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”

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 – vCAC 6.1 / NSX 6.1 – Creating NSX Reservations

When integrating vCAC with NSX you will need to configure reservations for use with NSX.  Depending on your configuration you may need one or more reservations.  One reservation for your provisioned workloads, and one reservation for the provisioned NSX Edge router.

You have the option of provisioning the Edge Router to the same reservation as the Multi-Machine blueprint, or you can specify a separate reservation for the Edge Router.  In the MoaC lab I will be using a separate reservation for the Edge Router because all routers are to be deployed in the Management Cluster and all workloads in the Services Cluster.

Before we create the reservations we are going to create a Reservation Policy.  Reservation Policies are basically a tag that allows you to target reservations that are assigned with targeted Reservation Policy.

Creating a Reservation Policy

  1. Go to Infrastructure –> Reservations –> Reservation Policies
  2. Select New Reservation Policy
  3. Give the Policy a Name and click the green check.
  4. That’s it.  Like I said it’s just a tag.

Create a Reservation Policy to use with an Edge Gateway Reservation.

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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 6.0 – Creating a VMware VCHS blueprint

Creating a blueprint for VCHS has a few pieces to it that are a little different that creating a standard vSphere blueprint. We need to start by creating a component blueprint that will then be utilized by the blueprint that we will publish to the catalog. The reason for this so you could potentially create multi-component application blueprints that can be requested from your users. If you use the vCloud Director integration you will recognize the similarities. This article provides a brief run through of creating a basic VCHS blueprint that can be provisioned against VMware’s VCHS cloud service.
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vCloud Automation Center vCAC 6.0 – Using Linux Kickstart to Provision to Physical HP Server over iLo

That big ole title pretty much says it all. In this article I’m going to walk through how to deploy RHEL (Centos) Linux onto a Physical HP Server over the iLo interface using Kickstart. When provisioning to Physical servers such as an HP Proliant DL360 there are two methods built into vCAC. One is the use of PXE boot, and the other is via the iLo interface.

There are pro and cons to both PXE and remote mounting an ISO over the iLo interface. PXE has the obvious cons of the network requirements, having a PXE server available and if you want true flexibility you will need to do a little custom work. ISO mount over iLo tend to be a bit slower due to the over head of remote mounting a ISO and the speed of the iLo interface. In this article I will be covering remote mounting an ISO over iLo, but I will be covering PXE is a later article.

What do we need

To start we need the Physical HP server to be racked and cabled up. It’s iLo interface should be configured and licensed, the network interfaces should be cabled in and the switches should be configured for the appropriate Vlans etc. The drives in the server should also be initialized. vCAC will not create any raid groups etc for you, you must do this manually. My examples also requires a web server that can be utilized to store the needed files on the network.

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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 6.0 – Creating Entitlements

Entitlements are what allow you to give users/groups access to Services and/or Blueprints as well as determine what actions they can perform with them. Entitlements offer a significant amount of flexibility in how you provide access to services through the catalog, who can access those services, what actions they can perform, and what is any approvals are required.

Entitlements are made up of three components. Services, Catalog Items, and Actions. You can choose to entitle complete Services which encompass all Items within the service or just select catalog Items. You can also determine what actions the users that belong to the entitle can perform against all the catalog items that are a part of the entitlement. Keep this in mind if you want to have catalog items with lesser or more available actions you will need to put them in different entitlements.

Within entitlements you also have the ability to assign approvals to Services, Catalog Items, and actions. Again keep in mind that you may want to have different approval policies for different groups of people for the same catalog items, this would require a different entitlement for each.

Creating Entitlements

  1. Go to Administration -> Catalog Management -> Entitlements and select the + sign next to Entitlements at the top of the page.
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  3. When the page opens give your entitlement a name, set the status as active, select the business group that it relates to, and assign the AD users/groups that you would like to grant access to the entitlement. Once completed select next.
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  5. Next on the Items & Approvals screen is where we will entitle the services, catalog items, & Actions. If you entitle an entire service you do not need to add the catalog items from the service under catalog items. If you would like to add some of the catalog items form a service, do not entitle the service, but entitle just the catalog items you would like. You will notice that there are a large amount of actions you can choose from and some are specific to certain types of catalog items. You should be aware of the different types of items and provide the appropriate actions for that item.
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    Once you are finished adding service, catalog items, & actions to your entitlement click add to create your service. Once created the assigned users can go to the catalog and request the items made available.

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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 6.0 – Enabling Catalog Items

When we created a blueprint we had to publish the blueprint. Publishing the blueprint allows it to become available as a catalog item that we can assign to a service and later entitle a user to have access to. In this article we will be assigning the blueprint to a service and enabling it as a catalog item. This will not make it show up in the catalog just yet, but creates a relationship between the blueprint and the service for which it will be published under.
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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 6.0 – Creating a Service

vCAC 6.0 introduces us to a new Self-Service catalog and a new way of managing Catalog Items. In previous versions of vCAC Blueprints were assigned to groups within the Blueprint itself. In vCAC 6.0 Blueprints are published which enables them to be assigned to users and groups through the catalog management components of the vCAC Service Catalog.

To enable blueprints to be available in the catalog we first need a service that we can publish them to. A service is really just a container that will hold the object. If you look at the service catalog you can see the services listed down the left side. These services are the containers that hold the actual catalog items that can be requested.

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We must have at least one service in the environment to enable our catalog items against. Below are the steps to create a service.

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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 6.0 Creating a Physical HP Blueprint

Physical blueprints are a bit different than Virtual Blueprints because you can’t give users the ability to define the exact makeup of the machine they want. They can’t decide they want to add additional storage to a physical machine like they can a virtual. They also can’t select which network they want the machine placed on (without customization) like a virtual machine.

What they can do however is tell you how many CPU’s and how much RAM they would like in the physical machine they are requesting. I know what do you mean they can tell me what they want? vCAC can’t magically add CPU’s or memory, but what it can do is look for a match, or the closest match to what they user needs. You have the ability to set a maximum and minimum number of CPU’s and amount of RAM a user can request from the blueprint. You can also determine how you want to allocate for each of them. You can have vCAC look for an exact match to the request, or look for an “At Least” match to find a server that meets the needs of the request.

* This tutorial is meant to show you the basics of creating a Physical HP server blueprint. I will be publishing a number of more complete physical provisioning tutorials and this article will be utilized as a reference.

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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 6.0 Creating a VCHS Reservation

VCHS reservations are very similar to creating a vSphere reservation as you may expect. You are going to assign it to a Tenant and business group, you are going to reserve memory and storage, and determine what networks are available just like you would do when creating a vSphere reservation. There is really on one minor difference. You don’t have to manage and maintain the underlying hardware. In my mind that is a huge plus.

Creating a VCHS reservation

  1. Start by going to Infrastructure -> Reservations -> Reservations and from the “New Reservations” menu select Cloud and then vApp(vCloud Director).
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    Continue reading “vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 6.0 Creating a VCHS Reservation”