Using VxRail with VCF and vRealize Suite

This is a short post highlighting how some of the vRealize Suite products interact with VxRail, how they connect, and what kind of information is provided by each specific to the VxRail itself.

The adoption of VCF on VxRail continues to grow, so it’s good to understand, at a high level at least, how the vRealize Suite products interact with a VxRail.

The components that I am referring to are as follows:

  • vRealize Log Insight (vRLI)
  • vRealize Operations Manager (vROps)
  • vRealize Automation (vRA)
  • vRealize Business for Cloud (vRB4C)
  • vRealize Network Insight (vRNI)

For the most part, each vRealize component doesn’t really recognise the VxRail itself, rather each connects-to and discovers the VxRail resources via the vCenter Server of the VxRail (Internal or External vCenter, doesn’t matter).

The majority of these vRealize products (vROps, vRLI, vRB4C, vRNI) monitor and report on VxRail and it’s resources, while vRA actually consumes the VxRail resources.

For visual reference to support some of the product specific explanations to follow in this post, the architecture below represents a standard VCF on VxRail environment, where 3 VxRail systems are in use, each with their respective vCenter Server instance, all of which are hosted in the VCF Management Workload Domain. A single VxRail supports each of the following 3 clusters:

  • VCF Management Workload Domain (Management WLD)
  • VCF Virtual Infrastructure Workload Domain 01 (VI WLD 01)
  • VCF Virtual Infrastructure Workload Domain 02 (VI WLD 02)

I also posted about Deploying VCF on VxRail – Understanding What Does What and VCF on VxRail Architecture Diagrams.


vRealize Log Insight (vRLI)

vRLI does not recognise a VxRail specifically, but it does provide a consolidated view of all logs from associated vCenter and ESXi hosts. The log forwarding from those components to vRLI is automatically configured by SDDC Manager.

vRLI is pointed at all related vCenter server instances, covering Management and VI Workload Domains, and operates in a read-only manner.


vRealize Operations Manager (vROps)

vROps is capable of providing multiple views and dashboards of VxRail and associated VxRail components, all via connections with the VxRail vCenter Server(s). While vROps provides detailed dashboards at the vCenter, ESXi, and vSAN level, a specific VxRail Management Pack is also available, providing consolidated views and reports in the context of VxRail systems. An overview of the VxRail vROps Management Pack can be found here.

vROps is pointed at all related vCenter server instances, covering Management and VI Workload Domains, and has the ability to directly affect/fix running environment via vROps-driven remediation tasks.


vRealize Automation (vRA)

vRA is focused entirely on consuming VxRail resources (Storage, RAM, CPU, Network) for VI Workload Domains, and does not look at the VxRail hosting the VCF Management Workload domain. The connection from vRA to VxRail is made via the associated vCenter server for each VI WLD, be that a single or multi-cluster VI WLD. From there vRA uses reservation policies to organise where IaaS workloads are deployed for specific vRA Tenants and Business Groups.

vRA also contains an instance of vRealize Orchestrator (vRO), which itself is also unaware of VxRail specifically, as it configures connections directly to the associated vCenter Servers.


vRealize Business for Cloud (vRB4C)

Providing cost analysis and show-back reports, vRB4C can operate either as a standalone product or embedded with vRA. In each case vRB4C configures connections directly to the vCenter Server that manages the VxRail(s). All VCF workload domains, Management and VI, can be configured to report information to vRB4C.

Again this is a one-way reporting product which is not capable of affecting VxRail operations.


vRealize Network Insight (vRNI)

Last but not least, vRNI connects to NSX Manager and vCenter Server end-points, again not linking directly with the VxRail itself, but providing insight to the networking and security built upon the VxRail platform. vRNI can provide visibility and much more for software-defined networking and security.


Lifeycle Management of vRealize products

When using VCF on VxRail, the lifecycle management of vROps, vRLI, and vRA is owned by SDDC Manager, where SDDC Mgr deploys it’s own instance of vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager (vRSLCM) to manage their LCM, as shown below in the SDDC Mgr UI.

My colleague @DavidCRing has a great post covering this process in SDDC Manager here, as does @CormacJHogan here.

The other vRealize products, vRB4C and vRNI, are not part of the VCF solution, but can be used in parallel to VCF without issue, while noting that their lifecycle management and interop validation is outside of SDDC Manager. These non-VCF components can be hosted in the VCF on VxRail Management cluster so long as their respective compute resources are included in the overall Sizing of the VCF on VxRail environment.

As an alternative for LCM of the vRealize Suite products, a standalone instance of vRSLCM could be used, as this provides LCM for all of those vRealize products from a single location, as shown below in the vRSLCM UI.

In the event that a standalone vRSLCM is selected to manage the deployment and LCM of vRealize products in a VCF on VxRail environment, then SDDC Manager would continue to own LCM for all of the platform components (VxRail, PSC, vCenter, SDDC Manager) and vRLI, while vRSLCM would own everything else (vRA, vROps, vRNI). Note that adherence to the validated VCF BOM would then be a manual effort for those vRealize Suite components.

And that’s it for this post. Hope that helps at a high level how the various vRealize Suite products interact with VxRail.

Steve

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