vRA – vRealize Automation and ServiceNow Integration

Some of you may have attended the vRA and ServiceNow presentation at VMworld 2017 yesterday.  I regret not being able to attend and present it myself, however I’m certain that Chris Smith and Ian Smith did a fantastic job.  Here I want to recap some of what was presented during that session.

It’s important to understand what options are available and what features they offer in order to understand what you really need when integrating with ServiceNow.  To start do you need what is referred to as North/South integration, East/West Integration, or both.  Below is a list of what capabilities fall under each classification.

North/SouthEast/West
ServiceNow used as CatalogvRA used as Catalog
VMware vRealize Automation handles automation and orchestration.VMware vRealize Automation handles automation and orchestration.
Create or update CI recordsCreate or update CI records
Available via VMware ITSM plugin, AVNet Plugin, or Custom REST API integration.Available via VMware ITSM plugin, SovLabs plugin, Avnet Plugin, or custom vRealize Orchestrator workflows.

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SovLabs – Solutions for VMware vRealize Automation

If you have been to the VMware Solutions Exchange you most certainly have seen the name SovLabs.  Although their solutions are regularly called plug-ins, I assure you they offer more than just orchestrator-based plug-ins.  I first started working with their solutions earlier this year and I was instantly hooked.  Many of you have used vRO extensions that were made available by Tom Bonanno or myself posted here on Dailyhypervisor.  One in particular is the custom hostname extension for vRA.  While that extension has helped hundreds if not more of you, many of you quickly discovered the downside of using it.  That downside being management overhead and lack of support.  As much as we would have liked to offer support to those in need we simply don’t have the bandwidth to do so.  Even upgrading the extension we put out for new versions of vRA in a timely manner had its challenges for us.

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VMware vRealize Automation – vRA7 – Custom Hostnaming Extension for vRA7 and beyond

THIS EXTENSION IS NO LONGER MAINTAINED

I want to thank all of you that have downloaded and used this module.  We never expected it to be as widely used as it has been.  We decided to stop maintaining this because it was originally built as an example of how one could achieve this capability.  Much to our surprise it has been deployed into countless production environments.  As a result we have received countless requests for support which we cannot provide.

Their is good news however.  Their is a commercially available supported product that is capable to doing much more than this module is capable of.  For more information   See article on SovLabs Hostname Module 

Overview

One of the most frequent asks when using vRA is, “How do I deploy machines using my company’s hostnaming standards automatically using vRA?”  Since the out-of-the box hostnaming only provides a way to do prefix-suffix, the answer to this question usually is that it will require customization.

This solution is intended to provide a way to implement this functionality by using a small, highly versatile custom extension which can handle 95% of use cases without writing custom code.

The rest of this article contains instructions on installing and configuring the vRA Custom Hostnaming Extension.  This extension allows administrators to model very specific custom hostnaming schemes for their vRA virtual machines, Deployments, and vCloud Director vApps using vRA custom properties, with dynamic creation of stock machine prefixes and index tracking for each unique hostname combination.

This extension is proof-of-concept or demo grade.  While it runs well and consistently, it has not been put through a formal quality assurance process, so please use with caution.

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vRealize Automation 7–vRA7–Announced – Get a look at what’s to come!

Many of you have already heard the news about vRA7.  Now that it has been officially announced I can start to share some useful information regarding this transformative release of vRealize Automation.  I want to start by stating I cannot discuss anything related to GA release date so don’t expect to find anything related to when this will be released.  This article is aimed to give you an overview of some of the great new features coming in version 7 and as the starting point for a  series of vRA7 walk-through articles.

vRealize Automation 7 Installation

I think you are all going to be very pleased with the new installation wizard.  It takes 98% of the pain out of deploying vRA, and let’s face it, it wasn’t that difficult in the 6.x release.  To start much like the vRA 6.x installation process you will need a Windows Server available, but you no longer have to make sure you have all the pre-requisites completed.  The only pre-requisite you will need is to install a simple installation agent on server and that’s it.  The installation will not only check for the pre-requisites, but it will allow you to resolve them if they are not met.

The installation also now let’s you choose between a simple installation and a fully distributed installation.  This is huge.  If you have ever done a distributed installation this is where most of the pain was felt.  VMware has truly raised the bar and done a fantastic job with the installer.

