VMware vCloud Availability for vCloud Director 2.0 what’s new

vCloud Availability 2.0 is available for download today here. vCloud Availability for vCloud Director 2.0 delivers the following key enhancements:

    • vSphere 6.5 Support: Added support for vSphere 6.5 on the service provider side. This was missing in the previous release and many service providers were looking for it. The supported vSphere versions on the tenant side remain unchanged. For more interoperability and compatibility information about vCloud Availability for vCloud Director, see the Interoperability Pages for vCloud Availability for vCloud Director 2.0. Here is a screenshot of what the interoperability matrix look like.

vCloud Availability for vCloud Director Interop Matrix

    • 5-minutes Recovery Point Objective (RPO): vCloud Availability for vCloud Director 2.0 delivers an enhanced RPO support of 5-minutes compared to the previously supported RPO of 15 minutes.
    • Enhancements to vCloud Availability for vCloud Director Service Manager Portal: The Service Manager Portal, introduced in the vCloud Availability for vCloud Director 1.0.1.2 release, allows service providers to monitor and manage their DR environments. The current release includes usability and performance enhancements to improve the response time on the Inventory page and a new Tenant Impersonation feature. The new feature allows service providers to act as tenant users. Using the Tenant Impersonation feature, service providers can filter tenant organizations and perform DR operations using a tenant role, the same way a tenant user would.
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vCloud Director 9.0 is Ready for Download

vCloud Director 9.0 has been announced at VMworld with some exciting enhancements. I am positive most of our VCPP (VMware Cloud Partner Program) partners will be looking forward to many of these features. Just in case you have missed it, VCPP (VMware Cloud Partner Program) is the new name for the VCAN(vCloud Air Network) Program. In this post, I will be covering few of the spotlight features of vCD 9.0.

Before I start, I want to highlight that’s while many vCD releases in the past few years were more progressive, this one is more on revolutionary side. I would highly recommend service providers to start evaluating vCD 9.0, as soon it released out not to be left being none competitive with those who upgrade. The difference this time is not hidden in the API, but include major changes in the UI interface as well. Read below for more details, and download the bits at vCloud Director 9.0 Download Link to start testing it out in your labs.

  • Modernized HTML5 interface. vCloud Director 9.0 comes with a new much slicker and smoother graphical interface for the tenant portal based on HTML5 which is an evolution from the previous Flex graphical interface. While this one might not be in parity with the Flex version in version 9.0,
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VMware Cloud Availability 1.0.1.2 Compatibility Matrix

VMware Cloud Availability (vCAv) is a solution provided by VMware to Service Providers to offer DRaaS with VMware Cloud Director(vCD) as a target.

VMware Cloud Availability vCAv

Two features that makes VMware vCloud Availability valuable to service providers are:

  • It support multi-tenancy out of the box: This means the Service Provider will not have to acquire a separate hardware and setup an isolated vSphere environment per client, which end up improving the TCO and ROI for both the Service Provider and their customers.
  • The vCenter/vSphere versions do not have to match between the service Provider and the Tenant. This is big as the service provider will have the liberty to board customers running a different version of vSphere and vCenter without having to impact the version they run on premise.

A question I am often asked lately when talking about VMware Cloud Availability is: Does the on premise environment of vSphere/vCenter have to match the versions used by the service provider and if not what versions are compatible? The short answer is no, for more info on the supported versions, look below.

Provider Versions

While vCD 8.20 and vSphere/vCenter 6.5 is recommended below is the different versions supported for the Service provider.

  • vCD 8.10, 8.10.1
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vROPS Tenant App for VCD 1.0 is GA

The announcement of vROPS Tenant App for vCloud Director  1.0 is a great news to our vCloud Air Network Partners. vRealize Operations Tenant App for vCloud Director 1.0 is GA as of August 23, 2017! Now you can provide your customers with a better self-service monitoring solution that they were asking you for. This will provide a new monetizing opportunity for our vCAN Partners as well enhance their customers experience.

vRealize Operations Manager Tenant App for vCloud Director
It is a tenant facing application which provides a tenant administrator visibility to their vCloud Director environment. Service provider admin can enable access to the application to any tenant. It solves monitoring, troubleshooting and capacity planning use cases for a tenant. This is available only to service providers.

vRealize Operations management pack for vCloud Director

Highlights of what vROPS Tenant App for VCD 1.0 offers:

