Category Archives: Stories

Using the new Microsoft Azure Endpoint in vRealize Automation 7.2

After months of planning and development, vRealize Automation 7.2 finally went GA today, and it feels so good! One of the most anticipated and spotlight features of this new release was the Endpoint for Microsoft Azure. I had the privilege of working very closely with the team who delivered this capability, and thought I would take some time to develop a brief POC type guide to help get you started using the new Microsoft Azure Endpoint in vRealize Automation 7.2

This guide will walk you through configuring a brand-new Azure subscription to support a connection from vRealize Automation, then help you set up your vRA portal and finally design and deploy a simple Blueprint. We will assume that you have already set up your Azure subscription. If not, you can get a free trial at https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/free/ – and that you have a vRealize Automation 7.2 install all ready to go. Certain steps outlined in this guide make assumptions that your vRA configuration is rather basic and is not in production. Please use them at your own risk and consider any changes you make before you make them!

Part 1: Configuring Azure

SelectSubscription
Once you have your subscription created, log in to the Azure portal and click on the Key (Subscriptions) icon  in the left-hand toolbar. These icons can be re-ordered, so keep in mind that yours may be in a different spot than mine. Note down the Subscription ID (boxed in red above) – you will need this later!

OpenDiagnosticsTenantID
Next, click on the Help icon near the upper right corner and select Show Diagnostics. This will bring up some raw data about your subscription – and here is the easiest place I’ve found to locate your Tenant ID. Simply search for “tenant” and select the field shown above. Note this ID for later as well.

Now you’ll need to create a few objects in the Azure portal to consume from vRA. One of the great capabilities the new endpoint brings is the ability to create new, on demand objects per request – but to make things a little cleaner we will create just a few ahead of time. We’ll start with a Storage Account and a Resource Group.

CreateStorageAccountAndResourceGroup
Locate the Storage Accounts icon in the sidebar – again, keeping in mind that these icons can be reordered and you may have to poke around a bit to find it. Make sure the correct Subscription is selected and click Add.

You’ll be prompted with a sliding panel (Azure does love sliding panels) where you can fill in some important details about your Storage Account. This is basically a location where your files, VHDs, tables, databases, etc will be stored. Enter a Name for the Storage Account – you’ll need to make sure to follow the rules here. Only lowercase letters, must be globally unique, etc. You can choose to change any of the options presented here, but for the purposes of this guide we will leave the defaults and move on to the Resource Group. This is a logical grouping for deployed workloads and their related devices/items – and to keep things clean, we will specify a new one now. Note the name of this Resource Group for later. You’ll also need to choose a Location for the workloads – pick whatever is convenient or geographically reasonable for you. I chose West US – make a note of this as well! Click Create.

CreateVirtualNetwork
Now, let’s create a simple Virtual Network. Locate the Virtual Network icon on the panel to the left and click it. Ensure the correct Subscription is selected and click Add.

Again, you’ll be prompted with some basic configuration. Enter a unique name for your new Virtual Network and record it for later. You can choose to modify the other options as necessary, but for this guide we will leave the defaults. It is important, however, that you select to Use Existing Resource Group and specify the group you created in the last step. You’ll also want to select the same Location as you did before. Azure will not deploy VMs (or other objects) if the Location doesn’t match logically between the various components that the object will consume. Click Create.

CreateAppRegistrationDetails
Now you need to set up an Azure Active Directory application so that vRA can authenticate. Locate the Active Directory icon on the left hand side and click it. Next, click App Registrations and select Add. The most astute readers will notice that there are certain parts of some of my screenshots deleted – sorry about that! Had to remove sensitive information.

Enter a Name for your AD App – it can be anything you like, as long as it complies with the name validation. Leave Web app/API as the Application Type. The Sign-on URL is not really important for the purposes of this configuration – you can enter really anything you want here. In this example, we are using a dummy vRA 7 URL. Click Create (not pictured above, but you should have the hang of it by now!)

SetupADAppSorry the above image is a little squashed. You can always click them for larger resolution!

