Ever wish you were able to set more than one value from a single vRealize Automation (vRA) request input? Have you ever wished you could make some aspects of vRA more dynamic and flexible? Wish you could simplify the vRA request form? In this article I’m going to let the genie out of the bottle. All your wishes are about to come true. But before we summon our genie, let’s first dive into what it is that we are going to be wishing for. My wish is to have a simple vRA request page with only three inputs that can drive the outcome of every aspect of my request. Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? We will find out soon enough.
Determine the needed Inputs
Determining what our inputs are going to be. For my scenario I need to the following three inputs:
The Environment (Production, Development, or Test)
The Application (WordPress or Microsoft SQL)
Compliance Needs (SOX or Non-SOX)
In my example, these are the only three items I need to know from the requester to build a server in my environment. The remaining info I can gather from the business group they belong to, what resources the workload is placed on, etc. I know every environment is different and many will require more than three inputs. Once you have read this entire 3-Part series, you will realize the number of inputs doesn’t matter. It’s how we use them that’s key.
Determine the outcome
What outcomes do we need to drive based on these inputs? Or, how will these help determine the outcome of the overall deployment? Will they influence items such as the machine hostname, Active Directory OU placement, vCenter Folder placement, vSphere tagging, application installation, etc?
About the Free Custom Hostname Extension for vRealize Automation
Here at SovLabs we are always helping our audience make the decision to either “build” or “buy”, when it comes to VMware automation solutions. Recently, we have been involved in some discussions about the free Infoblox plugin for vRealize Automation. Specifically,these discussions are around how the free Infoblox plugin for vRealize Automation handles custom host naming. That discussion prompted us to consider all such customizations and the support required when when they are integrated with vRealize Automation.
Custom Automation Considerations
There are a few issues at play here, including:
How do the different components of your solution work together?
Was it designed wholistically or were pieces added on as you needed them?
Did one source develop all of the components, or are they pulled piecemeal from multiple places?
If one source did all of the development – are they still available?
Who is supporting the development work going forward?
If you were at VMworld and caught the Day 1 General Session you may have heard Pat Gelsinger say “The rule of the cloud – Ruthlessly Automate Everything”. This should be a wakeup call for anyone who has not begun or has done very little with automation.
GSS has decided on a number of design considerations for their vRA implementation. GSS is currently using a consumption based model for their resource allocation. They don’t pre-reserve any amount of resources for specific groups within the organization. GSS feels their current consumption model allows them to more efficiently manage their resources. It also prevents them from having pockets of idol resources that may never get used. Based on this utilization model GSS will be implementing the following elements within vRA.
GSS considered having a business group for each environment (Dev, Test, Stage, and Production). To evaluate how they would like to proceed they asked to have 5 initial tenants created. One for each of their environments and one to evaluate a collapsed model of all environments in one group.
Development – All Developers across all groups within GSS
In my previous article The Road to automation with VMware vRA I discussed I would be published a company profile for my fictitious company GSS. In this article we will be digging into GSS to take a look at where it is today, its challenges, processes, systems, and automation use cases.
Company: (GSS) Gregarious Simulation Systems Profile: Successful Video Game Manufacturer Employees: 1200+ IT Staff: 80+ vSphere Sockets: 200+ Managed VMs: 3000+ Server Build Team: 12 Environments: Development, Test, Stage, Production
I think we need to take a few steps back and focus on vRA architecture and design. I’ve had many questions, requests, and discussions with some of my readers on this topic. Implementing vRA can lead to many rewarding outcomes, but as some have discovered it can also lead to aggravating outcomes if not designed properly upfront.
At first it can seem very straight forward. Create some endpoints, groups, reservations, and blueprints. Sprinkle in some integrations for custom hostname, IPAM, DNS and AD and you are on your way to fully automating your workload deployments, right? Not exactly. You can certainly do this and at first it will seem amazing, but as you mature and start to scale out your new catalog of services the lack of up front design and planning will quickly start to reveal itself.
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
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 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: Continue reading “vRA 7.3 – Configuring SovLabs Custom Naming Module”
In my previous article about the SovLabs plugin I covered some pre-requisites and sent you over to the SovLabs documentation to finish the installation. Once you have installed the vRO plugin using the vRO Control Center you will go to your vRO Client and see a new folder that has all the Sovlabs vRO modules.
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.