The VMware Cloud Foundation platform includes a management stack, which includes several virtual appliances for handling the automation and SDDC lifecycle management of the platform. The virtual appliances will be deployed inside the management cluster before the VCF rack is shipped to the customer.
The VCF management stack include:
The following diagram is a logical representation of the VCF management stack.
The platform creates a private, non-routable VLAN within the network to communication between the management virtual appliances. This network is used for all of the backend network communication.
These VMs are managed by the VCF platform and should not be modified in any manner. Modifying the VMs in any manner will have dire consequences on the platform and may prevent it from operating as intended.
The vRack Manager is the primary interface the user will deal with. The GUI HTTP server runs on this virtual appliance, including all of the workflows for creating, modifying and deleting workload domains within VCF. I have seen the VRM become unresponsive entirely or the GUI become painfully slow when interacting with it — a reboot of the virtual appliance has solved these issues when they have occurred.
In addition to the VCF management stack, the first rack of VCF hardware will also include vCenter Server, a Platform Services Controller, NSX Manager, a set of NSX Controllers, vRealize Operations virtual appliance and a vRealize Log Insight virtual appliance. It is important to take these virtual appliances into consideration when performing sizing calculations for the environment.
This management stack only exists on the first management cluster created on the first physical rack of VCF. The additional management stacks created in subsequent physical racks will leverage these same virtual appliances for their operations. The additional management clusters will only include a VRM, vCenter Server, NSX Manager and NSA controllers.
Update: VMware released a VMware Cloud Foundation Architecture Poster, which can be downloaded here in PDF form.
Note – this information is accurate as of November 2016 and may be subject to change based on future VMware Cloud Foundation platform changes.