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Part 3: Using Pure Storage with VMware Cloud Foundation

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As we covered in the introduction to VMware Cloud Foundation, Workload Domains represent three or more ESXi hosts aggregated together in one or more clusters under a single vCenter instance.  They are deployed then managed by VMware Cloud Foundation administrators within SDDC Manager.  These are units of compute, network, memory and storage that can be rapidly expanded and contracted, upgraded, and orchestrated via integrated connectivity to the vRealize suite.  Once deployed, Workload Domains can be assigned to one or more groups of tenant organizations who can then deploy, manage, and use the VMs and applications required for their respective use case(s).  A key differentiator between Management Domains and Workload Domains is that Workload Domains allow for other types of Principal Storage besides vSAN.  

A brief description of the differences between Principal Storage and Supplemental Storage and how it relates to VCF is in order to set the table for the rest of this document.  Fortunately, it is very easy to distinguish between the two storage types.

Principal and Supplemental Storage for VMware Cloud Foundation

Principal Storage is any storage type that you can connect directly to your Workload Domain as a part of the setup process within SDDC Manager.  Today, that’s comprised of vSAN, NFS, and VMFS on Fibre Channel (as of June, 2020).

Supplemental Storage simply means that you connect your storage system to a Workload (or Management) Domain after it has been deployed.  Examples of the Supplemental Storage include the iSCSI and NVMe-oF* protocols and VMware vVols (use vVols with any supported underlying protocol).

*Requires VMware Cloud Foundation 4.0+ and vSphere 7.0+

Workload Domain Deployment with VMFS on FC as Principal Storage

Using Workload Domains with vVols as Supplemental Storage

To streamline the setup process, we strongly recommend installing the Pure Storage vSphere Web Client Plugin to your vCenter instance (this example will use our plugin).  While this can be done from the Pure Storage GUI, we’d suggest installation via PowerShell. 

First, we install a couple of required PowerShell modules:

install-module VMware.PowerCLI

install-module PureStorage.FlashArray.VMware

Next, we connect to our Workload Domain vCenter instance and input administrative credentials (note:  since VCF deploys Workload Domain in vCenter enhanced linked-mode you will need to run this next set of commands against any other Workload Domain vCenter instances as well as the Management Domain vCenter).

connect-viconnect -server <vCenter IP or FQDN>

Get-pfavSpherePlugin

install-pfavSpherePlugin -html

It will possibly take a few minutes for the plugin to be installed on our vCenter instance, but then we can see it as available within the vCenter main menu.

Our next step is to register our array against our Workload Domain vCenter instance:

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Then, we need to register the array as a storage provider in order to use vVols.  For this step, we recommend creating a separate vVols users on the Pure FlashArray.  This can be done in the Pure GUI (or CLI) by going to Settings > Users.  Here we see our ‘purevvols’ user has been created and then used for Storage Provider Registration:

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Looking at the Storage Providers section of our Workload Domain cluster we can see that our FlashArray has been added for use, with one array controller Active and the other Standby in the event a failover is needed.

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So lastly, let’s provision a vVols datastore to our VCF Workload Domain via the Pure Storage vSphere Plugin:

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With vVols now active and connected, that allows us to deploy VMs to our Workload Domain and exploit the many benefits that they provide.  In addition, moving around items between VMFS and vVols and even between Workload Domains is easily accomplished thanks to vCenter enhanced-linked mode.