Now you need to create a secret key to authenticate to the AD Application with. Click on the name of your new AD Application (in this case vRADevTest) at the left. Make sure you note down the Application ID for later. Then, select the All Settings button in the next pane. Choose Keys from the settings list.

CreateAppKey
Now, enter a Description for your new key and choose a Duration. Once you have entered those, click Save in the upper left of the blade – but note the warning! You will not ever get another chance to retrieve this value. Save the Key Value for later.

ConfigureAPIPermissions
Now, look back to the left and select the Required Permissions option for the AD App. Click Add to create a new permission.

SelectAzureSMAPI
Click Select an API and choose the Windows Azure Service Management API, then click Select

AssignSMAPIPermissions
Click the Select Permissions step at the left, then tick the box for Access Azure Service Management as organization users (preview) – then click Select. Once you do this, the Done button on the left will highlight. Click that as well.

There’s one final step in the Azure portal. Now that the AD Application has been created, you need to authorize it to connect to your Azure Subscription to deploy and manage VMs!

BackToSubscriptionsView
Click back on the Subscriptions icon (the Key) and select your new subscription. You may have to click on the text of the name to get the panel to slide over. Select the Access control (IAM) option to see the permissions to your subscription. Click Add at the top.

SelectRole1
Click Select a Role and choose Contributor from the list

SelectUsers
Click the Add Users option and search for the name of your new AD Application. When you see it in the list, tick the box and click Select, then OK in the first blade.

RolesAssigned
Repeat this process so that your new AD Application has the Owner, Contributor, and Reader roles. It should look like this when you’re done.

Part 2 – Azure CLI and Other Setup

To do the next steps, you will need the Azure CLI tools installed. These are freely available from Microsoft for both Windows and Mac. I won’t go into great detail on how to download and install a client application here – but you can get all the info you need at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/xplat-cli-install. For the purposes of this guide, please remember that I use a Mac.

AzureLoginStep1
Once you have the Azure CLI installed, you will need to authenticate to your new subscription. Open a Terminal window and enter ‘azure login’. You will be given a URL and a shortcode to allow you to authenticate. Open the URL in your browser and follow these instructions to authenticate your subscription.

EnterAuthCodeStep1
Enter your Auth Code and click Continue

EnterAuthCodeStep2
Select and log in to your Azure account…

AuthSuccessWeb

AuthSuccessCLI
And if all went well, you now have a success message in both your browser and the CLI. Nice work!

AzureAccountSet
If you have multiple subscriptions, as I do, you’ll need to ensure that the correct one is selected. You can do that with the ‘azure account set <subscription-name>’ command. Be sure to escape any spaces!

RegisterComputeProvider
Before you go any further, you need to register the Microsoft.Compute provider to your new Azure subscription. This only needs to be done once, which means it’s easy to forget! The command is just ‘azure provider register microsoft.compute’ – and it has timed out the first time in 100% of my test cases. So I left that Big Scary Error in the screenshot for you – don’t worry, just run it a second time and it will complete.

AzureVMImageList
Now, let’s use the Azure CLI to retrieve an example VM image name. These will be used in the vRA Blueprints to specify which type of VM you’d like to deploy. To do this, you’ll use the ‘azure vm image list’ command. In my example, the full command was ‘azure vm image list –location “West US” –publisher canonical –offer ubuntuserver –sku 16.04.0-LTS’  – this limits the list of displayed options to only those present in my West US location, published by Canonical, of type Ubuntu Server, containing the string 16.04.0-LTS in their name.

Choose one of these images and record the URN provided for it. As an example: canonical:ubuntuserver:16.04.0-LTS:16.04.201611150

So, to recap – you have set up your Azure subscription and should have the following list of items recorded:

  • Subscription ID
  • Tenant ID
  • Storage Account Name
  • Resource Group Name
  • Location
  • Virtual Network Name
  • Client Application ID
  • Client Application Secret Key
  • VM Image URN

Now, let’s move on to actually configuring vRA!

