Automation Requirements

Regularly, I hear that vRealize Automation does not have a feature that is out of the box or someone makes a statement that it is hard.  What is hard?  What is not OOTB?  What are you trying to accomplish?  What are your requirements?   Until you start to define what you want to accomplish, how do you know it is hard or not OOTB?

Let’s use the example “Custom Naming” since that is the one example I have heard a lot. Have you thought through the process?

Do you care about names?  If not, does an OOTB machine prefix work?  That is OOTB.  If not why?  Define what you need.

CN1

Would entering the hostname you want as part of the request work?  This can be done via a custom property?

CN2

 

Do you have a standard that you utilize today?  If so can you develop a process to recreate via an automated workflow?   Example located here.  (The key being this is an example) or get a professional to create one.  It may be easier to buy it off the shelf with SovLabs plugin for Custom Naming?

If you think about how other cloud providers use names they don’t really allow you to configure a custom name.

Getting back to the beginning.  What data do you have or not have to start the process? Remember that when we start to talk about provisioning virtual machines we need to consider the full lifecycle from request to decommissioning.

CN3

There are a lot of ways to solve this particular problem but we must first gather a few data points to point us in the right direction.   What are the requirements?  Are they technical requirements or business requirements?   Naming a VM is one of many parts to provisioning but it can be a religious battle in some organizations. Remember the goal is to take time out of the process, streamline it and continuously improve it.  Start small, keep it stupid simple and always have requirements.

  • Get started by making no assumptions
  • Get a group together to talk through requirements (put it on a whiteboard)
  • Define a scope that is agreeable
  • Talk with peers at other organizations that have been through it

 

 

vRA Ninja Bootcamp follow up

For those of you that recently attended the Ninja Bootcamp on vRealize Automation I wanted to make sure that you had all of the links we referenced during the discussion.  Here they are in case you did not received them in the follow up e-mail.

Good to have links for reference (VMware) :

 

vRA and NSX

https://blogs.vmware.com/management/2017/10/vra-nsx-application-services-design.html

vRealize Automation 7.4 latest release update

https://blogs.vmware.com/management/2018/03/whats-new-vrealize-automation-7-4.html

https://blogs.vmware.com/management/2018/05/customizing-request-forms-using-new-custom-forms.html

Hands on Labs

http://labs.hol.vmware.com

Hand’s on Labs Documentation (watch for new labs coming after VMWorld)

vRealize Automation Getting Started

vRealize Automation Advanced Topics

vRealize Automation Advanced Extensibility

vRealize Orchestrator

vRealize LifeCycle Manager

vRealize Business Getting Started

Documents from Hand’s on Labs

http://docs.hol.vmware.com/

CMBU Blog 

The main site for the latest content for the CMBU.

CMBU Youtube Channel 

Get alerts so you know when new content is uploaded.

Getting More out of vRealize Series (ongoing Webex)

If you are not going to these series you are missing out on a great resource.

Cloud Native Overview

Great overview light board series to help you understand containers.

(Bloggers sites) 

Guide to permissions

Overview of how the permissions work.

Custom Forms

New in 7.4.

Useful installation and Configuration blogs

Mike ZG (Open902) vRealize Automation Install and Configure 7.3

Great site to get you started with installation and configuration.

Virtual Jad Detailed Implementation Guide

Fantastic resource on how to get started with vRA and a ton of great how to’s.  Make sure to read everything on NSX.

Daily Hypervisor

Great resources for a lot of vRA related posts.

vRealize Orchestrator

You can download examples of workflows here.

vRealize Orchestrator Book

SovLabs (The partner that spoke at lunch) 

 

 

What’s New with Storage Based Policy Management for vRealize Automation

At VMworld 2017, I had the opportunity to work in the expert led labs for vSAN.  This was a great opportunity for me to learn about vSAN and also see first-hand how vSAN is growing.  The class room was full every session and vSAN was at the top of the list for most popular lab.  We had a lot of customers that had already adopted vSAN or in the process of implementing it and many of them were SAN admins.