 

image image image image image  image

 

Identity Management

Not a fan of the SSO solution in previous releases of vRA?  Then you are in luck.  vRA7 no longer uses the Identity Appliance and VMware SSO.  It leverage VMware Identity Manager.  There are so many great aspects to this welcomed change starting with one less virtual appliance to deploy.  That’s correct Identity Management is built in to the vRA virtual appliance.  Besides simplifying the installation it will also simplify integrations giving you the ability to authenticate a user via an external source and pass that token to vRA preventing the need for the user to login yet again.  Look for some more in-depth articles coming on this soon.

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Unified Blueprints

Blueprint creation just got a whole lot easier and a whole lot more feature rich.  For those of you who have been using vRA 6.x you are going to really appreciate the new Blueprint designer.  Drag and drop templates, networks, applications, XaaS workflows on the canvas and build your blueprint visually.  This is just the start.  Remember the 6.x NSX integration?  Remember how it only worked with multi-machine blueprints?  Guess what?  That is no longer the case.  Add one machine add ten is doesn’t matter.  Use existing networks, create new ones, assign securty tags, security groups, load balancers, and more.  It’s like those old Prego commercials…..”It’s in there”.  Are you an application services user?  Remember having to pull in the single machine vRA blueprints to use with App Services and then publish them to the vRA catalog?  Guess what?  You guessed it.  If you want to deploy an application to a template on your cancase, you just drop the application on to the template.  Look for a lot of great articles to come on this.

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Blueprints as Code

Ever wish you could export and import blueprints?  Wish no more!  vRA7 features the ability to export you blueprints as code.  Once exported you can manipulate the file is needed and import into another vRA7 or the same vRA7 instance.  Imagine exporting your bleuprints checking it into GIT for version control and running those bleuprints builds through Jenkins to facilitate new “builds” and then importing it back into vRA7.  Well no need to image because it’s all possible.  Another feature to help with the transformation to DevOps.

Enhanced Extensibility

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, it does.  The new event broker system in vRA completely transforms how you will integrate to 3rd party systems in vRA7.  Some of the features here include dynamically assigning workflows to builds based on filters.  Remember how complicated it could be get the right workflows to run based on custom properties?  Well this if the possibilities, trigger a workflow based on the requestor, the machine name, the blueprint, and more…..and this is just one of the cool features of event broker.  Use event topics such as Post Approval, Pre Approval, Blueprint configuration, resource reclamation, Business Group Configuration, XaaS, Machine LIfecycle, and Machine Provisioning.    Look for a whole ton of articles on this as well as new releases of workflows based on this new event broker.

 

image

 

These are just some of the great new features in vRA7, I can’t wait to start posting new articles on how to works with the awesome new features.

No clouds just people – I have an ask for all of you!

If you read  my blogs you know I’m usually all business talking tech and providing my readers with what I hope is useful information.  Today I’m writing to ask for your support.  My wife and I are raising money for Muscular Dystrophy by participating in the Harley Davidson Ride for life fund raiser.  Last year Ride for Life donated $1.09M dollars to the MDA as part of this charitable event and hopefully this year we can raise even more.

My ask of you:

If you have found the information on this blog useful please show your support by donating to Ride for Life.  My wife and I are trying to reach a goal of $3,000 raised for MDS through Ride for Life.  Any donation you can make is greatly appreciated.  You can make a donation by visiting my donation page at http://www2.mda.org/site/TR/General/22-NortheastDivision?px=3059956&pg=personal&fr_id=12249.   For every dollar raised a matching donation will be made by VMware Foundation up to $3,141.59 as part of their Matching Gift program for employees.  All donation must be in by 5/1/2015.

Regardless of whether you are able to donate or not I want to thank you all for following my blog and may you all have happiness and good health!

 

Thank You all,

Sid and Tina Smith

IMG_60195217425732

 

Live Free and Ride Hard

 

vRealize Automation – vRA (vCAC) 6.2 – vRealize Automation 6.2 released

FIlter vRealize Automation 6.2 has been released.  This release although not a Major Version packs a pretty powerful punch.  It’s loaded with new features and enhancements that you are all going to want.  This release aims to add some features that solve some basic challenges that have been seen by many of you running the product in your production environments.  Here is a breakdown of what is new in this release:

  • vCloud Air EndPoint with support for Proxy Servers with vCloud Air
  • Configurable email tempaltes
  • Calendar of Events
  • Use IaaS custom properties within Application Services (Application Services)
  • Support for CloudFoundry as a deployment target (Application Services)
  • vRealize Operations Integration including health badges in vRA Portal.
  • XenDesktop 7.x Support
  • Support for OpenStack Havana
  • Ability to edit Custom Properties during approval time
  • Scheduler for reconfigure operations
  • Ability to change lease times to indefinite
  • Enhanced Event and Audit Logging
  • Log Bundle tool
  • VM Disk Support for up to 60 disks (Previously 15)
  • Improved Rest API
  • API for Reservation Management
  • Better control for DB log rollover
  • Swap Space Custom Property to account for swap space on disk
  • Filter Catalog by Business Groups
  • Enhanced installation for easier HA deployments
  • UI Performance Improvements

