TheSaffaGeek

My ramblings about all things technical


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vRA Enterprise Level Distributed Installation

Recently I was fortunate enough to design and build an enterprise level distributed installation of the vRealize Automation suite of products and integrate it into an enterprise environment. I’ve done several vRA/vCAC deployments before but each time I do a new deployment I like to collate information, read all the latest articles and make sure what worked in the past for me hasn’t changed or more likely has been enhanced so I can provide an even better deployment.

For those unsure of what an enterprise distributed deployment comprises of I have added a logical diagram below (click on the picture to expand it as it is fairly large)

 

vRA Logical

 

For my current deployment it was based on vRealize Automation 6.1 due to it being part of an EMC Hybrid Cloud deployment but the architecture and layout are exactly the same for 6.2. (note this is defined after collecting customer requirements based on amount of workloads, NSX load balancing and the requirement of application services so make sure you have reasons for design decisions)

Resources

For the resources I used, some are ones I used in the past to learn how to do an enterprise deployment and some are ones I re-read prior to this deployment. I have listed them below to save me looking for them again but also to maybe help other people:

 NB: Make sure when importing the certificate into the appliances remember to remove the bag attributes at the beginning of the PEM file and start from —BEGIN CERTIFICATE—– until ——–END CERTIFICATE————-

NOTE: VMware no longer recommend using an external postgres database. The 6.2 documentation has been updated to reflect this.

Troubleshooting

Along the way I hit a few errors and spent a fair bit of time with VMware support also on a few of them. The main ones are listed below:

If you are unsure about any of the portions mentioned or want to know more, you can ask VMware Professional Services for whom I did this design and deployment or Xtravirt who are a VMware partner, to come in and help you with the design/configuration of your environment.

Also let me know if you think I missed something or if it helped you.

Gregg

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vRA 6.1 Entitlement Actions Missing

A quick posting around a problem I was experiencing at my current customer where if we went into entitlements, chose a service and tried to add an entitled action, the list was missing a number of actions and seemed as if it had only installed actions up to D.

 

To fix the problem all that the needed to be done was to open command prompt as an administrator on the machine your Model Manager Data service is installed on (for mine this was the IaaS Web servers) and to run the following commands:

 

cd C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\vCAC\Server\Model Manager Data\Cafe

 

Vcac-Config.exe registercatalogtypes –v

 

The command will run and once completed successfully will say “Command succeeded”

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Now all your entitled actions should be there for allocation.


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vRealize Automation 6.x Resources

Seeing as my vCAC 6.0 Resources page gained quite a fair amount of traffic and after several requests from people for me to update that list to include 6.1 resources I thought I would create a new posting to cover the new naming and for future releases.

Product Landing Page:

Release Notes and Product Documentation:

Compatibility Matrix:

Installation and configuration blogs:

Jonathan Frappier has done a brilliant series all about the installation in a sixteen part series

Grant Orchard is just a guru around all things vRA, there are too many blog postings to mention so I have opted to rather just point to his own sections.

Reference Architecture Guide:

Distributed Installation

Sam McGeown has done a series around the distributed installation of vCAC 6.0. The method is exactly the same for version 6.1

Preetam Zare has also done postings based on a distributed installation in a two part series.

VMware have also created a deployment guide for VMware vCenter SSO 5.5 with vRealize 6.1

VMware have also created a installation guide for configuring vRealize 6.1 with an F5 load balancer for high availability

Training

Automation of the Installation

Day 2 Automation

Jonathan Medd as created a brilliant series of postings around vCAC tenant creation

Top orchestration blogs

vRealize extensibility is heavily reliant on the usage of vRealize Orchestrator so the below blogs are great sources on how to learn and use vRO to enable this extensibility.

Orchestrator Videos

VMware Hands On Labs

Videos:

VMwareTV have posted 30 videos covering vRealize features http://www.youtube.com/user/vmwaretv?feature=watch


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What’s New in vRealize Automation 6.2

Today at VMworld Europe, VMware are going to announce vRealize Automation 6.2 which is the renamed vCloud Automation Center solution but obviously the next version which is due to be available in Q4 this year. It does seem like there is a new version every six months of the solution as vCAC 6.1 was only GA 6 weeks ago which added a whole host of new features.

