VMware Cloud Foundation FAQs

How to build a solid base for your multi-cloud architecture
VMware Cloud Foundation FAQs
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introduction to VMware Cloud Foundation

Exploring practical insights


If you know VMware technology then you’ll recognise its pivotal role in advancing virtualisation and being a building block for the cloud.

Over 20 years ago VMware started with virtualising physical servers and has progressively added more and more products and cloud solutions to their portfolio including virtual desktops, storage, networking, security, automation, management and, most recently, application containerisation.

Combining these components enables comprehensive platforms to be built. However, this can also increase the complexity organisations face in designing and delivering their own cloud model.

Sandstone Columns Against A Blue Sky Demonstrating Complexity In Nature

hybrid cloud complexity

This complexity can result in an extended research and design phase, ensuring the right product selection and validating compatibility and interoperability. Mistakes made at this architecture stage can quickly result in cost or delivery issues and unnecessary complexity once the solution finally lands in production.

a standardised approach to accelerate modernisation and simplify outcomes

VMware Cloud Foundation is designed to solve this problem by integrating the core VMware technologies into a standardised off-the-shelf solution, simplifying the deployment of an end-to-end set of certified hybrid cloud services. This fully featured platform also benefits from being continually developed and increasing in capability over time while maintaining the compatibility between individual components.

VMware Cloud Foundation as a turnkey approach

VMware Cloud Foundation scales in a modular way and also extends to integrate VMware services running on leading public cloud providers including AWS, Azure and Google. This flexible hybrid or multi-cloud capability allows organisations to select the best location to host their applications or key technology functions and evolve those decisions in line with changing business needs. The management tools and capabilities remain the same regardless of the approach adopted.

VMware provides editions of VMware Cloud Foundation designed to suit different business needs and levels of adoption. For example, the base starter package contains the components necessary to run, manage and secure a core cloud environment. Customers can start with the tier that best suits their needs, scaling their adoption and unlocking more advanced storage, networking, automation, and modern application capabilities when they are ready and benefits can be realised.

>>  For more detailed information on licensing tiers and routes to adoption, see question seven

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question one

What is VMware Cloud Foundation?

At its core, VMware Cloud Foundation is a private cloud platform containing a combination of VMware software technologies that have been designed and certified by VMware to all work and integrate together.

The platform is designed in the first instance to provide a standardised building block to enable organisations to introduce more advanced cloud capabilities and easily migrate from heritage vSphere environments. Adding storage, networking, security, automation and application capabilities to this foundation provides a route to the modern and flexible features that the VMware hybrid cloud platform offers.

Secondly, VMware Cloud Foundation has been designed as a foundation to extend to public cloud services, enabling hybrid cloud operating models from a consistent baseline. This is achieved using familiar standardised tools that can manage heterogenous cloud footprints wherever they exist.

four flavours to choose from


Automate infrastructure deployment and provisioning with the inclusion of lifecycle management for VMware’s core hyperconverged stack for traditional VM workloads.


Adopt cloud management in an on-premises data center with integrated Tanzu Standard and VM management.


Evolve the VMware-based cloud operating model with advanced cloud management tools and integrated Tanzu Standard and VM workload automation.


Implement a full enterprise cloud operating model with advanced management networking, and storage, optimised with integrated Tanzu Standard and VM workload automation.

Recognising that organisations are on different journeys, VMware Cloud Foundation is software that is packaged and licensed in 4 key editions, delivering capabilities from standard to advanced. This means that organisations can purchase at the level that works for their business today, delivering immediate benefit against clear business cases. When relevant, organisations can then continue to upgrade to different tiers, unlocking new capabilities as opportunities and further benefits are identified.

The packaged approach means that all the benefits of a certified integrated platform are maintained throughout its lifetime.

>> For a licensing deep dive see question seven

question two

What challenges does VMware Cloud Foundation address?

access to modern cloud in a standardised but flexible way

  • Off-the shelf: Removing the complexity of mix and match design with a certified pre-defined architecture reduces transformation time, cost and risk. A combination of capabilities all designed to work together and each being independently recognised as best in class technology.
  • Logical upgrade path: For organisations who have previously invested in VMware technology it enables an upgrade path from traditional VMware vSphere solutions to a modern cloud platform unlocking new advanced capabilities but while able to retain and build on the same existing operating skills.
  • Modular and extensible: Being modular enables the platform to scale in size and location, but while also being the building block to extend into public clouds, all using the same management tools. Ability to scale and progressively unlock more advanced features and capabilities as business needs evolve.
  • Simplified maintenance: VMware certify the version interoperability and update path for every software component underpinned by lifecycle automation tools, resulting in reduction of maintenance overhead and risk.
  • Integrated security and compliance: Solutions are integrated throughout the platform, not just in selected components.
faster time to market

by eliminating complex processes around system design, testing, bring-up and configuration

increase in admin productivity

by automating day two operations such as patching, updates, and monitoring

reduction in TCO

of private clouddeployments

Senior Board Members Discuss The Adoption Of Multi-Cloud Utilising Vmware Cloud Foundation

providing wider value to the organisation

Beyond VMware Cloud Foundation’s technological value there are many broader business benefits for key roles in organisations.

