Introducing VMware Validated Solutions

For the last 5+ years VMware has been developing and maintaining VMware Validated Designs, over that time we have seen significant changes across the VMware portfolio, in order to remain relevant the team needed to take a step back, perform an assessment on where we were and formulate a plan on how we could evolve the value offered by VMware Validated Designs – VMware Validated Solutions is this evolution but before I explain more its important to understand the background.

Background

When the VMware Validated Designs initiative was started all those years ago it was obvious to the team involved that VMware had a great portfolio of products delivering many capabilities but the execution around assembling them in a single stack solution was a massive challenge. The main intent for VMware Validated Designs was to:

  • Ensure that our customers can be successful
  • Drive transparency across the interoperability for the underlying bill of materials
  • Delivery consistent and repeatable architecture at enterprise scale
  • Perform consistent validation across the solution for initial deployment and lifecycle management
  • Deliver operational efficiency

It’s worth pointing out that VMware Validated Designs were and have never been a product per say, in that all the content ever produced has been available to all VMware customers at zero cost.

When VMware released VMware Cloud Foundation it was no surprise that the engineering teams working on both this and VMware Validated Designs were merged into a new business unit, the cross over was clear and it made perfect sense. Since that point the teams have spent numerous hours collaborating in an effort to align the architectures, examples being when VMware Cloud Foundation 3.0 was released and we introduced Bring-Your-Own-Network (BYON) capabilities this aligned to the same stance we had with VMware Validated Designs, the introduction of VMware Cloud Builder and later combining into a single appliance and more recently VMware Cloud Foundation 4.0 and VMware Validated Design 6.0 where we had true architecture alignment, mainly in part due to significant changes in the underlying vSphere and NSX-T Data Center components and the VMware Validated Design for the first time included VMware Cloud Foundation as a first class citizen with the stack.

The Evolution

Since the VMware Validated Design 6.0 release we have continued to ship a new version in line with each new version of VMware Cloud Foundation but along the way we have been hearing from our customers that some confusion has crept in, examples such as conflicting information in the VMware Validated Design with something documented in the VMware Cloud Foundation documentation or perhaps written in VMware Cloud Foundation specific blog post along with duplication of content. It’s for this reason around VMworld 2020 I was asked to join a working group to investigate and identify a future strategy.

The outcome of the working group was to focus on two distinct work streams, the first work stream was focused on VMware Cloud Foundation itself which we refer to as ‘The Platform’ and the second work stream was focused on delivering capabilities on top of VMware Cloud Foundation which we now refer to as ‘Solutions’. This is where the term VMware Validated Solutions comes in, the primary focus is to develop, validate and maintain byte size solutions that offer incremental value to our customers businesses, here we apply the same methodology, process and procedures used when developing the VMware Validated Designs.

As they say a picture can paint a thousand words, the figure below illustrates how ‘Solutions’ are layered on top of VMware Cloud Foundation.

Introducing VMware Validated Solutions

In sync with the release of VMware Cloud Foundation 4.3, I’m delighted to be talking about the first VMware Validated Solutions, the team has been working hard behind the scenes developing, building, and validating a number of ‘Solutions’ and you will see additions to this over the coming months.

It’s not just been about the solutions themselves either, we wanted to make the content as discoverable as possible and this is the reason we have chosen to use the Tech Zone platform as the central landing page for all VMware Validated Solutions, here you will find a tile for each solution released.

Clicking the View Resource Page link will take you to the focus page for that solution, here you will find tiles with links to the content for that solution which will include at a minimum:

  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Solution Overview
  • Design Objectives
  • Detailed Design
  • Design Decisions
  • Planning and Preparation
  • Implementation
  • Operational Guidance
  • Solution Interoperability

Overtime as new content is developed it will be made available in the same interface, so customers should consider the landing page for all VMware Validated Solutions, as the single source of truth.

I’m not going to go into any great detail on what each ‘Solution’ provides in this post but for the record the following VMware Validated Solutions that have been released at this time are:

  • Identity and Access Management for VMware Cloud Foundation
  • Developer Ready Infrastructure for VMware Cloud Foundation
  • Private Cloud Automation for VMware Cloud Foundation
  • Advanced Load Balancing for VMware Cloud Foundation
  • Intelligent Logging and Analytics for VMware Cloud Foundation
  • Intelligent Operations Management for VMware Cloud Foundation

Infrastructure as Code

In addition to these new byte size ‘Solutions’ we are also introducing the concept of ‘Infrastructure as Code’, this entails developing and providing automation to help accelerate the implementation steps to help customer deploy faster enabling them to realize the business benefits faster. This is in truth quite exploratory for the team and will almost certainly evolve other time. We are initially using either PowerShell or Terraform as the tools of choice.

From a PowerShell perspective we have developed a module called PowerValidatedSolutions, this can be installed by a customer directly from the Microsoft PS Gallery and used to perform various configuration procedures. Each function is purpose built to support the procedure being performed within the respective ‘Solution’ and where possible we use the SDDC Manager inventory to gather the details we need to perform actions to save on the user having to define input values. As part of the cmdlet we have also developed pre and post validation checks to ensure that if something fails it fails gracefully and we provide a clear reason.

On the Terraform front, this is today only used within the Private Cloud Automation for VMware Cloud Foundation solution but offers the same approach, the Terraform files can be downloaded from the Private Cloud Automation Git Hub repository.

Time To Deploy

Last but by no means least, each ‘Solution’ also comes with a ‘Time to Deploy’ value, the intent behind this is to provide an estimate of how long each solution might take to implement. The key point here being the actual implementation, this does not include the time to understand the solution design, preparing your environment or performing the data capture in relation to hostnames, IP Addresses etc. It’s also worth calling out that these times are also based on someone from within the VMware team performing the tasks, who are more than likely already familiar with the products or the solution.

What Next?

Go check them out for yourself, visit https://core.vmware.com/vmware-validated-solutions for more details.

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