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 [Read more…]

vRealize Autoamtion 7 – vRA7 is officially released and available on VMware.com

Folks this truly is an amazing leap forward for the vRA platform.  Just look at the list of new features below, which is not a complete list of all there is with this release.  Keep checking back for informative step-by-step articles as well as updated versions of our workflow packages to be published by the end of this month.

vRealize Automation 7.0 is a cutting edge release which provides an industry lead cloud automation solution to our customers.   With the streamlined installation wizard, simplified SSO configuration, integrated graphical infrastructure and application blueprint authoring and deployment capabilities,  and many other new enhancements,  customers will be able to maximize their return on investment by extremely shortened time to value for cloud service delivery.  

Following are some of the new features:

Streamlined and Automated Wizard-based Installation

  • Introduces management agent to automate the installation of Windows components and to collect logs
  • Automates the deployment of all vRealize Automation components
  • Installation wizards based on deployment needs: Minimal (Express) and Enterprise (Distributed) Installations

Simplified Deployment Architecture and High Availability Configuration

  • Embedded authentication service by using VMware Identity Manager
  • Converged Application Services in vRealize Automation Appliance
  • Reduced minimal number of appliances for HA configuration
  • Automated embedded PostgreSQL clustering with manual failover
  • Automated embedded vRealize Orchestrator clustering

[Read more…]

vRealize Automation 6.x – vRA6–Performing Day 2 operations against Multi-Machine Blueprints

Have you ever tried to build a day 2 operation for use with Multi-Machine applications?  Well if you have chances are you hit the same issue one of my colleagues Pontus ran in to when he first attempted.  Pontus however didn’t give up when he discovered there is no Object type to tie the action to.  Instead he dug deeper and deeper until he found a solution.  If you find yourself needing this capability or have found yourself banging your head for hours trying to figure this out you should check out Pontus’s post on virtualviking.net.  The post can be found at http://virtualviking.net/2015/11/13/day-two-operations-on-multi-machine-blueprints-in-vrealize-automation-6-2/

VMware vRealize Automation 7–vRA7–Performing a “Minimal deployment” Installation

In this article I’m going to walk you through performing a minimal deployment of vRA7.  Please keep in mind vRA7 is not GA as of the writing in this article and the GA version could have some differences.  Once it is released and you have downloaded the vRA7 appliance follow the below steps for performing a “minimal deployment”.

Before you Begin

Before you start there are a few things you will need:

  • A server running a supported version of Windows.  (I’m running WIndows Server 2012 R2).
  • Configure NTP Time sync on windows server. (Instructions inline below)
  • A Microsoft SQL server for the IaaS database.
  • Configure the MS SQL server with the proper MSDTC security settings. (Instructions inline below)

Deploy the Appliance

The first thing you are going to need to do is deploy the appliance to your vSphere environment.  I’m not going to walk through the OVA deployment in this article.  If you need information in regards to deploying the appliance you can refer to the following article:

Refer to the section “Importing the vCAC 6.0 Virtual Appliance OVA to vCenter” in article vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 6.0 – Installing the vCAC 6.0 IaaS Server

Performing the Installation

1. Navigate to https://{vra7VAIPAdddress}:5480

    1. Once there login as user “root” with the password you set during the appliance deployment.  Once you login a new window will appear to start the guided installation.  Select “Next” to begin.

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2. Accept the agreement and select “Next”.

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3. Select “Minimal Deployment” and select “Next”.

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4. On this step you are presented with a file download.  You will now need to download the agent installation and install the deployment agent on the Windows IaaS host.  If you do not have a Windows IaaS host prepared you can deploy it now and simply install the agent once completed.  I have deployed a Windows 2012 R2 host for this example.

vRA Management Agent Setup

    1. If your server is not already setup to use NTP configure NTP time services on the server.  Youc an do this using the following command from PowerSHell.

w32tm /config /manualpeerlist:pool.ntp.org /syncfromflags:MANUAL
Stop-Service w32time
Start-Service w32time