  • Head of IT Ops: A well-integrated suite of products providing IT organisation with consistent management tools simplifying training and knowledge management. vRealize Automation provides a platform for achieving operational efficiencies and process standardisation, opening up self-service to the wider business.
  • CIO: An opportunity to achieve the last wholescale infrastructure transformation program. By delivering mature private cloud functionality to in-house infrastructure and offering a managed gateway to integrate VMware and other hyperscaler cloud platforms, VMware Cloud Foundation supports a strategic roadmap based on incremental change and delivery.
  • CFO: The licensing model for VMware Cloud Foundation enables components to be licensed when the organisation is ready to take advantage of them avoiding wasted investment and allowing the procurement, deployment and adoption path to be defined by forecast business benefit. Integration to public cloud services allows costs to be optimised through incremental migration, minimising dual running and reducing the need for investment in new management platforms and skills.
  • CISO: Inconsistent approaches to security across different technologies can result in unmanaged vulnerabilities. VMware Cloud Foundation provides controlled security management across virtual machines and containers across private and public clouds and can be extended with VMware Carbon Black, SD-WAN and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solutions. A single platform supporting multiple public cloud environments reduces the risk of technology islands requiring different security frameworks.
  • Internal Audit, Risk and Compliance: As an integrated suite of products compatibility is assured allowing maintenance and patching to be carried out in line with policy. Common management tools applied across cloud environments simplifies knowledge transfer and reduces the risk of key person dependencies.

>> Find out more on the VMware website

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question three

What are the key use cases and drivers?

consolidation and future proofing

Modernisation of the data centre with a consistent operating model across IT infrastructure to reduce silos, management overhead and costs.

  • Standardised and certified platform architecture: enables simplified access to latest technologies for security, storage, networking, automation, self-service, and modern applications to reduce service delivery time. Ability to unlock new features as the organisation evolves provides flexibility and cost management.
  • Stable operations and advanced management capabilities: enable reduced operational overhead, and increased capability to expand complex services with less risk.
  • Ongoing development of the platform: VMware continually enriches the capabilities while providing future proofing and ease of scalability at the same time.

infrastructure foundation for digital workspace

A common foundation for deploying modern future-ready workforce solutions that take advantage of secure, scalable and automated capabilities of the platform.

  • Multi-vendor solution capable: supporting virtual desktop and application delivery including fully integrated and optimised VMware, Microsoft and Citrix solutions.
  • Multi-cloud support: is scalable to expand the same integrated solution across multiple public clouds, enabling flexible workload and application placement.

path to multi-cloud

VMware Cloud Foundation powers VMware Cloud offered inside leading public cloud providers.

  • VMware Cloud: enables VMware Cloud Foundation to natively extend a common digital infrastructure and management platform to providers including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Oracle Cloud.

path to application modernisation

Decouple applications from infrastructure to enable independence and mobility while leveraging the features of a common digital infrastructure platform to transition from old, or to develop new.

  • Consistent and compliant: integration into the core features of VMware Cloud Foundation to develop modern applications, that have baked-in security and compliance with standardised management.
  • Automation: provides a self-service experience for developers and a more joined up integration with operations that when combined delivers improved continuous software lifecycle development.
  • Simplified management: provides a unified operating model, which means application development infrastructure can be centrally managed across multiple clouds.
Three Developers Work Collaboratively At One Workstation
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question four

What are the deployment options?

Once the tier has been selected, VMware Cloud Foundation can be deployed in 3 ways:

  • Software deployment: Purchase the VMware Cloud Foundation software and select hardware from VMware certified providers
  • Integrated system: Purchase the software factory pre-installed on hardware from OEM providers including Dell EMC, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Cisco, HPE, Lenovo and QCT
  • As a Service from the Public Cloud: Consume as a service from accredited VMware Cloud providers who provide the hardware, software, and management services as a complete offering

Each option requires different skills and experience to deploy, configure and operate effectively, and to support this process VMware operates an accreditation program for VMware Cloud Foundation partners who can support customers through these transformations.

Three Happy Colleagues Working Collaboratively In A Multi-Cloud Environment Built Using Vmware Cloud Foundation

question five

What is the entry level deployment size and how far does it scale?

VMware Cloud Foundation can be architected to be deployed in one of two different operating models – Consolidated and Standard.

Consolidated enables a minimum viable deployment consisting of 4 vSphere hosts, and is a good fit for low or mid-size requirements which have lower resource demands and scalability requirements, and any of the editions support these approaches.

The recommendation for the Standard deployment is to start with a minimum of 7 vSphere hosts which provides greater management resilience and performance protection.

Whatever the starting point, VMware Cloud Foundation can evolve and scale in line with VMware’s published product limitations and typically can meet the needs of the largest enterprises.

