Deploying vCloud Foundation 3.5 and the SDDC Bring-up process

Hi everyone, I recently attended a Vmware accreditation program on vCloud Foundation and just wanted to try evaluating the platform and see how things work. In this blog post we will walk through how to deploy the vCloud Foundation 3.5 and the SDDC bring-up process.

Before we start, lets define what vCloud Foundation is. vCloud Foundation integrates together the essential pieces of the Vmware’s Soft defined Datacenter framework – vSphere, vSAN, NSX & vRealize suite and with the SDDC manager that takes care of the whole platform deployment and lifecycle management. With vCloud Foundation, you are actually deploying the Vmware Validated Design for SDDC. There are vendors that offer Ready-built engineered integrated systems like DellEMC VxRack SDDC. The advantage of these ready built systems are that they take care of both the hardware and software lifecycle management with a single vendor support. Customers can also choose from a wide range of vSAN Ready nodes and deploy the platform themselves (a DIY approach), but in that case the hardware lifecycle management is separate and there are multiple vendors involved in the support matrix (Vmware and vSAN Ready node vendor).

My lab setup

8 ESXi hosts on DellEMC PE R640 platform – 4 for the Management Workload Domain and 4 for the Compute Workload Domain. ToR – 2 x S4048-ON in VLT and a dedicated OOB switch S3048-ON for iDRAC connectivity.


The hosts are named in the convention “VCF-RxNx” where R is the Rack number and N is the node number.

Preparing the hosts

  • The infrastructure already has an Active Directory which runs the DNS, NTP and DHCP services. DHCP is required for the VTEP IP assignment which we will see later.
  • All the hosts are installed with ESXi 6.7.
  • Basic ESXi commissioning done – set up management network, default gateway, DNS configuration, NTP settings and Domain suffix.
  • For this setup, the management VLAN is VLAN 1.
  • TSM-SSH service is enable on all the ESXi hosts with policy set to “Start and Stop with host”.


  • NTP service enabled and configured to point to AD and policy set to “Start and Stop with host”


Setting up the Vmware Cloud Builder VM

Cloud Build VM is available as an OVA appliance. In my case, i deployed it on a Vmware workstation host which is a management laptop that connects to the VCF platform. Cloud build VM is needed only for the initial deployment, it builds the VCF platform and deploys SDDC manager which will be then used for the lifecycle management. After the platform is built you can decommission the Cloud Build VM.

  • Import the Vmware Cloud Build OVA



  • Provide the basic configuration for the Cloud Build VM.



  • Now that the Cloud Build VM is up and running. To start the deployment, login to the Cloud Build VM on port 8008.



Starting the SDDC Bring up process

  • Login to the Cloud Build VM UI.
  • Now you are presented with the list of Pre-requisites that you need to complete. Make sure all these are met before proceeding.


  • You now need to download the Deployment Parameter sheet. Fill this sheet with the VCF environment details that need to be built. This sheet has several Tabs –
    • Under “Management Workloads”, you have to specify the VCF component licenses. This is mandatory
    •  Under “Users & Groups” specify the passwords for the ESXi hosts as well as for all the VCF components that will be deployed. Make sure the password is complex and is more that 8 characters long. For NSX Controllers, make sure the password is 12+ characters long.
    • Under “Hosts and Networks”, specify the VLAN, Subnets and MTU for the Port Groups of the Management network, vSAN network, vMotion network and VxLAN (VTEP) network. I chose MTU of 1500 for the vSAN and vMotion port group and 9000 for the VxLAN port group. Also specify which all ESXi hosts will become part of the management WLD.
    • Under “Deploy Parameters”, provide the VCF platform specific information like Naming standards for the VCF management VMs, IP pools, NTP, DNS etc.


  • Once the Deployment Parameter Sheet is populated, you can convert it to a json using the steps mentioned in the Architecture Guide on page 24:

Click to access vcf-30-ovdeploy-guide.pdf

  • Upload the json and validate.



  • When the validation succeeds, you are now presented with the “Begin SDDC Bring Up” page.

At this moment, take a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy watching the SDDC Bring up process in action.


  • Now that the SDDC Bring up process has completed. Vmware Cloud Build tool will deploy the SDDC Manager on the Management Workload Domain. Now you should be able to login to SDDC manager UI. It’s time to shutdown the Cloud Build VM and archive it.


Finishing the SDDC Bring up

  • Login to the SDDC Manager WebUI. Confirm the management WLD and the hosts that are being added to SDDC.


  • Login to the vCenter Server and confirm the management components


Note that vCenter Server is used for most of the day-to-day operations in the SDDC stack. SDDC Manager deals with mostly lifecycle operations and scaling scenarios – ie deploying a new Workload domain, Commissioning new hosts etc

With DellEMC’s integrated solution called VxRack SDDC, it includes VxManager plugin in the SDDC Manager console. In this case, this takes care of the hardware life cycle management as well.

Now that the Management WLD is being setup and this concludes this article. In the next post, we will go through adding a Compute WLD and how to scale the platform.

Thanks for reading







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