VMware Cloud Automation Services (CAS) – Cloud Assembly – Part 1

VMware’s cloud automation services are a set of cloud services that leverage the award-winning vRealize Automation on-premises offering. These services make it easy and efficient for developers to build and deploy applications. The cloud automation services consist of VMware Cloud Assembly, VMware Service Broker, and VMware Code Stream. Together, these services streamline application delivery, enable cloud flexibility and choice, and control risks. Additionally, these services facilitate collaboration between traditionally siloed groups helping further with accelerating business innovation.

  • VMware Cloud Assembly: Developers want the same experience of automating deployment and consumption of infrastructure and applications in private and hybrid clouds as they adopt public clouds. Cloud Assembly delivers unified provisioning across all clouds through declarative Infrastructure as Code, including AWS, Azure, and VMware Cloud on AWS. With Cloud Assembly, IT and cloud operations teams can orchestrate and expedite infrastructure and application delivery in line with DevOps principles, improving the overall developer experience, developers get an experience equivalent to provisioning resources from native public clouds.
  • VMware Service Broker: Service Broker provides simple, self-service access to multi-cloud infrastructure and application resources from a single catalog, without requiring disparate tools. With Service Broker, operations teams can more effectively govern resource access, and use and enforce security, deployment and business policies across multi-cloud environments.
  • VMware Code Stream: Enterprise development teams are creating and iterating on applications faster than ever, but this work is often delivered using a combination of manual scripting and a mix of delivery tools. This creates challenges with delivery speed, visibility, and troubleshooting for code releases. Code Stream automates the code and application release process with a comprehensive set of capabilities for application deployment, testing, and troubleshooting. It features integrations with popular developer tools and supports VMware-based private clouds, VMware Cloud on AWS and native public clouds. With Code Stream enterprises get code and applications out faster and reduce the time it takes to correct issues when they arise.

In part 1 of 2 of this blog post we will explore CAS and how to initially set it up and configure it starting with a new assigned Cloud Organization registered with the above mentioned Cloud Automation Services.

You can access VMware Cloud Services by visiting https://cloud.vmware.com/  then clicking on the Log In menu option to use the services.

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Once you sign in with your credentials you will have access to the Console Menu option which will take you in to access the Cloud Automation Services we mentioned above.

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Most of the work we will be doing will be initially in VMware Cloud Assembly then we will be able to extend the work to the other two services, VMware Service Broker and the VMware Code Stream respectively.

In this setup we will be leveraging the following environments :

  • VMware SDDC Cloud ( Home Lab ) as my Production Environment.
  • AWS EC2 Cloud as my Development Environment.
  • Azure Cloud as my Testing Environment.

So let’s get started, Eh!

VMware Cloud Assembly

VMware Cloud Assembly is an infrastructure as code automation solution designed to expedite infrastructure consumption and application delivery in line with DevOps principles, through an intuitive symmetrical dual interface ( Code or Draw ) that supports declarative, intent-based application infrastructure provisioning, blueprint design and lifecycle management across multiple clouds such as VMware SDDC, Amazon Web Services, VMware Cloud on AWS and Azure as a minimum on GA date.

The infrastructure as code approach streamlines infrastructure consumption by enabling blueprint parameterization, iteration on blueprint development and easy version control through native controls or supported version control systems. The SaaS form factor enables VMware to keep the platform up to date, allowing operations teams to focus on higher value activities, such as business systems reliability and performance.

Our intent here to use Cloud Assembly to provision new projects to public clouds that we can then bring on-prem when they are ready to go to production for example. My goal here really is to show you how we can create an agnostic blueprint ( WordPress Application ) that the user can deploy from Cloud Assembly Directly or request it from the Service Broker ( Catalog ) and selecting which environment ( Dev, Test, Prod ) you want to deploy the application to.

And to do that we need to configure a few things to create our deployment stack and start deploying blueprints

  1. Create our Cloud Accounts.
  2. Create Cloud Zones.
  3. Create one or more Projects.
  4. Create Flavor mapping.
  5. Create Image mapping
  6. Create and deploy blueprints.

Cloud Accounts

Cloud accounts allow you to bring your public cloud and on-prem data centers under CAS management.

In Cloud Assembly, navigate to  Infrastructure > Connections > Cloud Accounts > ADD CLOUD ACCOUNT

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We will configure our 3 Account Types / Environments here :

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vCenter Account Type

Prerequisites Checklist

  1. You have at least one collector / Cloud Proxy VM installed.
  2. You have the vCenter IP address/FQDN.
  3. You have the vCenter user name and password.

Note that a collector VM can typically support 10,000 VMs

Installing Cloud Proxy

  • Click Add Cloud Account
  • Select vCenter as the account type. When you don’t have any previous Cloud Proxies setup, you will be presented with the steps needed to install one.

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  • Download the Cloud Proxy ova file to deploy it in vCenter OR
  • Copy the OVA link to directly deploy it in vCenter without having to download it first.
  • Import the .ova file to the vCenter Server and start the installation following the standard steps provided by the OVF Deployment Wizard.

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  • Once you get to the Customize Template section within the OVF Deployment Wizard we will provide the following properties:
    • CAS One Time Key (OTK)
    • Root User name and password
    • Remote Data Collector / Cloud Proxy Display Name in CAS
    • Network Proxy Settings ( Optional )
    • Networking Properties

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  • Click Next and Finish to deploy the cloud proxy. it takes a few minutes to detect your Cloud Proxy after it is deployed and powered up in vCenter.
  • To verify the detection of the Cloud Proxy is complete navigate to Infrastructure > Connections > Cloud Proxies and verify its listed with a good status.

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  • Navigate again to Infrastructure > Connections > Cloud Accounts > ADD CLOUD ACCOUNT 
  • Click Add Cloud Account
  • Select vCenter as the account type. Now that we setup a Cloud Proxy, you will be able fill all the requirement including the Cloud Proxy we just deployed.
  • Enter the vCenter user name and password and hit VALIDATE. 
  • Provide a Name and a description for the Cloud Account.
  • In the Configuration Section select which DataCenters you want to allow provisioning to
  • Allow to create a Cloud Zone for the Selected Datacenters by checking the check box, this will automatically create the Cloud Zone for us so we don’t have to later.
  • Add Capability Tags as required, this will be used for placement decisions as we will see later in the blog post.
  • Click ADD when Completed.

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  • Once added you should see the cloud account listed with OK Status

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Amazon Web Services Account Type

Prerequisites Checklist

  1. Access Key ID
  2. Secret Access Key
  • Navigate again to Infrastructure > Connections > Cloud Accounts > ADD CLOUD ACCOUNT 
  • Click Add Cloud Account
  • Select AWS Web Services as the account type.
  • Provide the Access Key ID and Secret Access Key and Click VALIDATE
  • Provide a Name and a description for the Cloud Account.
  • In the Configuration Section select which Regions you want to allow provisioning to.
  • Allow to create a Cloud Zone for the Selected Region by checking the check box, this will automatically create the Cloud Zone for us so we don’t have to later.
  • Add Capability Tags as required, this will be used for placement decisions as we will see later in the blog post.
  • Click ADD when Completed.

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  • Once added you should see the cloud account listed with OK Status

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Azure Account Type

Prerequisites Checklist

  1. Subscription ID
  2. Tenant ID
  3. Client Application ID
  4. Client Application Secret Key

Note: If you want to know how get these IDs, this is very similar to how we currently setup up vRealize Automation Azure endpoint and there are plenty of blogs you can reference such as my personal favourite by Jon Schulman

  • Navigate again to Infrastructure > Connections > Cloud Accounts > ADD CLOUD ACCOUNT 
  • Click Add Cloud Account
  • Select Azure as the account type.
  • Provide the IDs required and Click VALIDATE
  • Provide a Name and a description for the Cloud Account.
  • In the Configuration Section select which Regions you want to allow provisioning to.
  • Allow to create a Cloud Zone for the Selected Region by checking the check box, this will automatically create the Cloud Zone for us so we don’t have to later.
  • Add Capability Tags as required, this will be used for placement decisions as we will see later in the blog post.
  • Click ADD when Completed.

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  • Once added you should see the cloud account listed with OK Status

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Cloud Zones

Cloud zones associate compute resources with projects and account/regions to form the basis of deployable virtual machines. In addition, they enable you to define capabilities that Cloud Assembly matches with blueprint constraints to define where and how resources are configured for deployments.

Now remember that we checked the check box to create a cloud zone for the selected Datacenter/Region where we want to provision to for each of the cloud account types we have created. (vSphere, AWS and Azure )

Navigate to Infrastructure > Configure > Cloud Zones to list the pre-created Cloud Zones or to create new ones if you decide for example to add new Datacetners / Regions to provision machines to.

You don’t need to create any cloud zones if you selected the option to automatically create zones when you added your cloud accounts, we will customize the cloud zones in this section of the blog.

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Within each of the cloud zone > Summary Tab you can select a Placement Policy that defines how provisioned resources are distributed among hosts in this cloud zone. By default resources are placed on random hosts but:

One of the following strategies can be optionally applied:

  • BINPACK – Will place computes on the most loaded host that still has enough resources to run the given compute.
  • SPREAD – Will attempt to spread computes evenly across hosts.

For the purpose of the blog we will leave the Placement Policy as DEFAULT for all the Cloud Zones.

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You saw me mention the use of Capability tags and so far we have created tags on the Cloud Account type level.

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When it comes to Tagging Strategy you must carefully plan and implement an appropriate tagging strategy based on your organization’s IT structure and goals to maximize Cloud Assembly functionality and minimize potential confusion.

Tags are a critical component of Cloud Assembly that drive the placement of deployments through matching of capabilities and constraints. You must understand and implement tags effectively to make optimal use of Cloud Assembly. you also need to create an outline of your strategy and make it available to all users with privileges to create or edit tags.

For best practices for Tagging and Tagging Implementation, I would recommend spending few minutes first reading the documentation on What Are Tags.

vSphere Cloud Zone

Like we mentioned already a cloud zone defines a set of compute resources that can be used for provisioning.  In our Toronto Datacenter we have two clusters TOR-COMP-CL and TOR-MGMT-CL out of which we only want to use the TOR-COMP-CL for provisioning.

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Within the vSphere Cloud Zone and under the Compute tab we have what we call Filter Tags which we will use to remove or filter out the TOR-MGMT-CL from the cloud zone compute resource list since its our management cluster and it will not participate in being used as a resource we can provision workloads to.

At the beginning of the blog we mentioned that will be using our vSphere environment for our Production workloads so will we need to add a capability tag that we can use later in our blueprints as a constrain if we want to target our compute production cluster.

To do that we will first select the TOR-COMP-CL > Click TAGS, Type Env:Production and hit enter to form the tag then click Save

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Now we can also use the Env:Production tag to filter out the compute resource TOR-MGMT-CL by using the tag as a Filter Tag and list only those compute clusters that has the same tag, also like I mentioned I don’t want the TOR-MGMT-CL cluster to be part of the vSphere Cloud Zone at all.

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Now you may ask but why would you want to do that if you can simply use the Env:Production tag to target the TOR-COMP-CL cluster . What a great question I might say?

Its all about planning, where if for example I added another production cluster within the same Datacenter in the future, I can then simply tag it with the same tag  then leverage a higher level tag like the one we setup on the vCenter Account Type which we also could have setup on the Cloud Zone level within the Summary Tab to target all the vSphere production clusters. That cloud account tag was Cloud:vSphere which will allow me to target all my production clusters

Again you really don’t have to do that as I m just trying to prove a point here, as this can be done in many different ways.

AWS Cloud Zone

When we added the AWS cloud Account we selected the CA-Central-1 Region as the region we want to provision our development workload to. As you can see in the Screen shot below the AWS cloud Zone has two compute resources / availability zones that I can target for my Development workloads.

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Since I am okay utilizing all the AWS compute resources listed within the cloud zone I can place my Env:Development capability tab on the cloud zone level within the Summary Tab instead of placing it on the compute level like we did previously with the vSphere cloud zone. Click SAVE when your done.

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Azure Cloud Zone

For Azure when we created the Azure Account we selected the EAST US as the region we want to provision our test workload to. As you can see in the Screen shot below the Azure cloud Zone has one compute resources / availability zones that I can target for my Testing workloads.

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Just like the AWS Cloud Zone I can place my Env:Testing capability tag on the cloud zone level within the Summary Tab. Click SAVE when your done.

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So in summary we have added 3 different cloud account types, selected the Datacenter / Regions we want to provision workloads to and created there respective Cloud Zones and added capability tags on the Cloud Account Level , Cloud Zone level and Cloud Zone Compute level as we see fit, that we can leverage later as constraints when we create/design our blueprints.

Flavor Mapping

Cloud vendors use flavors, or instance types, to express standard deployment sizings such as small or large for compute resources. when we create a blueprint, you need to pick a flavor.

Flavor mappings are of course regional settings. This becomes critical in public cloud endpoints where sizes are dictated by a phrase like T2.Micro in AWS as opposed to fixed sizing details like in vCenter that might equate to a specific number of CPUs or GBs of Memory.

We will define three flavor mapping ( Small, Medium, Large ) across vSphere, AWS and Azure.

Small Flavor Mapping

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Infrastructure > Configure > Flavor Mappings
  • Click + NEW FLAVOR MAPPING
  • Enter Flavor Name : Small
  • Click on Search for regions and create a Small Flavor Mapping for all 3 Clouds
  • Click CREATE

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Medium Flavor Mapping

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Infrastructure > Configure > Flavor Mappings
  • Click + NEW FLAVOR MAPPING
  • Enter Flavor Name : Medium
  • Click on Search for regions and create a Medium Flavor Mapping for all 3 Clouds
  • Click CREATE

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Large Flavor Mapping

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Infrastructure > Configure > Flavor Mappings
  • Click + NEW FLAVOR MAPPING
  • Enter Flavor Name : Large
  • Click on Search for regions and create a Large Flavor Mapping for all 3 Clouds
  • Click CREATE

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Once completed you should have 3 Flavor Mappings ( Small, Medium, Large ) for the 3 cloud platforms ( vSphere, AWS, Azure )

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Image Mapping

Cloud vendors use images to configure a VM based on OS Settings, such as an ubuntu-16 configuration. When you build a blueprint, you pick an image that fits your needs.

An image mapping associates a defined image name with a machine template. You can create one or more image names and map to a metadata file that contain pre-defined value sets. For example, an image might map to an OVA file that contains pre-populated cost or region specifications to import into the blueprint. Image mappings again are regional settings.

we will define three image mapping ( CentOS7, Ubuntu, Windows 2016 ) across vSphere, AWS and Azure.

