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.

wordpress-0028.jpg

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.

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

Upgrade VMware vRA to 7.5 and migrate external vRO to embedded vRO 7.5

It has been a while since my last post, (just had too much going on) but I have been putting it off for way too long and I finally upgraded my vRA lab to 7.5.  Here are my notes.

My distributed enterprise vRA 7.4 environment consists of the following components:

  • vRA VIP
    • 2 x vRA appliances
  • vRA IaaS Manager VIP
    • 2 x Windows vRA IaaS Manager Service servers
  • vRA IaaS Web VIP
    • 2 x Windows vRA IaaS Web servers
  • 2 x Windows vRA DEM + Agent servers
  • vRO VIP
    • 2 x external vRO appliances
  • External SQL database for vRA and vRO
  • Running SovLabs extensibility software

There are 2 options available to get to the desired state with either an in-place upgrade of your existing vRA environment or to build out a new greenfield vRA and migrate your data over (VMware calls this a side-by-side upgrade).

If you are currently running 6.2.0 – 6.2.4 or 7.0.x, or have vCloud Director or vCloud Air endpoints you have to migrate!

Always before upgrading, make sure you have successful backups of all your nodes and while you’re at it also take snapshots of all the servers and backup your vRA and vRO database!  You can never be too careful, ever! The upgrade steps for vRA are the same as what I have blogged about here.  For this exercise, I am performing an in-place upgrade of vRA from 7.4 to 7.5, so please review the documentation if you upgrading from 6.2.5.

  • Also, verify that all appliances and servers that are part of your deployment meet the system requirements for vRA 7.5 and also consult the VMware Product Interoperability Matrix about compatibility with other VMware products.
  • I also have SovLabs plugins installed so make sure to upgrade SovLabs to a vRA 7.5 compatible version.  At the time of the post, I upgraded to 2018.3.1. Upgrade steps for SovLabs can be found here.

Continue reading

Using vRealize Suite LifeCycle Manager to deploy an Enterprise Distributed vRealize Automation environment.

vRealize Suite LifeCycle Manager (vRSLM) has now been around for a while and if you are a vRealize or vCloud Suite license holder this is definitely a product that should be part of our VMware portfolio. I am a bit backward because in my last post is showed how to upgrade your vRA environment using vRSLM and only now will I show how to actually install vRA which actually just comes out of necessity because one of my colleagues accidentally delete all my lab servers 🙂

For this post, I am using the latest vRSLM 1.3 and will be deploying a distributed vRA 7.4.

  • jvra01 – vRA appliance with embedded vRO (recommended design to use embedded instead of external vRO since 7.3)
  • jvra02 – vRA appliance with embedded vRO
  • jvraweb01 – vRA IaaS Web
  • jvraweb02 – vRA IaaS Web
  • jvramgr01 – vRA IaaS Manager
  • jvramgr02- vRA IaaS Manager

Since vSSLM automates and simplifies the deployment of your VMware SDDC stack, most of your time will be spent on prerequisites, so let’s start with that.

vRA prerequisites:

  • Manually deploy 4 x vRA Iaas Windows Servers in your vCenter Server environment.
    • Make sure they are added to the domain and DNS and NTP is working.
    • Disable UAC on all Windows servers. Make sure to reboot if you have to disable this.
    • Make sure that IPv6 is disabled on all Windows servers
    • Add the windows service account as part of User Rights Assignment under Local Security Policies for Log on as a Service and Log on as a batch job on all windows machines.
    • Verify the minimum resource requirements is set on all Windows servers.  Set to at least 8GB.
  • SQL Database
    • Make sure the domain user has added the SQL server to the domain
    • Make sure the domain user is added as part of the SQL DB user Logins list with the sysadmin privilege
  •  Load Balancer
    • Make sure that the second member of each pool in the vRealize Automation load balancer is disabled.

There are also some scripts available to download to verify the prerequisites when you run the precheck for the creation of the vRA environment so this can be done later as well.

vRSLM prerequisites:

  • Ensure that the vRSLCM appliance has correct FQDN configured
    • Command for correcting the hostname is “/opt/vmware/share/vami/vami_set_hostname <hostname>”
    • After setting the correct hostname, verify by using the command “hostname -f” or from 1.3 version of LCM, we can also verify from the settings page.
  • Under vRSLM settings:
    • Register with My VMware to access licenses, download Product Binaries, and consume Marketplace content.
    • Download the vRealize Automation 7.4.0 product
      • If you already have the OVA downloaded then you can import it under the Product binaries tab.
    • Verify that you have vRealize Automation binaries status as completed.
    • If you using a self-signed certificated in your environment (not recommended), then create a self-signed wildcard certificate for vRealize Suite product deployments.
      • Best is to generate a single SAN certificate with all the product or management virtual host names or a wildcard certificate and provide this certificate when you create the environment for the first time. This ensures support for post provisioning actions such as Add Products and Scale Out.
    • Configure NTP Servers for deploying products in environments
  • Under Data Centers
    • Create a Data Center with an associated location.
    • Add the vCenter Server where the vRA environment will be deployed to.
      • Make sure the data collection is successful.