Often, we forget about storage because it has been such an integral part of the vSphere architecture for so long. Discussions around automation tend to discuss all of the great things we can accomplish with networking, IPAM and numerous other solution integrations.  The Software Defined Datacenter allows us to take advantage of the virtualized layers of compute, networking and storage as services.  This allows us to develop services the business requires.

Storage Based Policy Management is a framework that allows storage capabilities to be assigned to policies.  Administrators can then assign those policies based on workload requirements to the appropriate virtual machine and/or object.   Virtual Machine objects or components are made up of the VMDK, VM Swap, VM Home Namespace, Snapshot Deltas and Snapshot Memory Maps.  The policies are created via the vSphere Web Client under the VM Storage Policies.

This gives us the opportunity to add new features and services for our customers as part of the service catalog.  Disk type, encryption, compression, deduplication, snapshots, replication and others features can then potentially be used.  As you can see below we can select the policies and assign these to the disk.

SPBM1

By extending these storage services we can now lifecycle and classify systems from a storage perspective.  This also allows for us to develop day 2 actions to improve performance, reduce costs or meet other business requirements.

SPBM2

A few examples of where these types of policies may be beneficial in your organization are:

  • Apply policies to objects on a virtual machine where they have different I/O workload requirements. Think about your database servers in many configurations you have multiple disks.  Each disk could be assigned a different storage policy one for your database and one for the logs.
  • Similar workloads may be assigned at deployment via the request. Policies can also be aligned for similar workloads.  Web servers, application or tier of service based on business requirements.
  • Tiers of service may have a gold, silver or bronze based around availability. When you think about day 2 actions you may have a server that may start out on bronze but as it becomes more valuable to the business they may request to have it migrated to a higher tier.

To get started here are the steps that you will need to follow.  Make sure to read the installation guide.

  • Download SPBM Plugin (2.1.0) from Market Place
  • Install SPBM Plugin for vRealize Orchestrator
  • Configure vCenter and vRA endpoints in vRO
  • Create Property Definitions for SPBM
  • Add Custom Properties to desired blueprints (and disks)
  • Add Custom Properties to vCenter Endpoint
  • Create Event Subscription for SPBM policy changes
  • Deploy a SPBM-enabled Blueprint
  • Create Custom Resource Action for Day2 SPBM

For additional information on Storage Policy Based Management make sure to read these other blogs:

Storage Based Policy Management Part 1

Storage Based Policy Management Part 2

See you at VMworld 2018!

 

Getting Started with vRealize Orchestrator

Recently,  I had started to put together some content around getting started with vRealize Orchestrator.  Regularly, I hear how hard it is and I don’t disagree because it is different from what we as infrastructure folks work on a daily basis.  It is time to accept that automation is not going anywhere and this is a valuable skill that you need to know.  As I start to think of ideas I see that there is actually a lot of good content already created.  Joseph Griffith just recently posted a manual, code and a video on vRO.  Then there was another post from Brian Watrous and he has a whole series of videos to help you get started.   Also, Scott Norris has some videos as well.   I decided I would just put together where the content is if someone is interested.

All that aside there are a number of other great resources out there to help you on your way to learning vRO.  Find one that adds value to a project or makes your life easier.  You can find a lot of resources on the vCOTeam blog.  Need a custom hostname Sid Smith has one built and ready for you to download.

Before you know it you will be able to build custom XaaS workflows that you can leverage in your vRealie Automation deployment.  Then you can leverage Event Broker and that will make your life even easier.  There is also a great class out there from VMware but make sure you have a little hands on first.  Don’t forget about Hand’s on Labs as well this is a great resource if you don’t have a lab at home.

Here are a few others to check out as well:

Code.vmware.com

VMware Course

Hands on labs

vRealize Orchestrator – Getting Started

Plurasite Course

VCP7-CMA Study Guide Post 2 of 6

Section 2 – Configure and Manage Tenants and Business Groups Objective

2.1 – Create and Manage Tenants Knowledge

2.2 – Create and Manage Directories Knowledge

Objective 2.3 – Create and Manage Business Groups Knowledge

2.4 – Manage User and Group Role Assignments Knowledge

 

VCP7-CMA Study Guide Post 1

As I look around for resources on studying for the VCP7-CMA I found a lot of resources in different places.  I am going to try and put as many of these together in 7 posts.  Welcome to the first.