Windows 2016 Image Mapping

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Infrastructure > Configure > Image Mappings
  • Click + NEW IMAGE MAPPING
  • Enter Flavor Name : Windows 2016
  • Click on Search for regions and for images to create a Windows 2016 Image Mapping for all 3 Clouds
  • Click CREATE

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CentOS7 Image Mapping

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Infrastructure > Configure > Image Mappings
  • Click + NEW IMAGE MAPPING
  • Enter Flavor Name : CentOS7
  • Click on Search for regions and for images to create a CentOS7 Image Mapping for all 3 Clouds
  • Click CREATE

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Ubuntu Image Mapping

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Infrastructure > Configure > Image Mappings
  • Click + NEW IMAGE MAPPING
  • Enter Flavor Name : Ubuntu
  • Click on Search for regions and for images to create a Ububtu Image Mapping for all 3 Clouds
  • Click CREATE

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Once completed you should have 3 Image Mappings ( Ubuntu, CentOS7, Windows 2016 ) for the 3 cloud platforms ( vSphere, AWS, Azure ).

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Network Profiles

A network profile defines a group of networks and network settings that are available for a cloud account in a particular region or datacenter. A network profile defines the networking options and capabilities that are made available to deployed machines, based on the network tags in the network component YAML in a blueprint.

You typically define network profiles to support a target deployment environment, for example a small test environment where an existing network has outbound access only or a large load-balanced production environment that needs a set of security policies. Think of a network profile as a collection of workload-specific network characteristics.

AWS Network Profile

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Infrastructure > Configure > Network Profiles
  • Click + NEW NETWORK PROFILE
  • In the Summary tab, For Account / Region click Search for regions and select your AWS Region.
  • Enter a Network Profile Name : AWS Network Profile
  • Enter a Capability Tag : Env:Development  This is again because we are using AWS as our development environment.

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  • In the Networks Tab, Select + ADD NETWORK  and select the discovered network or networks to use when provisioning a VM.
  • Select the added Network and assign a capability tag, for example here I setup Type:BackEnd-net and Type:FrontEnd-net as tags where both networks support Public IPs.
  • In the Security tab, I have added the default Security group that enables RDP and SSH Inbound and all communications Outbound within the selected VPC in the CA-Central-1a and CA-Central-1b zones.
  • Click CREATE

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Azure Network Profile

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Infrastructure > Configure > Network Profiles
  • Click + NEW NETWORK PROFILE
  • In the Summary tab, For Account / Region click Search for regions and select your Azure Region.
  • Enter a Network Profile Name : Azure Network Profile
  • Enter a Capability Tag : Env:Testing  This is again because we are using Azure as our Testing environment.

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  • In the Networks Tab, Select + ADD NETWORK  and select the discovered network or networks to use when provisioning a VM.
  • Select the added Networks and assign a capability tag, for example here I setup Type:BackEnd-net and Type:FrontEnd-net as tags where both networks support Public IPs.
  • In the Security tab, I have added the vmwarelabnetworksecurity Security group that enables RDP and SSH Inbound and all communications Outbound within the selected Network Domain in the East US Zone.
  • Click CREATE

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vSphere Network Profile

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Infrastructure > Configure > Network Profiles
  • Click + NEW NETWORK PROFILE
  • In the Summary tab, For Account / Region click Search for regions and select your vSphere Datacenter.
  • Enter a Network Profile Name : vSphere Network Profile
  • Enter a Capability Tag : Env:Production This is again because we are using vSphere as our Production environment.

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  • In the Networks Tab, Select + ADD NETWORK  and select the discovered network or networks to use when provisioning a VM.
  • Select the added Networks and assign a capability tag, for example here I setup Type:FrontEnd-net as a tag where the network support Public IPs. Since this is vSphere, this means that the  network can access internet and not necessarily have an actual public IP like in AWS or Azure.
  • The reason there is no Security tab in Network Profile for vSphere at this point is because we have not setup any NSX account types associated with the vCenter cloud account type.
  • Select the network and click on MANAGE IP RANGES > + NEW IP RANGE to define the set of IP addresses that can be reserved during provisioning.

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  • Click CREATE

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Once completed you should have 3 Network Profiles for the 3 cloud platforms ( vSphere, AWS, Azure ).

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Storage Profiles

A storage profile is a cloud-specific set of storage policies that let the cloud administrator define storage for a cloud account region. Storage polices include disk customization, and a means to identifying the type of storage by applying capability tags. Tags are then matched against blueprint constraints to create the desired storage at provisioning time.

AWS Storage Profile

EBS Fast Storage

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Infrastructure > Configure > Storage Profiles
  • Click + NEW NETWORK PROFILE
  • For Account / Region click Search for regions and select your AWS Region.
  • Enter a Storage Profile Name : AWS Storage Profile EBS Fast
  • Enter Device Type : EBS
  • Enter Volume Type : Provisioned IOPS SSD (IO1)
  • Enter Max IOPS : 800 and Select Support Encryption
  • Enter a Capability Tag : Env:Development  and Gold This is again because we are using AWS as our development environment and leveraging the fastest Disks

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Storage profiles are being grouped by Cloud Accounts. Now that we created the first storage profile for AWS, we will add additional profiles for the storage types we want to support such as a Slow Storage.

EBS Slow Storage

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Infrastructure > Configure > Storage Profiles
  • Click + NEW NETWORK PROFILE
  • For Account / Region click Search for regions and select your AWS Region.
  • Enter a Storage Profile Name : AWS Storage Profile EBS Slow
  • Enter Device Type : EBS
  • Enter Volume Type : General Purpose SSD (GP2)
  • Select Support Encryption
  • Enter a Capability Tag : Env:Development  and Silver This is again because we are using AWS as our development environment and leveraging the Slower Disks

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Once completed will end up with two EBS Storage Profiles for AWS

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vSphere Storage Profile

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Infrastructure > Configure > Storage Profiles
  • Click + NEW NETWORK PROFILE
  • For Account / Region click Search for regions and select your vSphere Datacenter
  • Enter a Storage Profile Name : vSphere Default Storage Profile
  • Select Storage Policy : Datastore Default
  • Enter a Capability Tag : Env:Production  and Silver This is again because we are using vSphere as our production environment and leveraging the default Disk.

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Azure Storage Profile

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Infrastructure > Configure > Storage Profiles
  • Click + NEW NETWORK PROFILE
  • For Account / Region click Search for regions and select your Azure Region
  • Enter a Storage Profile Name : Azure Storage Profile
  • Select Storage Type : Managed Disks
  • Select Disk Type : Standard LRS
  • Select OS and Data disk caching : None
  • Select Supports encryption.
  • Enter a Capability Tag : Env:Testing  and Gold This is again because we are using Azure as our testing environment and leveraging the HDD backed Disks.

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Once completed you should have 3 Storage Profiles for the 3 cloud platforms ( vSphere, AWS, Azure ).

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Create A Project

Projects control who has access to Cloud Assembly blueprints and where the blueprints are deployed within the project. You use projects to organize and govern what your users can do and where they can deploy blueprints in your cloud infrastructure.

Cloud administrators setup projects, adding the required users and cloud zones. Anyone who creates and deploys blueprints must be a member of a least one project.

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As you can see, projects are simply groups that link users to cloud resources, controlling who can use what resource. Users become project members.

To deploy a blueprint , the deploying user must be a member of a project and the project must have one ore more cloud zones that support the development goals of the members. When the blueprint is deployed, the resource requirements defined in the blueprint as evaluated against the available zones and the blueprint is deployed to the cloud zone that supports those requirements.

How Can You Use Projects

You use projects in the way that best suits your users development goals.

  • Create a single project for a development team
    • The project includes a project administrator, the development team members, and all cloud zones that support the team workflow from development to testing to staging to production. the cloud zone capability tags we setup earlier target the zones where the blueprints are deployed.
  • Create multiple projects for a development team.
    • The project members might consist of all the same users or the membership might vary by role. For example, developer members for the development project, developers and testers for the testing and staging project, and lead developers for the production project.

Enough Talking lets go ahead and create a PROJECT

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Infrastructure > Configure > Projects
  • Click + NEW PROJECT
  • Enter the following details for your prject
    • Name : VMWLAB Project

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    • Under Users, Click + ADD USERS. Here I m adding my self as an Administrator and clicking ADD

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    • Under the Provisioning tab > Cloud Zones add all the cloud zones we have created and give them a priority number.

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    • Click CREATE

Notice the Priority numbers we defined for each Cloud Zone when we added them, this mean if no capability tags were defined in a blueprint everything should go to AWS first, Azure second and vSphere Third.

Once completed you should see all the projects you created.

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Blueprinting

The Market place within Cloud Automation Services is a great way to quickly get started with blueprinting in Cloud Assembly. Not only do we provide several popular applications for deployment via Cloud Assembly, these blueprints also serve as example content you can learn from for how to complete complex tasks in Cloud Assembly YAML interface.

In order to get started with the market place we nee to first bind a My VMware Account

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Infrastructure > Connections > Integrations
  • Click + ADD INTEGRATION
  • Select My VMware

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  • Enter your username and password and Click VALIDATE
  • Provide a name

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  • Click ADD
  • Select the Market Place Tab, you will be able to see the available sample blueprints. We can choose to either
    • Import the Blueprint directly into a Project
    • Download the Blueprint YAML file
  • For our blog I will be importing the Multi-Tier Web Application ( Word Press ) on On-Demand VMWare NSX-T Virtual Network listed under Technologies > Application Development.

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  • Clicking Open will give us a chance to read the summary of what this blueprint is about and more importantly the Tech Specs tab will tell us all the requirements for how we should be configuring the Blueprint and what Images to actually use for example
  • Click GET

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  • You may need to Read and Agree to the terms of a license agreement after that click NEXT to continue.
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  • Now we can switch to the Blueprint Tab to validate that the blueprint has been added to the project.

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  • Let’s Click on the Blueprint link to view its contents and observe the blueprint we imported from the marketplace.

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Here you go how awesome is that, infrastructure as code at our finger tips in a matter of seconds.

Blueprints from the market place will have temporary sample values assigned to them for the image, flavor, disk and network mappings. These will need to be updated with your own values of-course before attempting to do a deployment. For the propose of this blog we are simply demonstrating the existence of these blueprints to tweak and to learn from.

Creating and Deploying a Single Machine Blueprint

Here will be deploying a single-machine cloud agnostic blueprint based on all of our pervious configuration.

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Blueprints 
  • Click + NEW 
  • Enter the following information, then Click CREATE:
    • Name: Ubuntu Small
    • Description: Ubuntu Small Cloud Agnostic Blueprint
    • Project: VMWLAB Project

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  • Drag a Cloud Agnostic machine to the canvas. Cloud Agnostic objects are designed to be portable between all supported cloud environments. This includes vSphere, AWS, GSP and Azure. Object types includes Machines, Networks, Load Balancers, and Disk Volumes.
  • In the code and under resources set the following :
    • Image as Ubuntu
    • Flavor as Small

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  • Click DEPLOY

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  • Select Create a New Deployment, then fill the required fields:
    • Deployment Name
    • Blueprint Version
  • Click DEPLOY and Monitor the status of the your request by navigating to the Deployment tab.

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  • When Provisioning is completed, view the deployment details by clicking on the deployment name and lets note where the machine was provisioned

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As you can see the machine was provisioned in AWS because if you remember, AWS Cloud Zone had the first priority when we added it during the creation of our project VMWLAB Project.

To figure out why AWS was selected we can also check the History Tab within the Deployment details where we can check all the Events for Requests for this deployment

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Here we can click on the Provisioning diagram shortcut for the ALLOCATE_FINISHED Event. This is will take us to Infrastructure > Activity > Requests to view the Request Details and see the various placement decisions made based on your Blueprint details.

Policy Based Placement

Multi-Cloud blueprints are capable of being moved between multiple environments leveraging tags to dictate their desired location via the Policy Based Placement Engine. In this section we will create a blueprint that is able to move between multiple cloud environment.

We have already created tags on the Cloud Zone Level that addresses the three environment we have Env:Development, Env:Testing, and Env:Production

We will go ahead and create additional tags against our environment but this time it will be based on our Cloud Platforms and on the compute Level for each of the platforms.

Note : Initially I have placed Capability Tags ( cloud:vspherecloud:aws, cloud:azure ) on the Cloud Account Type Level thinking I might need it but now I see more value in removing them from the Cloud Accounts level and instead setting them up at the Compute level within each of the Cloud Zone Type we have created. 

Configuring Tag Policies For Placement

For each of the cloud zones we have we will create a Capability Tag on the compute level. I will document here how we do it on the AWS Cloud Zone and then apply the same steps on the remaining Cloud Zones.

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Infrastructure > Configure > Cloud Zones
  • Select the AWS Cloud Zone by Clicking OPEN 

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  • Select the Compute Tab and check the box for the Regions you want to use, here I am selecting both Availability Zones.

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  • Select TAGS  and enter the name of the tag cloud:aws under Add tags field then click SAVE

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  • Verify that the tag has been applied to the both compute resources then click SAVE to compete the task.

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  • Will complete the same process on the remaining cloud zones Azure and vSphere, instead we will be leveraging cloud:azure and cloud:vsphere respectively.

Placing the tag at the compute level is a common user case for customers to separate clusters within an environment based on a use case. An abstract version of this concept exists in public cloud as well ( People may use different regions/zones for different user cases).

We might tag a cluster designed for Oracle workloads to leverage the app:oracle tag, allowing us to place these workloads on this cluster via the placement engine. Another use case is for compliance reasons where users may tag clusters based on compliance capabilities on specific environments to ensure workloads land in an environment that will help them pass audits.

Creating Multi-Cloud Blueprint

Let’s create a multi-cloud blueprint leveraging our basic tag placement set, we can now create a blueprint that leverages these tags as part of the placement.

  • In Cloud Assembly, navigate to Blueprints 
  • Click + NEW 
  • Enter the following information, then Click CREATE:
    • Name: Multi-Cloud
    • Description: Multi-Cloud AWS/Azure/vSphere Blueprint
    • Project: VMWLAB Project

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  • Similar to our single machine blueprint, will drag a Cloud Agnostic Machine Object onto the canvas and configure it with an image type of Ubuntu and flavor of Small

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  • Under inputs we will add a new field as a drop down for our cloud environment. We can accomplish this with the following YAML:
inputs:
  cloud:
    type: string
    enum:
      - 'cloud:aws'
      - 'cloud:azure'
      - 'cloud:vsphere'
resources:
  Cloud_Machine_1:
    type: Cloud.Machine
    properties:
      image: Ubuntu
      flavor: Small
      constraints:
       -tag: '${input.cloud}'

This instantiates our menu to have AWS, Azure and vSphere as drop down menu options.

