vExpert 2020!

Very happy to be acknowledged as a for the 3rd year in a row! Probably not as deserving as my previous 2 years, but I am very grateful.  It was a very busy and challenging year for me, but with the great acquisitions that @VMware has made as well as delivering some stellar new products, this year is going to be big and I am very excited for the future. #ProjectPacific #TanzuMissionControl #PKS

We have a great and I love being part of it.  Congrats to all the other 2020 vExperts.

CKA Certification

Finally had some time in between projects to get my CKA certification.

First off I would like to say I hate multiple choice questions, and I feel like these days they are making MC exams harder by trying to trick you in the way they ask the question or providing subtle difference in answers which are difficult to distinguish especially for us where English is a second language.

So writing an exam in a physical lab environment is refreshing and the way all certifications should be, but that’s a story for another day and I am probably just saying that since I found it much easier and passed with score in the 90s 🙂

Most of my studies revolved around A LOT of lab time, but what I also found as an excellent source of learning is Mumshad Mannambeth course on Udemy, which also includes test KodeKloud lab exercises and mock exams.  I also went though Linux Academy’s course, but did not find it as comprehensive as that of Mumshads.

Good luck!

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vRealize Automation – Add additional disk using SovLabs Property Toolkit

SovLabs has been adding some great new features to their Property toolkit module:

  • v2019.14.0
    • Dynamically set and assign vRA Network Profile Names to VMs in a blueprint with our SovLabs Property Toolkit module for vRA 7.5 and vRA 7.6.  Read more here
  • v2019.16.0
    • Dynamically add additional vRA Disks to VMs in a blueprint with our SovLabs Property Toolkit module for vRA 7.5 and vRA 7.6.

Today we are looking at their new feature to dynamically add additional vRA disks, using the Property Toolkit module, which is a widely discussed topic on blogs and VMware’s community forum.

There are of course multiple ways to achieve this, for instance adding disks to the vSphere machine on the request form, however this method is very basic and does not provide a lot of flexibility.

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Other customer would resort to creating custom forms with data grids with vRO actions to implement this.

SovLabs Property Toolkit module uses custom properties and can add up to 15 disks and makes use of the approval lifecycle of VM provisioning to assign disks prior to MachineRequested EBS.

Prerequisites:

  • vRealize Automation 7.5 or newer
  • SovLabs Plug-in Version 2019.16.0 or newer
  • Approval Policy Type: Service Catalog – Catalog Item Request – Virtual Machine
  • vRA blueprint with Cloned Machine Build type
    • Make sure to correctly set the total capacity/maximum storage value that can support the disks to be added
  • vRA login as Tenant Administrator or Approval Administrator and entitled to SovLabs Modules.

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Request and manage vRealize Automation catalog items from ServiceNow

“We have ServiceNow and want to use its service management portal instead of vRA, is this possible?”  This question comes up a lot from our customers and often with a follow up questions “Can we wrap ServiceNow approval policies around it?” The answer is YES!

There are 2 ways to achieve this, the first is using VMware’s vRealize Automation plugin for ITSM which is available here.  The main premise of this plugin to expose the exact vRA services and catalog items directly within ServiceNow. This is good and all, but it does not provide a lot of flexibility and the application installation and configuration is complex.  Check out these blogs for additional information on v7.6.1 and v5.0.

The second solution, and what I will be using is SovLab’s ServiceNow connector module, which is very easy to implement and provides a lot of flexible by allowing ServiceNow administrators to customize the catalog and the request process directly within the ServiceNow platform.  It has the following highlighted features:

  • Multi-tenant & vRA instance support
  • Platform-native control for ServiceNow which means management and and customization is done directly within ServiceNow and also using ServiceNow constructs (catalog, workflow, etc.)
  • Day2 vRA operations support
  • Request as ServiceNow user automatically maps to corresponding vRA user, so also no requirement for SAML or ADFS!
  • SovLabs Template Engine support for metadata injection and custom logic, which is a huge plus
  • Can be coupled with the SovLabs CMDB Module, which is very useful and something everyone needs.

So lets start with the implementation prerequisites:

As a prerequisite you need a ServiceNow instance and a MID Server installed and configured. I assume this is already done so I will not provide steps here for this.