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question six

What capabilities does VMware Cloud Foundation contain?

Each of the 4 key editions are targeted at different business needs and unlocks additional functionality. The following is a summary overview for each one.

  • Starter: This package contains all the basic elements of a VMware cloud plus additional management and automation tools. The base includes the core virtualisation platform augmented with the hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) of virtual storage (vSAN) and networking (NSX).

It does not contain Tanzu, the modern application component, so the most logical use case would be as a starting point of a transition from an existing older VMware virtual infrastructure or deploying a new infrastructure.

  • Standard: This edition provides many of the same features as Starter, but substitutes out the vRealize cloud management capabilities such as advanced monitoring, management and automation. It does this in favour of Tanzu, which enables Kubernetes containers, the cloud native tools for modernising applications enabling containers to run alongside virtual machines.
Two Colleagues Working Together From The Office
  • Advanced: This mid-level edition builds on Standard with the re-addition of vRealize, but the more advanced Enterprise version with enhanced management and automation tools for those organisations where transformation business cases rely on early delivery of operational efficiencies. Advanced provides a structured upgrade path for those who have deployed and stabilised their initial VMware Cloud Foundation investment and are looking to evolve their VMware-based cloud operating model and enable further efficiencies.
  • Enterprise: This bundle is largely the same as the Advanced Edition however the virtual storage and networking components are upgraded to the Enterprise versions to enable a comprehensive cloud operating model. Capabilities include enhanced security, storage optimisation, multi-site abilities and file backup as well as advanced network operations, hybrid cloud mobility and detailed traffic visibility.

question seven

How is VMware Cloud Foundation licensed?

VMware Cloud Foundation contains a number of individual software components, that each have their own product feature tiers and all tightly integrate with each other. To simplify purchasing VMware have created categorised Editions to suit the more common business needs and use cases.

The following table outlines each Edition, individual products and their feature tiers. Access to individual product features varies based on the license tier of each product, however individual license upgrades and add-ons can also be purchased as needed so you can customise up front or over time.

Young Developer In Modern Office Getting On With Their Work Efficiently Using Enhanced Cloud Performance

1. Components are offered as perpetual licenses unless specified, since the introduction of VMware Cloud Universal licensing VMware Cloud Foundation is also available as subscription
2. Tanzu component is offered as a term subscription and Tanzu Standard can be upgraded to Tanzu Advanced
3. All components included in VMware Cloud Foundation subscription are term subscriptions with the exception of vRealize Cloud Universal which is a SaaS offering

technical overview

  • SDDC Manager: A software appliance used to manage all the core functions of VMware Cloud Foundation and the components within. This provides a single management pane for the collection of software that makes up the various Editions and includes logical architecture, software and services deployment, lifecycle management, configuration, security and other administrative functions.
  • vSphere: The core server virtualisation product that powers the platform’s capability to deploy and manage virtual machines and the surrounding central infrastructure that supports it. It includes VMware ESXi, the hypervisor which also contains standard virtual networking, and vCenter which is one of the central management capabilities.
  • vSAN: Software that virtualises storage from one or more hardware storage devices, reducing siloes, enabling flexible plication, management for block and file storage. It is fully integrated into vSphere which together forms VMware’s Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI).

The Enterprise version contains additional enterprise level functions such as encrypted data-at-rest and data in transit (over the wire encryption), stretched cluster with local resilience, file services, HCI mesh (can bring together multiple vSAN islands), and data persistence.

  • NSX: A complete networking and security virtualisation platform that manages Layer 2 to Layer 7. NSX, in the same way as vSphere and vSAN, makes it possible to assign and manage network resources independently of the underlying hardware. This model enables virtual cloud networks that can extend across data centres, cloud platforms and application frameworks. In this way networking, security and applications can be integrated, in whatever format they are running.
  • vRNI: Provides advanced network management capabilities including intelligent application discovery, network optimisation, analytics, and troubleshooting across private and public clouds.
  • vRealize Suite: This comprises a collection of management software which depending upon which feature tier contains Automation, Log Insight, Operations and Lifecycle Manager. The aims of this toolset are to reduce operational overhead and increase speed of business delivery through automation, simplify maintenance and provide increased robustness of complex or mission critical environments.
  • Tanzu: Fully integrated into the core platform, this delivers managed and automated container development with Kubernetes and microservices, enabling new services to be developed and efficiently published, and a path for heritage applications to be modernised all within a common VMware management ecosystem.

question eight

What hardware can it run on?

The platform can run on certified server, storage and networking hardware configurations from many of the leading providers including Dell, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Cisco, HPE, Lenovo and QCT. This enables organisations to benefit from existing hardware supplier relationships while retaining the flexibility to deploy and configure VMware Cloud Foundation themselves.

>> View the VMware Compatibility Matrix

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question nine

Does it integrate with existing VMware deployments?

VMware Cloud Foundation is designed to co-exist and integrate with existing or legacy VMware environments. It also has functionality built in to simplify the migration process from those environments, typically reducing the cost of deployment and transition.