My vRA Journey Continues

Many of you may have already heard after 6 years at VMware I decided to spread my wings and go back to the world from which I came.  I joined VMware when they acquired DynamicOps a little over 6 years ago, and after 6 great years at VMware I decided to move on to something new, but not so new.

If it doesn’t show from my blog I am very passionate about automation.   I’m even more passionate about helping organizations overcome all the challenges they face during their journey towards automation.  Having been working with vRA for over 10 years I’ve learned a lot.  I’ve learned the countless ways different organizations go about achieving the same end result.  I’ve learned the challenges with automation in the datacenter.  I’ve learned I could probably write endlessly about what I have learned Winking smile

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Hello Amazon Lightsail, Good by 1&1 dedicated server

Many of you may have heard about Amazon’s latest product named Lightsail.  This service is designed to competed with shared hosting providers.  A few years back I moved my websites from shared hosting, to self hosing, and ultimately to a dedicated server with 1&1 hostsing.  For $85 a month it wasn’t a bad deal.  Although the server seemed very sluggish at times and the network wasn’t very fast it was still better than shared hosting.

Over the course of the last two weeks I moved all my web assets to Amazon Lightsail and I couldn’t be happier.  The Amazon network is lightening fast and the $5 per month instance is out performing the dedicated server I had from 1&1 hosting.  Lightsail offers many plans starting at $5 a month all the way to $80 a month.

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vRA 7.3 – Configuring SovLabs Custom Naming Module

Many of you have utilized the Custom Hostname module that has been made available by Tom Bonanno here on Dailyhypervisor.  Those that use have probably noticed that it is no longer maintained.  This is because there are supportable modules available like the one I’m writing about now by SovLabs.  The Sovlabs module offers more flexibility and is a supported product making it a best of breed solution for this task.  Whats even better is their is a common framework that exists within the SovLabs platform that greatly extends the capabilities of each module.  More of the framework to come.  For now let’s go ahead and configure the custom hostname module.

Within the SovLabs custom naming module hostnames are broken in to two parts.  A Naming Sequence and a Naming Standard.

Naming Sequences

Naming sequences are exactly exactly what they sound like.  They basically define how are we going to sequence the names that are created.  Sounds basic right?  Well SovLabs has taken sequencing to a whole new level.  Most of you are probably familiar with using a standard decimal based sequence that might look like host001, host002, and so on.  SovLabs has added the ability to use HexaDecimal, Octal, and Pattern based sequences for your naming needs.  Pattern based sequences are insanely powerful.   Pattern naming sequences can contain Decimal, HexaDecimal, Octal, Binary, and Alpha.  Below are an examples of what you can achieve with Pattern Based naming sequences:
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vRA 7.3 – Installing and configuring vRA plugin for ITSM – ServiceNow – Part 2

If you haven’t read Part 1 of this article you will want to go back and read it before you proceed. In part 2 we will build on the installation that we performed in part 1. Let’s just dig right in and get started.

How this integration works

Configuring the integration to use native vRA authentication requires the user to login to ServiceNow and vRA both. When the user logs into ServiceNow they are redirected to the vRA Login page and was logged in they are then redirected back to ServiceNow. This allows requests the user makes to be passed to vRA as that user. The main difference between this and the SAML (ADFS) integration is the user only need to login to vRA the very first time they use it and never again as the user is auto-magically logged in to vRA in the background using the SAML token. This is a great option for testing the integration without having to touch your Identity Management configuration.

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vRA 7.3–Installing and configuring vRA plugin for ITSM–ServiceNow–Part 1

It seems like everyone these days wants to use ServiceNow as their catalog for vRA.  It use to be that everyone just wanted to create or update CI records.  Before I get into the weeds on how to get vRA and ServiceNow talking together I wanted to take a few minutes to discuss the integration, the pros, the cons, and it’s limitation.

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Using the vRA Cloud Client to export and import blueprints

There are lots of reasons to want to export and import blueprints from one vRA instance to another.  My current motives are to move blueprints from my vRA 7.2 environment to my newly deployed vRA 7.3 environment.  In vRA 7.3 their is a great new free feature available, the Code Stream Management Pack for IT Devops that is free.  However if you are running a pre vRA 7.3 environment you may want to get that content from that environment backed up so you can use it in another instance.  Cloud Client is a great option.

You can download Cloud CLient 4.4.0 here. Continue reading “Using the vRA Cloud Client to export and import blueprints”

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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