Below is an overview of what is being added in the vRealize Automation 6.2 product, fortunately there isn’t a change to the architecture so for those who have recently deployed vCAC 6.1 to customer like I have recently you don’t have to stress about doing the upgrade like it was between previous versions.

Upgrade and Migrate to vCAC 6.1

Release 6.0.1.1 to release 6.1

  • 6.0 must first be upgraded to 6.0.1.1
  • In-place upgrade from 6.0.1.1 to 6.1
  • Application Services (AppD) requires side-by side migration

Release 5.2.1 to release 6.1

  • Older versions must be first upgrade to 5.2.1
  • 6.1 will be installed side by side with 5.2.1
  • A migration utility will move data from 5.2.1 to new 6.1 deployment
  • Will require some system down time
  • Does not include AppD

vRealize Automation 6.2 Summary

Enhanced integration between vRealize Operations and Automation

  • Health status displays
  • Reclaims inactive VMs

Admin Friendly CLI

  • Simplify scripting of vRealize Automation commands

Enhanced Endpoint Support

  • vSphere 6 (Q1-15)
  • XenDesktop 7
  • Enhancements to vCloud Air

Proxy Support

  • Pay as you go support (Q1-2015)
  • OpenStack (Havana)

vRealize Automation 6.2 In-Depth

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CloudClient

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CloudClient Overview

  • Command-line utility that provides verb-based access with a unified interface across the vCAC APIs (including IaaS, Applications, vCO)
  • Focused on providing an easy-to-use command-line interface for the IT administrator where scripting and CLI use is more feasible than direct API calls
  • Stable interface while underlying APIs may change over time
  • Provides common security; exception handling; JSON, CSV and tabular formatting; file export; auto login for scripting (password and keyfiles); and auto-generated documentation.
  • Available as a separate Download in Early Q4 (supports 6.1)

Make sure you  watch the live VMworld keynote to learn more.


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What’s New In vCloud Automation Center 6.1

Not long after VMworld Europe vCAC 6.1 was released. For the past year I have been very fortunate to have been on some very large vCAC projects as an extension of VMware PSO and have seen the product change dramatically. there have certainly been some challenges but I’m super excited about vCAC 6.1 and from the experience I have gained of it so far it is looking very solid and now can work seemlessly with vCO along with a number of other great new feaures. So below is an overview of what is new in vCAC  6.1.

vCAC Extension

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Interested in Developing a VCO Plugin?
Free Access to the vCO Plug-in SDK

  • The SDK has samples and documentation to facilitate development
  • http://communities.vmware.com/community/vmtn/developer/forums/orchestrator
  • Additional Resources

    Distribution on VMware Solutions Exchange
    – Contact: Meenakshi Nagarajan
    mnagarajan@vmware.com for additional info

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    Automating Application and Infrastructure Services

    Simplifying the deployment and management of single machines and complex multi-tired applications.

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    User Experience

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    VCAP-CID Objective 1.4 – Determine Availability Requirements for a Conceptual Design

    Knowledge

    Identify availability options for management components.

    • Availability can achieved within the vCloud architecture in a number of different ways and via differing methods. I’m going to break them up into different categories and i’m not going to cover each one but if you understand the different methods I think when you are reading the vCAT or any other kind of design book you’ll be able to identify them with ease.
      • Redundancy: This is simply creating multiple instances of an important service to ensure that if one or more fail that the solution isn’t impacted by this. There are multiple examples of this but the most simple but one of the most important in my opinion is the creation and usage of multiple vCloud cells to ensure load balancing but more importantly redundancy in the event of a loss of a vCloud cell. You can also cover this further down the stack with Heartbeat in the vSphere layer(even though this has now been made end of life) ,multiple network cards from the physical networking and multiple redundant switches to multiple redundant storage processors.
      • Disaster Recovery/Failover: This is covered in a whole section in the vCAT which goes over methods of utilising products like SRM to configure disaster recovery of the management layer. For conceptual this is more about knowing what is and isn’t possible but also taking the availability requirements of the customer from a business impact analysis where it is deemed the amount of money a customer is willing to lose due to downtime and then equate this to a number of nines. The table below gives an example of the number of times compared to amount of downtime and with the larger the number of nines this will then mean more expensive solutions which you will need to advise your customer about (99.9 can be met by HA for example but 99.99 will require heartbeat and synchronise replication with QoS). For conceptual you don’t cover specific products but knowing that you will need a DR site with fast links between will cover this for example.

