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.

vRealize Voice Automation – Amazon Echo and vRA

Last week we had our “TechSummit” and VMware and as part of the event their was a hackathon where team or individuals could sign-up and enter a cool integration into the competition.  In the true spirit of a hackathon Tom Bonanno and I decided to do something cool.  That something we named vRealize Voice Automation.

The goal:

To be able to utilize the Amazon Echo to create, destroy, power on, & off workloads in vRealize Automation

The Solution:

Using the Amazon Alexa skills API we were able to create a new Alexa skill with three intents:

  • Deploy Server
  • Destroy Server
  • Power Server

These intents combined with what Amazon calls Utterances allow us to take the speech input and determine variables within the speak for items like “blueprint” or “hostname”.  That we then could use.  The input taken from the Alexa API is then sent to some node.js code that is hosted on Amazon Lambda where we looked at the intent that was called and the variable values associated with and we then make a Rest API call to VMware vRealize Orchestrator invoke a workflow and pass the parameters to it as inputs.  From there vRO talks to vRA and success.

It is certainly a cool solution, but remember the Alexa doesn’t always hear what you want it to hear and that can be catastrophic if your performing a destroy operation as you will see in the following videos.

Below are two videos.  One is a commercial that was made for our hackathon entry and the other is a demonstration of the integration in action and a bit more on how we did it.

 
vRVA Commercial
 

 
vRVA Demo
 

VMware Introduces 24 product releases including the much anticipated vSPhere 6

Yesterday VMware was very busy announcing the release of over 2 dozen product which included two new products to the market these two new additions to the VMware portfolio are:

VMware Integrated Openstack – That’s right it’s out and it’s available now for you to download.
VMware Software Manager 1.0 – This probably not as exciting as VIO, but it will come in handy for finding, selecting, and downloading the content needed to install or upgrade a VMware Suite.

Below is a list of all the products released yesterday including links to their downloads, documentation, and release notes for your convenience.

Continue reading “VMware Introduces 24 product releases including the much anticipated vSPhere 6”

vRealize Automation – vRA 6.2.1 is now available!!!!!

Today VMware released vRealize Automation (vRA) formerly known as vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) version 6.2.1.  In the release there is several bug fixes and one enhancement.  The enhancement however is one that you may be very interested in.

Remote Console is back! – Remote Console Capabilities for Machines Provisioned with vSphere: Secure remote console capabilities for machines provisioned with vSphere are implemented in this release by means of WebMKS (HTML 5 console) through a console proxy.

To get the latest bits and check it out go to:

vRealize Automation 6.2: https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/info/slug/infrastructure_operations_management/vmware_vrealize_automation/6_2

vRealize Code Stream 1.1.0 has been released

Version 1.1.0 of vRelize Code Stream has been released today.  For those who are not familiar vRealize Code Stream is a release automation tool for continuos integration / continuos development environments allowing for a rapid development, testing, and provisioning of environments.

New features in this latest release include:

Getting Started Tab – Provide step-by-step instructions on how to do initial vRCS configuration and create a release pipeline with the help of videos and documentation.

Release Pipeline Modeling Enhancements – Drag & Drop Stages and Tasks, Copy Tasks and Cancel pipeline execution.

Simplified Endpoint Registration Support for Jenkins server and vRealize Automation server.

Enhanced vRealize Automation, Script & Artifact Management tasks

Improved Troubleshooting – pipeline execution comparison, log collection and viewing 

Import/Export APIs – REST APIs to import and export pipeline template. 

Support for international characters sets in pipeline templates and pipeline execution data

Minor Release Dashboard enhancements

Download and documentation links are below:

Download Landing Page: https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/info/slug/infrastructure_operations_management/vmware_vrealize_code_stream/1_0

Documentation Landing Page: https://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/vrcs-pubs.html

Release notes: https://www.vmware.com/support/codestream/doc/vrealize-code-stream-10-release-notes.html

vRealize Code Stream Product web page: https://www.vmware.com/products/vrealize-code-stream

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

Continue reading “vRealize Automation – vRA (vCAC) 6.2 – vRealize Automation 6.2 released”

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.

Continue reading “VRealize Automation – vRA (vCAC) 6.2 – Hardening Guide Released”

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.

Continue reading “vRealize Autoamtion – vCAC 6.x – Identity Appliance vs. vCenter SSO Server”

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.

Continue reading “vRealize Automation – vCAC 6.1 – Ultimate Multi-Machine Blueprint Extension v1.0.2 – Updated”

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.