  • Also notice that we updated the Resources sections to include the constraints filed, referencing the tag properties, and a variable ‘${input.cloud}’ that references our drop down menu item. So what we select from the drop down menu will be the constraint tag that will decide the placement of the requested machine.

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  • Select DEPLOY and name the deployment and click Next to observe the Tagging option. Select the your choice and press DEPLOY

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  • After a few moments our deployment to AWS completes to our cloud environment.

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  • Select CLOSE  and return to Blueprints. Initiate another deployment and select any other Cloud environment like Azure for example .

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  • After a few moments our deployment to Azure completes to our cloud environment.

To summarize, we have created a Multi-Cloud Blueprint leveraging the YAML infrastructure as code and we presented to the requester a drop down menu based on Tagging constraints to select which Cloud environment he wants to deploy the machine to.

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Thank you very much if you have made it this far. I m hoping part 1 of this blog was beneficial and worth your time in exploring what you can do with Cloud Assembly .

In part 2, will explore more advanced topics such as Customizing Blueprints with Cloud-Config, versioning and Iterating on Blueprints.

The End, Eh!

 

 

 

 

 

Automation and Orchestration Blueprinting CAS Cloud Automation Services Machine Blueprints

vRealize Automation Extensibility Starts with SovLabs Plug-in – Part 1

When you start looking at vRealize Automation extensibility and how you can integrate it into your own datacenter ecosystem or how you can accommodate certain extensibility use cases like provisioning workloads with custom host names based on a business logic or as simple as running scripts or attaching tags post provisioning, you usually have 3 options :

  1. You can do it yourself. (High Time To Value, Local Skill Set)
  2. You can use Professional Services. ( High Time To Value , Expensive )
  3. You can use SovLabs Extensibility Frame work. (Instant Value, Production ready, Fully Supported, Off the shelf extensibility content and a Fraction of vRA cost)

SovLabs provides one common framework for extending VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) where you can replace custom orchestration workflow development with ready-to-run extensibility software. It brings extensibility into the SDDC framework where its :

  • Managed as a native component of the SDDC directly from vRA
  • Interoperable with latest releases and versions of vRA and endpoints
  • Prescriptive, each module comes ready to run.
  • Flexible, easy to modify without touching a single line of code
  • Enterprise support ( Production ready and Scalable )

In this blog we will explore, in two parts :

  • Part 1: How to install the Sovlabs Plug-in
  • Part 2: How to configure basic Sovlabs Modules like:
    • Custom Naming
    • Microsoft Active Directory
    • Microsoft DNS
    • Property toolkit
    • VM Tagging
    • ServiceNow CMDB

 

Part 1 : Installing Sovlabs Plug-in 2018.3.0

Here we will be doing a new install but before we do that we need to address a few prerequisites around vRA and vRO, so please read carefully :

vRA Prerequisites 

  • A Working instance of vRealize Automation 7.5 where you have successfully provisioned a VM from vRA using a blueprint.
  • Keep things simple according to the Sovlabs documentation by not using spaces or camel-casing for Tenant name, Users, Group Names or Business Groups. Not sure if thats the case for my vRA instance in my lab since its already setup but we shall see!
  • For Clustered vRA and/or vRO, load balancing is configured to VMware’s documentation. this is not our case here but for more details check the SovLabs documentation here HA and vRA with SovLabs.

Assuming you know your way around vRealize Automation you need to have the following:

Service Account User

  • You can create or use a local vRA user for the ownership of the SovLabs Endpoints, Profiles, and Services as well as connectivity into vRO to run workflows. your can create for example a new user called sov_admin but in our case we will be using the configurationadmin local user as a Service Account User, that got created during the content creation at the end of the vRA deployment.
  • Make sure the Service Account User has the following roles in vRA :  IaaS Administrator, Tenant Administrator, XaaS Architect.

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vRA Custom Group

  • Create a Custom Group in vRA for the ownership of the SovLabs Endpoints, Profiles, and Services as well as connectivity into vRO to run workflows called sov_admins for example and make the configurationadmin Service Account User a member of this group.
  • Grant the sov_admins Custom Group both the Tenant Administrator and XaaS Architect Roles during the creating of the vRA custom group

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  • Make sure that the Custom group sov_admins also have the IaaS Administrator role in addition to what we entitled it in the pervious step.

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vRA Business Group

  • Login as the Service Account User configurationadmin@vsphere.local
  • Create or use a SovLabs specific vRA Business Group for allowing entitlements and ownership of SovLabs content to be confined to its own group. in our case we will be leveraging the Configuration Administrators Business Group, that got created during the content creation at the end of the vRA deployment.
  • Make sure to add the Sov_admins Custom Group to the Group Manger Role field within the Configuration Administrator Business Group.

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vRO Prerequisites

  • vRO is already Setup and configured .
  • vRO may be embedded (recommended) like in our instance here or it can be also external. You can refere to VMware’s Install and Configure document.
  • vRO is Setup as an Endpoint in vRA, so click on the Infrastructure tab > Endpoints > Endpoints > Orchestration > vRealize Orchestrator to add your embedded or external vRO endpoint in vRA.

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Modify Files and Set Permissions

  • Modify vmo.properties and js-io-rights files and set permissions. To do that SovLabs provides an script you can download from here called sov_vro_config.sh to automate the modification of those two files and it also creates the krb5.conf file for Kerberos Authentication.
  • Copy the sov_vro_config.sh script to your vRA/vRO appliance since we are using the embedded vRO, its actually the same appliance.
  • Make the script executable by executing the following command then execute the script and follow the instructions.
chmod +x sov_vro_config.sh
  • Restart the vRO service by executing the command
service vco-server restart

Create vRO vRA Host

  • Create vRO vRA Host via vRO Workflow as the default vRA host will not work fr the SovLabs plug-in. The vRA Host must be Shared Session mode and since we are using vsphere.local as our default and only tenant, the name to use for vRA host endpoint should begin with sovlabs_
  • Login to vRO using the vRO client and switch to the Design Mode

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  • In the Workflows tab, go to: Library > vRealize Automation> Configuration > Add a vRA Host
  • Right-click the workflow and click Start workflow and fill out the form:

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  • Click Next in the form wizard

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  • Click Submit in the form wizard
  • New Inventory item for the vRA Host will be in the Inventory tab in the vRO client.

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Create vRO vRA IaaS Host

  • Back in the Workflows tab in the vRO Client, go to: Library > vRealize Automation> Configuration > Add an Iaas host of a vRA Host
  • Right-click the workflow and click Start workflow and fill out the form:
  • Choose the vRA host in the list that we created in the previous step

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  • Click Next for Host Properties and accept the defaults. The fields should all be auto-filled

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  • Click Next for Proxy settings

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  • Click Next for User credentials. Since we are using the embedded vRO, we will be selecting SSO and click Submit

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  • New Inventory item for the vRA IaaS Host will be in the Inventory tab in the vRO client. You may need to refresh the vRO Client

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Installing the SovLabs Plugin

  • Assuming your already download the SovLabs plugin along with the license key  provided to you in an email from SovLabs its time to install the plugin.
  • Login to the vRO Control Center as user root https://%5BvRO-FQDN%5D:8283/vco-controlcenter/ .  Make sure that the Orchestrator user interface is started and running.

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  • Click on the Manage Plug-Ins icon

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  • In the Install plug-in section, browse for the SovLabs Plugin file (o11nplugin-sovlabs.vmoapp)
  • Click Upload

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  • Accept the EULA and click on Install

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  • Restart the vRO Server or wait for the server to restart on its own
    • On the Home page, click on the Startup Options icon and click on Restart
    • Optionally, SSH to the vRO appliance and type in: service vco-server restart
  • Click on theManage Plug-Ins icon and Verify that the SovLabs Plugin is listed among the installed vRO plugins

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  • Restart vRA

Configure the SovLabs Plugin

  • Login to vRO using the vRO client and switch to the Design Mode if you haven’t already.
  • In the Workflows tab, go to SovLabs > Configuration folder and expand it.
  • Right-click on the SovLabs Configuration workflow and click Start Workflow.
  • Accept the EULA by selecting Yes and click Next

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  • Under the Service and Content :
    • Choose the appropriate tenant = vsphere.local
    • Choose the SovLabs Business Group= Configuration AdministratorsRemember Earlier I mentioned that will  be using this BG for SovLabs
    • Select Yes to Create SovLabs vRA Catalog serviece
    • Choose the SovLabs vRA Custom Group we created earlier, that will be your security group = sov_admins@vsphere.local
    • Select Yes to Publish License Content
    • Click Next

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  • In the Upgrade Options section of the form: Select No and click NextSince this isn’t an upgrade
  • In the Install/Update SovLabs Workflow Subscriptions section of the form: Select Yes. This will create all the needed Event Broker Subscriptions in vRA
  • Click Submit
  • Once completed you should see green check on SovLabs Configuration Workflow and for both its Sub Workflowsblog9

Add SovLabs Latest License

For the SovLabs latest Plugin to works it needs a 2018.x.x license key. Here are the steps to add the License Key

  • Login to the desired vRA tenant which is in our case is vSphere.local and login using the Service Account User configurationadmin@vsphere.local

Totally Optionals  :

    • In my case and because I want to continue to use my main account cloudadmin@vmwlab.local user, I simply granted the User Role to the cloudadmin user in the Configuration Administrators Business Group
    • Then added the Cloudadmin user in the SovLabs vRA Extensibility Modules Entitlement created  by the SovLabs plugin.
  • Now that I have access I can Click on the Catalog tab, then Click on the catalog item Add License – SovLabs Modules

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  • Click Request and Copy and paste the provided license key and click SUBMIT

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Note : The Screenshot shows a fraction of the license key, not the entire license key.  🙂

  • You can Monitor your In Progress request in the Deployments Tab

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  • After the license is successfully added, SovLabs Catalog Items and SovLabs vRA Event Broker Subscriptions will appear/generate.

 

Thank you very much if you have made it this far, in part two will touch on How to configure basic Sovlabs Modules like:

  • Custom Naming
  • Microsoft Active Directory
  • Microsoft DNS
  • Property toolkit
  • VM Tagging
  • ServiceNow CMDB

Please feel free to comment or provide feedback

The End of Part 1 Eh!

Automation and Orchestration Extensibility vRealize Automation

Installing and Configuring the vRealize Automation 7.5 (vRA 7.5) ITSM 5.0 / 5.1 Plug-in for ServiceNow

A  new VMware vRealize Automation plugin 5.0 was released on November 2nd on the VMware market Place Link for Servicenow that provides an out of the box integration between the Servicenow portal and vRealize Automation 7.5 catalog and governance model. It enables ServiceNow users to deploy virtual machines using vRA 7.5 and perform basic ServiceNow day 2 operations on their CMDB assets.

Update : There is now an updated version of the ITSM plug-in 5.1 that was released right after and currently available on the VMware Market Place Link

Key Features

  • Enables ServiceNow to integrate vRealize Automation 7.5 with ServiceNow platform and provide the ability for ServiceNow users to access the vRA catalogs, resources within ServiceNow.
  • The integration will allow end users to Request vRA catalog items from ServiceNow portal.
  • The plugin will fetch categories, catalog items and resource data from vRA platform and extend ServiceNow functionality to be able to render vRA catalog items into ServiceNow dynamically and manage vRA resources.
  • Day2 operation actions performed in ServiceNow CMDB will be updated back to vRA platform by giving API calls to vRA.
  • The plug-in supports vSphere, Amazon, Azure, and XaaS virtual machine provisioning, including formless and form based day 2 operations

In addition to all the above generic key Features, the ITSM 5.0 plug-ing includes fixes and new features such as :

  • Easier plug-in configuration through service account and Servicenow based RBAC and Entitlements
  • Multi-vRA support
  • Day 2 operations Enhancements
  • vRealize Business field support
  • ADFS or SSO setup are not required
  • Improve Login process for ServiceNow users with seamless authentication/entitlement model
  • Does not require end user access to internal vRA portal
  • Fully supported by VMware Global Services Support – GSS

In this blog we will take a look at how to deploy and configure the newly anticipated ITSM 5.0/ 5.1 Plug-in for vRealize Automation 7.5.

Update : Here are the fixes that were provided in the updated ITSM 5.1 plug-in:

  • Dynamic dependent drop-down fixes
  • Size, Image profile fixes
  • Disk fixes for null error
  • Token Encryption
  • Improved Entitlement Module
  • Access control fixes(ACL)
  • Duplicate catalog item form section fixes

In addition to this, there is scope change in V5.1 compared to V5.0 to avoid collision with V4.0.

So let’s get started, Eh!

Step 1: Prerequisites

The ITSM 5.0 plugin is targeted for vRealize Automation version 7.5. ITSM plugin interacts with vRealize automation using MID server. MID server is an IaaS component (deployed on prem – in the same network as vRA 7.5) having installed binaries provided by Service Now. For enabling the MID server component – Service now instance should be registered in MID server.

The ITSM 5.0 Plugin is compatible with the following ServiceNow releases (Jakarta, Kingston, London). After registering the vRA instance on Service now portal, data collection needs to be done to fetch all the required vRA contents (like Catalog).

Once the catalog is imported to Service now, a user can place requests from the catalog based on their entitlements.

You will need :

  • Download a copy of the ITSM Plugin 5.0 from VMware market place.
  • A ServiceNow Instance – Jakarta, Kingston orLondon release.
  • A MID Server established and connected to your ServiceNow Instance.

If your looking for how you can do that, please reference my pervious blog on ITSM 3.0 blog

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  • A vRealize Automation 7.5 instance configured on prem where you have configured and tested  one or more blueprint deployments successfully.

Make the plug-in accessible from all application scopes

To do that we need to navigate to Script Includes by using the search from the left navigation menu. Then Selecting System Definition > Script Includes

Once you select the Script Includes, do a search for JSUtil on the right page for the Name field. Once you find the script Open it by clicking on it.

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On the Accessible from drop-down, select All Application Scopes then select Update. Ensure that the changes are saved.

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Enable Application Access on Tables

You must enable application access to certain tables for the plug-in to work. Repeat the following steps on all the Tables below to modify:

  1. user_criteria
  2. sc_category_user_criteria_mtom
  3. item_option_new
  4. catalog_script_client
  5. question_choice
  6. catalog_ui_policy
  7. catalog_ui_policy_action
  8. sc_cat_item_user_criteria_mtom
  9. sc_req_item
  10. sc_category

Option 1 : Procedure To Enable Application Access

  • Log in to ServiceNow as an administrator.
  • Search for System Definition  in the filter navigator and click Tables
  • Search for each table in the Name filter on the right.

