VMware vRealize Automation – vRA7 – Easily prepare Windows Server 2012 R2 templates for use with vRA7

Looking to prepare a Windows template for use with vRA7?  Want to utilize the vRA Guest Agent as well as Software Components?  Great!  The very talented Gary Coburn has built a package that will it all for you.  If you have ever prepped an image for use with vRA 6 or even vRA 7 you know it’s sort of a pain especially if you are like me and don’t like to read the documentation line by line.  The first time I prepared a guest I figured ah this is simple I’ll just go and do it.  Well that didn’t turn out to well.  I had anticipated putting together an article on how to do it when a co-working on my team at VMware Gary Coburn built an awesome script that just does it all for you.

Continue reading “VMware vRealize Automation – vRA7 – Easily prepare Windows Server 2012 R2 templates for use with vRA7”

VMware vRealize Automation – vRA7–vRA 7.0.1 has been released and is live on VMware.com

 

vRealize Automation 7.0.1 is the first maintenance release for the new vRA 7.x release.  The release provides fixes in many areas, however it is primarily focused on vRA lifecycle.  Fixes include Installation and Upgrade, Licensing, Enterprise Readiness, Performance and Scale.  If you have made the leap to vRA7 or are starting out on vRA7 it is recommend that you install this maintenance release and take advantage of the benefits and fixes it provides.  Stay tuned for more details on the fixes and what they will mean to you.

 

Download Link

Documentation

Release Notes

NSX 6.2.1 Release

If you are looking to try out vRA7 integration with NSX make sure you upgrade your NSX deployment. This update include support for the NSX 1.0.3 vRO plugin needed for vRA integration.

New in 6.2.1

The 6.2.1 release delivers a number of bug fixes that have been documented in the Resolved Issues section.

  • 6.1.5 fixes: Release includes the same critical fixes as NSX-vSphere 6.1.5 content.
  • Introduced new ‘show control-cluster network ipsec status’ command that allows uses to inspect the Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) state.
  • Connectivity status: NSX Manager user interface now shows the connectivity status of the NSX Controller cluster.
  • Support for vRealize Orchestrator Plug-in for NSX 1.0.3: With NSX 6.2.1 release, NSX-vRO plugin version 1.0.3 is introduced for use with vRealize Automation 7.0.0. This plugin includes fixes that improve performance when vRealize Automation 7.0 uses NSX for vSphere 6.2.1 as a networking and security end point.
  • Starting in 6.2.1, NSX Manager queries each Controller node in the cluster to get the connection information between that controller and the other controllers in the cluster.
    This is provided in the output of the NSX REST API (“GET https://[NSX-MANAGER-IP-ADDRESS]/api/2.0/vdn/controller” command), which now shows the peer connection status among the controller nodes. If NSX Manager finds the connection between any two controller nodes is broken, a system event is generated to alert the user.
  • Service Composer now exposes an API that enables users to configure auto creation of Firewall drafts for Service Composer workflows.
    This setting can be turned on/off using REST API and the changes can be saved across reboot. When disabled, no draft is created in the Distributed Firewall (DFW) for policy workflows. This limits the number of drafts that are auto-created in the system and provides better performance.

NSX-vSphere 6.2.1 Release Notes:

http://pubs.vmware.com/Release_Notes/en/nsx/6.2.1/releasenotes_nsx_vsphere_621.html

NSX-vSphere 6.2.1 Landing Page:

https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/info/slug/networking_security/vmware_nsx/6_x

NSX-vSphere Product Documentation:

https://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/nsx_pubs.html

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

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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.