Part 3 – Configuring vRA

This section assumes that you have already deployed vRA with the default tenant, have created your basic users and permissions, and have at least one business group ready. This basic level of vRA setup is outside the scope of this guide.

AdministrationTab
Once you are logged in as an Infrastructure/IaaS administrator, proceed to the Administration tab and select vRO Configuration from the menu at the left (not pictured.) Then, choose Endpoints and select New to set up a new endpoint.

The Azure endpoint is not configured from the traditional Infrastructure tab location because it is not managed by the IaaS engine of vRA – it is presented via vRO and XaaS.

SelectAzureType
Select the Azure plug-in type and click Next

AzureEndpointName
Enter a Name for your Endpoint and click Next again

EnterAzureSubscriptionDetails
Now the fun part! Remember all that info you copied down earlier? Time to use it! Fill in the Connection Settings with the details from the subscription configuration you did earlier. You won’t need to change the Azure Services URI or the Login URL, and the Proxy Host/Port are optional unless you know you need one.

Click Finish and the connection should be created!

FabricGroups
Next, navigate to the Infrastructure tab and select Endpoints (not pictured,) followed by Fabric Groups. In this example I don’t yet have a Fabric Group, so I will create one by clicking New.

NewFabricGroup
Remember a little while ago that I mentioned the Azure Endpoint is not managed by IaaS – so you won’t need to select any Compute Resources here. You just need to ensure that your user account is a Fabric Administrator to continue the rest of the configuration. If you already have this right, you may skip this step.

Now, refresh the vRA UI so that your new Fabric Administrator permissions take effect.

CreateNewReservation
Once that’s done, navigate to the Infrastructure tab and the Reservations menu. Select the New button and choose a reservation of type Azure.

NewReservationGeneral
Fill in a Name and select a Business Group and Priority for the reservation, then click on the Resources tab

NewReservationResources
Enter your Subscription ID – be sure this is the same subscription ID that was specified in your Endpoint configuration. Requiring this field allows the mapping of many reservations to many endpoints/subscriptions.

Then, add the Resource Group and Storage Account which you created earlier. This is not required, but it does save some steps when creating the Blueprint later.

Click on the Network tab.

NewReservationNetwork
Enter the name of the Virtual Network you created earlier. Also note that you can set up Load Balancers and Security Groups here. Click OK to save the reservation.

CreateMachinePrefix
Next, you’ll need a Machine Naming Prefix. Click on the <Infrastructure menu option (not pictured) and then select Administration (also not pictured) and finally Machine Prefixes. Enter a string, number of digits and next number that works for you – I used AzureDev-### starting with the number 0. Be sure to click the Green Check to save the prefix.

This prefix will be applied to any objects provisioned in a request – whether they are VMs, NICs, storage disks, etc. This helps the grouped objects to be easily located in an often busy Azure environment.

BusinessGroups
Now, click the Administration tab, followed by the Users and Groups menu (not pictured) and the Business Groups option. Select the business group that you plan to deploy with – in this example I have three to choose from and will be using Development.

ChooseBGMachinePrefix
Select your new Default Machine Prefix and click Finish.

Part 4 – Building a Blueprint

Now that the groundwork is laid, let’s build, entitle, and deploy a simple Azure blueprint!

DesignTab
Head over to the Design tab and make sure the Blueprints menu is open. It should be the default. Click New to begin designing a blueprint.

BlueprintProperties
Give your blueprint a Name and click OK

BlueprintCanvas
Ensure the Machine Types category is selected and drag an Azure Machine to the canvas. Increase the Maximum Instances to 3 – this will make your Azure machine scalable! Click the Build Information tab to proceed.

BuildInformation
Now you can begin filling out details about the machine itself. Select a Location – or one will be chosen for you from the reservation. You can also choose a Naming Prefix or allow the one you set up a moment ago to be the default. You can choose to select a Stock VM Image and paste the URN you retrieved from the Azure CLI, or you can specify a custom, user created one. Here you can also specify the Authentication options as well as the Instance Size configuration. If any of these options are left blank, they will be required at request time.