  1. Launch the “vCAC-IaaSManagementAgent-Setup” file on your WIndows IaaS host and select “Next” to continue.
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  2. Accept the terms and select “Next”.
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  3. If needed change the path otherwise select “Next” to continue.
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  4. Input the GQDN of the vRA7 appliance in the format https://{vRA7VA_FQDN}:5480, then input the username for root and the password set during the vRA7 VA ovf deployment.  Finally load the certificate, confirm it is correct and select “Next”.
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  5. Next specify the account username and password the service should run as.  The account need to have admin privileges on the windows IaaS host and select “Next”.
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  6. Select “Install”
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  7. Once installation finished select “Finish” and then return to the vRA7 Installation wizard.
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5. Once you return to the vRA7 Installation Wizard you will now see your IaaS host listed along with it’s Time Offset in seconds.  If the time offset is more than 600 seconds the wizard will not let you continue until it is resolved.  From what I can tell it looks like the wizard will update the Time Offset every 3 minutes.  Select “Next” to continue.

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6. Next select “Run” to run the pre-req checker on the IaaS host.

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7.  If you are like me I deployed a Windows server and did not complete any of the pre-reqs manually.  In this case the prerequisite checker will come back with “SOme prerequisites are not met.  If you want to review the failed prerequisites you can select “Show Details”.  Select “Fix” to have the wizard complete the prerequisites for you.

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8. Once the Wizard finished setting up the prerequisites the status will show “OK”.  You can show the details if you like and then select “Next” to continue.

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9. Next input or select Resolve Automatically the hsotname in FQDN format of the vRA7 appliance.  Select “Next” to continue.

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10. Next set the password for the single sign on admin account and select “Next” to continue.

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11. Next we need to set the FQDN of the IaaS host as well as specific a windows domain account to use for the installation of the IaaS components.  Then set an encryption passphrase for the IaaS database.  Once set select “Next” to continue.

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12. Now we need to specify the Microsoft SQL server to be utilized for the IaaS server., the database name and the authentication type to be used.  Please also note that if you haven’t already you need to make sure that the MSDTC configuration on the SQL server is properly configured under Component Services –> Distributed Transaction Coordinator.  When finished select “Next” to continue.  (Note you can also use the validate button to validate the configuration at this point.)

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13. Now we need to verify the DEM configuration.  You can add additional DEM’s if you like, however this is not necessary for a minimal installation the defaults here should be fine.

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14. Next we need to configure the agents to be installed.  When the page loads there are defaults already populated for a vSphere agent.  Please remember to note whatever you choose to use for the “Endpoint” as we will need this later.  If you only need a vSphere agent then you don’t need to change anything.  If you need to add additional agents you can select the green + sign to add additional agents.  Select “Next” to continue when finished.

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15. Now we can either Generate or import a certificate for the vRA7 Appliance.  I’m going to generate a new certificate since I don’t have a certificate server up and running.   If generating select “Generate Certificate, fill out the reqired info and select “Save Generated Certificate”.  Once completed select “Next” to continue.

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16. Next we need to do the same for a Web Certificate for the IaaS webserver.  Select “Next” when finished.

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17.  And one last time for the Manager Service Certificate.  You will notice that because the Manager Service and the IaaS webserver are on the same host it automagically uses the same certificate, however if we were to split them up in a distributed installation another certificate would be needed.

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18.  Next the wizard will validate everything we have told it.  This process can take some time so select “Validate” and go refill your coffee.

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Notice there are two DEM’s being validated.  Both an orchestrator and manager DEM.  The installation automagically accounts for the orchestrator because it knows it is required.  You will also notice that I have two proxy agents and you may only have one.  This is because I added a second agent to for another use.

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19. Once validation is finished select “Next” to continue.

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20.  You now have the option to snapshot the the VM’s being used in case something goes wrong.  Once you snapshots are finished select “Next” to continue.

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21. Once you select “Next” above the installation will begin.  Go to lunch for this one it may take up to 30 minutes or a little longer.

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22. Once the installation finishes you can then input your license key.  Select “Submit Key”  and then select “Next” to continue.

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23. Choose your customer experience settings and select “Next” when finished.

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24. Congratulation, you have successfully installed vRA7.

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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.