  • Extends vRealize Operations Manager to include vCloud Director constructs
  • Leverages vRealize Operations advanced analytics
  • Tenant specific monitoring, troubleshooting and capacity planning
  • Tenant Admin specific views to enable Operations Management solving monitoring, troubleshooting and capacity planning use cases
  • Provider Admin can pick and choose the tenants to whom access it to be provided. It can be provided as an extra addon.
  • Photon OS based Virtual appliance (OVA) for easier installation
  • H5 Client based on VMWare Clarity

 

Please note vROPS Tenant App for vCloud Director  1.0… Read More

vRealize Automation 7.3 what’s new?

vRealize Automation 7.3 has been released today with tons of new capabilities and features (>20 Spotlight Features). In this post, I will highlight several of these new enhancements to introduce you to what you can get by upgrading to vRA 7.3. I hope this will help you find out if the features you are looking for is a part of this release. I know many on my list and my customers lists have been addressed, but there is always room for more.

Below is few important links to check to learn more about vRealize Automation 7.3:

vRealize Automation 7.3 new features:

Parameterized Blueprints to Enhance Reusability and Reduce Sprawl​

  • Introduced component profiles for defining both size and image attributes, enabling “T-shirt sizing” as a request item
    • Component profiles provided for image and virtual machine size including CPU, memory, and storage size
  • Efficiently manage blueprints by leveraging abstracted component profiles
  • Increase reusability while significantly reducing blueprint sprawl
  • Trigger approval policies on size or image conditions
  • Import or export of component profiles using vRealize CloudClient
  • Automatically substitute component profile values

In the past, I have seen the request for VMs “t-shirt sizing” coming up often.… Read More

vRealize Automation 7 Property Dictionary Relationship

In the past I have documented how to do vCloud Automation 6.x Property Dictionay and Property Dictionary relationship in a post that was well recieved and got quite popular which can be found at: vCAC 6 Property Dictionary Relationship. I have meant to do the same for vRA 7 Property Dictionary Relationship for sometime as it has dramatically changed from it’s 6.x days, but I had pushed it forward several times and finally got the time to get around it.

In this post, I am going to show you how to populate a dropdown menu created in vRA property dictionary from a vRO workflow. Further, I will show you how to filter it based on another dropdown as well. This is get very useful when you have two related dropdown in your vRealize Automation Request forum and would like to filter one of them based on the other dropdown selection.  It help you ensure only valid values are showing in the second dropdown menu making your request form more user friendly. Further, this same process can be used to populate the dropdown list from an external source like MS SQL or so on.

Before you start with this exercise, I would highly recommend you go through my past post to get an understanding of the terms used in this post: vCAC Custom Properties – Build Profiles(Renamed Property Groups in vRA 7.0)Read More

How to Configure vRealize Automation 7.x Management pack in vRealize Operations Manager

The installation of vRealize Operations Manager Management Pack for vRealize Automation is a popular ask due to the benefit of in depth monitoring of vRA offered by vROPs. The vRealize Automation Management Pack for vRealize Operations Manager is very quick to configure as long you know the steps and permissions required. In this post, I will show you how to easily start monitoring your vRA 7.x environment with vROPs. The steps below should get you setup in no time.

1- Download the vRealize Operations Manager Management Pack for vRealize Automation from VMware Solutions Exchange.

2- Log in to vRealize Operations Manager by using the administration console using the Admin user.

3- In the left pane of vRealize Operations Manager, click Administration and click Solutions.

vROPs Solution Tab before installing vRA Management Pack

4- Hit the Green Plus (Add management Pack button), then upload the downloaded management pack.

Installing vROPs management pack for vRealize Automation

5- Accept the EULA and hit next/install on the install screen, then wait for the plugin to complete installation.

6- When you have finished the installation of the vRA Management Pack for vROPs, the next step before you configure it, is to assign a service user proper permission to vRA to allow vROPs to connect/collect monitoring data from vRA. This user will need the following permissions: Tenant Administrator, IaaS Administrator,  Software Architect, and Fabric Group Admin.… Read More

vRA Installation Error: Another instance of the component is already installed on this server.

While I have been installing vRA lately as a part of a VMware Validated Design engagement using the Automated Deployment Tool, my vRA deployment tool failed as the DBA has not provided the right permissions on the SQL box required to install vRA. The error received at that moment was: “Error occurred while executing SQL file: User does not have permission to perform this action.”.  This error showed up in vCAC-Config.log file on the first IaaS web server.