Note that when editing a field, you will see an editing dialog appear on the right of the blueprint form. This is to allow you additional flexibility in the configuration; please be sure to click ‘Apply‘ to save any changes. Also note that there are many helpful tooltips throughout the blueprint designer to help you along.

Click the Machine Resources tab to move on.

MachineResources
Here you can specify your Resource Group and Availability Set – and as before, you can fill in the one you created manually or allow vRA to create new ones for you. Remember to fill in the information on the right hand side and click Apply to save the values!

Click Storage to move to the next step.

MachineStorage
The Storage tab allows you to specify details about your machine’s storage capabilities. You can specify the Storage Account here if you choose – or it can be inherited from the Reservation. If you explore this tab, you’ll see you can also create additional data disks as well as enable/disable the boot diagnostics functionality. For this example we will just create a simple OS disk configuration.

Now, click on the Network tab.

MachineNetwork
This is where you can configure advanced networking capabilities. In this example, you won’t fill anything in and we will instead allow the Azure reservation to apply the networking properties you specified earlier. Click Finish to save your blueprint.

PublishBlueprint
Select your new blueprint and Publish it.

Now you must entitle your new blueprint. Because the steps to complete this operation can be highly dependent on the environment you’re doing it in, we will skip the details on how to create an entitlement and add this blueprint to it. Let’s move right ahead to provisioning the VM!

Part 5 – Deploying a Blueprint

I hope you’re glad you stuck with me this far! To recap, so far you have:

  • Created and configured your Azure subscription for vRA
  • Collected up a list of all the important pieces of data needed to provision to Azure
  • Configured vRA to deploy to Azure
  • Built your first Azure blueprint

There’s just one thing left to do….

vRACatalog
Navigate to the Catalog tab, locate your new Azure blueprint and click Request.

RequestDetails
Feel free to click around the request details – you’ll see that anything you specified in the blueprint itself is now a locked field. Other fields are still open and available for editing. You can create some seriously flexible requests by locking and unlocking only specific fields – the form is highly customizable.

When you’re done exploring, click Submit!

vRARequestStatusSuccessful
You can monitor the status of the request as you normally would, in the Requests tab.

vRADeployments
After the provisioning completes, you’ll be able to see your new Azure VM in vRA…

AzureProvisioned
…as well as in the Azure portal itself! You can see that the Naming Prefix was applied to both the VM and the vNIC that was created to support it.

SouthernTierPumking
This post was brought to you courtesy of Southern Tier Brewing’s Pumking – possibly the only good pumpkin beer ever. It hits all the natural squash and spice notes without ever feeling extracted, artificial, or overwhelming. And it gets bonus points for being from my home town. Yum!

I hope this guide has been helpful and that you’re as excited as I am about this great new addition to vRealize Automation’s repertoire. Please leave any feedback in the comments, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!

What’s in the bag?

Inspired by a post by Michael White at https://notesfrommwhite.net/2016/11/11/whats-in-the-bag/ – I thought it would be interesting to share what’s in my laptop bag as well. And I bet those of you who know me have been curious before – my satchel is definitely my trademark.

As someone who travels pretty much endlessly, the items in this bag have been refined over many trips to be maximally useful with minimum bulk. Everything must have a purpose or there’s just no room for it.

SaddlebackOriginalBriefcase
First up is the bag itself. I see this leather beast as a long time friend and companion – it’s toured the world with me and I can’t imagine a journey without it. It’s a Saddleback Medium Original Briefcase, and yes – it’s heavy as hell. Weighs almost 8lbs empty. My one vice when it comes to the “pack light” mentality.

InsideBriefcase

The bag is organized into two main compartments, with a few small pockets inside. It’s nowhere near as full as it looks; plenty of room for more if and when necessary. Usually I’ll wad up a sweatshirt or something in there too.

