VMware Cloud Well-Architected Framework for Azure VMware Solution: Automation

Introduction

VMware Cloud is an open, extensible platform that provides several ways to integrate, extend, and automate IT workloads across VMware products and services. As automation has become increasingly important for hybrid cloud infrastructure and the expectation is to have an easy and fast way to automate and learn about new features of hybrid infrastructure, VMware Cloud provides a seamless developer experience across the entire platform with developer tools and automation tools available at your fingertips.

The automation of a process is based on series of criteria and logics, in a form of human-written codes or Machine Learning models, that consume metrics, events, and alerts as source of data for decision making.

Benefits in Automation of operational tasks

Automating a process comes with an initial cost in terms of time and resources, that should be analysed in terms of return of the investment when achieving some of the key benefits:

  • Reduce time to perform an action
  • Reduce risk in performing the action
  • Increased human capacity for further innovation
  • It increases productivity, reliability, and performance
  • It makes auditing easier or even possible in first place
  • Automation is work force multiplier

 

CI/CD Pipeline & Automation

Automation and continuous monitoring through all phases of app development are at the heart of DevOps and agile methods. A CI/CD pipeline is one of the most important assets for building, testing, and deploying modern applications. Continuous integration and continuous delivery forge a connection between a developer committing code and the delivery of new functionality to applications in production. Between the endpoints in a CI/CD pipeline, the code is built, verified with multiple tests, checked against audit and security controls, prepared for deployment, and, in some cases, automatically deployed to production.

Reliability and repeatability are key aspects of CI/CD that require automation.

 We recommend to:

  • questioning every manual task when possible; Implementing automation from the start is easier than performing major revamps to clear technical debts across multiple components of a distributed system.
  • formulate an automation strategy that best suits the teams and the technology stack.
  • The best strategy is to automate low-effort, high-value tasks first.

Continuous Assessment and Optimization

Workload rightsizing

Workloads on clouds are set to be as efficient as possible. However, common problems with the operation of virtual systems arise over time. Individual virtual machines (VMs) that run the workloads are supposed to have the right levels of processing power, memory, and disk space. Sometimes, though, they do not use what has been allocated to them, which results in inefficiency.

In workload rightsizing, cloud administrators assess the virtual CPU processing power allocated to a workload. They also look at the assigned RAM and virtual disk space, and what the workload uses.

Although administrators can use manual workload rightsizing, there are software tools available that provide this kind of administration. These tools can either suggest manual pre-provisioning of resources or, in some cases, change the provisioning automatically.

Rightsizing is important for a VM. Here are some benefits:

  • The processes inside the Guest OS may experience less ping-pong. The Guest OS may not be aware of the NUMA nature of the physical motherboard, and think it has a uniform structure. It may move processes within its own CPUs, as it assumes it has no performance impact. If the vCPUs are spread into different NUMA node, example a 20 vCPU on a box with 2-socket and 20 cores, it can experience the ping-pong effect.
  • Lower risk of NUMA effect. Lower risk that the RAM or CPU is spread over a single socket. Due to NUMA architecture, the performance will not be as good.
  • Lower co-stop and ready time. Even if not all vCPU is used by the application, the Guest OS will still demand all the vCPU be provided by the hypervisor.
  • Faster snapshot time, especially if memory snapshot is included.
  • Faster boot time. If a VM does not have a reservation, vSphere will create a swap file the size of the configured RAM. This can impact the boot time if the storage subsystem is slow.
  • Faster vMotion. Windows and Linux use memory as cache. The more it has, the more it uses, all else being equal.

Workload Optimization

Workload Optimization provides for moving virtual compute resources and their file systems dynamically across datastore clusters within a data center or custom data center.

Using Workload Optimization, you can rebalance virtual machines and storage across clusters, relieving demand on an overloaded individual cluster and maintaining or improving cluster performance. You can also set your automated rebalancing policies to emphasize VM consolidation, which potentially frees up hosts and reduces resource demand.

Workload Optimization further enables you potentially to automate a significant portion of your data center compute and storage optimization efforts. With properly defined policies determining the threshold at which resource contention automatically runs an action, a data center performs at optimum.

Capacity Planning

VMware Cloud Sizer is a complimentary VMware Cloud service that estimates the resources required to run various workloads within VMware Cloud.

In addition, the VMware Cloud Services Portal includes an integrated user interface for the sizer to make the process even easier to navigate.

VMware Cloud Sizer is responsible for estimating the resource utilization for any VMware Cloud deployment. The VMware Cloud Sizer currently supports VMware Cloud on AWS.

Estimating the resources required to host a given workload within VMware Cloud is a non-trivial task largely dependent on the presented data. The service can accurately calculate project utilization and requirements with the data although the data is not always available. Therefore, the service supports several different input methodologies and sizing workflows. The VMware Cloud Sizer tool has three different sizer options.

  • Quick Sizer
  • Advanced Sizer - Import
  • Advanced Sizer - Manual

Each of the sizer options provides you with an accurate estimation that is required to run your workload. The quick sizer is helpful in providing a rough estimation whereas an Advanced Sizer - Manual provides advanced accurate information in detail for your new deployments. For more information, see Access VMware Cloud Advanced Sizer - Manual.

The VMware Cloud Sizer provides a mechanism to sign in to your organization and access the different sizer options to calculate your workload estimation. The tool also provides an additional feature of creating and saving your entries as a project for your reference. For more information on creating a new project after signing into the sizer tool, see Create and Save Your Sizer Project in VMware Cloud Sizer.

OS & Application Patch Management

Organizations today are expected to support thousands of workloads across a wide range of device types.

Identifying and patching security risks across different applications and operating systems is challenging, particularly when not using a unified platform.

 

 


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