The above error was pretty descriptive and easy to rectify by assigning a sysadmin role to my vRA user account used for the vRA installation as well provide it with a dbo role on the vRA database. I decided to go ahead and re-run my installation after I have resolved the permissions issue, and I started facing the following error, which I was not clear what’s going on initially: “Another instance of the component is already installed on this server.”

Here is what made this error initially confusing, it comes up as a part of SQL Database creation block. Below how the error looked as the installation was executing:

[root]  [INFO] ———————————————————————————————————————-
[root]  [INFO]         Installation of IaaS “db” component on host “vraweb01.vt.com” starts now
[root]  [INFO] ———————————————————————————————————————-
[root]  [INFO] Executing db Installation command:
[root]  /usr/sbin/vra-command execute –node 574C2057-4BEE-40E0-A163-AD86A1FTT32A install-db –SqlServer vtvrasql01.vt.com,1433… Read More

F5 load balancer common misconfigurations for vRA 7 Distributed setup

Working with several customers to build vRealize Automation 7.x in production environment has exposed me to many vRA Distributed installs that involved the use of Load Balancers. There seems common mistakes that customers fall for when configuring load balancers for vRA 7.x distributed environments that cause the installation to fail or the setup not to function as intended. Here I wanted to highlight few of these. While I will be focusing on F5 in here, these mistakes can affect other load balancers as well.

vRealize Automation 7 F5 load balancer

1- Utilize the load balancer VIP for initial installation

Several customers try to use their load balancer VIP during vRA installation. While if setup perfectly this will work, a small mistake with the VIP configuration can make the installation and configuration of vRealize Automation feel impossible. For this I would recommend you create the VIP DNS record and just point it to your first nodes. Complete your vRA installation and configuration and only after confirming your setup is stable and fully installed to point your VIP DNS record to your actual VIP IP. This will make your installation go much smoother, and allow you a much easier path to troubleshooting if you made a mistake during load balancer configuration.… Read More

vRA 7.2 what’s new?

vRealize Automation 7.2 which was promised at VMworld to enhance ease of use with Out-of-The-Box support for ServiceNow, Azure, and Containers. has just been released today as promised in VMworld. You can download it at: vRealization Automation 7.2 download link. This article highlight few of the major improvements introduced with vRA 7.2.

Azure Endpoint

Microsoft Azure vRA Endpoint

While Amazon AWS, vCloud Air and vCloud Air Network endpoints have been out of the box in vRealize Automation for the longest time, Microsoft Azure has always required custom coding integration to work in vRealize Automation. Many customers showed interest in being able to deploy Microsoft Azure and were waiting patiently for vRA to offer it out of the box. This is coming your way out of the box in vRA 7.2. This will extend vRealize Automation Hybrid Cloud offering reach to Microsoft Azure customers.

The new Azure endpoint will allows customers to:

  • Configure Azure connections (endpoints) per tenant
  • Assign reservations and integrate with their governance model
  • Design blueprints creation with Azure resources, specify network and storage options
  • Supports Azure Networking (subnets, load balancers)
  • Deploy converged blueprints with Azure resources in them
  • vRealize Automation can automatically select the most appropriate subscriptions to deploy to
  • Perform state-aware resource actions on their Azure resources
  • Incorporate key vRA functionality, such as approvals, extensibility, and CBP
  • OTB Day2 lifecycle operations include start, stop, restart, delete

Note: Azure Endpoint is the first to be built on top of extensibility platform (XaaS vs .Net)… Read More

vRealize Automation 7.x F5 Load balancer Configuration

This week I had to work with a customer who used F5 to load balance their vRA Distributed environment, and it has proven that just a small change from recommended configuration can break your full setup. For this reason, I have decided to document the full F5 load balancer configuration on this page. This post can still be helpfull to get you started with other load balancers as well.

As medium distributed install seems to be the most common between customers, I will use it as the base of my post in here, but I will cover the differences in large distributed install as well. Let’s start at first with the list of our setup components. As you will notice in the below table that the manager service and Web are both sharing the same servers unlike large architecture installation where Web and Manager Service are separated into different servers. That has been said, you will still need to setup a different VIP one for Manager Service and one for Web in both medium and large distributed setups. The main difference is that in a medium setup both VIPs will point up to the same servers. You will need as well to setup another VIP for the vRA Appliances.… Read More

vRealize Automation Order of Precedence for Custom Properties.

