VCF On VxRAIL – A Federated View

VMware Cloud Foundation 3.9 on Dell EMC VxRail 4.7.300

Multi-Instance Management code named ‘Pantheon’ is a new feature introduced with VMware Cloud Foundation 3.9.0 on Dell EMC VxRail. This is a very useful management feature which provides the capability to manage multiple VCF On VxRail instances (current supported limit is 5) from a single console within SDDC Manager.

Some key VCF Multi-Instance terms:

Federation: is the name given to the grouping/linking of the multiple VCF instances within SDDC Managers. Regardless of the SDDC Manager you login to, once it is part of a federation then all VCF instances within that federation will be visible to the user. Within this federated view the user can view the inventory & health status of individual VCF instances as well as the aggregated storage, CPU & memory usages across the entire federation. It also displays if an update is available for a specific VCF instance, which can be of great benefit to ensure all VCF instances are aligned across the federation.

Message Bus: this is the means by which Federation members communicate with each other. Each VCF SDDC Manager instance publishes their local data to the message bus. Below is a nice graphic (compliments to @VMwareVCF) which depicts the flow of data between the message bus and the end user. While logged in natively to a SDDC Manager console the user has write privileges for that specific federation member but for the other federation members it is read privileges only, although you can login to each federation member from the federated view quite easily as I will show later.

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Controller Member: the first member of the federation is automatically setup as a federation controller member, which essentially means they run additional message bus components.

Regular Member: essentially a regular member is exactly that.. it does not have those additional message bus components that the controller has.

Note: The controller has the power to invite other VCF instances to the federation and they can be invited to participate as either a controller or a regular member. The maximum allowed controllers is 3 and this is the minimum requirement if high availability is desired. As the example I provide below is a 2x VCF on VxRail solution there is no option for HA, so if one instance fails in this scenario then the multi-instance feature is no longer available on the surviving instance.

Creating & Joining A Federation

To begin creating the federation click on the globe icon from within the SDDC Manager console (remember the first instance will become the primary controller for the federation):

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Choose the option to ‘create’ the federation:

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Enter the appropriate details for creating the federation:

  • Federation name.
  • Member name.
  • SDDC Manager FQDN.
  • Country & City.

Note the two highlighted points below as per detailed above.

Click ‘CREATE’ to begin the process of creating the federation:

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The automated steps being performed to create the federation:

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Log file information which is useful to analyse during the federation creation process:

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Once the federation creation is completed you are presented with a world map, the green dot represents the federation member which in this case is located in Cork,Ireland.

Note: the color of the dot represents the connection status as per the legend.

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Clicking on the green dot displays the respective VCF On VxRail inventory & capacity usage on the right side of the SDDC manager UI window. Also note ‘Controller’ is displayed in the GUI for this member, as this first member is a controller member:

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In addition to the map view you can also click on the table icon which leads into a more detailed view as highlighted below. In addition this view provides percentage usages for each of the individual member instances as well as the Inventory across the Federation:

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Next we add a second member by clicking on the ‘Invite Member’ option:

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Enter the SDDC Manager FQDN for the new member and click ‘CHECK CERTIFICATE’:

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Certificate validation successful (SDDC Manager certificate requires TLS Web server authentication and TLS Web client authentication extended key usage):

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As this is a 2x VCF On VxRail instance solution I do not select to designate this member as an additional controller, it will join the federation as a regular member:

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It is recommended to click on the link provided in order to complete joining the federation, otherwise additional manual steps are required:

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Clicking the link opens the invited member SDDC Manager UI console, from here the join process can be completed:

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In this example the second VCF On VxRail instance is located in Boston, enter a name for the new federation member and its location details:

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Certificate is trusted, now click join to complete the process:

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The Second federation member ‘VCF-VXRAIL-BOSTON’ is now visible from the multi-instance MAP view:

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Now we get a true multi-instance view including as aggregated resources view of all our VCF on VxRail instances globally:

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Additional Points:

From the Cork based SDDC Manager UI it is possible to login to the Boston SDDC Manager UI console:

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And vice-versa:

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In the next post I will show how an instance can leave a federation and how to dismantle a federation!

Hope you found this useful. Thanks for reading!

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