BriefcaseContents

Inside the bag are the following items:

  • My trusty 13″ MacBook Pro Retina (+stickers, of course)
  • iPad Pro 9.7″ in a Waterfield Designs case
  • Cable and Dongle bag (more on that below)
  • Sunglasses
  • Bluetooth Headphones
  • VMware ID
  • Olight Smini Baton Ti flashlight
  • Fjallraven card case for business cards, status membership cards, vouchers, etc
  • Flowfold wallet
  • Bose QC20i headphones
  • Big Idea Design aluminum pen (with UniBall Jetstream ink, since I’m a smear-prone lefty)
  • Leather notebook cover with Field Notes notebook
  • Kindle Paperwhite

iPadPro

The iPad is a mini-computer in and of itself, thanks to the keyboard case, Pencil and VMware Horizon 🙂

CablesAndDongles

And inside the cable and dongle bag are the following:

  • Zolt Charger and cable (charges my MacBook and has 2 additional USB charging ports – much lighter and smaller than an Apple charger and a bunch of additional USB chargers)
  • Bundle of lightning, micro-USB and Fitbit chargers
  • Spare wired headphones
  • Little fold-out USB hub from Palo Alto Networks (one of the most useful giveaways I’ve ever gotten – great for charging all those little devices at once)
  • 32GB and 16GB thumb drives
  • VMware vCloud Air battery pack
  • Apple Watch charging cable

That’s pretty much it! Thanks again to Michael (follow him @mwVme) for the fun idea.

SaisonDupontBrewersGold

And, of course – this post was brought to you by Saison Dupont’s Cuvee Dry Hopping series. A unique yearly spin on the classic Belgian Farmhouse that allows the brewer to experiment with dry hopping. This year’s version used Brewer’s Gold hops and came out delicious – sweet and bitter with that famous Saison Dupont brettanomyces tang.

vRA 7 – Editing Machine Blueprint Settings

So with the recent release of vRealize Automation 7, I have been showing it off at every chance I get. Whether it’s to customers or to our own internal employees – the response has been overwhelmingly positive!

One thing I have had more than one person ask me about, though, is whether or not you can edit the settings for a Machine Blueprint after it’s been deployed.

The answer is yes, but I understand why some folks may overlook where you can do this.

First, enter the Design tab and edit the Blueprint you wish to modify by clicking it.

Then, just look for the Gear icon next to the Blueprint name and click it:

Select_Gear_Icon

This will bring you to the Blueprint Settings dialog, where you can modify the name, description, NSX settings, lease times, etc.

Blueprint_Settings

This post was brought to you by the St. Supery 2009 Dollarhide Petit Verdot. Dark, almost inky black and full of vanilla oak and bold tannins, its multi-layer complexity goes great with a Converged Blueprint.

2009_Petit_Verdot

Happy automating!

Reflecting on Hands-On Labs at VMworld 2015

Now that I’ve had a day or two to decompress after another action-packed VMworld, I thought it would be appropriate to just post a few thoughts about the experience.

I became involved with the Hands-On Labs shortly before VMworld 2014, making this my second cycle with the program. At the time, I had no idea how difficult or how rewarding the experience would be. As it turns out, participating in the Labs has been one of the single most personally and professionally satisfying undertakings of my life.

The development cycle began back in February of 2015, when a few of my fellow captains and I began developing what would be known as the “SDDC Base Pod” – a fully integrated single-site environment based on vSphere 6.0. This pod would contain all of the necessary components to showcase VMware’s Software-Defined Datacenter. Once extensive performance and integration testing had been completed, the pod was saved and made available to the rest of the individual lab development teams. This happened around May – and is when we really began creating our lab-specific content. All in all, each of us has contributed 500+ hours to the development, testing and delivery of this lab.