    HA

    Differentiate between management components and resource components.

    • This is simply determining what should be part of your management cluster and what should be part of your resource cluster. I think this is really straight forward as anything in your management cluster is used to provide services to you the vCloud administrator and the resource cluster/s are for your customers to provision to and is the pools of resources you configure as your provider virtual datacentres. The below image is a great example of a conceptual diagram of the management and resource clusters.

    conceptual

    Skills and Abilities

    Explain compatibility of various vSphere high availability features with a vCloud design.

    • This is covered perfectly in appendix A of the vCAT Architecting a VMware vCloud pdf so I don’t see the need to explain it here and i think it is better if you go through that instead. The link to the online documentation centre is here 

    Given customer requirements and constraints, determine appropriate customer Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for the conceptual design.

    • This is covered in more depth within objective 1.6 so we will cover this in that section.

    Determine how given SLAs impact availability design decisions.

    • This is covered in more depth within objective 1.6 so we will cover this in that section.

    Given customer requirements and constraints, determine how to achieve desired availability.

    • From the design workshops and requirements collecting you will have worked out what the customers requirements and constraints are and will then have to work with these to try meet them all. For this it is their availability requirements which will be as I mentioned above their permitted amount of downtime per year along with their RPO’s ,RTO’s , MTD’s and WRT’s. From this you will have to work with their constraints to design a solution that meets their requirements so for example if they have an RPO of 5 minutes for critical systems within the management cluster in the event of a site failure this cannot be achieved via SRM with vSphere replication. For the conceptual design my example isn’t applicable but knowing this kind of limitation will then mean you know conceptually what needs to be created (multiple sites with fast links that have near zero latency for multiple data service providers and storage that can achieve this)

    Given customer requirements and VMware technologies, determine availability impact to the conceptual design.

    • I feel this is largely what i have mentioned above but now you are including VMware technologies limitations/capabilities into your thinking which I actually did above. You will need to know what is and isn’t possible with HA for example and how it’s can only provide a certain level of availability and is limited by the amount of restarts it can achieve at once whilst being possibly limited by priority groups.

    If you feel I have covered something incorrectly please let me know as I’m learning like everyone else and I certainly don’t claim to be perfect (near it but not perfect Winking smile ). Also the vBrownbag covered the whole of objective 1 here.

    Gregg


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    vCAC System Exception Error

    A colleague of mine at Xtravirt, Richard Renardson was experiencing an ambiguous “System Exception” error on the requests page in the vCAC 6.0.1 portal at a very high profile customer. Upon checking the server side log it was showing an error stating that “cat_request”  does not exist. We tried a few things and looked through quite a few VMware KB articles but were unable to find anything that matched our problem.

    After some troubleshooting we were able to determine what the problem was and a fix so he graciously allowed me to blog it to hopefully save someone else the time especially with vCAC becoming so popular recently. The problem seems to happen when an external database has been configured and the hstore extension is missing/has not been created and this extension is required by vCAC for the creation of tables. What we had to do in the end is to create the hstore extension in the vCAC database. The steps we followed to create the hstore extension was to :

    1. Log in to the external DB using the pgAdmin tool.
    2. Within the pgAdmin console we had to run this SQL statement to connect to the vCAC DB:
      1. \connect "YOURDBNAME";
    3. Within the pgAdmin tool we needed to create the hstore extension by running the following statement:
      1. create extension hstore;
    4. Now you just need to restart the vCAC Appliance.
    5. After a bit of a wait for it to restart fully the problem was fixed Smile

    Hopefully this saves someone the time we spent on the problem

    Gregg