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  • Click on the Table Label under the Label column that matches the Table Name search you did. All the records are in the Global Application mode, you will need to click the option on the top of screen to edit the record. That is if your were still asked, usually you shouldn’t have to since we enabled Global access from all application scopes in the pervious step.
  • Click Application Access.
  • Select the can read, can create, can delete, and can update check boxes for each table.
  • Click Update and Repeat.

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Option 2 : Procedure To Enable Application Access

You may find this way faster to update all the tables listed, please watch the video to do so. You will be adding .list at the end of the table name and using the Filter navigator to search for it

Step 2: Installing the ITSM 5.0 Plug-in

  • Log in to the ServiceNow portal as a system administrator.
  • Select System Update Sets > Retrieved Update Sets > then select Import Update Set from XML

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Click Choose File on the dialog to choose the file to upload, and then select the VMware-vRealize-Automation-Application-ITSM-V5 file > Click Upload.

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In the Retrieved Update Sets list, select the VMware vRealize Automation Application ITSM V5.0 update set in the Name column by clicking on it once its in a Loaded State.

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Select Preview Update Set to validate the update set before committing it.

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A dialog box confirms update set validation.

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Click Close and review the errors

In my testing I was using the ServiceNow London Release so I encountered 4 errors as you can see in the screenshot below. From pervious experience I was told many times that these records existed in the instance where the plug-in was developed and thats why we are receiving these error during the validation since these records don’t really exist in our instance.

go ahead and click on Accept Remote Update on each of the errors.

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If you are using the ServiceNow Jakarta release and ServiceNow displays the below error message, click Accept remote update as well.

"Could not find a record in sc_homepage_renderer for column homepage_renderer referenced in this update"

Once you have accepted all remote updates click Commit Update Set

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A dialog box opens automatically after you click Commit Update Set while the commit action is in progress. When its done click the Close button when it appears to dismiss the dialog. It took 25 minutes to complete so please be patient.

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From the left menu, Click Update log

The install is complete when a message appears stating Finished update load from database but you can continue on at this point as long as you can see that the state of the Plug-in Update Set is Committed.

To do that select Retrieved Update Sets in the left menu and verify that the update set has a status of Committed.

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*  Important Note Only if your deploying the ITSM 5.0 plug-in 

After the installing is complete, search for Integration – vRealize Automation > then select Administration > System Properties 

On the System Properties page Search for the Name and Change the value of the x_vmw_vmware_vrasp.vrasn.group.assignment_group System Property to > d64ea542db920300435fd001cf961913

This is the sys_id of the group which is for approval of requests within ServiceNow. The value was wrongly captured in the 5.0 final build therefor it was documented to change its value.

*  Again this is not needed if  your installing the ITSM 5.1 version of the plug-in

Step 3: Users Facts and Setup

  • The Plugin configuration can be done by a system administrator like I m doing in this blog or by a user with x_vmw_vmware_vrasp.vrealize_automation_catalog_admin privileges.
  • You will need to Add the role x_vmw_vmware_vrasp.vra_user in ServiceNow for all users that must access vRealize Automation, to enable those users to see the vRealize Automation User Portal module which will we will cover later in the blog, including admin,catalog admin, and end user
  • RBAC in ITSM 5.0 is independent from vRealize Automation RBAC.
  • Login and Authentication rules do not require validation from vRealize Automation side. All roles and entitlements are based on the ServiceNow model.
  • Approvals can be generated if the users have the x_vmw_vmware_vrasp.vrealize_automation_catalog_admin role and are a member of the vRealizeAutomation-ApprovalManagersGroup group in ServiceNow.
  • The plug-in admin role x_vmw_vmware_vrasp.vrealize_automation_catalog_admin must contain the “catalog_admin”, “itil” and “agent_admin” roles out of the box in order to see and configure the Mid Server module from the left pane.
  • The Plugin end users role x_vmw_vmware_vrasp.vra_user must have the “itil” role out of the box.

For my testing purposes and based on the information I just mentioned I granted all the roles to the System Administrator. Of course if your doing this in production you would be selective in terms who have access to these roles.

In Filter Navigator search for System Security > Users and Groups > Users and edit the System Administrator role membership so it includes :

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Step 4: Update the vRealize Automation Workflow for Requested Items

The system admin can configure the vRA Workflow for Requested Item using the workflow editor. At a minimum, you must assign the approval group that contains your approvers. When users request vRealize Automation catalog items, this workflow runs, and approvals are sent to the approvers within the approval group before the request is submitted to vRealize Automation.

By default the vRealizaAutomation-ApprovalManagersGroup group is set as an approving group in the workflow. You can change the approval group by the procedure below.

The approval group must contain the x_vmw_vmware_vrasp.vrealize_automation_catalog_admin role.

Follow the steps below if you want to use your own approval group and add it to the vRealize Automation workflow.

  • Search for Workflow Editor in the ServiceNow navigation pane and click it.
  • Search for vRA Workflow for Requested Item and open it.
  • Click the menu button and select Checkout.
  • Double-click the Approval group stage in the workflow.
  • Click the Edit Groups button.
  • Search the list of groups and make the appropriate selections.
  • Lock your selection by clicking the Lock icon.
  • Click Update.
  • Click the menu button and select Publish.

Again for my testing I edited the existing default group vRealizaAutomation-ApprovalManagersGroup so it has the x_vmw_vmware_vrasp.vrealize_automation_catalog_admin role and added the System Administrator as a member by searching in the Filter Navigator for System Security > Users and Groups > Groups and editing the group roles and membership accordingly.

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Step 5: Set up the Integration User

You must set up a vRealize Automation integration user. ServiceNow requires this user to import catalog items, categories, request statuses, and resources from vRealize Automation. In order to import items, the integration users must be a business group manager within the business groups that you want ServiceNow to manage. The integration user does not require a role within ServiceNow.

  •  Log in to vRealize Automation as a business group manager.
  • Edit your business groups and assign the integration user as a business group manager.

In our case here I have a business group in vRA 7.5 called Cloud Administrators and I have their AD security group listed as a member of the Group Manager Role. 

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For our testing will be using the CloudAdmin user which is a member of the Cloud Administrators Group.

Step 6: Register a vRealize Automation Instance in Service Now

With ITSM 5.0 you can register multiple vRealize Automation instances and use catalog items from all of them in one ServiceNow portal.

Note : All requests from ServiceNow for a specific vRealize Automation instance are placed in the name of user registered under the Register vRA module. 

Procedure To Register a vRealize Automation Instance

  • Log in to Service Now as a plug-in admin.
  • Navigate to and click the Register vRAs tab under Integration – vRealize Automation.
  • Click New.

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  • Enter the details of your vRealize Automation instance and click Save

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  • That takes you back to the Register vRAs menu where you see vRA instance you just configured.
  • We need now to Import services and catalog items from the vRealize Automation instance to Service Now, so lets click on the instance.

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  • Click Import Services and Catalog Items and monitor the import

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  • You can refresh the page with completed items by clicking List controls in the top left corner of the page and selecting Refresh list until there are no records to display before you move on. .
  • Next will repeat the process by clicking on the Register vRAs > Our vRA instance but this time we will Import and reconcile CMDB from your vRealize Automation instance to Service Now.

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  • Again you can refresh the page with completed items by clicking List controls in the top left corner of the page and selecting Refresh list until there are no records to display before you move on.

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Remember that you can always add more vRA Instances or update/ delete your current ones.

Update : Once you’re done, there are some scheduled imports that needs to run before you start using the plug-i.  If you don’t run them manually, the scheduled imports will run at there interval time setting but then you will have to wait until they all run.

To speed things up you need to execute the schedule imports in the right order :

  • Log in to Service Now as a plug-in admin.
  • Navigate to and click the Register vRAs tab under Integration – vRealize Automation.
  • Click on the Scheduled Imports 
  • Run each of the imports in sequence starting with 1  by clicking into each of the scheduled imports and clicking on Execute No, until you run them all.
  • Verify that there are no records within the Scheduled Imports Queue before starting the next Import.

Step 7: Create ServiceNow Entitlement

Here we are going to assign access for services, items, and actions by entitling users and groups in ServiceNow regardless how they are entitled in vRealize Automation.

These Entitlements in the vRealize Automation plug-in for ServiceNow are based on ServiceNow plug-in implementation and are unrelated to vRealize Automation entitlements at all.

Procedure To Create New Entitlements

  • Navigate to and click the vRA Entitlements tab under Integration – vRealize Automation.
  • Click New.

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  • Enter a name and description for the entitlements.
  • Select the user or group to entitle.
  • Select the services, items, and actions you want to entitle.

Update : In my case I have created a user called Scott Smith and granted him the x_vmw_vmware_vrasp.vra_user and the Itil Role. These are the minimum roles for a service now user who needs to access the vRealize Automation Portal in Service Now.

I also selected the vsphere Services Category and one of the items in it ( CentOS7.5 – ServiceNow Testing ) Bluepint and some of the supported Actions

You can click on the search icon to see a full list of services, items, or actions and you can unlock the pad lock to edit your selection for each such section and use the pad lock to lock it down.

Important Note : Not all the actions are supported even though its available in the UI and based on the documentation, Here is what is really supported :

  • Deployment Actions : Destroy and Expire
  • Item Actions : Suspend, Power On, Power Off, Shutdown and Expire
  • Click Submit when your done . As you can see I didn’t select any Services but I selected one basic vRA Blueprint that I wanted to Entitle my user Scott Smith to.

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Step 8: Request a Catalog Item

You can request a catalog item from the vRealize Automation user portal. Depending on your vRealize Automation plug-in configuration you might have identical catalog items from different vRealize Automation instances. For environments with multiple vRealize Automation instances, select from which instance you want to request the catalog item.

Procedure to Request a Catalog Item

  • Login to ServiceNow Portal as Scott.Smith
  • Navigate to and click the vRealize Automation User Portal tab under vRealize Automation Module that will open a new tab where you can access the portal

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  • In the vRealize Automation user portal, click Catalog Items.
  • Select the vRealize Automation instance, from which you want to request a catalog item

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  • Select a category and click Request on the catalog item.

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  • Enter the details of your request if any and click Submit.

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  • You are redirected to the Activities tab where you will see its awaiting approval

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  • You can click on the Request to find more details like the Stage or the State of the request . Once approved by the Approval group where the System Administrator happen to be a member in our case here.
  • For the Approvers to approve any of the requests they also can also go to the vRealize Automation Portal in ServiceNow and click on the Activities Tab > Approvals, find and click on the request that is Awaiting Approval and Approve or Reject the request.

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  • Once Approved, our user Scott Smith can see that its approved in his own portal Under the Activities Tab > Requests

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  • On the vRealize Automation side of things we can see that the request Blueprint is being provisioned

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  • The ServiceNow user can continue to track the machine request status through the Activities Tab  until the request is complete and closed in ServiceNow.

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  • If your user is entitled, you can make changes to your deployments and virtual machines after they have been created.
  • Your user must have the specific entitlement that corresponds to the action you want to make. From the Actions tab you can power on, restart, expire, destroy, power off your deployment, and more.

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Hope you found the blog around the new ITSM 5.0 Plug-in beneficial if you have made it this far. This was a quick introduction around the plug-in installation and configuration, of course there will be more things that need testing as I continue to use the Plug-in.  Thank you for your time and until next time.

The End Eh!

 

ITSM vRealize Automation

vCenter Content Lifecycle Management with vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager 2.0

Content lifecycle management in vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager provides a way for release managers and content developers to manage software-defined data center (SDDC) content, including capturing, testing, and release to various environments, and source control capabilities through GitLab integration. Content Developers are not allowed to set Release policy on end-points only Release Managers can set policies.

You can use content lifecycle management to dispense with the time-consuming and error-prone manual processes required to manage software-defined content. Supported content includes entities from

  • vRealize Automation 7.2 and later

  • vRealize Orchestrator 7.x and later

  • VMware vSphere 6.0 and later.

  • vRealize Operations Manager 6.6.1+ and later.

  • Source Control server: All latest versions of Gitlab Community Edition and Enterprise Edition.

Content lifecycle management in vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager is similar to content lifecycle management with the vRealize Code Stream Management Pack for DevOps where VMware announced its end of availability as of April 12th, 2018KB53222 ), but with the following differences:

  • Content lifecycle management is deployed as part of vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager on a single appliance. It has a new user interface and is tightly integrated with vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager core services.

  • vRealize Orchestrator is embedded on the appliance to run only content workflows.

  • Updated vRealize Code Stream Pipeline services.

Our focus in this blog is the vSphere Content Endpoint and the type of content we support which is :

vSphere Content Endpoint

Type

Value

Description

vSphere-CustomSpecification

vSphere vCenter 6.0+

Captures guest operating system settings saved in a specification that you can apply when cloning virtual machines or deploying from templates.

vSphere-Template

vSphere vCenter 6.0 +

Captures template to deploy virtual machines in the vCenter Server inventory.

Using vRSLCM 2.0 we will see how we can capture a vSphere Template ( W2K12R2STD64 ) from the VMware vCenter ( vcs-l-01a ) at the BRAMPTON development Data-Center to both VMware vCenters ( mgmt-vcs-01 & mgmt-vcs-02 ) at the TORONTO and OTTAWA production Data-Centers respectively.

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Prerequisites

  • A pre-created template ready to be captured at the Brampton vCenter.
  • A Content Library Created and Published at the Brampton vCenter.
  • A Content Library Created by subscribing to the Brampton Content Library for both Toronto and Ottawa vCenters.
  • You have your Data Centers and its associated vCenter Server already setup in vRSLCM 2.0
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Brampton vCenter

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Toronto and Ottawa vCenters (Linked Mode)

Once you complete the prerequisites we will setup everything in vRSLCM 2.0

Step 1: Configuring vSphere Template Repository

This template repostory is used to store all vSphere template versions captured in the vCenter Content Library Provided that we created and published. The content library, which we set to ‘published’ in vCenter will be displayed and selected here based on the selected vCenter instance.

A best practice is to have this vCenter instance close to where the templates would typically be captured, and that is the BRAMPTON development vCenter in our scenario and its published Brampton Content Library.

Select Content Management -> Content Settings -> vSphere Template Repository and fill all the required fields.

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Step 2: Creating the vCenters Content Endpoints

Here we are going to add a content endpoint to an environment to capture, test, deploy, or check-in a content package but before you can do that you should at least have added an environment vCenter endpoint when you first setup vRSLCM.

