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Make the jump from a VMware SDDC to a hybrid cloud environment

Get a handle on hybrid basics, such as new SDDC roles and VMware Cloud on AWS infrastructure, pricing and integration before taking your VMware environment to the cloud.

VMware introduced or enhanced a lot of new cloud-oriented functionality in vSphere 6.7, including the ability to take advantage of the much-improved hybrid cloud model with VMware Cloud on AWS. But what do VMware SDDC administrators need to understand about this new release and its methodology?

The first thing to realize is that this new vSphere isn't like the old platform that admins know and love. It's all about the software-defined data center (SDDC), which is a paradigm shift in the way we look at the VMware estate.

Infrastructure admins don't manage hardware anymore; that has become VMware's job -- well, technically AWS, but more on that later. There is a separation between management servers and standard VM workloads, just like best practices for on-premises states. VMware manages most of the traditional vCenter components and configuration -- and the management and patching of the cloud side.

Internally, admins can create their own networks as desired, but management infrastructure is untouchable; any change could potentially affect other operations.

New VMware SDDC roles

There are two new roles in the VMware SDDC hybrid environment: CloudAdmin and CloudGlobalAdmin. The CloudAdmin role enables admins to manage VM workloads. This includes all the day-to-day management tasks minus the ability to manage physical hosts. The CloudGlobalAdmin role enables admins to configure other attributes, such as content stores.

The first thing to realize is that this new vSphere isn't like the old platform that admins know and love. It's all about the software-defined data center, which is a paradigm shift in the way we look at the VMware suite.

To set up the hybrid environment to use both on-premises infrastructure and the cloud, the admin in question needs to have a VMware account and an AWS account. Admins can then use these accounts to administer the rest of the environment, such as adding additional administrators and making configuration changes.

Make sure to use this account only for this explicit purpose and ensure all the security options are turned on. The root account needs to be as secure as possible.

VMware Cloud on AWS infrastructure and pricing

VMware Cloud on AWS comes as a baseline infrastructure that includes several physical servers with 36 cores per node -- 72 with hyper-threading, 512 GB RAM -- 128 GB per node, and 10.7 TB storage -- across the vSAN infrastructure for the cluster.

VMware and AWS maintain these servers. Aging and broken hardware is no longer the admin's concern. The admin and his or her company are merely the consumers. But the cost involved isn't to be sneezed at. Admins can use the calculator provided by VMware to figure out more specific pricing.

In terms of billing, VMware states in the VMware Cloud on AWS FAQs that:

"This service is delivered, sold and supported by VMware and you will be charged directly by VMware. You will get a single bill that includes the total charges for using this service, including the VMware SDDC software and the underlying AWS resources."

A Layer 3 virtual private network between the local site and the cloud environment connects the VMware SDDC to AWS.

VMware Cloud on AWS integration

Alongside this is the integration of both sites. As the name suggests, VMware Cloud on AWS enables the admin to get the best of both worlds. That said, there are integration factors to consider:

Single sign-on: As most VMware SDDC admins know, single sign-on (SSO) is the core of the authentication mechanism. It's the first thing an admin should set up once the vSphere vCenter installer is configured. Therefore, there needs to be one for the cloud-based environment. The on-premises and cloud environments must have a trusted relationship between them. Note that admins can only configure this during installation, not after.

How to deploy SDDC on VMware Cloud on AWS

Isolation: The reason for having two separate SSO installations is that the on-premises and cloud environments need to be able to stand alone, so single installations should either be removed or the connection between the two should be severed; they can work independently.

Workloads: Workloads are identical whether they run in the on-premises environment or in VMware Cloud on AWS. VMware recommends that admins take the time to gain an understanding of the migration before jumping on the bandwagon and using cloud.

Furthermore, VMware SDDC admins should have a specific reason for moving to cloud beyond the fact that it's the cloud. There are significant differences between traditional virtualization and the new hybrid world. One of the best pieces of advice I can give, beyond reading up on the changes, is to use vSphere 6.7 because it fixes a lot of trivial but annoying issues and makes setup and configuration easier.

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