Adding a Network Selection Drop-Down in vRA 7

Ever since the early days of vCAC, customers have needed the ability to provide a variety of additional control options to vRealize Automation’s self-service consumer. I’m specifically referring to inputs and selection options that are made available to the consumer during request time. Some of the most common examples include fields for plain text input, drop-down menus, checkboxes, value lists, and text descriptors. The input or selection can be basic information or used for downstream processing during machine provisioning.

Custom Properties

There are hundreds (thousands?) of use cases and unique requirements that make it just about impossible for VMware to deliver every option as an out of the box. function. Instead, vRealize Automation (vRA) leverages Custom Properties to provide a quick-n-easy way to control many aspects of machine provisioning. Custom properties can be used across much of vRA’s configuration constructs, including Blueprints, Business Groups, Compute Resources, Reservations, and Endpoints (in that order of precedence). Custom properties are a core component of vRA’s massive extensibility engine and are often used in collaboration with the Property Dictionary, Property Groups, vRealize Orchestrator (via workflow stubs), and the new Event Broker. If you’re unfamiliar with custom properties and these concepts, be sure to read the documentation.…

Using VSAN Storage Policies in vCloud Automation Center

VMware vCloud Automation Center is the center piece of VMware’s Software-Defined Enterprise vision. It is also the primary user and admin interface for enterprise and application services, and therefore it makes a lot of sense for vCAC to be the core integration point for the SDDC.

Rawlinson Rivera (@PunchingClouds) recently posted a blog post titled “VMware Virtual SAN Interoperability: vCloud Automation Center“, where he highlights the use of vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) 6.0 to deploy applications directly to a VSAN Datastore while also leveraging a VM Storage Policy. In short, the desired storage policy is applied to the template backing the vCAC Blueprint. Once provisioned, the resulting machine adopts the associated storage policy and the rest is glorious, app-centric VSAN storage consumption. I recommend reviewing that post to get a better idea of what we’re doing here.

So now that we have a basic understanding of the interoperability between vCAC and VSAN, let’s dive into some more advanced concepts for a glimpse into the art of the possible by expanding on Rawlinson’s example and using some of vCAC’s extensibility features to deliver greater functionality.The integration between vCAC and VSAN can greatly enhance how applications are provisioned.  Since storage policies can be configured per-application or VM, you can specify varying policies based on the use case, tier, application criticality, SLA, etc…all backed by a common VSAN Datastore.…

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.…