For example in our VMwareLab we have 3 environment vCenter endpoints added under the Data Centers  -> Mange vCenter Servers. as you can see we have 3 Data Centres ( Toronto, Ottawa and Brampton ) and each of those data centres have there own vCenter managing the vSphere Environment.

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Now lets go ahead and create our vCenters Content endpoints.

  • Under Content Management, click Endpoints.
  • Click NEW ENDPOINT.
  • Select vCenter.
  • Enter the information for the vCenter content endpoint.
    1. In the Name text box, enter a unique name for the endpoint.
    2. In the Tags text box, enter tags associated with the endpoint ( Optional )

      Using tags allow you to deploy a content to multiple endpoints at the same time. When you deploy a content, you can select a tag instead of individual content endpoint names, and the content deploys to all endpoints that have that tag. To add multiple tags, press Enter after you enter each tag.

  • In the Server FQDN/IP text box, enter the fully qualified server name, IP address, or host name for the content endpoint server.
  • To access the endpoint, enter the User name and Password.
  • Click Test Connection and click Next.

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We will be doing these same steps for the 3 vCenter Content Endpoint we are adding but when we hit next we need to set the appropriate polices for the content endpoint we are adding.

So for the BRAMPTON vCenter Content Endpoint (vcs-l-01a) will need to set the policy to Allow the content to be captured from this endpoint the click NEXT to review the summary and SUBMIT

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As for the TORONTO vCenter Content Endpoint (mgmt-vcs-01) and OTTAWA vCenter Content Endpoint (mgmt-vcs-02), since these are the destination endpoints where the content/Template will be copied to, we will need to set the policy to Mark as Production Endpoint i.e. Release Endpoint and Enable vCenter Template Support to configure where the template is deployed to, in each vCenter Server.

Repeat this when the adding the vCenter Content Endpoint respectively for both TORONTO and OTTAWA vCenter Servers / Data Centres

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vCenter Server settings can be added to an LCM data center, once vCenter data collection is competed this endpoint is seen when importing from LCM and reduces the time to fill in the form as all the properties have been collected.  use the drop down menus to select your vCenter Settings to determine again where the template will be stored when copied.

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Once the endpoint is created, it validates if the configuration is correct. It can connect through API and that the configuration of the local subscriber details is setup to point to the publisher as defined in Content Settings/vSphere Template Repository. If there is a problem, then the endpoint is disabled and an error is displayed when you cover of the warning.

We can see now all 3 vCenter Content Endpoints with the appropriate policies where we will be capturing content from BRAMPTON vCenter ( vcs-l-01a ) and releasing to TORONTO vCenter (mgmt-vcs-01) and OTTAWA vCenter (mgmt-vcs-02).

 

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in our lab we didn’t choose any testing destination but we could have selected one of the destination vCenters as a testing Endpoint where we can test the content before releasing it to production. All we had to do is select the Allow unit tests to be run on this endpoint Policy  under the Policy settings when we added the vCenter Content Endpoint.

Step 3: Adding / Releasing Content in vRSLCM 2.0

Content is a collection of files that contains definitions that represent software defined services.

After you add a content endpoint to one or more environments, you can manage the software-defined content that each environment contains. You can use vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager to perform the following operations on content:

  • Capture content from an endpoint

  • Deploy to test and run unit tests

  • Check-in content

  • Release content to production

For example, a YAML file for a vRealize Automation blueprint or an XML file for a vRealize Orchestrator workflow. Content is linked together so that when you capture a vRealize Automation blueprint, all dependencies are also displayed in the content catalog, and they can each have their own versions. vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager displays dependency information within each content version.

We have mentioned in this blog that will be applying the capture and release content operations on the vCenter Template (W2K12R2STD64) so we can copy it from the BRAMPTON Development Data-Center to TORONTO AND OTTAWA Production Data-Centres.

so Lets get started now but Navigating to Content Management -> Content and clicking on ADD CONTENT

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In the next window we can select which content operation/action we want to select. Lets make sure we select both Capture and Deploy then click PROCEED

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In the Capture Details Window will fill all the mandatory fields :

  • Select the Capture Endpoint from the drop down menu. this is going to be our BRAMPTON vCenter (vcs-l-01a.vmwarelab.local)
  • Select the Content type as vSphere-Template
  • Select the content Template you need to capture, in our scenario its the W2K12R2STD64
  • Enter a comment as The Template is ready to released to Production vCenters 

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Click NEXT  to select which endpoints you want to release the content to

  • Select All Endpoints which in our case it will the TORONTO (mgmt-vcs-01) and OTTAWA (mgmt-vcs-02) production vCenters and the order of the release where I made sure the release start with the TORONTO vCenter first.
  • Enter a release comment such as Releasing W2K12R2STD64 to Production vCenters

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click NEXT and review the Summary. When ready click SUBMIT

Once you submit this form you can take a  look at the Content Pipelines > Executions where you can monitor the progress of the request. Also please note that the request will be queued in the system for processing and may not show immediately.

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You can click on the Content Pipeline Name or from the ACTIONS menu select View Execution to get more detailed informations like who executed the Content Pipeline and the elapsed Duration so fat or take ACTIONS like canceling or Pausing the  Content Pipeline. You will need to REFRESH the page from time to time to see the progress if  you stay on the Execution Page.

You can also see each of the Capture, Test or Release stages in action and monitor each stage.

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Step 4: Behind The Scenes

If you are wondering whats happening behind the scenes I made a list of the steps that vRSLCM takes when it executes the Content Pipeline for the Captured vSphere template.

Capture Stage

  1. vRSLCM will Export the selected template as OVF from the BRAMPTON Development vCenter. 
  2. vRSLCM will Create a Library Item in the Brampton Content Library and Upload the Files to the Library item.  This is the same Content library that we configured in vRSLCM as the vSphere Template Repository which is used to store all vSphere template versions captured.

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Now that the vSphere template is uploaded fully to the vSphere Template Repository if we look back at the Pipeline we see that Capture and Test ( The Fact its not selected ) are completed and we move on to the final stage and that is the Release Stage.

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Release Stage

  1. vRSLCM will Sync the Toronto Content Library first and Sync the Library template item as W2K12R2STD64-v1 and then deploy the OVF package from the content Library to the Toronto Cluster Resource Pool by transferring the image Virtual Machine Template files to one of the Toronto cluster hosts then marking the Virtual Machine as a Template.
  2. Once completed vRSLCM will repeat the process but this time it will Sync the Ottawa Content Library and deploy the OVF package to the Ottawa Cluster Resource Pool by transferring the image Virtual Machine Template files to one of the Ottawa cluster hosts then marking the Virtual Machine as a Template.

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if you go back to VRSLCM and look at the Pipeline execution we find it was completed Successfully and managed to do that in 1h 30m considering I don’t have the fastest storage in my Home Lab.

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now we can always go back to the captured content (vSphere-Template) and Capture newer version of the template or re-deploy a specific version that we captured perviously to existing or newer production vCenters.

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If you made it this far in the blog, I hope you found it informative and helpful.

Please remember that this is just one type of content were we can manage its content lifecycle, as vRSLCM like we mentioned at the beginning supports different types of content across the vRealize Product Suite.

The End Eh!

vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager

Deploying and Upgrading vRealize Automation with vRealize Suite LifeCycle Manager 2.0 – Part 2

Now that we have seen and understand how to deploy vRealize Automation 7.4 using vRealize Suite LifeCycle Manager 2.0 in Part 1 of the blog, we are ready to continue using vRSLCM to upgrade the vRA 7.4 instance we deployed to vRA 7.5.

So let’s get started Eh!.

Right away and when logged in vRSLCM we see a notification alert that vRA 7.5 is avaiable for Environment Blog Demo which you can mark as Read to clear it out.

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Now lets dive into the Blog Demo environment by clicking VIEW DETAILS then clicking on the vertical 3 dots to explore the options we can take against this environment, once the menu is available to us, let’s select Create Snapshot from the menu since I only have vRA 7.4 in this environment. Please be aware that doing it from this level will create a snap shot across all the products and there components that are either deployed or imported to the environment.

Snapshot for vRealize Automation is taken for all the components except IaaS DB. Creating snapshot of IaaS DB is not supported by vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager. Ensure that the appliances are in a consistent state before triggering snapshots.

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Provide a Snapshot Prefix Name that will  be set in front of the generated Snapshot date and time stamp name and check the box to Snapshot with Memory if you like then click SUBMIT

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In my experience the Create Snapshot window was still there even though I already hit SUBMIT. So I had to click CANCEL after verifying that the Snapshots was completed in vCenter Recent Tasks.

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Now we are ready to Upgrade so let’s click on the vertical 3 dots again but this time once the menu is available to us, let’s select Upgrade from the menu.

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Under vRrealize Automation 7.4 Products Details we will be presented with a couple of important choices like taking a snapshot for the IAAS Machine after the vRA Virtual Appliance Upgrade.

This would be a 2nd Snapshot but this time its after the vRA VA is upgraded so if an IAAS component upgrade fails, then you can revert to the post-upgrade VA snapshot for the failed IAAS component. When you want to retry,  you do that from the command line and enter true in the retry input for upgrade.

Next we will select the Repository Type. In my case I have already copied the vRA 7.5 upgrade ISO to vRSLSM Binaries which I outlined in first part of this blog, therefore we are going to select vRealize suite Lifecycle Manager Repository which will automatically select 7.5 as the product version since its the only one available that I can upgrade to that I uploaded.

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Click Next and click RUN PRECHECK to do the Data and vRealize Automation group set of Validations. In my case it was all green for the two validations so I Clicked SUBMIT to follow with the upgrade.

You can monitor as we mentioned before your Request in the Requests tab menu by clicking on the  IN PROGRESS under the Requests States column for the Upgrade Product request.

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Here you can track each of the steps as they execute or come back to it anytime later for a status update.

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You can also find what each of the tasks are doing within a step and find out how much time each of the steps took to complete.

now that all the steps were successful, we can try hitting again the same vRA Appliance URL at https://mgmt-vra-02.vmwarelab.org

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Access the vRealize Automation Console and login with the local user Configurationadmin which has both the Infrastructure and Tenant Admin Roles.

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What did I tell you ? It’s Magic! Just like that its all upgraded and ready to go.

The End Eh!

Uncategorized

Deploying and Upgrading vRealize Automation with vRealize Suite LifeCycle Manager 2.0 – Part 1

Wow the title is such a mouthful and so is this blog, so get your popcorn ready and get cosy friends cause we are going to try and capture everything we need to do, so we can use vRSLCM 2.0 to :

  1. Deploy vRA 7.4 and then
  2. Upgrade it to vRA 7.5

Just like that! how awesome is that ? So lets get started Eh!

Lab Overview

Deploying vRA 7.4 will consist of the vRA appliance ( mgmt-vra-02 ) and the IAAS windows machine ( mgmt-iaas-02 ) that will be running the vRA windows services and other important components. these two components does not exist yet.

In the lab we will be running vSphere 6.7 , SQL 2016 and vRSLCM 2.0 that were already configured.

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Prerequisites

Please be aware that this what I did in my lab, so some of the items can be done in different ways if available.

  1. DNS A Records for both ( mgmt-vra-02 ) and ( mgmt-iaas-02 )
  2. AD Service account ( administrator@vmwarelab.org )
  3. Downloading the required software from VMware website to an NFS share that you can access from vRSLCM Appliance :
    1. VMware vRealize Automation 7.4.0 OVA file.
    2. VMware vRealize Automation 7.5.0 OVA file.
    3. VMware vRealize Automation 7.5.0 Update Repository.
  4. Microsoft SQL 2016 Server ( mgmt-sql-01 ).
  5. Microsoft Active Directory and DNS ( mgmt-dc-01 ).
  6. vRealize Suite Lifecycle manager 2.0 ( mgmt-lcm-01 ).
  7. vSphere 6.x vCenter ( mgmt-vcs-01 ).
  8. A quite and cosy place to work.

Step 1 : Adding Binaries

We have to add the binaries that we downloaded to the NFS share to vRSLCM. Once you are logged to vRSLCM , Select Settings -> Product Binaries -> ADD BINARIES. In my case my location is based on NFS so select NFS and enter the base location ( Case Sensitive ). Once completed hit DISCOVER to get the product binaries . Will select the product we downloaded and click ADD Selected product binaries are automatically mapped to product versions.

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Once completed you should see them listed under Product Binaries

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Another thing we need to do while we are here is copy a Windows ISO to vRSLCM via WinSCP for example to a folder I created under /data/iso. In may case I already copied Windows 2016 ISO to /data/iso  so in vRSLCM i will select ADD BINARIE again but this time I select Windows ISO and point it to the Base Location where I copied it to then I hit DISCOVER.

Select the ISO image name that are pre-populated after a successful discovery from base location, and fill the rest of the required fields as outlined below and click SUBMIT

One Important Note here is that Windows ISO has to be a Standard Edition for any of the following supported Windows editions :

  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016

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Once completed again you should see it listed under the ISO Binaries.

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Step 2 : Adding A Subject Alternative Names (SAN) Certificate

We will need to generate a certificate that we will reference later when you select to install vRA 7.4 , so lets go to Settings -> Certificate -> ADD CERTIFICATE and fill it similar to what I did in the figure below, then click GENERATE

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Make sure the certificate is generated successfully and its listed in the certificates table. You can create a certificate for each of the vRealize Suite products Or you can use the same certificate for all products as long you make sure you enter all the HostName/Domain Names in the Domain Name section and there respective IP addresses in the IP Address section of the certificate.

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If you are looking to how to deploy vRSLCM and Creating a SAN ( Subject Alternative Names ) Certificate using your CA Enterprise Server, Check out my colleague Steve Tilkens Blog  Here

Step 3 : Creating an Environment To Install vRealize Automation 7.4

We will be creating an environment in vRSLCM where we will be installing vRA 7.4, assuming you have your Data Center and its associated vCenter Server already setup in vRSLCM.

login to vRSLCM and click on + Create Environment from the left pane. Select your Data Centre and Fill the required fields and click NEXT

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Under Products, Select vRealize Automation by checking the box -> New Install -> 7.4 -> Small Deployment and Click NEXT

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Accept the terms and conditions of the end user agreement to proceed with the installation by scrolling all the way down and checking the box. after that click NEXT

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Enter the vRealize Suite license 2017 since we are deploying vRA 7.4 and click NEXT

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Using the drop down menus select all the applicable Infrastructure associated with the data centre you selected intialy when you created the environment, then click NEXT

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Fill all the network detail and click Next

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Select the Certificate we created in Step 1 for vRealize Automation and click NEXT

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In the Products Details Section and under Product Properties enter the domain accout and password as (Domain\user) of the service account that have administrative rights on the IaaS windows server and can be used across all the IaaS Components and Services.

