VMware figured out some time ago that clouds — and in particular hybrid clouds — were going to be a hugely important part of their business once the excitement faded for bog-standard server virtualization. Which to a large extent it already has.
That's because companies seek out growth opportunities, and the cloud is where those opportunities are.
And that's why the company's Cloud Foundation product is a key one. VMware touts Cloud Foundation as an "integrated cloud infrastructure platform for the hybrid cloud," providing "dynamic software-defined infrastructure (compute, storage, networking and security) to run enterprise applications in both private and public environments."
Those applications run directly in virtual machines or — now that VMWare has embraced the concept — in containers using technology such as Docker's.
VMware has just released Cloud Foundation 2.3, and because it's such an important product for the company, it is well worth taking a closer look at the new functionality version 2.3 introduces.
What's New in Cloud Foundation 2.3
The biggest change in Cloud Foundation 2.3 is the integration of VMware's vRealize management components into the product. Specifically, by using VMware SDDC Manager, VMware Cloud Foundation will automate the deployment and configuration of vRealize Automation, vRealize Operations and vRealize Log Insight as part of the platform's standardized architecture.
"The purpose of Cloud Foundation is to be greater than the sum of its parts," explains Mauricio Barra, a marketing manager at VMware. "Users can implement the parts on their own, but they want a simpler way to do so," he adds. "Customers asked us to integrate everything into SDDC; we promised we would, and now we are delivering."
Using vRealize Automation, customers will be able to model complete application and infrastructure stacks in the form of blueprints that include compute, storage, networking, and security resources, along with all of the relationships that bind them together, VMware promises. The "intelligent operations" delivered by the combination of vRealize Operations and vRealize Log Insight will then make it easier for companies to plan, manage and scale their hybrid cloud deployments.
Support for Heterogeneous Servers within a Single Rack
Another addition to Cloud Foundation is the ability to support heterogeneous server mixes within a single rack (although the different server models have to come from the same vendor). Administrators can then select specific servers for specific workload domains, so certain servers can be dedicated to a database environment, or to an ecommerce environment, or whatever.
This should allow administrators to be more flexible in how they allocate workloads, Barra says. He adds that it should also simplify the task of applying software patches. (Automatic patching is not a feature that is offered yet, but it is on the roadmap for a future release, he promises.)
Another feature that's been added, although it is rather a minor one, is the addition of UI support for backing up SDDC Manager configurations. The backups are automatically triggered after certain key events, and the backup bundle is checksummed to safeguard against data corruption.
Finally, the company is at pains to stress that Cloud Foundation is not just a VMware story: plenty of other companies are pitching in with pre-assembled and imaged systems to run Cloud Foundation on-prem, and with Cloud Foundation offered as a service from the cloud.
Pre-Assembled System and Cloud Foundation as a Service Options
In the pre-assembled system camp, EMC's Dell EMC VxRack SDDC is joined by integrated systems from Fujitsu, Quanta Cloud Technology (QCT) and Hitachi, while Cloud Foundation as a service can now be bought from VMware (on AWS), IBM, OVH, CenturyLink, Rackspace, and, shortly, from Fujitsu as well.
Both of these groups are important because, after all, Cloud Foundation is meant to be a hybrid cloud platform, and without one group or the other there's nothing hybrid to speak of.
And that, of course, is the whole point of Cloud Foundation. It's a product for hybrid clouds, because that's where VMware believes growth (and significant future revenue streams) are to be found.
Paul Rubens is a technology journalist and contributor to ServerWatch, EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and EnterpriseMobileToday. He has also covered technology for international newspapers and magazines including The Economist and The Financial Times since 1991.