not merely cross one another off. The fact that the VCF team solved the problems of deployment and upgrades of the main SDDC components is a HUGE WIN for VMware! I think the hardest challenge is going to be convincing existing enterprise customers to incorporate existing VMware infrastructure with the VCF platform. I also do not think any of the current weaknesses are issues that cannot or will not be solved in future iterations of the platform.
I am looking to see how the VCF platform continues to evolve.