Select / ADD the NTP servers

Select No to configure Cluster Virtual IPs since this is a minimal install that will be using 1 vRA appliance.

Select Yes to Configure a Windows Box the will run the IaaS Components and services

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Under the Windows Box section since we answer Yes. Select ISO then Select the ISO file Name we uploaded in Step 1.

Select Existing Spec for Customization Specification. I have one that I already created in vCenter Server for Windows 2016 Virtual Machine deployment that will join the provisioned windows machine to the domain.

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Scroll down to configure all the Components that will be running on the Iaas Server

A clarification here for some of the fields . when it says Hostname that is the FQDN of the Machine and when it says VM Name, that is simply the name of the VM in vCenter.

Click NEXT when your done.

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in next section will be doing a PreCheck before we can submit the request. Will start first with VALIDATE & DEPLOY.  You will be presented with Prerequisites for the IaaS Component Deployment Precheck Checks.  Since we are not using a template will simply ignore it for now but will perform the same operation once the VM is deployed. Click VALIDATE & DEPLOY to deploy the IaaS Windows Box.

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That will upload the windows iso image first to the vCenter Content Libraries under the LCM-LOCAL-ISO-LIB which will take some time and you can monitor it in vCenter. Once its done then it will deploy the Windows ISO image as a Virtual Machine.

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vRSLCM will make sure the build is completed and customized with all the required settings like the name of the machine / DNS , IP address and Domain membership, including installing the VMware Tools. All again based on the configuration that was submitted in previous steps. The IaaS machine is configured with 4 CPU, 16 GB and 40 GB Disk.

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Once the vRealize Automation Windows IAAS Deployment Validation in vRSLCM is successful and before I click on RUN PRECHECK . I made sure to login to the IAAS Machine and :

  • Turn off Windows Firewall for Domain, Private and Public Network which was already set.Blog Project20
  • Update the PowerShell execution policy to allow scripts to run by running command line and confirm by entering the letter Y  
  1. Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted                
  • Disable UAC as mentioned in the Prerequisites for the IaaS Component Deployment Precheck Checks using the default Powershell running the following command as an administrator on the IAAS machine
Set-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System" -Name "EnableLUA" -Value "0"
  • Upgrade the VMware Tools if there is an Upgrade available based on how recent your vSphere environment compared the VMware Tools that was installed (Optional)
  • Allow remote connections for Remote Desktop under Windows System Properties
  • Disable IPv6 on the IAAS Machine
  • Finally I Changed the configuration of the IAAS machine to 8 GB of Memory since this is only a Lab Testing Environment (Optional)

Now we are ready to click on RUN PRECHECK  to execute all the prerequisites needed on the IAAS Machine which we usually automatically fix using the installation Wizard when doing the vRA deployment manually, also this allow us to see if any errors or warnings appears that we need to deal with.

We will be presented again with a Prerequisite check list which we did most of it just make sure you touch on the rest like the SQL Server Privileges and User Rights Assignment. Once your ready to do click on RUN PRECHECK and monitor its progress or you can save and exit and come back later to view the status of PreCheck.

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We need to verify that we don’t have any issues and everything is green across Data, Infrastructure and vRealize Automation Validations, every type of validation have tons of checks that it performs and if there is an issue, you will quickly see the reason behind it and the recommendation on how to fix it.

When fixing any issues or warnings, Keep clicking on RE – RUN PRECHECK until everything is green across the three validation type I mentioned.

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click NEXT 

At the top right corner you have the option to run the Pre check again when you Submit the request, in my case just for the fact that we just ran it there is no reason to run it again cause it will just save us some time, there for I turned it off.

You will also see that your presented with a summary for the all the settings you entered and an option to download it as a json file that you can use anytime if you needed to redeploy the same settings again or modified to deploy additional environment somewhere else.

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One you are ready click SUBMIT and watch the Magic Happens!

Monitor your request as it goes through visually step by step by navigating to Requests and clicking on the Request States IN PROGRESS

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Once its completed successfully, you have a running vRA 7.4 Environment that you can start to configure and use in your organization, also manage and monitor going forward using vRSLCM 2.0.

now that all the steps were successful, we can try hitting the vRA Appliance URL at https://mgmt-vra-02.vmwarelab.org/

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Access the vRealize Automation Console and login with the local user Configurationadmin which has both the Infrastructure and Tenant Admin Roles.

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In the next part of this blog we will look at how easy it is to upgrade the vRA 7.4 instance we just deployed to vRA 7.5 using vRSLCM 2.0

The End of Part 1 Eh!

 

vRealize Automation vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager

vRealize Automation 7.3 Plug-In for ITSM – Service Now 3.0 – Step by Step Guide!

Before I start I want to give credit to Spas Kaloferov original blog on this subject. I think you should take the time to check it out specially if your considering using ADFS, as his blog includes the ADFS configuration steps where in my setup I didn’t use ADFS! there for there will be a few caveats.

ADFS allows login for vRealize Automation users that are not in ServiceNow. However, it does not allow login for ServiceNow users that are not in vRealize Automation.

If you use the default authentication like we are going to do here, there are some restrictions and requirements around authentication that you should be aware of, as described in the following table.

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The vRealize Automation Plugin for ITSM 3.0 was released by VMware October 5, 2017 with a couple of Enhancements that I will touch on as part of the Step by Step Installation and configuration guide. I m hoping I do it justice, so lets dive right in.

The vRealize Automation plug-in for ServiceNow enables ServiceNow users to deploy virtual machines and perform day 2 actions on CMDB resources using vRealize Automation catalog and governance capabilities.

The vRealize Automation plug-ins for ServiceNow 3.0 works only with vRealize Automation 7.3, and are available only for the ServiceNow Istanbul and Jakarta releases. Also, the optional ADFS configuration , still uses ADFS 2.0.

For previous iterations of the ServiceNow ITSM plug-in please visit the solution exchange and search for ITSM. You will find ITSM 1.0 and ITSM 2.0

The latest version of the plug-in still supports vSphere and Amazon virtual machine provisioning but unlike the previous versions, we now have added support for Azure, and XaaS blueprints as well, including day 2 operations like Power ON/OFF, Reboot, and Destroy.

Stage 1 – Configuring a MID Server

Before installing the plug-in, you must configure a Management, Instrumentation, and Discovery (MID) Server to facilitate communication between ServiceNow and vRealize Automation.

Creating a MID Server User Account in ServiceNow

  • Log in to your ServiceNow portal and type System Security in the search field.
  • Expand Users and Groups > select Users > Click New to create a new user account.

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  • Fill the required information and click Submit

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  • Find the user you just created by using the search field and select it from the list by clicking on it.

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  • At the bottom of the screen, click Edit within the Role tab.

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  • Search for the mid_Server role and add it the user account, then click Save to get back to the user information page.

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  • Enter a password for the user account and click Update.

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  • Now lets logoff and login back to ServiceNow using the MID server user to verify that the account is working properly, then logoff.SNOW-9SNOW-10

Installing and Configuring a MID Server Instance

In this step we will cover how to install and configure a MID Server instance which can be done on any servers in your DMZ or private Network as long as we have access to internet where we can communicate with our ServiceNow instance.

  • Login back to your ServiceNow instance with your admin account
  • Search for Mid Server in the search field and select Downloads

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  • Select the appropriate Mid Server package for your desired operating system, in our case here we will download the Windows 64 bit
  • On your Mid Server, create a folder called <MID Server> on your C: drive and then create a sub-folder and give it the name of your Mid Server.
  • Extract the package you downloaded into your <MID Server>/Server name folder. The resulting directory structure would be  //agent

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  • Navigate to the //agent directory and edit the config.xml file as follows:

Change 1
– Find the <parameter name=”url” value=”https ://YOUR_INSTANCE.service-now.com”/> element and change the value to the URL of your ServiceNow instance.

Change 2
– Enter the MID user credentials you created earlier in the mid.instance.username and mid.instance.password parameters.

Change 3
– Find the <parameter name=”name” value=”YOUR_MIDSERVER_NAME”/> element and change the value for the MID Server name. Use the same name you’ve used form the directory earlier.

Change 4 (Optional)
– Enter connection information for the proxy server. Remove the appropriate comment tags from the proxy configuration information. For example, you can configure the mid.proxy.use_proxy, mid.proxy.host, mid.proxy.port, mid.proxy.username, and mid.proxy.password.

  • Save the config.xml file and execute the start.bat script to start the service.

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  • Login back to your ServiceNow instance with your admin account
  • Search for Mid Server in the search field and select Server

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  • Select the Mid Server name by clicking the check box and select validate from Actions menu on the selected row. click OK to accept the initial criteria.

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Stage 2 – Installing the vRealize Automation Plug-in For ServiceNow

Now its time to install the XML plug-in which you must download from the Solution Exchange website Here for your ServiceNow version, either Istanbul or Jakarta type instance.

The plug-in when installed enables vRealize Automation to do the following :

  • Creates vRealize Automation Catalog and Resources menu items within the ServicesNow self-service module.
  • Creates a workflow for requesting vRealize Automation items.
  • Creates the catalog admin role and assigns it to the System Administrator.
  • Grants the users with the catalog admin role access to the integration > vRealize Automation module.

Procedure

  • Log in to your ServiceNow portal as a system administrator and type System System Update Sets in the search field.
  • Select Retrieved Update Sets from the menu and click on Import Update Set From XML

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  • Click Choose File on the dialog to choose the file to upload, and then select the vRealize Automation ServiceNow XML file you downloaded from the solution exchange and click Upload.

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  • In the Retrieved Update Sets list, select the vRealize Automation ServiceNow update set in the Name column and then Loaded in the State column.

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  • Select Preview Update Set to validate the update set before committing it. A dialog box confirms update set validation

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  • Inspect the update set information, and then click Commit Update Set.

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  • A dialog box opens automatically after you click Commit Update Set while the commit action is in progress. A Close button appears on the dialog when the commit completes. Click this button to dismiss the dialog.

NOW-22

  • Click Udpate

SNOW-23.jpg

  • Select Retrieved Update Sets in the left menu and verify that the VMware update set has a status of Committed.

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Stage 3 – Configure Users for the vRealize Automation Plug-in for ServiceNow

You can configure users either before or after installing the vRealize Automation plug-in for ServiceNow. as I mentioned before we not leveraging ADFS here

Add the role vra_user in ServiceNow for all users that must access vRealize Automation, including vrasn_end_user, vrasn_catalog_admin, and vrasn_itil_user, to enable those users to see vRealize Automation catalog items.

  • Search for System Security and select Users and Groups > Users. Type vra into the user search. add the vra_user role to the above mentioned built-in users for now,  in addition to any user that must access vRealize Automation which you can do at the end.

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  • Verify and, if necessary, update the appropriate users and roles in ServiceNow. See
    Creating Users and Associating to a group and Creating Roles for more information about working with users, groups, and roles in ServiceNow.
  • The ServiceNow plug-in for vRealize Automation uses the following ServiceNow roles:

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Stage 4 – Configure the vRealize Automation Workflow for Requested Items

The system admin can configure the vRA Workflow for Requested Item using the workflow editor.
At a minimum, you must assign the approval group that contains your ApprovalMgr. When users request vRealize Automation catalog items, this workflow runs, and approvals are sent to the ApprovalMgr within the approval group before the request is submitted to vRealize Automation.

Follow the steps below to use your own approval group and add it to the vRealize Automation workflow:

  • Search for Workflow Editor in the ServiceNow navigation pane and click it.

SNOW-28

  • Search for vRealize Automation Workflow for Requested Item and open it by clicking on it.

SNOW-29

  • Click the menu button and select Checkout.

SNOW-30

  • Double-click the Approval group stage in the workflow

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  • Click the Edit Groups button. Search the list of groups and make the appropriate selections, then Lock your selection by clicking the Lock icon -> Click Update -> Click the menu button -> Click Publish.

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  • By default you will see that the vRealizeAutomaion-ApprovalManagersGroup is already added.  in my instance I made sure that the ServiceNow System Administrator is part of this group.

Stage 5 – Set Basic Configurations the vRealize Automation Plug-in for ServiceNow

You must set up a vRealize Automation integration user. ServiceNow requires this user to import catalog items, categories, request statuses, and resources from vRealize Automation.
In order to import items, the integration users must be a business group manager within the business groups that you want ServiceNow to manage. The integration user does not require a role within ServiceNow.

Procedure

  • Log in to vRealize Automation as a business group manager.
  • Edit your business groups and assign the integration user as a business group manager. in my lab as you see below i will be using the cloudadmin which is a member of the cloudadmins group which has all the roles within vRealize Automation in addition to all the Business group Roles.

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Now that we installed the vRealize Automation plug-in for ServiceNow, and configured users and the integration user “cloudadmin“, we can complete the set up with basic configurations.

  • Search for Integration-vRealize Automation in the ServiceNow navigation pane -> click on Basic Configuration -> Enter the appropriate settings for your MIDServer Name, vRealize Automation tenant, URL, Integration Username and Password and plug-in.

Note : The MidServer Name should be the same as the Server folder name you created at earlier stage when you extracted the Mid Server config files.

SNOW-44

Stage 6 – Register the Plug-in for ServiceNow as a vRealize Automation OAuth 2.0 Client.

After setting up Basic Configurations, you must register the plug-in as a vRealize Automation OAuth 2.0 client.

To register the plug-in, you must provide user credentials to authenticate to vRealize Automation. we have two options here :

Option 1 : If you plan to use the vsphere.local tenant, you can use the administrator from the vsphere.local tenant. Set administrator as the username in the Register the Plug-in as a vRealize Automation OAuth 2.0 client dialog.

Option 2: Use the system admin, is to set up a user with local user and tenant admin roles within your tenant and provide these user credentials. This option registers the
ServiceNow plug-in only in the specified tenant. Providing the same tenant is set in Basic Configurations, this tenant is configured for the end users.

in my case we will be using Option 1.

Procedure

  • Search for Integration-vRealize Automation in the ServiceNow navigation pane -> Click Client Registration
  • Enter the user credentials in the Register the Plug-in as a vRealize Automation OAuth 2.0 Client dialog and since we are using Option 1, we will enter Administrator as the user and provide the password. – > click Submit

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  • Set the Client ID and Client Secret in the Set the Client ID and Client Secret dialog. You must choose what to set. for me I used the same account and password as the Client ID and Client Secret.