Continue reading

Step by Step upgrade of distributed vRealize Automation 7.2 with external vRO to 7.4

As with most of my other blog posts, I am just providing a step by step guide for quick reference.  Please refer to the documentation here for detailed information and please read the vRealize Automation 7.4 Release Notes known issues section which is updated regularly and helps you to be better prepare for the upgrade.

My environment consists of a distributed vRealize Automation running version 7.2 with an external clustered vRealize Orchestrator, which I am upgrading and not migrating to 7.4 Build 8182598.  This will be a similar process if you have vRA 7.1 and greater.  If you have an older version, refer to VMware’s documentation here.

The in-place upgrade process for the distributed vRA environment happens in 3 stages in the following order:

  1. vRealize Automation appliances
  2. IaaS Web server
  3. vRealize Orchestrator

Pre-requisites before we start:

  1. Make sure all VMware products are compatible with vRA’s current and new release by consulting the Product Interoperability Matrix.
  2. Verify enough storage space on servers
    • At least 5GB on IaaS, SQL and Model Manager
    • At least 5 GB on the root partition of vRA appliance

    • 5 GB on the /storage/db partition for the master vRA appliance

    • 5 GB on the root partition for each replica virtual appliance

  3. Verify that MSDTC is enabled on all vRA and associated SQL servers.
    • Check that the service “Distributed Transaction Coordinator” is running.
  4. The primary IaaS Website node (Model Manager data is installed) must have JAVA SE Runtime Environment 8, 64 bits, update 161 or later installed, and also verify JAVA_HOME environment variable is set correctly after the upgrade.
  5. If using embedded Postgres DB in a distributed vRA environment
    • On master vRA node, navigate to /var/vmware/vpostgres/current/pgdata/
    • Close any opened files in the pgdata directory and remove any files with a .swp suffix
    • Verify the correct ownership of all files in this directories: postgres:users
  6. In a distributed vRA environment, change Postgres synchronous replication to async.
    • Click vRA Settings > Database.
    • Click Async Mode and wait until the action completes.
    • Verify that all nodes in the Sync State column display Async status
    • I have only a master and replica so I am already async but just FYI
  7. In vRA tenants verify the following
    • Make sure that no custom properties have spaces in the names.
    • All saved and in-progress requests have finished successfully

Additional requirements before we start:

Continue reading

Upgrade vRealize Automation 7.2 to 7.4 using vRealize Suite LifeCycle Manager

VMware’s vRealize Suite of Products are great, and each provides a lot of features and capabilities, and VMware has been working hard on integration between the products. However, these products are very much standalone with no cohesion between them from a lifecycle management perspective.  This creates a lot of management overhead to install, upgrade, configure and manage all these products, as well the additional solution extensions.

In comes vRealize Suite LifeCycle Manager (vRSLCM) which is a relatively new product and is available to all customers with a vRealize Suite license. It automates the installation, configuration, and upgrading of the following products:

  • vRealize Automation
  • vRealize Operations Managers
  • vRealize Log Insight
  • vRealize Business for Cloud

In this blog, I am going to provide the steps on how to import an existing distributed Enterprise vRA 7.2 environment and perform the upgrade to 7.4 using vRSLCM 1.2.

Let’s start off with the initial creation of the environment, which does require a lot of information up front, but once you create or import products into the environment at a later time, it will make use of this stored environment information.

