Monday, April 6, 2015

vRA Live!, Session 2 - Extensibility

As a much overdue follow-up to vRA Live! - Install and Configure, I will be hosting the next session on April 17th @ 1:00PM EST.  vRA Live! - Extensibility will focus on extending vRealize Automation through vRA's extensibility tools.

Extensibility is used to unlock the power of vRA's integration and automation of the cloud ecosystem, deliver custom services, and help bridge the gap between what is available "out of the box" vs. the reality that is an enterprise's high-customized and often complex environment. While vRA can deliver basic IaaS services with relatively little effort, the real value for enterprises and those leveraging vRA for managing a software-defined datacenter is delivered by the ability for it to integrate, automate, and orchestrate the surrounding environment.

In vRA's case, extensibility is made possible by leveraging a variety of native and external tools to accomplish the task at hand. These include Custom Properties, the Property Dictionary, vRealize Orchestrator (vRO), and - my favorite - the Advanced Service Designer (ASD).

This vRA Live! session will dive into the power of extensibility using these tools and will cover the implementation of a variety of popular use cases, implementation methodologies, and best practices. Best of all, I have invited another rockstar experts panel to share their thoughts and help respond to audience questions.

**In true #vralive fashion, this will be a live how-to, not a death by powerpoint session!!**

  • Welcome and Panel Introductions
  • vRA Extensibility Overview
  • Using Custom Properties
  • Property Dictionary
  • vRO’s Role in Extensibility
  • Advanced Service Designer
  • Day 1 vs. Day 2 Operations
  • Open Panel Discussion
  • Closing

Experts Panel:


Q: Will this session be recorded?
A: Yes, i will publicly share the recording afterwards with all who register.

Q: I'm kind of a big deal on Twitter, should I be tweeting about this event?
A: Hell yes, tag with #vralive

Q: Is this a VMware-sponsored or otherwise "official" event?
A: NO, this is all about community enablement.

Q: How long will this take?
A: I'm blocking 3hrs...but will go over/under as needed.

Q: The survey asks for my email address, but i'm too private to share. Options?
A: The WebEx password will be shared with you over email. Plus it's the one level of validation i'm using...not for spamming.

Q: I plan on joining the call for the sake of complaining, heckling the speakers, or otherwise driving my own agenda. Is that okay?
A: No tolerance for unproductive will be immediately dropped.

Q: I'm currently evaluating vRA and have several questions regarding extensibility. Can i use this forum to share?
A: Absolutely, we will reserve plenty of time for Q&A.

Q: How do I sign up?
A: Click to complete a short survey


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

vRealize Automation End-to-End Install in 4 Minutes

I have installed VMware vRealize Automation MANY times...

I've done it in private, I've done it in public, I have installed vRA for many a POC, I've installed vRA for training and enablement. I've done it remotely, I've done it locally.

I've installed vRA from a United club lounge, I've installed vRA from a Horizon desktop while crossing the country at 44,000 ft.

I've done small and isolated installs, I've done highly-available and distributed installs.

I've written about the implementation in detailed implementation guides, I've hosted live and very public implementations of vRA from scratch and dared other vendors to do the same in the name of "time to value".

I blog and tweet all the action.

I've collected a lot of data, gained a ton of experience, and taken several hundred screenshots and many hours of video. During #vralive back in December, I delivered an end-to-end (non-distributed) implementation of vRA in a single 4.5hr sitting. And to be fair, about an hour of that was dialog. One result of that was a 4.5 hr recording of the entire session, which has been chopped up into sections and posted right here for your viewing pleasure.

So now I wanted to have a little fun. And here it is: An end-to-end installation (including publishing and delivering catalog services) with vRealize Automation 6.2 in four (4) minutes!


DISCLAIMER: No, i am not suggesting an end-to-end, highly-available, distributed, and production-worthy install will take 4 hours to pull off! But, what I am suggesting is vRA does deliver a value proposition that is unmatched by any other.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Installing the vROps Management Pack for vRealize Automation

Following the general availability of vRealize Operations (vROps) 6.0 and vRealize Automation (vRA) 6.2, VMware has released several integration and management packs that bring the solutions together to help streamline management between consumption and operations. These management packs connect external sources and "solutions" into vROps to provide a more holistic view of the ecosystem. vROps has provided this capability for a small set external sources for quite some time, but not until vROps 6 has that included more of VMware's own cloud management solutions. Considering the number of VMware customers that purchase these products together (e.g. vCloud Suite or vRealize Suite), these integrations add a ton of overall value. One great example is the vROps Management Pack for vRealize Automation.