Working with Kim (@KCDAutomate), Shawn (@ShawnMKelly) and Grant (@GrantOrchard) with Burke (@TechnicalValues) as our leader, we laid down the additional software components, configuration, development and documentation to create the 8 amazing modules which comprised our 2015 lab. I’m pleased to be able to reveal the details of the lab now that VMworld has concluded:

HOL-SDC-1632 – vRealize Automation Advanced: Integration and Extensibility

A list of the modules is as follows:

  • Module 1 – You Need More Integration
  • Module 2 – An Introduction to Extensibility
  • Module 3 – Integrating vRealize Automation with the VMware Cloud Management Platform
  • Module 4 – Integrating vRealize Automation with Infoblox IPAM
  • Module 5 – Integrating vRealize Automation with Puppet Enterprise
  • Module 6 – Integrating vRealize Automation with NSX
  • Module 7 – XaaS Services with Advanced Service Designer and vRealize Orchestrator
  • Module 8 – Working with the vRealize Automation API

Each of the above were lovingly handcrafted by our team to show off not only the power and flexibility of the vRealize Automation engine, but also the amazing ways that it can be integrated into the other components of the VMware Cloud Management Platform as well as third party solutions that might already exist in your infrastructure.

But creating the labs are only the start. Delivering the content at both VMworld events and supporting it throughout the year is when the real work begins. The amazing Hands-On Lab staff works tirelessly to make sure that every attendee and lab user has a seamless, enlightening, engaging and enthralling experience. There are core staff, support staff, principals, captains, proctors and administrators. All of them play a role in making sure that the premier hands-on learning event in the industry can be a reality, and they all deserve huge thanks for their roles.

According to the surveys we received, our lab was a resounding success – as were the Expert-Led Workshops we hosted to teach our customers all about extensibility.

But, of course, events like this can’t be all work. We have plenty of fun too – and I’m very pleased to be able to call so many of these rockstars my friends, and want to thank some of them. Particularly:

  • Jad, Chris and Tina for wrangling all the staff and dealing with all the administrative work that’s so important with this many staff
  • Kim, Grant, Shawn and Burke for being the most amazing team I can think of. We’ve helped each other learn and grow so much in such a short time, and it’s been incredible
  • Doug, Bill and Dave for supporting us as we built, tested, reimagined, rebuilt, re-tested and rebuilt the environments time and time again
  • The rest of the principals, captains and proctors who helped create all the other content and made the lab room the bustling hive of expert conversation it was

That’s all for now – we’ll see some of you in a few weeks at VMworld in Barcelona – and keep an eye on the Hands-On Labs portal for this year’s content to be available to you at home!

Now if you’ll excuse me, my grill is hot and these rib-eyes are calling my name. Paired with a 2011 Miner Oakville Cabernet, I don’t think I can wait much longer.

Miner_Oakville_2011_Cab_And_Rib_Eyes

Have you taken a VMware Hands-On Lab lately?

The title really sort of says it all!

For those of you who don’t know, the VMware Hands-On Labs program is a truly unique offering in the industry, allowing customers anywhere to test drive any of VMware’s products in live environments. From anywhere, at any time. For free.

We provide you with the environment, the infrastructure, and all the software – pre-installed and configured. You just bring your imagination and willingness to learn. You don’t have to be a paying customer or be tied to a VMware software account of any kind. Just head on over to http://labs.hol.vmware.com/ and register.

Once there, you can choose from the catalog of more than 50 labs (with 40 new or updated ones to be released at VMworld 2015) spanning our entire portfolio. Whether you’re interested in learning what’s new in vSphere 6, how to deploy advanced vRealize Automation integrations, get some stick time with an EVO:RAIL or see how to start moving your business to vCloud Air,the Hands-On Labs provides a safe and free place to do it.

But (shameless plug alert!) the best part about the Labs are the guidance, manuals and use cases that have been prepared to go along with them. Each lab is carefully designed by customer facing subject matter experts like yours truly, so that you can be sure the use cases are relevant and represent real world questions or situations that our customers ask about daily. Small teams of dedicated VMware employees each take great pride in investing hundreds of hours every year to make sure you have the most seamless, robust, amazing experience possible.

If you’d like to see an example of my work,  HOL-SDC-1421 (Using vRealize Automation to Build and Deploy Services and Applications) is a 101-level vRealize Automation lab my team wrote last year. It’s available in the public catalog now.

