A Quick Glance of Google Cloud VMware Engine

Google Cloud VMware Engine (GCVE) has been in market for a while, but this is the first time I get chance to take a closer look into the GCVE solution. For VMware enthusiast, Google did provide an impressive solution (same as AWS and Azure) to allow the existing on-premise VMware virtual machines to be transparently lift-and-shifted into public cloud environment.

What is Google Cloud VMware Engine (GCVE)?

For someone who did not hear this solution before, Google Cloud VMware Engine (GCVE) is a fully managed VMware-as-a-Service product in Google Cloud Platform (GCP). GCVE provides the same capabilities, features and architecture as an on-premises deployment of VMware ESXi. In simple word, Google will run ESXi stack for you and you just paid for the usage of ESXi stack.

What are the components of Google Cloud VMware Engine?

One single GCVE environment is call Private Cloud. A private cloud is an isolated VMware stack (ESXi hosts, vCenter, vSAN, and NSX) environment managed by a vCenter Server in a management domain. In each private cloud, below components are included:

  • VMware vCenter – Each private cloud contains one instance of the vCenter Server, which manages multiple ESXi nodes contained in one or more vSphere Clusters.
  • VMware ESXi Server Node – VMware Engine is allocated by the node, with the minimum configuration of three nodes up to a maximum of 64 nodes per private cloud. (Single Node option is available but no recommended for any production usage.)
  • Storage – The GCVE local storage is based on VMware VSAN with all-flash NVMe-based storage. In addition, Google Cloud Storage services and third-party cloud storage options (e.g. NetApp Cloud Volumes) is available.
  • Network – VMware NSX-T
  • Migration Tool – VMware HCX.
  • Licensing – All the VMware licenses needed to run the service are included: ESXi, vCenter, vSAN, NSX-T, HCX.

How to connect GCVE with on-premise environment?

First, as a Google Cloud foundation component ,a hub VPC is required to be setup to connect Google Cloud to on-premise via interconnect or VPN. To access GCVE from on-premise, you can treat GCVE environment as a service, like VM instance, and connect it to the hub VPC (includes shared VPC). However, unlike generic resource, a private service access is required to sit between GCVE and VPC and connect both.

Private services access is a private connection between GCVE and VPC network and a network owned by Google or a third party. A single private service access is required per project no matter how many private clouds created in this project.

How long it takes to provision GCVE?

This is the most attractive part of the GCVE as the ESXi Stack provisioning and node addition can be done anytime on demand. Based on testing, provisioning the initial cluster might take 1~2 hours for a three-node cluster. Once the cluster is provisioned, the node addition takes around 40 minutes to finish which is amazing.

How GCVE is maintained?

Google is responsible for lifecycle management of VMware software (ESXi, vCenter, PSC, and NSX) in the private cloud as below:

  • Patches: security patches or bug fixes released by VMware
  • Updates: minor version change of a VMware stack component
  • Upgrades: major version change of a VMware stack component

Google tests a critical security patch as soon as it becomes available from VMware. Per SLA, Google rolls out the security patch to private cloud environments within a week.

Google provides quarterly maintenance updates to VMware software components. For a new major version of VMware software version, Google works with customers to coordinate a suitable maintenance window for upgrade.

Summary

If your organization is already a Google Cloud subscriber and had deployed some foundation service like VPC, Inter-Connect and security features. In addition, your organization’s services are heavily running on on-premise VMware farms. In this scenario, GCVE is definitely a solution worth to consider as a fast approach to shift the infrastructure into public cloud.

Think about how quick the ESXi farm can be provisioned and new node can be added, this could solve the key pain point in most on-premise environments.

Regarding the cost, GCVE is charged per node per hour with discount option by pre-paid up front. The cost can start from a small amount of money in initial stage. However, before making decision to move to GCVE, it is recommended to carefully review the total cost of longer term (3 years for example) by considering the increased ESXi node usage.

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