This Management Pack provides cloud and infrastructure administrators Tenant-level visibility into vRA with 3 out-of-the-box dashboards and inventory lists. For anyone running both of these solutions, this means you now have the tools and data needed to stay ahead of a growing cloud infrastructure, better maintain SLA's per-Tenant, and have more more operational insight than ever before.

Installing Management Packs in vROps is fairly straight forward -- download the pack (.pak) from VMware's Solution Exchange, upload it into vROps, provide configuration parameters, and be on your way to management euphoria!  

Wouldn't it be nice if it were that easy?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

vRealize Automation 6.2 Install and Config (Live!) Videos

Earlier this month I hosted "vRA 6.2 Install and Config Live!", an open-invite social event dubbed "vRA Live" (#vralive). To my surprise, I had 185 RSVP's with more than 100 people -- VMware partners, customers, and several of my peers -- attending the 4 1/2+ hour online session. Although I tried to focus on the fundamentals of deploying vRA and associated services, the online Q&A and dialog provided by the experts panel added several examples, lesson's learned, and plenty of colorful commentary. I couldn't be more pleased with the turnout and hope to get the next session(s) queued up very soon!

Speaking of the experts panel, I'd like to thank them for all they've done to help! These rockstars provided a ton of commentary and responded to more than 150 questions posted by attendees (the Q&A is being trimmed up and will be posted soon)...
(...follow these people if you don't already!!)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

NSX Uncovered - Part 2, Solution Overview

Note: this is the much-overdue "Part 2" of my NSX info series (Part 1 can be found here)...

Network virtualization is by no means a new concept for VMware. Think about it for a moment — wherever vSphere (or any other VMware T1 or T2 hypervisor) has been implemented, a virtual switch exists and connects guest VMs to the physical world. That’s more than 500,000 customers globally, millions of vSphere hosts, and many more millions of virtual network ports backed by a standard (vSwitch) or distributed virtual switch (dvSwitch). In fact, if you count the network ports provisioned by vSphere and logically assigned to VM nics, one can argue that VMware is one of the top datalink providers on earth. Okay, perhaps that’s a stretch, but you get my point! VMware virtual networks have existed just about as long as VMware itself. And since the very beginning, there has been no shortage of innovation. The vSwitch has evolved in many ways, leading to new technologies, increased scope and scale, distributed architectures, open protocol support, ecosystem integration, and massive adoption. Over the years VMware has continued to introduce new networking technologies through organic maturity and strategic acquisition — ESXi platform security, dvSwitch (and associated services), vShield, vCloud Networking and Security (vCNS), etc. — and leveraged 3rd party integration into partner solutions, such as Cisco’s Nexus 1000v (a solution brought to market by tight collaboration between VMware and Cisco). The bottom line is VMware is no novice when it comes to networking, so it should have been no surprise when it’s ambitions to continue to evolve in this realm became evident.

And then Nicira happened...

Friday, December 12, 2014

VMware vRA 6.2 Install & Configure Live Event!

** Update 12/31/14: Videos have been posted!

* Update 12/20/14: Event Agenda Published...

Thanks to all who have shown interest in this event.  I was expecting 50 RSVP's...currently at 128!  That just about guarantees this will be a fun (and informative) event.  I have put together the following agenda based on feedback from the sign up survey.

The primary objective is to install, configure, and demonstrate vRA 6.2 from scratch.  For this, I will follow the install and configure workflow I previously covered in my vCAC 6.0 POC and Detailed Implementation Guide.  Although vRA 6.2 provides additional capabilities and a more streamlined installation, many of the concepts are the same.

Agenda (we'll kick things off right around 2PM ET)
  • Welcome and Panel Introductions
  • vRA 6.2 "What's New" Review
  • vRA Architecture Overview (POC vs. HA/Distributed)
  • Prerequisites Review (1)
  • Deploy & Configure Virtual Appliances (2)
  • Install & Configure IaaS Services (6)
  • Tenant Config (7)
  • Configure IaaS Services (9)
  • Configure XaaS Services (20)
  • ----------
  • vRA Extensibility with vRealize Orchestrator (formally vCO)
  • vRA Best Practices Discussion
  • ----------
  • Advanced Concepts Discussion (time permitting)
    • NSX Integration
    • 3rd Party Integration
The panel will be available for questions and commentary throughout the call.  My goal is to keep this casual, informative, and fun!