If you have just started working with vRealize Automation, you will notice that you can apply custom properties to many elements. While this is great and add a lot of flexibility to the product and make it easier to customize the product to do things differently in the way you desire. It can get confusing which property will precede/over write the other one, if a duplicate property with a different value was assigned at a different element/level. In this post, I wanted to highlight the order of Precedenc for Custom Properties in vRA, so you can predict your results.

vRA Custom Properties Order

The full order of precedence for custom properties is that any property value specified in a source later in the list overrides values for the same property specified in sources earlier in the list. The order is shown in the following list:

Order of applying Custom Properties, later one over write earlier one:

  1. Build Profile
  2. Blueprint
  3. Business Group
  4. Compute resource
  5. Reservation
  6. Endpoint
  7. Runtime

Note: Please note only Build Profile, Blueprint, and Business Group custom properties are assigned at the request time, while most other custom properties (Comput resources, reservation, & Endpoint) are assigned during provisioning, as they are not being assigned till the provisioning process has been started.… Read More

vCloud Air DR to Cloud with vRealize Automation

Traditionally organizations have reserved their Disaster Recovery capabilities to their most critical workload leaving some important workloads without proper disaster recovery due to the high cost of disaster recovery.

Imagine if you went shopping to buy a car with a friend. When you hit the dealership, your friend tell you that you should buy two cars. The first one will be the one you will be using, where the second one is only for you to use if your first car break? Do you find that as an odd advice or at least too costy one? Was not that exactly what you are doing when building your Disaster Recovery Datacenter? You build a full datacenter and fully pay for it and its compute, storage, cooling, space, and operation 24/7.  Luckily, you did not have a disaster this year, but does not that mean you just paid tons of cash for compute, etc that you never used?

What if you can get the same protection, but almost at the cost of only your storage? That’s what DR to Cloud allow you to do. In fact, vCloud Air DR to Cloud offering is great at that, as the cost you are normally paying for storage covers the cost of protecting your VMs in vCloud Air Disaster Recovery.… Read More

Replacing Certificates in vRealize Automation 7

If you worked with vRA 6.x and earlier, you will definetly know that replacing certs was a very involving process. The great news is that vRA 7 has eliminated most of the work required to do so and automated a good part of the process. Unfortunately, this is not clearly documented in vRA 7 documentation, although in my opinion this is one of the major improvements in vRA 7.0. As I have discovered those improvement the hard way through going through engineering and support, I thought It’s worth sharing as it can save you tons of time.

Let’s start by the scenario where you have setup the vRealize Automation 7.x system up and running, and you want to replace your certificates. Let’s assume you have already generated the certs for the different services, but if you did not and need help with that keep reading as I will give you guidance on that later on in this article. Below is how to replace the certs of each of the services making up your vRA 7.0.

– SSO/Identity Appliance: As vRA 7.0 does not make use of vCenter SSO any more and it moved to embeded vIDM, you will not have to worry about the certs of this any more.… Read More

vRealize Automation 7 Bootstrap Installation

vRealize Automation 7 converged blueprint is now offering you the capabilities to go beyond VMs deployment to being able to design/deploy a full application stack. In order to enable application deployment in vRA, you will need to install vRA 7 bootstrap in your VM template. In this post, I will cover how to install vRA 7.0 bootstrap into your Windows & Linux VM templates.

vRA 7 converged blueprint

Note: vRA 7.0 enterprise license is required to use the software deployment capabilities of vRA 7.0. If you have a license that does not include this, you will need to depend solely on the Gugent to run your scripts in similar fashion to what was done in previous versions of vRA, which I have document previously at: vCAC Guest Agent Installation

Note: In vRealize Automation 7.1 and higher the download link of the Guest Agent, Bootstrap Agent and so on has changed from the links used in the below article to https://vRealize_VA_Hostname_fqdn/software/index.html. 

vRA 7 bootstrap installation in Windows:

(Certs)

  1. Make sure your root cert is trusted by your template.
  2. Make sure your Manager Service cert is trusted by your template as well.

(Gugent)

  1. Download the Gugent installer from https://vRealize_VA_Hostname_fqdn:5480/installer/GuestAgentInstaller_x64.exe. The download link has changed to https://vRealize_VA_Hostname_fqdn/software/index.html in vRealize Automation 7.1
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