vCloud Automation Center 6.0 POC and Detailed Implementation Guide

In keeping up with my extracurricular doc-building activities, I am happy to release the latest iteration of my vCAC implementation guide for the deployment and configuration of vCAC 6.0. This unofficial Proof of Concept and Detailed Implementation guide is provided, with no guarantees (or support), to assist with the end-to-end implementation of vCloud Automation Center 6.0 in a pre-configured vSphere 5.x environment.

The guide walks through – in plenty of detail – vCAC 6.0’s deployment, concepts, technologies, and features as they would be used in a real-world implementation. This document can also double as an unofficial hands-on training guide which covers:

– New Features in vCAC 6.0
– Deployment Architecture
– Implementation on VMware platforms (vSphere)
– IaaS and XaaS Configuration
– Usage and Navigation
– Advanced Concepts and Use Cases…

vCAC 6.0 Implementation, Part 4 – Configuring vCAC IaaS Component

To continue the momentum, now we dive into installing the IaaS components of vCAC.  Part 4 of this series walks you through the vCAC IaaS Installation Wizard, which is a significant improvement from previous versions. A few configuration details and GO!

Again, the IaaS engine in vCAC 6 is the .NET-based component that is similar to previous versions of vCAC 5.x. For vCAC 6.0, IaaS is consumed through vCAC’s primary framework.  From VMware’s vCAC 6.0 Documentation:

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) enables the rapid modeling and provisioning of servers and desktops across virtual and physical, private and public, or hybrid cloud infrastructure. Modeling is accomplished by creating a machine blueprint, which is a complete specification for a virtual, cloud, or physical machine. Blueprints are published as catalog items in the common service catalog. When a user requests a machine based on one of these blueprints, IaaS handles the provisioning of the machine.
IaaS also allows you to comprehensively manage the machine life cycle from a user request and administrative approval through decommissioning and resource reclamation. Built-in configuration and extensibility features also make IaaS a highly flexible means of customizing machine configurations and integrating machine provisioning and management with other enterprise-critical systems such as load balancers, configuration management databases (CMDBs), ticketing systems, IP Address management systems, or Domain Name System (DNS) servers.

vCAC 6.0 Implementation, Part 3 – Configuring vCAC IaaS Prereqs

Moving right along (and behind schedule), Part 3 of this series will walk through the configuration of all the prerequisite requirements for the Windows-based IaaS component.

The IaaS engine is a .NET-based component that resembles (an uncanny resemblance) previous versions of vCAC 5.x. For vCAC 6.0, IaaS is consumed through vCAC’s primary framework (deployed via the vCAC Virtual Appliance) once it is installed and registered. The prerequisites for IaaS are identical to previous vCAC versions, which I’ve covered in detail in the vCAC 5.2 Detailed Installation Guide.

Review: VMware’s vCloud Automation Center 6.0 solution is made up of 3 core components:

  • vCAC VA – Delivered as a Virtual Appliance (.OVA), vCAC’s primary interface for administration and user self-service. Also includes an imbedded vCO server.
  • vCAC ID – Delivered as a Virtual Appliance (.OVA), vCAC’s stand-alone Single Sign-On engine, which provides multi-tenant LDAP and Active Directory authentication services for vCAC tenants.
  • vCAC IaaS – Windows Installable (.exe), vCAC’s IaaS engine for heterogeneous infrastructure as a service — setup is covered in Part 3 and 4 in the series

NOTE: this video guide was created using vCAC BETA builds and some of the steps will differ from the generally-available builds.  I will try to update all the videos pre-GA.…

VMware vCloud Automation Center 5.2 Detailed Installation Guide

VMware announced the release of vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) 5.2 in April, a dot-release follow on to vCAC 5.1.  This release shipped with it several improvements, bug fixes, tighter vCloud Director integration, and so on.  Some of the highlights include, but not limited to:

  • Deeper integrations with vCloud Director – vCAC 5.1 added basic support for consuming vCD as an Endpoint to enable vApp deployments into VDC’s. Although functional, the options were limited, especially with “day 2” management of vApps. vCAC 5.2 adds greater functionality, deployment options, support for all three VDC allocation models (PAYG, Allocation Pool, Reservation Pool), and the ability to manage individual machine within the vApp independently…a much needed addition.
  • Added support for vCloud Networking & Security (vCNS) use cases – vCNS integration brings with it the ability to discover vCNS network entities, such as VXLAN and security groups. This enables the consumption of these networks as part of an application deployment model for greater control and security.
  • Support for KVM (RHEV) Hypervisor – Adding native support for KVM as a platform continues vCAC’s trend towards the “manage all infrastructures” model and adds to vCAC’s already extensive native (“out of the box”) support for heterogeneous infrastructure…with much more to come.

vCAC Property Dictionary: Customize Service Requests with Dynamic Menus

//Update// – this procedure works with vCAC 6.2 (not in 6.1). The UI will look different, but same concepts apply. The property dictionary in vCAC 6 is located at Infrastructure (tab) –> Blueprints…

In a previous post I discussed the benefits of utilizing vCloud Automation Center’s Property Dictionary to add input options during the application request process. This is one of the quickest ways to add some flare (and serious functionality) to the application request and allows users to have a little more granularity in the service selection process. The Property Dictionary – and custom properties in general – also help drive down the number of Blueprints thanks to the logic that can be baked right into the process.

Let’s review (from previous post)
In addition to creating a custom property, which can trigger external actions (workflows), you can create property definitions that utilize vCAC’s built-in reserved custom properties, which can be used take a user’s input and apply it to an existing custom property – think of it as an answer file of sorts. For example, a drop-down list that presents the networks available to a given Provisioning Group and allowing users to select a preferred network. The property dictionary can also be used to build relationships between parent and child definitions to provide a more dynamic and nested functionality – the user selects a location (“Datacenter A”, parent) and, based on that selection, only appropriate networks (“NetA”, “NetB”, “NetC”, children) dynamically become available.

Use vCloud Automation Center’s Property Dictionary to Customize ServiceRequests

As I’ve alluded to on more than one occasion, VMware’s vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) is more than just a cloud portal. It is a solution designed to take defined business policy and requirements and apply them to the underlying IT systems, providing a governance model that delivers infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) with business agility in mind. Once defined, those policies are applied to vCAC’s individual policy definitions to build a “mesh policy” that provide the governance and controls for self-service, automation, and lifecycle management. The result is a finely-tuned service deployment model that defines the applications (blueprints), where they can be deployed, who can deploy them, and under which circumstances they are (or aren’t) allowed to be deployed. More than just a cloud portal.
vCAC 5.1 provides a ton of this capability “out of the box”, but the solution can also add a tremendous amount of additional capability using built-in control concepts, custom properties, and native integration with external tools such as PowerShell, vCenter Orchestrator (vCO), and others. The possibilities are immense. Those of you who are familiar with vCO will immediately realize the power of that last statement. If you’re not familiar with vCO you should stop reading this, download/deploy the vCO appliance, and make it your best friend…then come back and finish reading.…

VMware vCloud Automation Center 5.1 Detailed Installation Guide

VMware’s cloud strategy and vision of delivering an technology and business agility through IT transformation took a significant leap forward with the acquisition of DynamicOps in mid-2012. The following several months were crunch-time for R&D as DynamicOps Automation Center evolved into vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) 5.1. Available as an a la carte product or as part of the vCloud Suite (Enterprise), vCAC 5.1 completes a comprehensive cloud solution that delivers Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and VMware’s vision of a Software-Defined Datacenter (SDDC).

More than just the cloud’s portal, vCloud Automation Center is a top-of-stack technology that delivers self-service, application lifecycle, governance, and policy-driven controls across hybrid clouds and heterogeneous infrastructures (virtual + physical!). It is how consumers interface with your cloud. In addition to native integration with vSphere, Hyper-V, XEN, and Amazon EC2 environments, vCAC 5.1 added native integration with vCenter Orchestrator and vCloud Director…and MUCH more to come this year. Integration with vCenter Orchestrator means that any vCO workflow can be called from vCAC’s own orchestration engine in a pre-, active-, and post-provisioning task, which opens up a tremendous amount of possibilities. Go ahead, think about that a bit. As key components of the vCloud Enterprise Suite, vCAC drives business automation, while vCloud Director (vCD) delivers multi-tenancy, dynamic networking, and the cloud abstraction layer, and vCO focuses on IT orchestration and integration.…