  1. Log in to your vRSLCM
  2. Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 3.46.11 PM.png
  3. Select Create Environments
  4. Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 3.45.43 PM.png
  5. Enter Environment Data
    1. Data Center (this you should have created during the initial configuration of your vRSLCM environment)
    2. Environment Type
    3. Environment Name
    4. Administrator email
    5. Default root password
    6. Click Next
  6. Create Environment
    1. Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 3.49.10 PM.png
    2. Check the box for vRealize Automation
    3. Since we already have an environment that we need to import, select the import Radio button.
    4. Click Next
  7. EULA
    1. Scroll down to bottom.
    2. Check the box to accept the terms and conditions.
  8. License
    1. Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 3.52.11 PM.png
    2. Either pick a vRealize Suite license which will populate from your my.vmware.com account, or enter one manually.
    3. Click Next
  9. Infrastructure Details (This information is used if you deploy new products)
    1. Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 3.55.06 PM.png
    2. Select vCenter Server where your vRealize Suite products reside in.
    3. Select Cluster
    4. Select Network
    5. Select Datastore
    6. Select preferred Disk format for product deployments.
    7. Click Next
  10. Network (This information is used if you deploy new products)
    1. Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 3.59.39 PM.png
    2. Enter default gateway of the network where your vRealize Suite products are deployed or will be deployed too.
    3. Enter Domain Name
    4. Enter search path
    5. Enter DNS
    6. Enter Netmask
    7. Click Next
  11. Certificates (I import a wildcard certificate or you can use multi-domain certificate would be a good choice to simplify the process)
    1. Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 4.04.03 PM.png
    2. Click Next to use the self-signed generated certificate or click the import certificate button to add existing wildcard or SAN certificate.
    3. Click Next
  12. Import (Since we selected import we now get ask questions about our existing environment)
    1. Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 4.06.18 PM.png
    2. Enter vRA root password
    3. Enter vRA Default Administrator password
    4. Enter Tenant User name.
      1. Selecting the “administrator” user works just fine here.
    5. Enter vRA Primary Node FQDN
    6. Enter IaaS Username.
      1. I used the domain service account assigned to all IaaS servers
    7.  Default vRA Tenant name is select “vsphere.local”
    8. Enter vRA Tenant password
    9. Enter IaaS Password for the domain account.
    10. Select vCenter Server from the drop-down where the vRA server is running on.
    11. Click Next
  13. Review summary
    1. Click Download configuration to save the JSON file for later use.
    2. Click Submit
  14. This will run for a while to configure the environment and import vRA
    1. If it fails, you have a couple of options
      1. Review the requests
        1. Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 4.19.27 PM.png
        2. Under actions select retry and verify the information that you have entered.
      2. Delete the environment and start over (1.2 provides the ability to specify if you also want to delete the VMs when you delete a fully configured environment, definitely not recommended to do so in most cases!)
    2. If you want to pause the import, you can always come back later and resume\
  15. Verify the vRA product environment
    1. Select Environment tab on the left side
    2. Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 4.25.18 PM.png
    3. Select View details of the newly created environment
    4. Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 4.24.32 PM.png
    5. Verify that all the information of your distributed vRA environment is accurate. vRSLCM collects all your VIP names, vRA-, IaaS- and Database Servers as well as where each component resides.
    6. Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 4.24.21 PM.png

Continue reading

VMware drops the motherload, what’s new?

I just recently got back from a productive VMware Partner Empower Conference and since then I have been trying make some time to grind through the installing and upgrades of 10 new product releases. (Sorry I am a bit behind in getting this blog post publish) Yes, you heard correct 10!   I do hope VMware in the future consider staggering the product release as well as align the product compatibility.

Here is a list of new product updates available:

  1.  vRealize Automation 7.4.0 Release Notes Download
  2.  vRealize Orchestrator Appliance 7.4.0 Release Notes Download
  3. vRealize Code Stream 2.4 Release Notes Download
  4. vRealize Business for Cloud 7.4.0 Release Notes Download
  5. vRealize Operations Manager 6.7.0 Release Notes Download
  6. vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager 1.2 Release Notes Download
  7.  vRealize Log Insight 4.6.0 Release Notes Download
  8.  vCenter Server 6.7 Release Notes Download
  9.  vSphere ESXi 6.7 Release Notes Download
  10.  vSphere Replication 8.1 Release Notes Download

Now let’s see the awesomeness that each of the new products brings.

vRealize Automation 7.4.0

  • Custom Request Forms Designer has been vastly improved!
  • Deployment of Blueprint from an OVF on AVA. sweet!
  • Improvement in the handling items in an in-progress state. This was a big pet peeve of mine which has finally been addressed!
  • Message board portlet security has been enhanced with a whitelist for URLs
  • Multitenancy in vRealize Orchestrator is great since now we do not have to deploy multi vRO environments for different tenants.

vRealize Orchestrator Appliance 7.4.0

  • Multitenancy in vRO, need we say more!  Allows for full isolation of content items and execution and no more need to deploy separate vRO environment for tenants.
  • Web-based Clarity UI update with new monitoring dashboards for workflow runs and metrics to monitor and troubleshoot workflow runs including centralized log views.

vRealize Code Stream 2.4

  • General defect fixes and improvements.

vRealize Business for Cloud 7.4.0

  • Note:
    • If you are running vRBC 6.x.x a direct upgrade is not possible and you must first upgrade to 7.3.1!
    • If you upgrade to 7.4.0, any vRealize Automation VMs that are deleted in the current month before the upgrade will be missing in the current months vRA Report.  There is currently no fix and the workaround is to download the vRA Report before you upgrade. KB 2151835
  • Enhancements to the VMC on AWS assessment with FTT and Erasure coding.
    • Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 2.15.29 PM.png
  • Pricing and Chargeback capabilities enhancements
    • For vCloud Director, storage policy driven pricing is now available.
      • Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 2.32.41 PM.png
      • Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 2.32.26 PM.png
    • For vCD, you can define T-Shirt sizes for Pay-as-you-go VMs. This is cool and I wish we can get this in vRA as well for Component Profile!
      • Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 2.51.14 PM.png
    • Apply differential rate for vCPU and Memory, that is beyond the guaranteed resources
      • Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 6.45.43 PM.png
    • Apply daily pricing of OS license consumption
      • Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 7.20.16 PM.png
    • Network pricing enhancements
      • Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 2.49.25 PM.png
    • vCloud Director usage and charge details through report API
    • Security enhancements

Continue reading