My first recommendation is if you have not utilized the Hands-on-Labs go setup an account because in order to understand a lot of this material you will need to read the material and get hands on experience with the product.

http://labs.hol.vmware.com/HOL/catalogs/catalog/all

There is also a 3 hour course on the fundamentals of vRealize Automation https://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/courses.cfm?ui=www_edu&a=det&id_course=303343

You may want to take the full ICM course based on your background and exam requirements.

Additionally, I will be adding contend to the blueprint items around the requirements.  Make sure you understand the prerequisites:   https://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrReg/plan.cfm?plan=98713&ui=www_cert

No guarantees you will pass the exam!!!  This is just a guide that I am following for my own studying that I am sharing.  

Let’s get started with Objective 1

Objective 1.1 – Create, Modify and Publish Blueprints Based on a Given Design

Note:  HOL-1806-01-CMP – vRealize Suite – Getting Started is a great place to start with this content.

Start reading here

Read the vRealize Automation material in the blueprint guide that are listed.

Additional Content:

Building a Blueprint

Objective 1.2 – Create and Manage XaaS Blueprints with Custom Resource Mappings

Knowledge

  • Create and manage XaaS resources in vRealize Automation based on the design

o Configure Active Directory plugin

o Configure REST plugin

o Configure PowerShell plugin

o Configure SOAP plugin

o Configure vCenter Server plugin

section 5 “Creating and Managing Custom Resources with vRealize Automation”

o Create a service blueprint form

o Configure output parameters

o Publish the blueprint

o Create a service blueprint form

o Configure output parameters

o Publish the blueprint

 

Key Terms to Know:

Custom resource

A vRealize Orchestrator object type that is exposed as a resource through the API of a vRealize Orchestrator plug-in. You create a custom resource to define the output parameter of an XaaS provisioning blueprint and to define an input parameter of a resource action.

Resource action

A workflow that you can run on a deployed provisioning blueprint. The deployed blueprint can be an XaaS blueprint or blueprint component, or it can be a machine type that you mapped to a vRealize Orchestrator resource type.

Additional resources to review:

vRA DIG Extensibility Basics

vRA DIG Extensibility Basics Part2

http://extendingclouds.com/2016/07/07/vrealize-automation-7-custom-request-form-using-xaas/

https://cloudadvisors.net/chapter-22-xaas-services/

Reading:

Foundation and Concepts

  • Read and understand the section on Blueprints
    • Service Catalogs
    • Catalog items
    • Actions
    • Machine prefixes
    • Machine blueprint
    • Machine lease
  • Read and understand XaaS blueprints
    • Resource action
    • Custom resource
    • Resource mappings

Configuring vRealize Automation

  • Read chapter 4 – a lot of it deals with XaaS

Next section coming soon!

 

 

AWS CSA – Associate Achieved   

I recently took advantage of one of the great benefits that my employer provides and took the AWS course for the Solution Architect – Associate.  Why AWS, well public cloud is a very popular topic and AWS is one of the main integrations for vRealize Automation I am asked about on a regular basis.  Fantastic course and I learned a lot but I thought I would share my thoughts around preparation for the exam.

First off the book AWS Certified Solutions Architect Official Study Guide: Associate Exam book is a great resource.

Another resource I took advantage of was ACloudguru which I actually came across via Udemy and for the price you can’t beat it.  The course better than the actual live course I attended with an instructor (it was just a little more in depth) and would take another one if I get a chance.

The last thing I will recommend is get hands on with the labs and get used to the interface.   I took a little longer than I should have between the time I took the class and the time I took the exam so I used ACloudGuru to go through the course again.  Sign up for a free tier account and take advantage of the access to study.

The test is comprehensive so I would make sure you set aside time to make sure you understand the content as well a potential architecture situations that you may be asked about.  Also there are a couple other free resources out there like vBrownbag and the AWS Free training.