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VRealize Automation – vRA (vCAC) 6.2 – Hardening Guide Released

This is something that has been long sought after by many.  The hardening guide is 38 pages long packed with hardening information for the vRA Appliance, IaaS Server, Identity Appliance, and Application services appliance.  This document takes you through the hardening of the SLES 11, PostgresSQL, Windows Host including SQL Server, IIS, and Microsoft .Net.  The hardening guide also covers the network security and securing communications between the vRA components.

The network security section of the guide includes a complete list of all the vRA components and the ports/protocols that are used by the component.  Even if you are not ready to start creating a fully hardened deployment it’s worth taking a look at the guide and becoming familiar with the the communications between the different components.

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vRealize Autoamtion – vCAC 6.x – Identity Appliance vs. vCenter SSO Server

I am frequently get asked “Should we deploy the vRealize Automation Identity Appliance or should we connect vRealize to the vCenter SSO server”?  The answer to this really depends on what is important to you.  There are pro’s and con’s both scenarios.  Let’s look at the vRealize Identity appliance first.

vRealize Identity Appliance

The major benefit to running the vRealize Identiy appliance is that it is released as part of the vRealize Automation code stream.  This is important because if new features are released in vRealize Automation that have dependencies on specific support from the SSO server the Identity Appliance will be updated with the needed support.  This will allow you upgrade when a new version is released without having to worry about external dependencies.

The downside of running the vRealize Identity Appliance is the extra administrative overhead, especially of you are deploying an HA environment.  It’s extra servers to support, backup, and maintain on top of the vRA Appliance, IaasS Server, and any deployed for DEM’s/Agents.  Not a huge deal, but it’s something to consider.

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vRealize Automation – vCAC 6.1 – Ultimate Multi-Machine Blueprint Extension v1.0.2 – Updated

Have you ever needed more control over what custom properties get assigned to specific component machines of a multi-machine blueprint, or want to use the same component blueprints for all component machine of a multi-machine blueprint?  The Ultimate Multi-Machine Blueprint Extension aims to help with that.

The Ultimate Multi-Machine Blueprint Extension allows you to utilize the same source component blueprint for multiple component machines while at the same time controlling which custom propertied get assigned to each of the components.  This allows you customize each of them differently during deployment.

This extension works well with the Custom Hostname and the Custom vCenter Folders extension to round out the use of Multi-Machine Blueprints.

Example Use Cases:

  1. Use a single machine blueprint for all components of a multi-tiered multi-machine blueprint and customize the name of each component.
  2. Use a single machine blueprint for all components of a multi-tiered multi-machine blueprint and customize the guest agent actions of each component machine.
  3. Use a single machine blueprint for all components of a multi-tiered multi-machine blueprint and override the template for each component to deploy from a different source vCenter template for each component.

The goal of this extension is to limit blueprint sprawl and leverage the multi-machine construct to customize the component machines and rely less on customizing the single machine blueprints making them more re-usable.

This extension was designed and built as a collective effort by Tom Bonanno and Sid Smith.  If you have any feedback please let us know.

Features

  • Define which component machines to apply custom properties to in a multi-machine blueprint.
  • Utilize a singular blueprint for all component machines in a multi-machine blueprint.

Change Log

v1.0.2

  • Fixed bug that caused properties with Multiple periods not to be processed properly.

v1.0.1

  • Initial Release

Remember we have performed a large amount of testing, but this is a v1.0 extension so please test and let us know if you find any issues.

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vRealize Automation – vCAC 6.2 – Pre-Req Automation Script

Are you getting ready for the pending release of vRealize Automation 6.2 next week?  If so you’ll want to make your first stop GitHub to download Brian Graf’svCAC62-PreReq-Automation.ps1 script.  If you are not familiar with Brian’s PreREq automation scrip, it is a script that configures all of the needed requirements ion your Windows IaaS server prior to installing vCAC.  Brian did a fantastic job with the creation of this, it is a must have if you are installing vCAC from scratch.

In this version he updated the script to account for vCAC 6.2 Pre-Requisites so head on over to https://github.com/vtagion/Scripts/blob/master/vCAC62-PreReq-Automation.ps1 to download the script and get familiar with it to be prepared for the pendinf release.