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  Those that use have probably noticed that it is no longer maintained.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

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.