vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 5.1 – Custom Property of the Day #1 – Operating System

Property of the day is a new series I’m starting where I will cover a different custom property each day. This is the first property of the day check back each day for a new property.

POTD #1 Operating System
 
vCAC version: 5.1
 
Property Name
 
VMware.VirtualCenter.OperatingSystem
 
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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 5.1 – Preventing vCAC from Deleting Destroyed Virtual Machines

The default behavior in vCAC when destroying a vSphere virtual machine is to delete it completely and permanently.  In some environments and use cases, this may not be desired.  Luckily, vCAC allows you to change this behavior.  Instead of deleting them when they are destroyed, you can configure vCAC to power off virtual machines and move them to a folder called VRMDeleted in the vSphere Datacenter root (if this folder doesn’t exist, vCAC will create it on first use).  This can be especially helpful if you are troubleshooting post-provisioning or guest customization problems, as you will be able to investigate inside the guest operating system after the failure.

This setting is changed on the vSphere Proxy Agent for each vCenter you would like to affect.  To “turn off doDeletes”, perform the following steps:

  1. Login to the vSphere Proxy Agent system, open a command prompt, and change directories into the program folder for the appropriate vSphere Proxy Agent (%SystemDrive%\Program Files (x86)\DynamicOps\DCAC Agents\agentName by default).
  2. Run this command:
    DynamicOps.Vrm.VRMencrypt.exe VRMAgent.exe.config set doDeletes false
  3. Restart the proxy agent service
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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 5.1 – Example CMDB Integration

I keep getting asked for an example of integrating into a CMDB. The challenge with this is which CMDB, Asset, or Ticketing system do you create an example around. They are all very different and most organizations have heavily customized them. My solution was to create a sample system to demonstrate vCAC’s capabilities and leave the specifics of any particular CMDB out of the equation.

In this tutorial I’m going to show you how to integrate vCAC 5.1 into an external system of your choosing. In my example I’m using a simple SQL database with a very simple web front end. My workflow is going to call a PowerShell Script that uses SQL statements to update the database with the value I want populated. Now you can take this and have execute code to talk to a specific API or database, btu the point is how to get the data you want from vCAC when you want it and make it usable to push to another system.

I have provided my sample database, web front-end, Workflows,and Scripts download here.
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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 5.1 – Enable Connect Using SSH

You may have noticed on the security tab of a blueprint there is an option you can enable to “Connect using RDP or SSH”. You may have also noticed when you provision a Windows Server you see a “Connect using RDP” menu option, but when you provision a Linux Server you don’t see a “Connect using SSH” option. This article is going to tell you how to enable the “Connect using SSH” option for Linux Servers.

There are a few things you need to know before we enable this. Windows does not have a default SSH handler, so simply enabling this option won’t do you a whole lot of good unless you configure Windows for a default SSH handler. Doing this will require a registry edit. There are tools that enable this as part of their installation, but I’m going to show you how to do it using putty.
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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 5.1 – Creating Relational Drop Down Fields

One of the great benefits of vCloud Automation Center is it’s Self-Service capabilities and although vCAC has a great Self-Service experience right out of the gate most organizations are going to want to tailor the request experience match their specific needs. vCAC has many ways this can be done, but one very simple way to do this is through the use of the Property Dictionary. The Property Dictionary allows us to create drop down lists, check boxes, date/time inputs, free form text fields, integer field and other methods of input. In this tutorial I’m going to walk you through using the Property Dictionary to create relational drop down fields that you can leverage to capture additional information from your users at the time of request.

Watch the step-bt-step video tutorial!

Configuring Property Definitions

  1. Go to “Enterprise Administrator“, then “Property Dictionary“, and select “Add Property Definition“.
  2. vcacrddf-1

  3. Give your property definition a “Name” in this example “Datacenter“, assign a “Display Name“, choose the “Control Type” of “DropDownList“, select “Required” and click the green check mark.
  4. vcacrddf-2
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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 5.1 – Workflow Designer Walk-Through – Add Computer Account to Active Directory OU

OK so in this article we are going to create our first workflow that executes a powershell script that adds a computer account to active directory in whatever OU you would like it to be placed in. Our Powershell script will get loaded in to the Model Manager Repository and we will modify the “MachineRequested” workflow stub to execute our script. Then we will use the workflow stub property to determine for which VM’s we want want the workflow stub to execute.

