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Goals of SmartConfig and VMware Cloud Foundation Automation with FlashStack

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From the moment new hardware is procured and delivered to a datacenter, the race is on for it to switch from a liability to a money producing asset for the business.  This document provides discrete instruction on how to combine two solutions that are focused on helping customers complete hardware deployment as quickly as possible with no errors:  SmartConfig and VMware Cloud Foundation.  These solutions use pre-validated blueprints that take the vast majority of the guesswork out of the deployment process; streamlining and automating formerly repetitive tasks at a substantially faster pace. 

Our goal of this exercise is to begin with a blank canvas (i.e. FlashStack hardware that has been racked, powered, cabled and factory reset) that will result in a fully-functional VMware environment ready for production workloads.  All of this will have been built with repeatable, customizable blueprints which in almost all cases completely eliminate the need for the administrator to touch any single piece of the underlying setup.  Perhaps even more important is that the bulk of the steps outlined in each section of this guide can be exported to a JSON and then repeated or updated based upon unique customer environment requirements over and over again.  

Following some introduction to the key technologies in play, we have divided the in-depth deployment instructions into 3 core parts.

  1. Deploy FlashStack with ESXi via SmartConfig.  The input of this section will be factory reset Cisco hardware and the output will be a fully functional imaged/zoned/deployed UCS chassis with ESXi7 installed and ready for use with VMware Cloud Foundation.

  2. Build VMware Cloud Foundation SDDC Manager on FlashStack.  The primary input for CloudBuilder is, not ironically, the output of our work in part 1.  Specifically, ESXi hosts and their underlying infrastructure, from which we will automatically deploy a Management Domain with CloudBuilder.

  3. The last section will show how to deploy a VMware Cloud Foundation Workload Domain with Pure Storage as both Principle Storage (VMFS on FC) and Supplemental Storage (vVols).  Options such as iSCSI are covered in additional KB articles in the VMware Cloud Foundation section of the Pure Storage support site.

Post-deployment, customers will enjoy the benefits of single-click upgrades for the bulk of their UCS and VMware components and the ability to dynamically scale up or down their Workload Domain deployment resources independently or collectively based upon specific needs (e.g. compute/memory, network and/or storage).

The table of contents for this deployment document can be found here.

To jump to Part 1 of the deployment process, click here.