VMware on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure

At Openworld 2019 Larry Ellison announced a new partnership between Oracle and VMware. It was a surprise for a lot of people, up to the point that it received the name of The Moscone Miracle (credits to Pete Flecha). For the first time, Oracle and VMware are joining efforts to provide the best in class solutions to their customers.

The announcement includes plans to provide Oracle Cloud customers a native VMware offering on Oracle Cloud and an update to Oracle’s support policy regarding Oracle products running on VMware.

Q.- What is Oracle Cloud VMware Solution?

Oracle Cloud VMware Solution (OCVS) is a solution designed, developed and deployed by Oracle. It leverages the VMware Cloud Foundation which makes deploying vSphere stack of products an easy thing. You will have vSphere, vSAN (virtual storage), NSX-T (virtual networking) deployed to Oracle Baremetal hosts in OCI.

Q.- How many hosts would OCVS require?

The software will be deployed following VMware standard of 3+ baremetal hosts using a VMware Validated Design (VVD) architecture on VMware certified hardware.

This entry point will allow the customer to start with:

Q.- What is different from other Cloud providers?

Customers will have FULL administrative access and control over their SDDC and the underlying bare metal cloud compute instances. What does it mean?

  • From a security perspective, you control access to the hypervisor and underlying infrastructure.
  • Large enterprise companies have their operations and management processes outsourced to a third party company. You can keep the same way of operations as if you were on-prem. No additional teams involved in your day-to-day.
  • Flexible. You can add or remove hosts whenever you need them. Create additional network clusters or remove them based on your needs.
  • Keep your pace on platform updates and decide when to move to the next release. We know it takes time to verify and check that all your applications and services will not get stuck with a new release. It may take weeks or even months until you have gone through all the tests before moving to production.

And the most important thing. You can now run the best of both worlds. Why not having VMware and Exadata cloud services running in the same datacenter? Why not removing your database maintenance and routine tasks by using Autonomous Database services (ADWH, ATP) and keeping your applications in VMware?

Q.- How do I provision OCVS?

You will be asked to fill a few parameters, such as VMware version, number of nodes, network config, and credentials. Hit the button and Oracle will automatically deploy the environment. Easy as that. By the end of the process, you will have access to your vCenter console

Q.- How can I make use of Oracle cloud-native services?

Your VMware environment can connect to Oracle’s cloud-native services through the Service Gateway. This gateway enables consumer-to-service private connections (C2S).

If you want to know the Cloud services that can be accessed from the private subnets in your Virtual Cloud Network (VCN) take a look to https://www.oracle.com/cloud/networking/service-gateway.html

In addition to this, you will have other gateways available, such as the Internet Gateway, NAT gateway or the Dynamic Routing Gateway (DRG).

Q.- What are the use cases?

Disaster Recovery (DR) for your on-prem VMware estate. Keeping and maintaining a second data center is quite expensive. Think of all the components and costs associated (physical servers, network equipment, rack space, cooling, power, facilities, WAN links, etc.). Some large companies are getting rid of their secondary data centers and using the Cloud as their failover environment. With OCVS you can spin-up a small VMware environment in OCI and grow as you need. No need to pay for capacity that is not in use.

If that is not your case maybe you would like to use the Cloud as a third offsite location for your VM backups. Keep a backup of your VMs in a secure place and ensure you will have the information available in case of a major incident (human errors, sabotage, etc..).

Migrate or Extend your Datacenter to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. There are multiple reasons where you might want to use the Cloud just as an extension of your on-prem facilities.

  • You may be running out of Capacity. How many times have you been struggling with Capacity planning in your company? It is not an easy process and you may encounter barriers like budget (not always you have the right money for the required architecture). You can extend the services and meantime work to see how you can optimize existing on-prem infrastructure and release capacity.
  • Maybe you want to start your digital transformation path but still have old legacy applications that cannot be moved or transformed. In that case, you can extend your services and use the Cloud as another component of your existing architecture. New applications could run in the Cloud while keeping connectivity and dependencies with the old world.

