Note: This article was published with VCF 3.5 in mind. For an updated VCF 4 based post on this topic, please take a look here.
With more organizations looking at VMware Cloud Foundation as the standard deployment option for their Software Defined Datacenter, it’s time to have a closer look at the packaging & licensing options. Although this information is publicly available, it’s bit fragmented. In this article you will read the most important facts.
For those who don’t know VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF), let’s start with a short description of VCF:
VMware Cloud Foundation is a unified SDDC platform that brings together VMware vSphere, vSAN, NSX and optionally, vRealize Suite components, into a natively integrated stack to deliver enterprise-ready cloud infrastructure for the private and public cloud (source).
VCF consists of a “Bill of Materials” of different solutions that make up the SDDC. The BOM tells you what product versions are interoperable and deployed as part of a particular version (3.0, 3.5) of VCF. The VCF edition (Basic, Standard, Advanced, Enterprise) determines the solutions (vSphere, vSAN, NSX, vRealize solutions) that are in VCF. VCF describes how you should architect and deploy the platform following best practices from the VMware Validated Design (VVD). The VCF license (depending on the edition) is licensed per CPU socket, and is valid for the solution that are in the solution. Notice that the (required) vCenter Server license is not included in the VCF license, so should be acquired separately. You need one vCenter Server license for all the vCenter Server do you need to deploy within one VCF deployment (up to 15 vCenter Servers).
Note: Please always verify with a VMware Account Manager what licenses are required for your situation.
Let’s have a close look at the VCF 3.5 Bill of Materials (BOM) which provides which product versions are interoperable in version 3.5 of VCF.
Note: Although vRealize Network Insight is not included in this list, vRNI is included in VCF Standard, Advanced and Enterprise.
These products have gone through extensive interoperability testing, the combination of these versions is validated by VMware. The above list is an extract from the VCF 3.5 release notes, 3.5 is currently the latest version of VCF. VCF 3.5 is the first version that is based on vSphere 6.7. It’s also the first time that NSX-T is supported. Other enhancements include the support for vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager 2.0, and support for the latest version of the vRealize Suite components including vRealize Automation, Operations and LogInsight.
The VCF edition, determines what’s actually in VCF. At a minimum VCF Basic edition contains vSphere Enterprise Plus, vSAN Advanced and NSX Datacenter Professional. On top of this, VCF always includes the SDDC manager. This component is used to deploy the infrastructure components. The Standard, Advanced and Enterprise version of VCF include more advanced versions of both NSX Datacenter and vSAN. If you want to deploy a stretched cluster configuration, you will need VCF Enterprise which includes vSAN Enterprise. For a functional comparison of the different VCF versions take a look here.
Also note that vRealize Suite and vRealize Network Insight are added to VCF in the Standard, Advanced and Enterprise version. Depending on the VCF version you will just get the operations part of vRealize Suite (Standard edition), or the full featured automation and operations management stack.
VCF is licensed per CPU in a perpetual licensing model. The vCenter license (one is required) is sold separately. Because VCF follows the VVD, you will be facing Management- and Workload Domains in a VCF environment (this is concept that comes from the VVD). Each domain uses a dedicated vCenter Server, so you will probably have more than one vCenter Server in your environment, of course things depend a bit on the exact configuration. Although you will have more than one vCenter Server, only one vCenter Server license is sufficient.
VCF is following the VVD, but not everything that’s in the VVD is in VCF. The best practices are taken from the VVD, but on top of the VCF BOM and as a result you will get your integrated SDDC platform. VCF is deployed in an automated way using three components that are part of VCF:
- The Cloud Foundation Builder VM is used for the initial deployment and configuration of the Management Domain (MD). The Cloud Foundation Builder VM will bring up the following components: Platform Services Controller, vCenter Server, vSAN, vRealize Log Insight and NSX components. The Cloud Builder VM will do the initial configuration of your Management Domain that consists of one vCenter Server connected to a management cluster that will run most of the SDDC management components.
- The SDDC Manager is responsible for deploying your Workload Domains (WD). A WD is used to run the actual (customer) workloads. The SDDC manager is also used to deploy vRealize Suite components, such as vRealize Automation and vRealize Operations. Note that vRealize Log Insight is already deployed by the Cloud Foundation Builder VM.
- vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager is included in VCF and responsible for the deployment of vRealize components. SDDC manager will connect to vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager, you will set the deployment parameters for the vRealize components in the SDDC manager.
After you’ve completed these steps, you will have your full featured SDDC up and running. Of course these steps include a lot of details you will have to go through, I suggest you follow my colleague Markek Zdrojewski who is writing some detailed posts at defaultreasoning.com on the actual deployment proces.
Thanks for your great post. I see you made reference to vRealize Network Insight in your story but is seems to be missing in the overview table.
Thanks Niek voor de comment! Will update the article 🙂
Hi, Viktor. Thnx for post. It is very usefull info.
But, do you know is it possible to integrate two VCF workload domains with different VCF licensese (One is Standard and another one is Basic). I need to merge Basic Edition nodes to workload domain with Standard license.
More thnx for help.
Hi, you cannot mix VCF licenses in a WLD. You can use different VCF editions across a VCF deployment, but this is on a WLD level. I guess the approach would be something like: upgrade the basic licenses to standard, decommission the basic WLD and add the servers and workloads to the standard WLD. You can also use a “per server” approach here (remove one server, add it to the other WLD, move workloads, proceed with the next server). Please verify with your local VMware representatives to get an official statement.
Thank you very much!
So, as I understood, NSX DC licese upgrade to Advanced Edition must help me fix it.
Thanks a LOT
Do we need to use VCF licenses even for the VCF Management Domain or just vSphere Enterprise/Standard licenses will work for VCF Management Domain VM’s?
You will also need VCF licenses for the management domain, because this management domain is using vSphere/NSX/vSAN (and vRealize if applicable). Please always contact your local VMware account manager for an official statement :).