Hossein Heidarian

Integrated Software-Defined Data Center with Hitachi Unified Compute Platform RS

Blog Post created by Hossein Heidarian Employee on Sep 4, 2017


Industry infrastructure deployment is transforming. This transformation is being driven by the need for IT to focus limited economic and human capital resources on leading business innovation, resulting in less resources available to focus on infrastructure.


On the one hand, customers are always trying to reduce their capital and operational expenses related to running data centers. The number of applications required to run a business, the amount of data associated with these applications, and the requirement to retain data for longer periods of time, along with the training and support tools required for operation of the infrastructure, are significant and expanding.


On the other hand, data centers are becoming drastically complex. Applications and workloads are increasingly growing. Also, IT organizations want to deliver faster service and be more flexible and agile using low cost to meet businesses requirements.


Hitachi Compute Platform (UCP) RS is the answer to these requirements. It is one of the optimized hyper-converged systems that has been designed by Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) using a VMware hybrid-cloud optimized software stack that allows customers to reduce the number of physical servers in their environment, migrating the application on those assets from a physical to virtual deployment. UCP RS has also been designed to reduce costs associated with maintenance of the infrastructure by automating many day to day operational tasks with maximum resiliency.


Hitachi UCP RS is a turnkey solution completely supported End-to-End by Hitachi Data Systems. UCP RS as a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) enables the convergence of compute, storage, networking, and management onto industry-standard x86 servers, providing a building-block approach with scale-out capabilities. By taking advantage of UCP RS, all main data center functions run as software on the VMware hypervisor in an integrated management software layer. In today’s modern data centers, HCI is a stepping stone to have a Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC), but lifecycle management and automation needs to be tightly coupled together.


What is the SSDC

Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) is a private or public cloud deployment, or both, in which IT infrastructure components such as compute, storage, network, and security are virtualized and delivered as a service. What SDDC Manager does is automate the entire bring up process of the VMware Cloud Foundation stack from ESX, vCenter, vSAN and NSX on top of Hitachi UCP RS. SDDC is a remarkable design trend driving a unique transformation of the IT infrastructure market. SDDC is VMware’s architecture vision for modern and flexible software-centric data center.


Figure 1


Cloud Foundation enables deployment of a private cloud environment based on VMware’s Software-Defined Data Center architecture. A Cloud Foundation installation is a turnkey private cloud instance that is easily deployed in a corporate network. In this environment, SDDC Manager enables the ability for streamlined and automated data center operations and delivery of service offerings, such as virtual infrastructure (VI) and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments, based on a VMware SDDC architecture on top of Hitachi UCP RS.


Hitachi Data Systems and VMware have been collaborating closely to build this solution to pave the way for providing a software defined data center.


Solution Overview

UCP RS hyper-converged infrastructure system, as shown in Figure 1. It leverages VMware’s Cloud Foundation, an integrated virtualization software platform that includes vSphere, vSAN, SDDC Manager, and NSX. The UCP RS is a system that is sized for customer workload, and made to customer's specifications. The solution arrives on site ready to be configured and quickly integrated into the data center network and to provision virtual servers within a couple of hours.


UCP RS, using VMware Cloud Foundation, is designed for companies that want to have a cloud platform with improved security, integrity, and of course, economy. Also, it has been developed by HDS for companies that desire standardization for VMware virtualization and cloud technologies and intend to have a premier base for automated data center operations. It is an intelligent and agile system that enables customers to develop an IaaS platform based on a compatible SDDC architecture. It is designed to consist of many VMs and provides features such as:

  • Performing day 0 to day 2 operational tasks in few couple of hours
  • Automated bring up process
  • Easy configuration and provisioning of the environment and the workload domains that are used to provide service offerings
  • Manage users, roles, and permissions
  • Scale-out by adding, assigning, and extending server nodes on the fly to expand compute, storage and networking resources exponentially
  • Pre-installed, pre-loaded, pre-configured, pre-tested, and fully optimized hardware and software stack
  • Supports a variety of application workloads
  • Easy day-to-day management


Hitachi hyper-converged UCP RS provides a reliable, easy and fast way to build a SDDC by leveraging of VMware Cloud Foundation and delivers a rack scale hyper-converged system that simplifies the transformation from a traditional data center to the SDDC.


