What’s in my vRA7 EBS Payloads?

| 30/03/2016 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

vRAAs I discussed in my previous post, vRA7 Event Broker integration is a big change from previous version of vRA – we no longer receive the same objects that used to be passed from vCAC/vRA to vCO. Instead we receive the mysterious “payload” – a properties object.

I wanted to create a workflow that I could enable to log all of the keys, values and types of the properties object for each stage of the vRA7 MachineProvisioning workflows, and create a reference for myself on the payload for each stage.

To do this I created a new workflow “debugProperties” and added an input variable called “payload”, type Properties. Next I added a single scriptable task and cycled through the properties. Some of the properties’ values are actually other properties objects, so there’s a function to test the type and iterate through if required.

You can download the debugProperties workflow here. (more…)

vRealize Automation 7 XaaS blueprint form displays: Failed to retrieve form from provider

| 16/03/2016 | Tags: , , , ,

vRAI ran into this issue as described in VMware KB2140539 where requesting an XaaS (vRealize Orchestrator) blueprint fails with:

Failed to retrieve form from provider

The KB describes it occuring when “more than one VMware vRealize Orchestrator instance is configured for different tenants“. The issue I faced is not the same – in my case, I had the system default tenant configured to use the embedded vRO, and the customer tenant configured to use the system default (which would be the embedded vRO!)


The article itself does not give a work-around for this issue, but it’s possible to resolve it by editing the customer tenant Orchestrator Server configuration (Administration > vRO Configuration > Server Configuration) to use the external load balanced URL for the appliances (or for a PoC/small deploy with a single appliance, the appliance URL).


vRealize Automation 7 Custom Hostname with Event Broker (EB) Subscription

| 09/03/2016 | Tags: , , , , , ,

vRAThe new Event Broker service in vRA7 is one of the most exciting features of this latest release, the possibilities for extensibility are huge. At this point it time you can still use the old method of using workflow stubs to customise machine lifecycle events, but at some point in the future this will be deprecated and the Event Broker will be the only way to extend.

With this in mind, I wanted to use the Event Broker to do something that I am asked on almost every customer engagement – custom hostnames beyond what the Machine Prefixes mechanism can do.

This, as it turns out, Event Broker extensibility is not the simplest to get your head around – there is a very large (>100 page) extensibility document to parse!

For the purposes of this post, I will be using the BuildingMachine lifecycle state. This is because I want to modify the hostname before the VM is built – in much the same way as you would with the old ExternalWFStubs.BuildingMachine method.

One of the key differences between using the old WFStubs method and the new EB method is that it does not pass the same objects, there is no vCAC:Entity or vCAC:VirtualMachine – only a Properties object which holds the request properties. These include any custom properties from the blueprint. (more…)

MindMap: vRealize Automation Roles

I use mind maps quite a lot for study, I find the visual representation of info makes it a lot easier for me to remember! Below is a mind map I created for learning the roles in vRealize Automation, which I used during my presentation for #vBrownBag on VCP6-CMA objective 2.

You can download a PDF version here: vRealize Automation Roles Mind Map


#VMworld2015: vRealize Automation 7 Briefing Notes

vmworld2015-logoI was fortunate to attend a vExpert briefing for vRA.Next, which was announced this morning to be vRealize Automation 7. The briefing was run by Jad El-Zein (@virtualjad) along with Grant Orchard (@grantorchard), Brian Graf (@vbriangraf), Kimberly Delgado (@KCDAutomate) and Jon Schulman (@vaficionado) – if that list of names doesn’t fill you with confidence for vRA.Next, then I suggest you follow them on twitter and trust me that it’s a crack team!


Building a vRealize Automation NSX Lab on Ravello

imageAs a vExpert, I am blessed to get 1000 CPU hours access to Ravello’s awesome platform and recently I’ve been playing with the AutoLab deployments tailored for Ravello.

If you’re unfamiliar with Ravello’s offering (where have you been?!) then it’s basically a custom hypervisor (HVX) running on either AWS or Google Cloud that allows you to run nested environments on those platforms. I did say it’s awesome.

As an avid home-lab enthusiast Ravello initially felt weird, but having used it for a while I can definitely see the potential to augment, and in some cases completely replace the home lab. I spent some time going through Nigel Poulton’s AWS course on Pluralsight to get a better understanding of the AWS platform and I think that helped, but it’s definitely not required to get started on Ravello.

One more thing to add before I start the setup – even if I didn’t have 1000 hours free, the pricing model means that you could run your lab on Ravello for a fraction of the cost of a higher spec home lab. It’s definitely an option to consider unless you’re running your lab 24/7.


Missing actions in vRealize Automation

| 21/09/2015 | Tags: , , , ,

vRARecently the team I am working with came across an interesting bug/issue with actions missing from deployed VMs. We had checked and double checked the entitlements yet the actions that should be available to the end-user/customer were not listed.

Everything appeared to point to a permissions issue until one of the team members noticed something with regards to blueprints in the catalog.

Before I continue with what we observed and how we “fixed” it please bear in mind the blueprints were created programmatically. (Automating vRA IaaS Blueprint creation with vRO)


Deploying fully distributed vRealize Automation instance – Configuring NetScaler Monitors

vRAWith a fully distributed vRealize Automation instance one of the critical components to maintaining uptime is determining whether any particular service is “up”. Out-of-the-box monitors allow us to detect if the port we are load balancing is open, but don’t determine whether the service on that port is functioning correctly.

Important: None of these monitors should be created until vRealize has been fully installed – doing these as you go along will result in installation failures. For example, if you create the monitor on the IaaS web service before the DEM roles are installed, the web service will always be down because it’s waiting for a DEM role.

Creating a NetScaler Monitor

To create the monitor open the NetScaler configuration page and open Traffic Management, Load Balancing then Monitors. Select the “https-evc” monitor and click “Add” – this pre-loads the settings from this monitor, which populates most of the settings we need.

image (more…)

Deploying fully distributed vRealize Automation IaaS components – Part 2: Database, Web and Manager services

vRANow that the prerequisites for the IaaS layer have been completed, it’s time to move on to the actual installation of the IaaS components, starting with the database. We then move onto the first Web server, which also imports the ModelManagerData configuration to the database, populating the database with all of the info the IaaS layer needs out of the box. We then install the second Web server before moving on to the active Manager server. The second Manager server is passive and the service should be disabled – I’ll cover installing DEM Orchestrators, Workers and the vSphere Agents in the next article. (more…)