Note: With the release of VCF 4.1 some things changed, please also read this article for the latest updates.
More than a year ago I published an article on VCF licensing, packaging and the bill of materials; this article was written with VCF 3.5 in mind. With VCF 4 available since April 2020, and the recent release of VCF 4.0.1 I decided to write an update on this topic.
Let’s first recall, what is VMware Cloud Foundation?
VMware Cloud Foundation is the hybrid cloud platform for managing VMs and orchestrating containers, built on full-stack hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) technology. With a single architecture that’s easy to deploy, VMware Cloud Foundation enables consistent, secure infrastructure and operations across private and public cloud. Increase enterprise agility and flexibility with the hybrid cloud that delivers it all.
VCF includes the latest and greatest solutions to build a Software Defined Datacenter (SDDC). The combination of solutions that are included in the platform is determined by the VCF edition (Starter, Standard, Advanced, Enterprise).
Note: Please always verify with a VMware Account Manager what licenses are required for your situation.
The exact product versions that are included in VCF are captured in the VCF Bill of Materials (BOM). Also check VMware KB 52520 for some additional information on the versions of the solutions that are included in VCF.
Let’s have a closer look at the VCF 4.0.1 BOM, available in the release notes:
In this list we see the Cloud Builder VM and SDDC Manager, both are required to deploy and manage VCF. Also included in the BOM are the vSphere components (vCenter & ESXi), vSAN, NSX-T Data Center and the vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager. The BOM only includes solutions that are deployed in an automated way by the Cloud Builder VM and/or SDDC Manager. vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager is deployed by the SDDC manager and on its turn used to deploy vRealize Automation 8.1, vRealize Operations 8.1 and vRealize Log Insight 8.1. You can also run VMware Horizon 7.12 on top of a VCF Workload Domain, although this is a manual installation.
The VCF edition determines the combination of solutions. VCF 4 comes in 4 editions: Starter, Standard, Advanced and Enterprise. This document details what is included in the different editions of VCF:
The vSphere add-on for Kubernetes is included in Standard, Advanced and Enterprise version of VCF. The Starter edition doesn’t include the vSphere add-on for Kubernetes. The vSphere add-on for Kubernetes allows you to enable the Workload Management feature in vSphere (read more about here and here), and also enables you to deploy Tanzu Kubernetes clusters (read about the different Tanzu Kubernetes Grid offerings here). Cloud Foundation is sold on a per CPU licensing metric. Notice that a vCenter Server license is required, but not included in the VCF license:
Each workload domain has one dedicated vCenter Server instance. Note: Only one vCenter Server license is needed per Cloud Foundation instance or 15 workload domains (source: questions/answer 36 in this document).
VCF Starter, Advanced and Enterprise include (vRealize) cloud management components, while the Standard edition only includes software defined infrastructure solutions (vSphere, vSAN, NSX – including the vSphere with K8S add-on).
The architecture of VCF is based on Management- and Workload Domains. You always start with a Management Domain of at least 4 nodes; the Management Domain is deployed during the “bring up”. After deploying the Management Domain, you can deploy one or more Workload Domains. Two architectures are supported by VCF:
- Consolidated Architecture – You will consolidate the Management and Workload domain in one architecture/domain. So your Management/Workload Domain will run both management workloads (e.g. vCenter, NSX Manager, vRealize components) and customer workloads.
- Standard Architecture – In a Standard Architecture management workloads runs on the Management Domain, while customer workloads run on one or more Workload Domains.
After you’ve deployed the Management Domain (that will run management workloads), you can deploy one or more Workload Domains that will run your workloads. Since VCF 4.0.1 it’s supported to enable vSphere with Kubernetes on the Management Domain and so you can leverage vSphere with Kubernetes in a Consolidated Architecture.
There are different deployment options for VCF. Private Cloud deployment options are:
- vSAN Ready Node – deploy VCF on a vSAN Ready Node, verify your configuration using the VMware Configuration Guide.
- Composable system, such as HPE Synergy and Dell PowerEdge MX.
- Jointly engineered system: Dell EMC VxRail.
You can also consume VCF “as a service” taking advantage of one of the Hybrid Cloud offerings:
- Consume a VMware Cloud through VMware Cloud on AWS.
- Take advantage of one of the offerings of our HyperScale partners: Azure VMware Solution, Google Cloud VMware Engine or Oracle Cloud VMware Solution.
- Consume VCF through one of VMware’s VCPP partners.
- Consume VCF through one of VMware’s SISO partners.
As you can see there are a lot of different options to run, consume and leverage VMware Cloud Foundation.
If you want to learn more, I would recommend to read the VCF FAQ, or visit the official VCF website at VMware.com.
I hope this was helpful, feel free to share your comments below.