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  • Once set, the values are saved in the vrasn.clientID and vrasn.clientSecret properties within Integration > vRealize Automation > System Properties. Client ID and Client Secret are later used to get the access token of the users on login within the tenant specified in Basic Configurations.
  • On completion, you are redirected to the Basic Configurations page.

Note : You MUST logoff from ServiceNow and login again into the portal so you can be redirected to vRA ( you must be on Intranet, so you can reach vRA ) and logon using the integration User. This has to happen at least once after that is just black magic.

After that you can even access ServiceNow portal from the internet and when you are redirected to vRA obviously it will fail since you can’t reach vRA from the internet . Here you can re-enter the ServiceNow URL again and it will let you in the 2nd time. you can even request vRA blueprint .

Stage 7 – Configure and Run Scheduled Import Jobs in ServicesNow

On a first time install of the plug-in, you must manually execute scheduled jobs to import the catalog and resources. Though there is a default schedule for running jobs, you should edit the schedule time in each import according to your needs as you execute each job.

For example, you might want to import catalog items every 10 minutes for high
provisioning use.

The plug-in provides scheduled imports with the following functions. Scheduled imports should be configured and run in the order shown in the table below :

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Procedure

  • Log in as the ServiceNow System admin
  • Search for Integration-vRealize Automation in the ServiceNow navigation pane and click on Scheduled Imports

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  • This would be a good time to Click on the applicable job name and change the Repeat Interval in Days, Hours, Minutes, and Seconds and update the Import Job Schedule based on your needs
  • Run scheduled jobs in the order shown in the table. Ensure that each job is complete before starting the next one. Completed jobs are shown as processed in the Scheduled Import Queue
  • For now will execute each manual based on the order outlined in the table mentioned above by opening the import job and click Execute Now

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  • Completed jobs are shown as processed in the Scheduled Import Queue. Click the Updated column which you need to add of the Scheduled Import Queue to refresh. The last updated time of the corresponding properties for these scheduled imports is also updated.
  • One thing I had to do in my instance which is mentioned in the Troubleshooting section of the Plug-in documentation is that in some cases, you may need to clear the Value field of the corresponding property in Integration > vRealize
    Automation > Properties and update the property prior to executing the appropriate scheduled import. Once the Value field was clear for all 5 records I started seeing all the jobs in the Scheduled Import Queue when I executed them in order.

Stage 8 – Configure the vRealize Automation Catalog in ServiceNow

Now its time to Choose the catalogs that you want end users to use for provisioning requests.

Procedure

  • Log in a the catalog admin or system admin
  • Select the vRealize Automation Catalog, then clear / delete all the default widgets. if you don’t that you wont see the Add here Section when you select the Category later.
  • Select the plus sign in the upper right corner to add vRealize Automation services, known as Catalog Categories in the ServiceNow, for provisioning

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  • Highlight the Catalog categories in the center pane -> Select Category Items to display the items within the Category and select Add Here based on where you want to place within the catalog page.

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  • Repeat the process for others Categories, to setup your final catalog and start provisioning.

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The End Eh!

 

Automation and Orchestration ITSM vRealize Automation

vRealize Automation 7.3 is Released! – What’s New – Part 3

vRA-Product-Icon-Mac_0

Continuing again on the same theme – Make the Private Cloud Easy – that we mentioned in the two previous blog post vRA 7.3 What’s New – Part 1 and What’s New – Part 2 we will continue to highlight more of the NSX integration Enhancements and for this part of the series we will be focusing on the Enhanced NAT Port Forwarding Rules.

 

So let’s get started Eh!

Enhanced NAT Port Forwarding Rules

You now have the ability as you configure the On-Demand NAT Network in the CBP (Converged Blue Print) – to create forwarding NAT rules at design time, to a One-To-Many type NAT network component when you associate it with a Non-Clustered vSphere Machine component or an On-Demand NSX load balancer component.

You can define NAT rules for any NSX-supported protocol then map a port or a port range from (Source) the external IP address of an Edge to (Destination) a private IP address in the NAT network component.

These Rules can be set in a specific Order when configured at design time. it Also can be added, removed, and re-ordered after you create them for an existing deployment as a day-2 action/operation.

Important Notes:

  • This will only work with One-To-Many type NAT network component, which means that One-To-One type NAT network component isn’t supported to create NAT rules for, in the CBP.

    nattype

    NAT Type One-to-Many

  • Also the NAT network component can be only connected to a Non-Clustered vSphere Machine which means the number of configured instances for the vSphere Machine in the blueprint can’t be more than 1 for the instances minimum and maximum setting, a user can request for a deployment.

    web01

    Non-Clustered

 

Option1

D-NAT Rules that can be Ordered

  • If you must use a Clustered vSphere Machine, you have to leverage an On-demand load balancer if you want to create a NAT rule on One-To-Many type NAT network component that can be associated with the VIP network of the an NSX load balancer component. 
clustered

Clustered Machine > 1 x Deployment

option3

Load Balancer VIP settings depending on the network association

  • In the above picture because that NAT rules are publishing HTTP-Port 80 and HTTPS-Port 443 on the external IP address of an Edge, then mapping those ports to the private IP and destination ports HTTP-Port 8080 and HTTPs-Port 8443 of the destination vSphere Machine and since the Load balancer VIP network is on the internal private network connected to NIC 0 of the clustered vSphere machines, we create the virtual servers on load balancer using HTTP-Port 8080 and HTTPs-Port 8443. 

option2

Again I really want to highlight the fact that the following elements are not supported for creating NAT rules:

  • NICs that are not in the current network
  • NICs that are configured to get IP addresses by using DHCP
  • Machine clusters without the use of a Load balancer
  • One-To-One type NAT network component

Change NAT Rules in a Exiting Deployment

Now after a successful deployment that includes 1 or more NAT forwarding rules, a user can later add, edit, and delete any existing NSX NAT rules in a deployed one-to-many NAT network.  The user/owner can also change the order in which the NAT rules are processed just like how we showcased when you can do that during the design of the blueprint.

Important Notes :

  • The Change NAT Rules operation is not supported for deployments that were upgraded or migrated from vRealize Automation 6.2.x to this vRealize Automation release.
  • You cannot add a NAT rule to a deployment that is mapped to a third-party IPAM endpoint such as Infoblox.

a user must log in to vRA as a machine owner, support user, business group user with a shared access role, or a business group manager to be entitled to change a NAT rules in a network.

Once that is verified, a user can :

  1. Select Items > Deployment.

Pro1

2. Locate the deployment and display its children components.

Pro2

3. Select the NAT network component to edit.

4. Click Change NAT Rules from the Actions menu.

Pro3

5. Add new NAT port forwarding rules, reorder rules, edit existing rules, or delete rules. What ever makes you happy!!

6. When you have finished making changes, click Save or Submit to submit the reconfiguration request.

Pro3

7. Check the status of your request under the Request Tab, that it is successful.

Pro5

8. In my case i have simply changed the order where I placed the HTTPS forwarding NAT rule to apply first. so you if you click on the Request ID after its successfully complete you will see just that.

Pro6

This was short and sweet, hope you enjoyed it. Now go give it a shot.

The End Eh!

Automation and Orchestration vRA Blueprints vRealize Automation

vRealize Automation 7.3 is Released! – What’s New – Part 2

vRA-Product-Icon-Mac_0Continuing on the same theme – Make the Private Cloud Easy – that we mentioned in the pervious blog post vRA 7.3 What’s New – Part 1 , we will highlight the NSX integration Enhancements for just the NSX Endpoint and On-Demand Load balancer that was added in this release. there are a lot more enhancement around the NSX integration that will touch on in other parts of this What’s new blog series but because I want to make each part short and sweet, I am going to just talk about the above mentioned enhancements

So let’s get started Eh!

NSX Endpoint

First thing first, with the new release of vRA 7.3 you can now create you own independent NSX Endpoint and then associate its NSX settings to an existing vSphere/vCenter endpoint. As you probably know or maybe you don’t, that in the pervious version prior to vRA 7.3, the NSX Manager was add as part of the vSphere/vCenter endpoint creation.

To create a new NSX Endpoint – >Select Infrastructure > Endpoints > Select New > Network and Security > NSX.

NSXEndpiont

Adding New NSX Endpoint

Now if  your like me happen to do an upgrade or perhaps migrated a vSphere/vCenter endpoint that was using an NSX Manager to a vRA 7.3 instance, a new NSX Endpoint is created for you that contains an association between the source vSphere/vCenter endpoint and a new created NSX endpoint.

NSXEndpointDetails1

Existing NSX Endpoint

NSXEndpointDetails2

NSX Endpoint vSphere to NSX Association

 

On-demand Load Balancer Controls

if you worked with vRA and tried to create a blueprint you know that if you have NSX configured for vSphere, that you can drag an NSX on-demand load balancer component onto the design canvas and configure its settings for use with vSphere machine components and container components in the blueprint.

With the new release we made it even better and added many enhancements that allows you now to have full control on how the load balancer can be configured and deployyed on request time when requesting aCentric networking and security based type of an application.

  1. When you add a load balancer component to a blueprint in the design canvas, you can choose either a default or custom option when creating which is a new feature you couldn’t do before or just like the pervious release, editing your virtual server definitions in the load balancer component.
  2. The default option allows you to specify the virtual server protocol ( HTTP, HTTPS, TCP, UDP ), port, and description and use defaults for all other settings such as Distribution, Health Check and Advanced settings such as connection limits, etc which therefor are all dimmed and disabled.

NewVirtualServerDefault

3. The custom option allows you to define additional levels of detail for Distribution, Health Check and even more advanced settings that you can configure and define.

NewVirtualServerCustom

Distribution Tab

In the Distribution tab you can specifies the algorithm balancing method for this pool member.

ROUND_ROBIN: Each server is used in turn according to the weight assigned to it.

IP-HASH: Selects a server based on a hash of the source IP address and the total weight of all the running servers.

LEASTCONN: Distributes client requests to multiple servers based on the number of connections already on the server. New connections are sent to the server with the fewest connections.

URI: The left part of the URI (before the question mark) is hashed and divided by the total weight of the running servers. The result designates which server receives the request. The URI is always directed to the same server as long as no server goes up or down.

HTTPHEADER: The HTTP header name is looked up in each HTTP request. If the header is absent or does not contain a value, the round robin algorithm is applied.

URL: The URL parameter specified in the argument is looked up in the query string of each HTTP GET request. If no value or parameter is found, then a round robin algorithm is applied.

 You can also Specifies how persistence tracks and stores session data. Requests are      directed to the same pool member for the life of a session or during subsequent sessions.

None : No persistence. Session data is not stored or tracked.

Cookie : Uses a unique cookie to identify the session the first time that a client accesses the site. In subsequent requests, the cookie persists the connection to the appropriate server.

Source IP : Tracks sessions based on the source IP address. When a client requests a connection to a virtual server that supports source address affinity persistence, if the client has previously connected it is returned to the same pool member.

MSRDP :Maintains persistent sessions between Windows clients and servers that are running the Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) service.

SSL Session ID : Uses an NSX-supported HTTPS traffic pattern to store and track sessions

HealthCheck

Health Check Tab

The Health Check tab allows you to specify the port number on which the load balancer listens to monitor the health of the virtual server member and the URL is used in the sample request to check a web site’s Health based on the available settings.

adavnced

in the advanced tab you further configure the NSX virtual server for things like

Connection limit: The maximum concurrent connections in NSX that the virtual server can process. This setting considers the number of all member connections. ( 0 = no limit )

Connection rate limit: The Maximum number of incoming connection requests in NSX that can be accepted per second. This setting considers the number of all member connections. ( 0 = no limit )

Enable Acceleration: Specifies that each virtual IP uses faster L4 load balancer rather than the L7 load balancer

Transparent: Allow the load balancer pool members to see the IP address of the machines that calling the load balancer. if not selected, the member of the load balancer pool members see the traffic source IP address as the load balancer internal IP address

Max Connections: The  maximum number of concurrent connections that a single member can recognize. if the number of incoming requests is higher than this value, requests are queued and then processed in the order which they are received as connections are released  ( 0 = no limit )

Min Connections: The minimum number of concurrent connections that a single member must always accept. ( 0 = no minimum)

The End Eh!

 

Automation and Orchestration vRA Blueprints vRealize Automation

vRealize Automation 7.3 is Released! – What’s New – Part 1

vRA-Product-Icon-Mac_0Oh my god I can’t believe that this is only a dot-release as you read through the What’s New section in the vRA 7.3 Release Notes, looking at the massive amount of features we are releasing with this release, its just mind blowing.

I can’t describe the amount of excitement that I m experiencing right now that a new version of vRA is officially out and that I can finally talk about it, and showcase some of its new 20+ spotlight features in this multi part vRA 7.3 What’s New blog series.

VMware continues the trend of delivering awesome innovations, improved user experience, and greater / deeper integration into the ecosystem its managing, while aligning its automation technology with the following core investment strategies :

  • Make the Private Cloud Easy
  • Enable Developers
  • Manage Across Clouds

In part 1 of this series of vRA 7.3 what’s new blogs, I will be showcasing the Prameterized Blueprints feature which fall under the  “Make the Private Cloud Easy” strategy pillar.

But before we get started I thought I would mention these Important upgrade Side Notes :

  • You must upgrade to either vRealize Automation 6.2.5 or 7.1, before you can upgrade to version 7.3
  • The Memory configuration should be increased to 18 GB on the vRA Appliance if you happened to reduce it, like I did myself in my lab otherwise you will get an error like the one below.

Memory Sizing Error

  • System Reboot is required of-course to complete the update, assuming everything went well with the vRA master appliance and its replicas if any.

upgrdeComplete

  • After you reboot the vRA appliance, Waiting for all services to start update Status appears on the Update Status page. The IaaS update automatically starts when the system is fully initialized and all services are running. So you don’t have to upgrade the IaaS component your self manually like what we used to do with the older editions, BUT instead You can sit back, relax and simply observe the IaaS upgrade progress on the Update Status page. How freaking cool is that Eh!

IaasAutoUpgrade

  • The automated update process is also supported on the distributed deployment model where after the master vRA appliance is successfully updated, all the replica nodes gets updated as well, after that the focus shifts to the IaaS components and the same thing happens where all the related IaaS services gets updated. 
  • The first IaaS server component can take about 30 minutes to finish, so be patient.
  • Also note that The active Manager Service node changes from a manual election to a system decision about which node becomes the fail-over server. The system enables this feature during upgrade

So now that we got that out of the way – Big Sigh!- ,  let’s get started now on the main topic Eh!

Parameterized Blueprints to Enhance Re-usability and Reduce Sprawl​

The new Component Profiles allows us to define both Virtual Machine sizes including ( CPU, Memory and Storage ) and source image attributes that helps the infrastructure architect enable what we refer to as the “T-Shirt Sizing” option for blueprint requests where an entitled user can pick from.