Some other SovLabs related prerequisites you need to take care of:

  • a ServiceNow instance with a MID Server installed and configured.
    • I assume this is already done so I will not provide steps here for this.
  • ServiceNow connector plugin software
    • SovLabs license key
  • For the ServiceNow tables: “question_choice”, “sc_cat_item” and “item_option_new” you have to set All Application Access for Can read, Can create, Can update, and Can delete
    • Go to System Definition > Tables > question_choice
    • Go to Application Access
    • For All application scopes, make sure Can read, Can create, Can update, and Can delete are checked
    • Repeat Step 2 and Step 3 for the other tables
  • The ServiceNow usernames needs to match their vRA username
    • Unless SovLabs ‘User Mapping’ is used, which you can read about here
    • I just setup the usernames in ServiceNow to match my domain username login for vRA.  “username@domain.com”
  • If you want to perform Day2 actions you have to install and configure the SovLabs ServiceNow CMDB module as well. Check out my blog on this.
  • Administrator credentials to vRO that also has entitlements to the Business Group/Catalog Items being Imported to ServiceNow

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Terraform Cloud – Step by step configuration

I recently returned from a very successful Hashiconf 2019 where lots of new features where announces for the Hashicorp products.  Here are some of the mayor announcements.

Terraform:

  • Terraform Cloud (TFC)
    • Rebranding of Terraform Enterprise SaaS to Terraform Cloud.
    • TFC is all about collaboration. When more than 1 person starts working on a Terraform project it requires backend management of the state file and you should start orchestrating Terraform runs using a deployment pipeline.  This is all now provided by Terraform Cloud!
    • Free tier (up to 5 users)
      • User interface
      • Remote state management for storing, view and locking of state files.
      • VCS connection management
      • Collaboration on runs
      • Remote runs and applies
      • Private module registry
    • Paid tiers (more than 5 users)
      • Both the paid tiers are available for free until 01.01.2020!
      • TFC: Teams
        • Create multiple teams
        • Control permissions of users on those teams
      • TFC: Teams & governance
        • This tier is also available for free until 01.01.2020
        • Use Sentinel and Cost Estimation
        • More information and pricing on offerings available here
    • More information here.
  • Terraform clustering
    • This is only available with Terraform enterprise (TFE) and current in beta version
    • More information here.
  • Terraform Cost Estimation
    • This is available for both TFE and TFC
    • Is executed between the plan and apply phases of a TF run.
    • Can also use Sentinal to control costs with defined policies
    • More information here.

Consul:

  • It definitely felt like Consul was the new shiny toy at this years conference and the related sessions were packed.
  • HashiCorp Consul Service (HCS) on Azure
    • Native provisioning of a Consul cluster into any region through the Azure marketplace.
    • Although the Pong game live demo did not go as planned I do see the value and potential for this product!
    • Currently only available in private beta
    • More information here
  • Consul Enterprise now support VMware NSX Service Mesh Federation
    • Support for the Service Mesh Federation Specification.
    • More information here.

Now back to what we are here for…Terraform Cloud!

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Installing the Windows Subsystem for Linux and use Terraform with VS Code

I am not a developer and have been looking for a reason to use WSL for a while and found a good use case to Terraform using VS Code on Linux.

In my opinion Hashicorp’s Terraform is the de facto choice in the infrastructure as code space just like Kubernetes is for container orchestration.  It provides the ability to version your infrastructure and automate the provisioning of your resources across different cloud vendors as well as on-premise.

To get this working requires a couple of steps which I will provide here. Also at the time of writing this I am running Windows 10 Pro, with Version 10.0.18362 Build 18362.

Install WSL:

  1. Open Powershell as Administrator and run the following command to enable this feature
    1. “Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux”
  2. Open MS store and download your favorite distribution,  I selected Ubuntu.
    1. Don’t close the store just yet and wait for the installation to complete.
      1. You can also open from command prompt by typing “Ubuntu.exe” from the distro installation folder, or selecting ubuntu from app menu.
  3. Create a UNIX username
  4. Create a UNIX password
  5. Now lets update our distro to latest
    1. Run “sudo apt-get update”
    2. Run “sudo apt-get upgrade”
  6. Done

Install Terraform on linux distro:

  1. Run the following commands to install unzip
    1. “sudo apt-get install unzip”
  2. Copy the link address to latest Linux 64-bit download from this page here
  3. Run the following command to install Terraform
    1. “wget https://releases.hashicorp.com/terraform/0.12.7/terraform_0.12.7_linux_amd64.zip”
    2. “unzip terraform_0.12.7_linux_amd64.zip”
    3. “sudo mv terraform /usr/local/bin”
  4. Run the following command to verify its has been implemented successfully
    1. “terraform version”
    2. Should show “Terraform v0.12.7” (based on the version I downloaded)

Install the Azure and AWS CLI on the linux distro

This is not necessary but super useful if you have deploying to these cloud vendors.

  1. Azure CLI installation steps
    1. Run the following command to verify its working
      1. “az -v”
  2. AWS CLI installation steps
    1. Run the following command to install
      1. “sudo apt-get install awscli”
    2. Run the following command to verify its working
      1. “aws version”

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