Since the movement to transition over to Software-Defined Data Centers (SDDC) is still quite recent, many organizations and particularly the IT and infrastructure teams within those organizations are still trying to assess what the best way of moving forward with your new SDDC is. Even if the move is still work in progress in your organizations (don’t worry, you are not alone), here are some pointers to have in mind to maximize the health of your new Data Center.
SDDC allows compute power, storage and networking to be automatically provided on demand, which supports flexible, rapid-scaling, pay as you go services. In theory, SDDC removes the complexity of hardware and software and the need for managing individual pieces of the kit.
At Runecast, we work with some of the most experienced brains in the SDDC space. We asked them what their top tips for SDDC success were, and this is what they came up with!
1. Always use certified hardware
VMware provides top hardware suppliers with the “VMware Ready” hardware certification badge. That badge is VMware’s highest level of endorsement for established partners and ensures customers that the hardware they are using, is built, designed and prepared to be used in a VMware SDDC.
In order to achieve such status, a partner company must complete a thorough list of certifications on a wide variety of VMware products. The certifications meant to ensure that the partner organization is fully compliant and SDDC ready and that their products meet VMware standards of quality, security, ease of use, and compliance.
Additionally, you can always check VMware’s Hardware Compatibility List. It is a compendium of all server and IO device hardware that VMware recommends, as well as their recommended driver/firmware level. Furthermore, we will support automated HCL checks in the next version of Runecast. That way, you can have peace of mind knowing you are always up to date.
The VMware Ready logo helps you quickly identify VMware partner products that are optimized to interoperate seamlessly with a virtual infrastructure and have met strict VMware integration standards. We wouldn’t advise taking the risk on non-certified hardware.
2. Follow design and configuration best practices
Even though SDDC implementations are quite variable, you should not settle for ‘well, it depends’ when looking for design and configuration best practices.
VMware has produced a vast range of White Papers, Design Guides and Reference Architecture document to cover (almost) every use case and scenario.
Where to start? Start at the latest available VMware Validated Design Reference Architecture Guide, which can be found here. Its 200+ pages are designed to provide a validated model for SDDC development, providing detailed design of each SDDC component.
3. Keep your infrastructure to a current patch level, just not right away
As you know, in IT, being at the cutting edge can, well, cut both ways. Even though companies like VMware spend millions a year in QA, all new major updates require time to be tested by the market and to mature, in order to be enterprise ready.
Talking about vSphere in particular - if you update vSphere with a very recent update, it could break some dependencies that haven’t had time to catch up to the new version. Most recently, when VMware introduced vSphere 6.7 Update 1, Veeam, the #1 vendor used for VMware backup and recovery had an incompatibility issue that caused people who were already in 6.7 to have failed backups!
For those reasons, stay up to date, but most importantly, stay patient. Wait for VMware to update the Known issues section in their release notes and review all pertinent knowledge base articles. Otherwise, you may be blind sighted by emergency maintenance work!
4. Stay on top with what's new
As we mentioned before, SDDC was not top of mind for IT professionals until very recently, so many companies like yours are still in the process of building and adapting their new SDDC. Therefore, there are a vast amount of online resources, guides, stories and more on SDDC, how to transition to it, and how to maintain it.
VMware Docs offers thorough documentation on vSphere, NSX, vSAN, vRealize, and every other VMware product. Those docs are often written by the developers who built those products, so there is no better source for best practices.
VMware Knowledge Base has tens of thousands of articles, mainly around known issues and how to solve them. VMware’s KB is also what we use to power Runecast Analyzer!
Sites like SDxCentral are great at keeping you up to date about the latest and greatest in software-defined everything. From news articles to opinion pieces, there is always something to learn.
Finally, VMware user groups (VMUG) are a great way of staying connected to your local VMware user fan base. These groups are run by VMware users, and often organize meetups and talks around SDDC, VMware products, best practices and much more. Great opportunity to grab a beer with like-minded people.
5. Automate repeatable configuration tasks
In order to reduce human error and ensure consistency (and to save you a couple hours every week!), automate repetitive configuration tasks.
One very common task in SDDC is the management of the lifecycle of virtual machines - provision, reconfiguration (increasing disk size, memory, etc) and destruction. This could take a lot of time for a VMware admin that may receive requests like that anywhere from 10 to 50 times a day.
Instead, a VMware admin can save time by offloading this task to the users themselves. Different platforms or tools can be used to achieve that, without the user ever having to be aware that VMware their digitalization platform. This can be achieved through solutions such as vRealize Automation (vRA), which is a paid solution, vRealize Orchestrator (vRO), which is free with your vSphere license, and even with PowerCLI scripts!
How to simply cover all of them?
At Runecast, we help companies like yours take control of your VMware SDDC with real-time automated issue recognition solution, which provides around the clock, offline analysis of your configuration and logs to identify and expose potential problems before they turn into service outages. Start a 14-day free trial today!
Your Runecast Team