Data locality. You might want to use the Cloud but your business has strict regulations and you need to know that your information is within the geographical boundaries of your region. When you create a resource in OCI you get a unique ID called Oracle Cloud Identifier (OCID). This identifier will let you know the type of resource created and the region/Availability domain where it has been deployed. It’s like a serial number of your physical computer.

Note that running services in the Cloud does not mean that your services will be accessible from the Internet. You can deploy services without an Internet connection and use your dedicated connectivity (Fastconnect or VPN) to reach those services. We will discuss this in another post describing the different connectivity options for hybrid architectures.

Q.- Can I use my existing licenses?

At this point in time, the service comes with its own licenses.

Conclusion

OCVS provides some great options when handling VMware in the Cloud. You can run it as if you were on-prem, have full control of the underlying infrastructure and use the same VMware tools that you manage in your day-to-day operations. You can leverage your VMware environments with Oracle cloud-native services, such as ExaCS, ADWH or ATP. The best of both worlds, in a single platform!


What to expect in 2020? Learning path…

With the new year it’s time to think what would we like to achieve and what’s the plan for it.

So let’s start with professional goals, mainly on the learning path… I look to certifications as a way to set specific goals and push myself to deep dive in technology. Here goes my list for this year….

Kubernetes Certified (CKA). In a cloud world, K8s has turned into the de-facto standard. Personally I think that K8s is the past and something new needs to come up. It’s a complex beast under the hoods and there are thousands of initiatives/projects around K8s which makes it difficult to decide what you really need. Just take the network component for example with multiple CNI ( Flannel, Calico, Weave, Cilium, Kube Router, Genie, DANM, Romana, Tungsten, Contiv, etc.).

But as I said, it’s the standard. You will need to really understand how it works if you plan to live in a cloud-native world.

There are lot of resource out there that will help in the journey. I’ve chosen to go with the official Linux Foundation training course and few other resources like Nigel Poulton’s Kubernetes book, Bret Fisher’s Mastery Kubernetes course in Udemy or Kelsey’s Kubernetes the Hard Way. Resources:

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Architect Professional. People might not even know that Oracle has a certification track for their Cloud platform (wait! are you saying that Oracle does even have a Cloud?). Yes. I joined Oracle 3 years ago because of what they were going to release (Gen2 now called OCI). At that time it was still in the oven but found quite amazing the way they designed the platform (will talk about that in a separate post) and it was something very different from existing offering. Over the years the platform has grown in number of services and capabilities, so a certification track was required. The Associate cert is bit tough compared to others I’ve done but it’s worth the try. Resource: https://www.oracle.com/cloud/iaas/training/certification.html

Cisco DevNet Associate and Professional Certification. I’ve been formerly Cisco Champion for the last couple of years. I couldn’t make it this year mainly because I am not Cisco certified anymore (yes, after 15 yrs all my certs expired). Did I do it intentionally? No. I forgot to update my corporate email in my Cisco profile and didn’t get aware that it was close to expiration. I was in South Africa when I looked to my cert status and OMG! It expired that week. Really painful. Nevertheless the DevNet certification is aligned to what I believe is the future for network people. Hank Preston and his team have been doing a great work preparing the new DevNet Datacenter and the sandboxes (for free!) to help people get ready. It’s worth a try. Resource: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/training-events/training-certifications/certifications/devnet.html

Hashicorp Terraform Certification. It is currently in the BETA phase, but Hashicorp has released a Certification program for Terraform and Vault. Infrastructure as a Code (IaC) is a common task in the Cloud space, so not surprised that we are going down the path 😉 Being part of the Hashicorp User Group team in Madrid also puts some pressure on our backs. Resource: https://www.hashicorp.com/certification/

VMware NSX . This one is the most challenging right now as I need to first upgrade my VCP-DCV version to 6.5/6.7 and then jump into NSX cert. However as we plan to release VMware on OCI (Oracle VMware Cloud Solution – OVCS) it will be fun to get back to the roots. Resource: https://www.vmware.com/education-services/certification/vcp-nv-tracks.html

Looks bit tough (and it is), however most of the things are part of our job. Let’s see how it goes and if we are able to achieve all of them. Wish me luck!

Take care!