This abstraction using the Component Profiles allows us to efficiently manage blueprints by increasing re-usability while significantly reducing blueprint sprawl and simplifying your catalog offerings.

You can use component profiles to parameterize blueprints. Rather than create a separate small, medium, and large blueprint for a particular deployment type, you can create a single blueprint with a choice of small, medium, or large size virtual machine. Users can select one of these sizes when they deploy the catalog item.

From a governance and control perspective we continue to have the ability to trigger approval policies but now these approval can be based on the user size or the image selection conditions, including overrides.

The component profiles like everything else can be imported and exported using the vRealize Cloud Client.

The available component profile types are Size and Image. When you add component profiles to a machine component, the component profile settings override other settings on the machine component, such as number of CPUs or amount of storage.

Be aware that you cannot define other or additional component profile types other than those two.

To access Component Profiles, select Administration -> Property Dictionary -> Component Profiles 

ComponentProfiles

Component profiles are only available for vSphere machine components where you can use component profiles to define vSphere machine components in a blueprint.

Defining Component Profile Settings

You can define multiple named value sets within the Size and Image component profile types and add one or more of the value sets to machine components in a blueprint. Each value set that you define for the component profile type (Size and Image) contains the following configurable settings:

  • Name that sequesters see when they provision a machine
  • Unique identifier for tenant
  • Description
  • Set of value choices for each option in the values

ValueSet

When you request provisioning from the catalog, you can select from available value set choices for the Size and Image component profiles. When you choose one of the value sets, its corresponding property values are then bound to the request.

Configuring Component Profile Size Settings for Catalog Deployment

  1. Log in to the vRealize Automation console as an administrator with tenant administrator and IaaS administrator access rights
  2. Select Administration -> Property Dictionary -> Component Profiles 
  3. Click the Size in the name column or highlight it and click Edit

ComponentProfiles-Size4. Click the Value Sets tab and define a new value set by clicking New to create a small and a large size deployment value set for example.

Small CP

Small Value Set

Large CP

Now we have two Size Component Profiles as value set

  • Small   ( 1 vCPU, 1GB Mem, 40 GB Storage)
  • Larege ( 2 vCPU, 4GB Mem, 80 GB Storage)

size CP Final

Next would be to Add one or more value sets to the Size component profile by using the Profiles tab on a vSphere machine component as will see next.

Configuring Machine Blueprint by Adding the Size Component Profile to the Blueprint.

  1. Log in to the vRealize Automation console as an infrastructure architect.
  2. Select Design -> Blueprints
  3. Create a new Blueprint or in our case we will be editing an existing CentOS 7 on vSphere – Base Blueprint.

EditBluePrint.jpg

4. Select the Machine Type and click on Profiles  to add the size Component Profile we defined by clicking the +Add  link

ComponentProfiles

5. Once added and listed with the profile tab, select the Size Component Profile and click on Edit Value Sets 

sizeEditValueSets

6. Select the Value Sets you want to associate with the CentOS7 on vSphere – Base Blueprint, here we will select both Small and Large, while setting the Small as the Default and click Ok to configure the size component profile we are configuring for the blueprint with selected Value Sets ( Small and Large )

SizeValueSetsBlueprint

7. Once your done click finish on the blueprint to save the Blueprint parameters we just added, and your ready to request the CentOS7 on vSphere – Base Blueprint with the configured size parameters.

requestCentOs

8.  Select the vSphere_Machine within your blueprint deployment you requested and simply select the size of the Machine AKA “T-Shirt Sizing” and submit your request.

blueprintRequest

We can simply repeat the same process for the Image Component Profile where we define Image value set we can present to the requester as an option to choose from. 

Users can select from Linked Clone or Full Clone type images across Windows and Linux type OSs for example .  I will leave that one for you to explore my friends.

imageandSize

 

.The End. Eh!.

Automation and Orchestration vRA Blueprints vRealize Automation

Virtual Container Host As A Service [VCHAAS] With vRealize Automation – vRA 7.x

vSphere Integrated Containers Engine is a container run-time for vSphere, allowing developers familiar with Docker to develop in containers and deploy them alongside traditional VM-based workloads on vSphere clusters, and allowing for these workloads to be managed through the vSphere UI in a way familiar to existing vSphere admins.

2017-04-24_12-55-08

vSphere Integrated Containers comprises three major components:

  • vSphere Integrated Containers Engine, a container runtime for vSphere that allows you to provision containers as virtual machines, offering the same security and functionality of virtual machines in VMware ESXi™ hosts or vCenter Server® instances.
  • vSphere Integrated Containers Registry, an enterprise-class container registry server that stores and distributes container images. vSphere Integrated Containers Registry extends the Docker Distribution open source project by adding the functionalities that an enterprise requires, such as security, identity and management.
  • vSphere Integrated Containers Management Portal, a container management portal that provides a UI for DevOps teams to provision and manage containers, including the ability to obtain statistics and information about container instances. Cloud administrators can manage container hosts and apply governance to their usage, including capacity quotas and approval workflows.

These components currently support the Docker image format. vSphere Integrated Containers is entirely Open Source and free to use. Support for vSphere Integrated Containers is included in the vSphere Enterprise Plus license.

Now that we are done with the intro, we will only be focusing on VIC Engine in this post and how we can leverage vRealize Automation 7.x to make it even better and faster to deploy by users as a service.

I have been playing with vSphere Integrated Containers for a while now and since the early beta days. I can tell you that deploying and deleting the VCH Endpoint so many time was a bit painful since the command line is so rich including so many parameters that you can choose from where some are mandatory and some are optional, which of course can be a bit overwhelming specially when you fat finger some of these parameters as often as I do.

Example of the Linux command line with some of its parameters to deploy a Virtual Container Host on vSphere, looks something like this :

./vic-machine-linux create –name VCH_Name -t ‘UserName@domain.com:Password@vCener_IP_or_FQDN‘ –compute-resource Target_Cluster –public-network Target_Managment_Network –bridge-network Target_Bridge_Network –image-store DataStore_Name –volume-store DataStore_Name :default –dns-server DNS_IP_Or_FQDN –public-network-ip VCH_IP –public-network-gateway Gateway_IP/CIDR–force –no-tlsverify

During all this testing time I had to save the entire command line in a text file with all of its parameters, so I can simply copy and past the command when I need to, after replacing some of these parameters with the values I wanted to use, so I don’t have to type it over and over every single time I decide to deploy or delete a Virtual Container Host to test.

Having in mind our main use case for vRealize Automation and that is IT Automating IT , I wanted to find a way where I can somehow provide this as a service in my home lab where I can simply select the service and submit the request from the catalog.

Well, I did that some time ago and today I m excited to share that publicly on my new blog with all of you out there !

So please sit tight, enjoy the ride as I Explain…

In vRealize Orchestrator I managed to leverage the Guest Script Manager to take the command line with the majority of its parameters and automate the life out of it by creating the desired workflows use cases ( The Creation and Deletion of the VCH process ) then use these workflows as Anything as a service XaaS type blueprints in vRA to essentially present it as an item catalog where users can easily request to create a new VCH or delete an existing one.

Of course there are many other ways on how you can do the VCH automation piece and probably even better than the one I’m sharing here, but this is simply how I did it!.

Steps and User Experience

ScreenShot-1

1. Request the Service from the Catalog


ScreenShot-2

2. Provide the VIC Machine Information


ScreenShot-3

3. Provide the targeted vCenter Server


ScreenShot-4

4. Provide the VCH Configuration needed for the deployment


ScreenShot-5

5. Workflow executes in vRO to deploy the VCH endpoint on vSphere

This is so great on so many levels since now you can easily entitle any development groups for example, that really don’t have to know a whole lot on how VIC works and are simply able to request the service to access a docker API and provision Containers.

You can also wrap an approval / governance policy around it which vRA can easily provide and have all the parameter’s values available to users in drop-down list format within the XaaS Forms on the request page, so the requester don’t have to wonder when filling out these form requests, things like which cluster I should be deploying this to, What network I should be selecting, What Storage I should use and more importantly standardize these inputs to avoid typos to standardize the service overall so its consistent across the IT organization.

 

I tested both XaaS blueprints ( Create and Delete VCH ) and both works like a charm. I still though have to clean it up a bit but I will be sharing both the vRO package and the XaaS blueprints here on this post so others can use it or build on top of it and make it even better since I am not really an expert when it comes to developing vRO workflow but I m doing my best to learn even more.

High level Deployment Guide

Please be aware that this has not been tested yet outside my lab, so please provide feedback if you have any issues, in case I need to tweak things :

  1. Download the VCH 1.0 (Here) or VCH 1.1 (Here) Automation package depending on the VIC version bundle you have or planning to download and extract its content. The package includes the vRO package that includes the VCH workflows and the 2 XaaS VCH Blueprints for the VCH Create and Delete operation.
  2. If you download the 1.0 VIC bundle (Here) make sure its extracted to /workspace/vic on the desired VIC machine (The Machine that host the VIC Bundle), here you will use the VCH 1.0 in step 1.
  3. If you download the 1.1 VIC bundle (Here) make sure its extracted to /workspace/vic on the desired VIC machine (The Machine that host the VIC Bundle), here you will use the VCH 1.1 in step 1.
  4. Import the vRO package into the vRA embedded vRO instance using the vRO client
  5. Use the Cloud Client (Here) to import the two XaaS Blueprints into vRA where you can then publish and entitle them to users.
  6. Confirm that the blueprints are actually pointing to the respective VCH workflows that you imported perilously.

Please make sure to map the right VCH Automation package version with the right VIC Bundle version since some of the command syntax changed in VIC 1.1

Important Deployement Notes

  • This was done using the Guest Script Manager as I mentioned before which is already bundled in the VCH 1.0 vRO package along with the VCH workflows in the vRO package I Exported, so you don’t have to install the GSM yourself.
  • All the fields for this version is mandatory and can’t be skipped for now, but its something that you can definatly modify if you want to.
  • All the fields are static, so later on you can configure some of the field’s in XaaS forms as drop-down lists and provide value from you own environment such as Clusters Name, Network port-groups or storage..etc
  • The Workflow will deploy VCH with Server-side authentication with auto-generated, untrusted TLS certificates that are not signed by a CA, with no client-side verification. i.e. –no-tlsverify is hard coded as you will see in the create command mentioned below.
  • You have VIC bundle deployed and extracted to a folder called /workspace/vic/ on a Linux machine called out in the XaaS forms as the VIC Machine VM available within the same vCenter/environment. This can be the vRA appliance as well and you can modify the original Workflow to preset the values for the VIC machine properties section (2nd Screenshot above) so the user don’t even have to select it or go through the first request tab.
  • The VCH deployment can be used and manually added in Admiral using the certificate type credentials which can be obtained from the VIC Machine from the VCH folder created after a successful deployment . for example if you deploy an endpoint called VCH01, both the server-cert.pem and server-key.pem would be located in /workspace/vic/VCH01 folder on the VIC Machine.
  • This is the command line that being executed on the VIC Machine VM ( which is the VM that has the VIC bundle deployed and extracted to /workspace/vic ) . All the parameters that are used between vRA and vRO are in-between brackets.

The Create Command Used in the Create Workflow for VIC 1.0

./vic-machine-linux create --name [vchName] --appliance-cpu [vchCpu] --appliance-memory [vchMem] -t '[vCenterUserName]:[password]@[vCenterIp]' --compute-resource '[clusterName]' --public-network [publicNetwork] --bridge-network [bridgeNetwork] --image-store [imageStore] --volume-store [volumeStore]:[volumeName] --dns-server [dnsServerIp] --public-network-ip [vchPublicIp] --public-network-gateway [vchPublicGateway]/[vchPublicGatewaySubnet] --force --no-tlsverify

The Create Command Used in the Create Workflow for VIC 1.1

./vic-machine-linux create --name [vchName] --endpoint-cpu [vchCpu] --endpoint-memory [vchMem] -t '[vCenterUserName]:[password]@[vCenterIp]' --compute-resource '[clusterName]' --public-network [publicNetwork] --bridge-network [bridgeNetwork] --image-store [imageStore] --volume-store [volumeStore]:[volumeName] --dns-server [dnsServerIp] --public-network-ip [vchPublicIp]/[vchPublicIpSubnet] --public-network-gateway [vchPublicGateway] --force --no-tlsverify

You notice if you compare the create command between the two versions that some of the parameters were changed. i.e.  –appliance-cpu  renamed to –endponit-cpu

The Delete Command Used in the Delete Workflow is same for both versions

./vic-machine-linux delete --force -t '[vCenterUserName]:[password]@[vCenterIp]' --compute-resource '[clusterName]' --name [vchName]

Have fun Everyone!

Automation and Orchestration vRealize Automation vsphere integrated containers

Finally I’m a Blogger!

I can’t remember how many times that I thought about having my own blog where I can write and post about topics that I’m passionate about around my line of work in Cloud Management here at VMware, in the hope that someone out there may find it helpful.

Well my friends, It’s finally happening. Allow me to personally welcome you to my new and humble blog website VMwarelab.org

I joined VMware back in June, 2013 and man! it’s been such an amazing experience,  I love every minute of it and I honestly don’t think or see myself working anywhere else since I had the opportunity of working here after years of working with VMware Technology as a customer myself for one of the big Canadian Banks.

As a Software Defined Enterprise Sr. Systems Engineer at VMware I work with a great talented technical sales team of individuals proving the technology in the form of proof of concepts, demos and deep-dive presentations and helping our customers accelerate their Digital Transformation Journey  and empower IT to align ever more closely with the Businesses they support leveraging our Software-Defined Data Center.

SDDC is the foundation for the VMware Cross-Cloud architecture that enables enterprises to innovate freely in the clouds of their choice. Built on our industry-leading Software-Defined Data Center foundation which brings together best-in-class compute, storage, networking virtualization, and cloud management, our common operating environment lets you rapidly run, manage, connect, and secure apps across clouds and devices.

Hopefully this was a good, simple introduction to my new blog and myself, into the massive and amazing VMware blogging community, on the hope that one day I can get to that level.  I will mainly share posts around our Cloud Management tools as it comes to new products and features, How to guides and most importantly sharing interesting customer use cases that other individuals in the industry can benefit from.

At the end I want to say a big Thank You for taking the time in celebrating my first blog post with me, I hope you enjoyed it as much I did writing it, and before I end this post , I would like to leave you with these helpful and outstanding blogs that I hope you enjoy exploring, as I personally follow and always learn from:

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