In the past days I’ve been wondering how hard could be building from scratch a new datacenter. I was thinking at the lower layer, hardware, but maybe more at the upper layer, virtualization platform and over it, all the related services.
I supposed that the HW part could be more or less easily addressed by lots of models, from vendors to best practices since it’s a relatively static environment – yes, everyday there are new technologies, but often are improvements of the existing ones – but the software layer was for me the real challenge. All the implications each other in terms of compatibility between all the versions made me think that this could be the hardest part to accomplish.
Assuming VMware as virtualization platform, HW isn’t hard to choose, as long as it’s compliant to HCL.
I’m talking only if the case is the choose of a “build your own” solution. It doesn’t apply in case of converged or hyperconverged infrastructures.
When all the servers, storage, network devices are cabled together, the real question is: I’d like to have the last version of vSphere. And even this is quite simple. The difficult will be after: which version of the side components will be compatible? Before we had matrices to look at, several ones, and the only way to be sure it worked was to set up a test plant.
Then the guys at VMware had an idea: set up these test plant for us. And V2D was born.
Once you – or your vendor – or your host – complete the hardware layer, you can pick up a version – last, but not necessarily – of vSphere and, thanks to VMware Software Manager, a free tool, you’ll have as output all the other related services versions that will be compatible. It doesn’t simply read and elaborate all the previous matrices for you, but, throught a nice GUI, provides the list and the download links, together with any new release detection and, last but not least, integrity check, usually skipped.
But this is only the first step, just an automation. The real topic of this post is the availability of templates, blue prints, called V2D.
These are widely exposed by several sessions at last VMworld (SDDC5440, SDDC5609), and at the Italian VMUG session by Andrea Siviero, in addition to a post from Kelly Dare. A nice video can be also viewed here.
These designs are the result of VMware test plants assuring that all the operations, architecture and applications version are compatible and correctly working each other.
Let’s thing at designs like models, core structures. The core is designed, over the core you can choose to apply services, not necessarily VMware-branded (I’m thinking at Zerto for DR, for example, or at Veeam for backup), applied following that alternative vendors setup guides.
Currently here are two of these templates:
It’s a kind of sentence from VMware like “if you follow this template, you have my assurance that it works, and it works well”.
That’s not all: whenever you should need an update or upgrade, the same designs will update too, so that you’ll have the same compliance if you follow that architecture.
This told, being helped by a VMware engineer isn’t a bad idea. You’ll have the double check – design and removal of any mistake you could make. But you don’t need a full team as you did before, moreover you can upgrade/update with no help keeping the VMware compliance.
I will come back to this topic since it’s so wide to be covered by a single post. But just to pin out some useful links, by now.