vRealize Automation – vCAC 6.1 / NSX 6.1 – Creating a Multi-Machine Blueprint w/NSX Routed Gateway Support

The out of the box vCAC –> NSX integration requires the use of Multi-Machine blueprints.  Multi-Machine blueprints are basically a blueprint that pulls together one of more single-machine blueprint.  In order to create a three tier web application like the one I will be walking through we will need three standard blueprints to utilize within our Multi-Machine blueprint.  In the below example will be configuring a Multi-Machine blueprint that will deploy an NSX Edge Gateway on to it’s own reservation and then deploy three different blueprints each onto a different network specific to it’s tier.  Example below:

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I will be walking through how to create a Multi-Machine blueprint that will build out the equivalent of the above diagrams Multi-Machine App.

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vRealize Automation – vCAC 6.1 – External Network Profiles

External Network profiles in vCAC enable you to create a range of IP addresses that can used to statically assign IP address to provisioned workloads in your environment.  There are two part to an External Network Profile.  There is the Network Profile Information in which you specify the network specific information such as netmask, gateway, DNS Server, Suffixes, and WINs Servers.  Then there is the IP ranges these can be one contiguous range of IP address or multiple ranges within the subnet that are broken up.

The Network profile is then assigned to a network within a Reservation and any machine provisioned to that reservation an attached to a network will get it’s IP information form the assigned Network profile.  There are a number of ways to utilize External Network Profiles within vCAC , below are some examples:

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vRealize Automation (vCAC) – The cost of being agile

Building a cloud is easy right?  There are products out there that can stand up a cloud for you in a week and automate your entire IT infrastructure practically overnight, isn’t there?  This is what some vendors would try to have you believe.  The fact is building a cloud and/or automating your IT infrastructure is very complex and each network is as unique as the DNA that sets each of us apart.

Today IT infrastructures are living breathing organisms ever evolving, growing, and adapting to the rapidly changing organizations that rely on them.  Trying to simply understand these infrastructures is a huge feat let alone automate them.  One could spend years trying to understand these infrastructures like a documentary on the nature channel.

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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 6.0 – Configuring Linux Logical Volumes (LVM) using the vCAC 6.0 Linux Guest Agent

More and more frequently I get asked about support for configuring LVM(Logical Volumes) in Linux guests provisioned by vCAC. The short answer is the guest agent by default will partition a disk as a standard Linux partition. However because the guest agent allows us to execute scripts we can overcome this and configure LVM volumes within the guest. In this article I’m going to to walk you through just how to do that.

Using the Linux Guest Agent to config LVM

  1. To begin we need a working vCAC environment that can provision Linux VM’s with a working Linux Guest Agent. You can find information on all the needed topics to install and configure vCAC 6 here.
  2. Next we need a script that we will use to setup the LVM inside the guest Linux operating system. Below I have a very basic script for this example. This script assumed only one additional hard disk will be added to the VM. Any additional disks will not be included in the LVM.
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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 6.0 – Creating a vSphere Clone Blueprint

In this article we are going to be creating a vSphere Clone Blueprint. To do this we need to have a few things in place before we begin. Within the blueprint configuration there is a template picker that will allow you to pick form the available templates in your environment. In order for templates to show up in the template picker there are some items that need to be configured in the vCAC environment. You will need to have the following already configured:

  1. vSphere Credential
  2. vSphere EndPoint
  3. Fabric Group (with the vSphere resources assigned)
  4. vSphere 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 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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vCloud Automation Center – vCAC 6.0 Creating a Physical HP Reservation

Physical reservations are different in nature than a virtual reservation. Unlike virtual reservations we cannot dynamically assign Memory, CPU, Disks, or network adapters. We are stuck with what is in the physical machine. When we talk about self-service and automation it poses an interesting problem. How do we allow users to request a physical server that meets their needs.

The Physical Reservations combined with Physical Blueprints in vCAC help us solve this problem. In this article we are talking about Physical HP servers, and if we had a rack loaded full of servers it’s highly probable they wouldn’t be exactly the same. That’s fine we can add as many physical servers of varying configurations as we need to a reservation in vCAC. A physical Hp server reservation in vCAC is simply a collection of Physical HP servers managed through their iLo interfaces.

If you have reviewed Adding Physical HP iLo EndPoints you would have noticed that every physical server requires an endpoint. Once the endpoint is created vCAC does a discovery and learns about the physical specs of the server. A resource is then created for that server that can be added to a physical reservation.

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