To start deploying vCloud Suite, you need a small number of physical hosts. Distribute your hosts into three types of clusters, in order to establish the foundation of a deployment that can later scale to tens of thousands of VMs.

Management, Edge, and payload clusters run the entire vCloud Suite infrastructure, in addition to customer workloads.

Deploying and leveraging vCloud Suite is a process that involves both technological transformation and operational transformation. As new technologies are deployed in the data center, your organization must also implement appropriate processes and assign the necessary roles.

In the diagram below, technological capabilities in color appear over organizational constructs in grayscale.

Conceptual Design of a vCloud Suite environment
SDDC clusters

Management cluster

The hosts in the management cluster run all management components required to support the software-defined data center. A single management cluster is required within a physical location. ESXi hosts running in the management cluster can be manually installed and configured to boot using local hard drives.

A management cluster provides resource isolation. Production applications, test applications, and other types of applications cannot use the cluster resources reserved for management, monitoring, and infrastructure services. Resource isolation helps management and infrastructure services to operate at their best possible performance level. A separate cluster can satisfy an organization's policy to have physical isolation between management and production hardware.

Edge cluster

The Edge cluster supports network devices that provide interconnectivity between environments. It provides protected capacity by which internal data center networks connect via gateways to external networks. Networking edge services and network traffic management take place in the cluster. All external facing network connectivity terminates in this cluster.

The ESXi hosts in the edge cluster are managed by a dedicated vCenter Server instance paired with VMware vCloud Networking and Security. Payload clusters that require access to external networks are managed by the same vCenter Server instance. As the platform scales, you should deploy additional Edge clusters to service specific groups of payload clusters.

This specialized cluster will likely be small and can be made up of older, less capable server systems when compared to the management and payload clusters.

Payload cluster

The payload cluster supports the delivery of all consumer workloads. The cluster remains empty until a consumer of the environment begins to populate it with virtual machines. You can scale up by adding more payload clusters.

You can create new edge and payload clusters, scale up, or scale out, as the data center grows in size.


You can choose to combine the management and Edge clusters into a single entity. However, the model with three types of clusters provides the best basis for scaling your environment.