Dependencies

Active Directory Module for Powershell

  1. Open the Powershell Console
  2. Run “Import-Module ServerManager”
  3. Run “Add-WindowsFeature RSAT-AD-Powershell”

Installation

Create Powershell Script
First thing we need to do is create our powershell script. The script that we will need has to do a few things. It needs to pull values from vCAC that will be used to add the machine to AD. The values we are going to pull are Hostname, DNSDomain, & Active Directory OU. We will use the Hostname and DNSDomain to create the FQDN for the server. The code for the script is below or you can just download it from here.

## Assign Custom Properties from vCAC to variables to be utilized as part of our script.
## Script created by Sid Smith http://www.dailyhypervisor.com
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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 5.1 – Installing the Workflow Designer

The VMware vCloud Automation Center Designer is a great tool that allows you to modify pre-built workflow stubs that are included with the designer. These workflow stubs allow you add custom machine menu items, call out to external systems at different states of the machines lifecycle including:

  • Machine Requested
  • Machine Provisioned
  • Machine Expired
  • Machine Destroyed
  • Machine Registered

These are very common machine lifecycle states to perform activities such as:

  • CMDB Integration
  • Help Desk Ticketing System Integration
  • Asset System Integration
  • IP Management System Integration
  • DNS Integration
  • and many many more…….

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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 5.1 – Installing Self-Service Portal

vCAC comes with a self-service portal outside the standard portal. The self-service portal is included with the vCAC-51-Extensibiliy installation files. The reason it is included with the extensibility file sit that it is provided as an example of what you could build on your own. However it has quickly become the portal that everyone is using. To install the portal you need to download the VMware vCloud Automation Center 5.1 – Development Kit. In the kit their is an installation file named “DCAC-SelfService-Setup.exe” this is the installer for the Self-Service portal.

Installing the Self-Service Portal

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HP MoonShot – Hardware is catching up with the cloud

HP is taking cloud computing to the next level with their MoonShot servers. Cloud isn’t just software anymore.

Now I don’t know if HP MoonShot can solve all of today’s datacenter issues, but it surely is a start. Moonshot is an interesting concept HP is taking Intel Atom S1260 processors, on a bunch of micro PC sized cards and put them all in one chassis. One MoonShot chassis is capable of housing 45 servers, that’s just incredible. HP is claiming that the MoonShot servers consume 89% less energy than a traditional servers. Considering each of the 45 servers in the chassis are pulling straight DC from the chassis and each individual server is not running an 800W power supply that is only 60% efficient I would think it’s possible. In fact the Moonshot chassis takes 2-4 1200W power supplies that are 94% efficient. Not only are you powering 45 servers with these power supplies, but the chassis also houses two Ethernet switch modules and two uplinks with SFPs.
moonshotProdImg_471x292
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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 5.1 – Automated Installation Of Windows Guest Agent

In this article I’m gong to walk through automating the installation of the Windows Guest Agent. There are advantages to automating the guest agent installation. One advantage is instead of pre-installing it in your template you can script the install using the “Run Once” capability exposed through the vCenter Customization Specification.
 
Included in the vCAC installation package is a zip file named DCAC-GuestAgent2010Zip.zip. This has all the exploded files that are used within the Windows Guest Agent Installer. These are the files we will be utilizing to manually install the service.

Preparing the files for Installation

1. First thing we need to do is extract the zip file so we can access the files within it.
 
2. Inside the zip file there is a file name “VRMAgent.exe.config” we need to edit this file and replace all references to “localhost” with the “IP” address or “hostname” of the “vCAC server“.
 
3. Next place the files in a folder on an open share where they can be accessed during the sysprep operation.
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