Friday, July 11, 2014

VMware vCAC IaaS Optimization Guide

Update 12/10/14: I have confirmed that the optimization tweaks highlighted in this article will not provide any added benefits to vCAC/vRA 6.1 or 6.2. This is due to the way the IaaS interface is now presented back to the user (via the vCAC appliance vs. directly to the user session). The good news is VMware dev's are hard at work at baking optimization right into the products, starting with a significant boost in the recently released vRA 6.2.

VMware's vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) can transform how an enterprise delivers IT. It's out-of-the-box functionality will help IT deliver Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) along with X-as-a-Service (XaaS / Everything-a-a-S) in a matter of clicks. Once extended into the datacenter's ecosystem with vCAC's extensibility engine, it will help integrate, orchestrate, and automate native and 3rd-party tools, services, and infrastructure, thrusting the enterprise into a new level of self-serviced IT efficiency. Whether empowering the sys admins or enabling end-users and tenants, vCAC has undoubtedly changed how enterprises deliver and manage applications and services.

With all that considered, there are always opportunities for improvement (as is the case with all software). I've had the opportunity to speak to many VMware customers, partners, and peers about the overall user experience after deploying vCAC. I get to hear how vCAC has helped improve application provisioning time from weeks to less than a day, how providing new services using the Advanced Service Designer (ASD) has paved the way for a Software-Defined Enterprise, and how relatively easy vCAC was to roll out (there's a guide for that!). When it comes to opportunities for improvement, there tends to be a common theme: improve UI response time. That's a fair request and precisely what this post is about. But before we jump in to the “how-to", I'd like to cover a little background for review (plus, I like to drag things out a bit).

vCAC High-Level Components
The vCAC we know and love today (6.0.x) has had it's own transformation since the acquisition of DynamicOps and subsequent VMware-branded releases of versions 5.1 and 5.2. In December 2013, vCAC 6.0 was released to deliver the next generation of cloud management and automation capabilities. The 6.0(.x) release was a re-platform, which converged a new SUSE-based virtual appliance (core services, primary UI, ASD, governance and approval engine, etc) with the Windows-based .net “legacy” code (IaaS engine). In the mix is an optional stand-alone Identity Manager to provide multi-tenanted SSO (or, optionally, customers can choose to use an existing vCenter 5.5b+ SSO instance).

Monday, June 16, 2014

NSX Uncovered - Part 1, Introduction

VMware's Network Virtualization Platform, NSX, is an immensely powerful technology that can transform a datacenter’s infrastructure and streamline network service delivery across the enterprise. NSX’s scope, scale, and capability will easily impress techies, CCIE’s, and IT stakeholders alike. NSX changes the topology of a traditional hardware-bound network by eliminating the dependency on all that “intelligence” baked into proprietary hardware. Instead, the logic and associated services are delivered through a software control plane. Separating the control and data planes effectively reduces the physical network to a glorified IP packet forwarder.

With that said, it is also important to understand that NSX is not a re-write of your network and the fundamental concepts it is built upon. The abstraction of the logic from the physical underpinnings is a modern approach to designing, building, and servicing network architectures, but the fundamentals — the protocols, tools, concepts, etc. — are still at play. And for that reason, i’m often baffled when I enter into a debate with a “traditional" network engineer about the ins-and-outs of physical vs. virtual networking technologies like NSX. What I quickly realize is they are not defending the concepts or technology, they are defending their skill set. It’s a fear or reluctance of straying from what they know best. Does this sound familiar? Remember the all-out fights that had to occur before server virtualization became mainstream? Back then there were always a few individuals pushing to try something new. It was these sys admins that knew there was a better way to provision and manage servers — whether one at a time or at massive scale. It was about learning knew technologies, expanding their skill set and scope, but still applying all the fundamentals. It was a new way of doing things — and everyone on that bandwagon excelled and continues to do so. There were those who waited for the top-down mandate and had to play catch-up, and the others who took the bull by the horns and became the go-to talent. It’s no surprise that server virtualization became the de-facto for x86 compute…nor should it be a surprise when network virtualization follows suite.

This is history repeating itself.