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Understand and deploy IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions

The IBM-VMware partnership has provided a platform for admins committed to VMware technologies who also require cloud benefits such as such as scalability and fast provisioning.

IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions streamlines and automates many VMware deployment and management processes typical in virtualized infrastructures, and it also offers many benefits and services available to IBM Cloud users. IBM and VMware forged a partnership to create this product, and it has provided IT administrators with the advantages of both IBM's Cloud and VMware's native services. Admins who deploy the platform receive full access to the VMware stack, which offers them a level of control consistent with a VMware on-premises implementation.

In the fall of 2016, IBM and VMware released IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions, an IBM Cloud offering that provides deployment and management services for VMware virtualized environments. Since its release, nearly 2,000 organizations have implemented IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions across IBM's global network of 35 cloud data centers.

Admins can also deploy the platform in a hybrid configuration that spans both their own private clouds and the IBM Cloud, which helps address high-availability, back-up and disaster recovery requirements. IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions installs VMware components such as vSphere, vCenter Server, NSX and vSAN in an IBM Cloud deployment on single-tenant IBM Bluemix bare-metal servers. This ensures greater security and control over the environment.

Dig into IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions

IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions features several components. For example, when admins provision a new instance, IBM Cloud deploys CloudBuilder, a temporary virtual server assistant that can install and provision several VMware components, virtual LANs (vLANs) and other IBM services such as CloudDriver, and can validate the environment once it deploys these components. After IBM Cloud completes these operations, the platform deletes the virtual server assistant.

CloudDriver is another temporary virtual server assistant that performs post-installation operations on an instance. IBM Cloud deploys CloudDriver to configure or remove components such as hosts, clusters, storage or services.

IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions provides a management console for configuring, maintaining and monitoring the VMware environment.

IBM Cloud then deploys the VMware components that drive the virtualization environment, which include VMware vSphere for the compute resources, VMware NSX for the network resources and, in some cases, VMware vSAN for the storage resources. The platform installs a vSphere hypervisor on all server instances, which runs directly on bare metal. IBM Cloud can deploy components such as vCenter Server Appliance and NSX Manager, as well as multiple instances of NSX Controller and NSX Edge Services Gateway, to ensure simple and consistent management.

In addition, IBM Cloud implements three vLANs: one public and two private. Each vLAN connects to dual 10 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. The platform uses the public vLAN primarily to support deployed workloads. The first private vLAN facilitates management communications and NSX services. The second private vLAN handles vMotion and Network File System (NFS) storage traffic.

IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions supports both vSAN and NFS storage. If admins choose to use vSAN, they must also specify the size and number of vSAN flash disks. If admins go with NFS, they must choose the size, count and performance of the NFS volumes. Underlying both technologies are Intel Optane DC solid-state drives.

Deploy IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions

IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions provides a management console for configuring, maintaining and monitoring a VMware environment. When setting up the platform, admins must choose their IBM Cloud region and specify their CPU, memory, storage and network requirements. IBM Cloud automatically deploys the VMware components along with Microsoft Active Directory domain controllers.

IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions offers two primary deployment models: VMware vCenter Server on IBM Cloud and VMware vSphere on IBM Cloud. The vCenter Server option provides support for advanced automation capabilities that carry out tasks such as adding or removing ESXi servers, deploying multisite infrastructures, configuring multi-cluster environments and implementing software-defined networking. The vCenter server option also includes backup and restore capabilities, using Veeam or IBM Spectrum Protect Plus.

The IBM Cloud provides admins with root access to ESXi hosts and vCenter Server instances. At the same time, IMB's cloud offers embedded security throughout the VMware stack, including the applications running within the VMs.

Admins can scale IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions across IBM Cloud's global infrastructure, which includes data centers in Asia, Europe and North America. Admins can also use VMware's Hybrid Cloud Extension services to establish secure connectivity across on-premises and cloud-based VMware environments. In addition, admins can extend their infrastructures to incorporate additional VMware components and third-party services that have been preintegrated into the platform.

When to choose IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions

With IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions, admins can add IBM Cloud services to their VMware infrastructure. For example, admins can include the Caveonix RiskForesight service to manage cyber- and compliance risks; the F5 Networks service to implement intelligent load balancing and traffic management; or the FortiGate Virtual Appliance to provide firewall, routing, Network Address Translation and VPN services.

In addition, admins can use Watson -- IBM's AI -- to carry out natural-language communications with the portal and can install IBM Cloud Private Hosted on vCenter Server to support VM and container management and orchestration within a common security model.

IBM geared IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions toward admins who require public cloud benefits, such as scalability, fast provisioning and pay-as-you-go pricing, and who would like to take advantage of other IBM Cloud services. The platform can particularly benefit admins already committed to VMware technologies and the IBM Cloud.

On the other hand, admins less committed to these infrastructures should consider whether they want to commit to both vendors and what the long-range total cost of ownership will be for the service-based delivery model.

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