VMware Cloud Director Availability 4.0 – What’s New and SLA Profile Review

I am happy to announce that VMware Cloud Director Availability 4.0, formerly known as vCloud Availability, is now available. It’s been an honor to work closely with the team on seeing these releases come to fruition.

VCDA 4.0 – Download Page

VCDA 4.0 – Release Notes

In this post, I am going to review some of the top additions or changes to VMware Cloud Director Availability (VCDA 4.0). However, one of my focus points is SLA profiles. This is a new addition to VCDA 4.0.

Please see all of my previous posts on 3.5 to understand the architecture.

There three key themes of VCDA 4.0 –

Service Operation – Resource Manageability

First, with VCDA 4.0, providers and tenants can comprehensively monitor resource utilization. Moreover, we can establish network throughput maximums for on-premises sites.

Resource UI Visualization

To start off, the tenant and provider and specific views on resource (CPU, memory, and disk) utilization. The provider can see an organization or provider VDC (pVDC) view what would be required to ensure proper failover for any protected workloads:

Provider View – per Organization (Tenant)
Provider View – per pVDC

From a tenant perspective, they can see what resources are required for each respective orgVDC along with specific utilization on a per-VM perspective:

Tenant View – orgVDC requirements
VM View – Network Utilization

Most importantly, we can track disk utilization based on actual change rate. This is important, especially when keeping a set of point in time instances for a period of time.

Tenant View – Disk Utilization

Moreover, from a UI perspective, we now have the ability to toggle between the Status, Topology, Instances, and Resources. Resources provides a view of resource requirements on a per-workload basis –

Tenant View – Resource Sub-Menu

OpenAPI

While the UI has greatly improved to visualize this data, a provider requires automation to retrieve these statistics and export them for metering and monitoring requirements.

With VCDA 4.0, there is a complete API available that allows for retrieval of disk and traffic utilization on a per-org/tenant basis –

Provider – API Client

Under /vm-replications, the provider can export out granular statistics along with the stated policy set forth –

API – vm-replications

One can view the entire API structure on code.vmware.com

Logging

With VCDA 4.0, we have the ability to export out VCDA logs to a syslog collector (such as vRealize Log Insight). However, we also show tasks and events within the native VCD interface. This is a great addition, especially when we pair with the new UI functionality.

From the Provider UI screen, the administrator can establish event notifications along with the syslog configuration.

System Event and Logging
Tasks within VCD UI
Syslog within vRealize Log Insight

Service Consumption

Second, our consumption of VCDA has changed in a positive way with several new additions.

SLA Profiles

First, this is a new function within VCDA. I’m going to spend a little more time in this section.

SLA Profiles

The premise of a SLA Profile is to provide a grouping of target settings when protecting a workload. This minimizes the amount of time spent configuring for protection. Think of this as a logical grouping construct.

The end value for a tenant is this is a single selection to protect a workload. One does not need to think about what settings to configure. Just select the Gold profile, and I’m done.

From a tenant point of view, they select the SLA profile that aligns directly to their recoverability requirements –

Selection of a SLA Profile

A SLA Profile consists of the following:

  1. Target Recovery Point Objective (target being the key word here)
  2. Retention Policy for Point in Time Instances
  3. Ability to Quiesce or Compress Replication Traffic
  4. Time select of the synchronization
SLA Profile Options

Upon upgrading or deploying VCDA 4.0, there are three default SLA profiles available: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. These are not associated to any organization at the time of deployment or upgrade.

SLA Profiles and Policies operate independently, but a SLA profile must respect the associated policy. Therefore, as the provider, it is important you establish SLA profiles that do not violate that parent policies.

Policies are necessary for each organization. This allows a provider to apply limits and/or maximums to any protected workload, including the ability to throttle bandwidth usage from a connected on-premises site –

Policy Configuration

Custom SLA Settings

There is another selection within the policy window: “Allow custom SLA settings.” This allows the tenant to override the stated SLA profile and discretely select the requirements needed for this protected workload.

This is controlled by the provider within the stated policy.

Allow custom SLA settings

Below is a GIF I created that depicts how a tenant could select a custom configuration by toggling the switch by SLA Profile –

Custom SLA Selection

Example

In summary, this example showcases how a Silver SLA Profile can be paired with a Silver Policy for an organization –

Example – SLA Policy + SLA Profile

Assignment of a SLA profile is done the same way as a policy. This is accomplished by assigning it to the organization. A organization can have many different SLA profiles assigned to it.

Assignment of SLA Profile

Considerations

  • SLA profiles are optional. One can continue with Policies, but we highly recommend these to simplify operations.
  • SLA profiles only pertain to protections. They are not utilized for migrations at this time.
  • A provider can revise a SLA profile if there is not any active protections consuming this profile. Please be aware of this consideration.

Stored Instances

This is a great new feature. With VCDA 4.0, one has the ability to preserve a point in time instance of a protected workload. This would supersede the stated policy, but is still controlled by the provider. This is done within the Policy framework as the selection of the maximum number of stored instances per replication.

Stored Instances

Upon selection of the Store button, we will receive a confirmation to confirm this selection. We can now see that the specific instance is now shown as “Permanent.”

Confirmation of Stored Instance
Stored Instance

This can be removed or deleted at any time. Do note, storage of any instances impacts any associated disk utilization over a period of time.

Live Disk Resizing

With vSphere 7.0, one can resize a protected workload without breaking the VCDA replication workflow. This is a great addition for tenants. The team has validated that this works on any connected premises sites and there are no changes required from a VCDA perspective (just vSphere 7.0).

As of this publication, the team is validating vSphere 7.0 support with VCD and VCDA for Cloud sites, but I expect this to be supported shortly.

Platform Integration – User Experience

Last, the platform experience continues to improve with a focus on ensuring ease of operations.

Refreshed User Interface

I am a big fan on the redesigned user interface for VCDA. The operations are much cleaner and intuitive for new users –

New UI

Each workload now has a sub-context menu that shows the details, instances, tasks, traffic, and disk utilization –

Sub-Menu

Multi-selection is allowed and provides context menus based on the actual selection –

Multi-Selection

Finally, there is a dark mode available with the standalone VCDA portal (not integrated into the plugin with VCD at this time) –

Dark Mode

Native VCD Extensibility

Last but not least, this is a great addition. With VCD 10.1 and VCDA 4.0, we now have direct integration within the action menu for VCDA operations!

VCDA Menu in VCD

Daniel-Test VM was already configured for VCDA protection, so we have specific operations available.

With a VM that is not currently protected by VCDA, we would have Configure Replication and Configure Migration –

VCDA Menu in VCD

Summary

In summary, this 4.0 release continues the VMware Cloud Provider Platform momentum. This release provides a simple, intuitive DRaaS and Migration solution. Our product and engineering team has done an incredible job on collaborating with our providers to prioritize new features and functionality.

For providers that are on 3.0.5 or 3.5.1, an in-place upgrade is available. The architecture is the same as 3.5, so the upgrade should be straight forward.

VCDA 4.0 – Download Page

VCDA 4.0 – Release Notes

Happy DR’ing!

-Daniel

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