UCP RS supports different workload domains. Workload domains are logical units that carve up the compute and storage resources of the entire installation. The Management workload domain includes all server nodes that are hosting specific infrastructure VMs but other VMs can also reside on this domain as well. Besides the Management workload domain, there are two pre-packaged environments that can be deployed as a workload that are called Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and Virtual Infrastructure (VI) workload domains. To deploy one of these workload domains, you can follow a work flow to carve a pool of capacity out of the available capacity, then SDDC Manager provisions the environment and names the workload domain, using the carved-out pool of capacity. When you create a VDI workload domain, the SDDC Manager will deploy the components from the VMware Horizon which are necessary for the VDI infrastructure to deliver a network-based virtual desktop. When you create a VI workload domain, SDDC Manager will reserve the specific pool of hardware capacity from the available resources, and will deploy the VMware software stack for the VI environment. It is good to know that it will deploy one or more vCenter Server Appliance instances, associate the ESXi host with those instances, and perform a suitable configuration of the hosts and virtual networks.


Technical Overview

UCP RS for VMware Cloud Foundation solution can start as small as four servers, and scale out to multiple racks. Additional capacity and performance can easily be added linearly in increments as small as one server at a time within a single rack. Each rack consists of one management switch for out-of-band traffic. Hitachi UCP RS is the major hardware component in this solution and most of its software elements rely on this appliance.


Figure 2


Deployment Process

After racking and stacking, taking advantage of the VMware imaging appliance (VIA) imaging process should start. HMS service will be upload on the Management switch, it will identify all equipment in a rack, and the equipment will be imaged and ready for VCF deployment. SDDC manager VM (VRM) and other infrastructure VMs such as vCenter, PSCs, ISVMs, and LCMs are created during the imaging process on the primary server node. The SDDC manager web interface helps determine necessary information for VCF deployment as well as: Management VLAN, vMotion VLAN, vSAN VLAN, VXLAN, and uplinks that connect the solution to the corporate network.


Figure 3



This example describes the advantage of the Hitachi UCP RS solution. If you want to deploy just a single vSAN datastore on top of four server nodes, you must to do the following:

  • Install vSphere on hosts, and then configure the management VMkernel port on each host.
  • Deploy VCSA and then create and configure a distributed virtual switch (vDS) with two distributed port groups, vMotion and vSAN.
  • Create two corresponding VMkernel port groups that are specifically designated for vSAN and vMotion on each host.
  • Create a vSAN cluster and move all hosts under the VSAN cluster with the HA feature enabled.
  • Configure the vSAN feature to create disk-group(s) by identifying the cache devices and capacity drives to contribute to corresponding tiers.


All in all, configuring a four node VSAN cluster takes between two to three hours. Whereas, by taking advantage of VMware's Integrated Software-Defined Data Center with the UCP RS solution, in addition to automatic vSphere and VCSA installation and configurations, and vSAN deployment, you can have an entire software-defined data center including software-defined network installation such as NSX, vRealize suite installed and configured in less than five hours. In general, this solution automates day 0 to day 2 operations and deploys all operations in a couple of hours on top of reliable hardware.


Network Topology

All equipment is connected to the management switch. Also, two Top of Rack (ToR) switches in each rack and server nodes are connected to two ToR switches redundantly. For multi-rack solutions, two spine switches are used for inter-rack operability.


Figure 4



The IT industry is evolving more rapidly than ever, transforming from traditional data centers to modern software-defined data centers, and this should be taken into account by IT departments. This is not only for running on the verge of technology, but it also reduces costs by automating repetitive tasks and delivering services in a minimum time frame. Hitachi UCP RS is the answer for today's IT demands to deliver agile, flexible, and reliable services based on organization requests, and it is a cornerstone in a new and modern data center that provides an easy and fast way to deploy SDDC.