Private cloud is a bit of a strange concept.  To begin with, it might conjure thoughts of the Rolling Stones telling you, in verse, to stay off their cloud. But actually it means you use your own data centers and infrastructure to provide cloud-like services. Instead of dealing with IT tickets to get the environment you need, private cloud allows you to do the same type of provisioning on your own resource without the slow-moving ticketing process or having to expense resources through a public provider, like AWS, Google, or Azure.

VMware Private Cloud 

There are two requirements to the private cloud vision. The first is operational efficiencies. IT and operations departments need to be able to deal quickly with changing needs, have complete monitoring and accounting capabilities, and have visibility into the whole environment to detect and solve problems. The second is a seamless user experience. End users require the ability to provision compute resources for applications fon demand, guarantee performance and capacity expectations of workloads, and maintain the proper degree of interaction or isolation from other tenants. 

 

The good news is that VMware has been thinking along these lines for years. VMware vSphere delivers a lot of the basics for “cloudiness” right off the bat. Workload virtualization, combined with data centers, resource pools, and dynamic resource allocation, makes collecting and divvying up available capabilities a known problem

VMware Private Cloud  

VMware also offers the vRealize Suite of products to expand on the vSphere experience. At the most basic level, vRealize Operations Manager and vRealize Business for Cloud provide operational oversight and accounting for a large number of consumers of the cloud while vRealize Log Insight steps in with troubleshooting and isolation. From the cloud users’ perspective, vRealize Automation layered on top of vRealize Orchestrator means one-stop shopping from a customized catalog of applications and services. Users also glean health and use overviews from their own role-based access to vRealize Operations Manager. 

 
To finish it off, the entire private cloud is layered on top of VMware’s software-defined network using VMware NSX. NSX enforces tenant isolation with flexible network access regardless of compute resources, and enables custom firewalling without hardware from <insert your favorite network equipment vendor here>.

NetApp Collaboration with VMware

NetApp has a long history of innovating and collaborating with VMware as a development and alliance partner. Some VMware features have been driven by NetApp requests, and NetApp has also incorporated VMware interoperability into its products.

 

NetApp® HCI is the next step in the partnership, ideally complementing VMware’s private cloud offerings. Simplicity of use, predictably at scale, and fully automatable capabilities define the design of NetApp HCI. 

 
The NetApp Deployment Engine (NDE) completely installs and configures NetApp Element® OS on the storage side, while setting up vCenter and ESXi on the compute side. A pair of VMFS datastores are stamped out on the storage before the process is complete. Optionally, NetApp ONTAP® Select can be propped up on the cluster to provide NFS file services at the same time, with no time-consuming storage planning and layout required. NDE also helps to simplify operations when it’s time to grow or reconfigure the HCI data center.

 

NetApp HCI is constructed from a combination of compute nodes with varying amounts of CPU and RAM, and storage nodes with varying amounts of capacity and IOPS. In particular, the storage nodes use NetApp SolidFire® technology to ensure that each node adds exactly the amount of storage and IOPS available, regardless of the scale. Adding a fifth node increases the capabilities the same amount as adding a twentieth of fortieth node. Knowing the exact amount of each these resources means that use and growth patterns are predictable. Another differentiator with NetApp HCI is that compute and storage are independent nodes, which means that a VMware private cloud environment can be sized incrementally, in terms of both compute and storage, without the need to build in waste. 

 

NetApp HCI NetApp Deployment Engine

Building out a private cloud makes no sense if it’s all done manually. In the same way that vRealize Orchestrator and vRealize Automation allow programmatic, automated workflows, NetApp HCI provides full API support. Additionally, the NetApp HCI vCenter plug-in and vStorage APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA) provider offer tight integration, meaning that even the storage aspects of NetApp HCI are controlled through VMware management methods. VMware Storage Policy-Based Management (SPBM) works with the VASA provider to provide granular, guaranteed quality of service at the individual virtual disk level. 

 
A brand new NetApp HCI Management Pack for vRealize Operations Manager is available from the VMware marketplace.   

NetApp Validated Architecture  

Another aspect of this integration is the NetApp Validated Architecture for VMware Private Cloud on NetApp HCI. This validated architecture offers guidelines, best practices, and a detailed example deployment of a VMware private cloud, using the VMware products mentioned in this blog, on a NetApp HCI cluster. 

 
An NVA Design document is available from the NetApp Library. Folks (including myself) will be available on the solutions floor at VMworld 2018 in Las Vegas, August 26-30. Stop by booth #1036 to say hello and learn more about VMware private cloud for NetApp HCI. We’ll also have a live system for noodling around. 
  

The design philosophy for the validated architecture is to build on top of a base NetApp HCI system as outlined in the NVA Design GuideThe first steps include minor network configuration, followed by installation and setup of VMware NSX. The design offers detailed examples of VLANs, subnets, and routing to enable a basic NSX configuration. 

 
vRealize Suite components are layered on at that point, offering operational and support insight with vRealize Operations Manager and Log Insight. vRealize Automation is the final component, with an example services catalog, complete with integration to SPBM. 
 

Don’t miss us at VMworld 2018 in booth #1036.  And if you can’t make it to VMworld, check out the NetApp Validated Architecture for VMware Private Cloud on the NetApp HCI Design Guide.

Andy Banta