Road to Automation with VMware vRA – vRA Design Part 1

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.

Business Groups

  •  Development – All Developers across all groups within GSS
  • Test – All QA engineers within GSS
  • Stage – All production teams
  • Production – All Production teams
  • Gregarious – All Dev, QA, and Production teams

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Road to Automation with VMware vRA – GSS Company Profile

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

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The road to automation with VMware vRA

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.

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My vRA Journey Continues

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 Winking smile

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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 – 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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