At VMworld this year, my dream team and I will be pleased to release HOL-SDC-1632 (vRealize Automation Advanced: Integration and Extensibility) – our most advanced Automation lab ever. You won’t want to miss this one.

Big thanks go out to Burke Azbill (@TechnicalValues), Kim Delgado (@KCDAutomate), Shawn Kelly (@shawnmkelly), and Grant Orchard (@grantorchard) for making up 4/5 of the most collaborative, open-minded, hardest working HOL team in the whole company.

So head on over to the portal and register, follow @VMwareHOL on Twitter, or better yet – join us at VMworld 2015 and take a few labs in person with our expert staff!

Did I mention that the Labs are completely free? I think I might have.

VMware_Hands_On_Labs_Logo

A thank you to all my peers and customers

I’ve been with VMware for just about 18 months now. It’s been one of the most rewarding, challenging, utterly fantastic experiences of my life. We work hard – and we play almost as hard. I’ve taken great pride  in my work with my customers and with my peers throughout the company.

This past week, I received a call from my manager informing me that this work had been recognized and rewarded with a promotion from a Senior SE to a Staff SE. This is a real honor for me, and one that reminds me that while I may have come a long way, I still have a long way to go.

I’m also reminded that none of this would have been possible without all the great and honest feedback from my customers and the various teams throughout VMware that I work with every day. It’s with that that I send out a thank you to all my peers and customers for placing your trust in me. In return, you have my commitment that I will continue to provide the best possible service and support that I can!

Track_Seven_Panic_IPA

Of course, it wouldn’t be a complete post without some kind of celebratory beverage. This photo was taken at a local establishment just a few minutes after I received the good news. Track Seven’s Panic IPA is a stellar brew, made with Amarillo and Simcoe hops front and center, rather than the more common Citra and Cascade varieties. The result is a high-hop flavor (70 IBU) without the face-shredding pucker factor. Lots of citrus and floral notes explode with every sip. Don’t let the can fool you, this is a top-shelf local craft beer. Check out Track Seven next time you visit me in Sacramento!

Cheers, and thanks again.

vRA Live! – Session 2 – Extensibility

Shameless plug here for an upcoming community event that @virtualjad over at www.virtualjad.com will be hosting later this month – vRA Live! – Session 2 – Extensibility

The vRA Live sessions are meant to provide a live and real-time demonstration of the power of vRealize Automation, combined with an expert panel (including yours truly) who will host open discussion and Q&A while the magic happens. They are a lot of fun and incredibly informative.

Be sure to register in advance over at Jad’s blog (http://www.virtualjad.com/2015/04/vra-live-session-2-extensibility.html) – and we’ll see you there!

#vralive

Reflections on my first year at VMware

January 2015 marks the 1-year anniversary of when I started my time with VMware. I thought it would be fitting to spend some time reflecting on what has undoubtedly been the most exciting, challenging and satisfying year of my life.

So where to start? I guess the most appropriate and impressive place would be with the people.

I’ve had a lot of jobs in a lot of sectors, at both ends of the country. From east coast startups and higher education to west coast DoD contracts, I’ve met and worked with all kinds of people. And it’s very safe to say that the people are what make VMware really special. I’ve never had the pleasure of working with a more intelligent, innovative, friendly, helpful or welcoming group of people. And VMware as a company goes to great lengths to foster that – they invest so heavily in us; as employees, as citizens and as individuals. The emphasis on charitable works and giving back to our communities are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s amazing and wonderful, and it’s the one thing I wouldn’t trade about this company for anything.

I was also more than a little apprehensive about the total transformation that my life would undergo in order to accept this new job. I was so used to working in cube farms -, could I really make the leap from operations and management of large scale datacenters to working from home and meeting with customers all the time? This was another way that VMware’s people really made a difference. I was fortunate enough to be hired by one of the best managers in the company and join a pretty elite team, all of whom were as eager and pleased as could be to mentor me through that transition. I have been on various kinds of “teams” before, but had apparently never experienced the true meaning of the word. Maybe I should have played more sports… Nah.

The next most amazing thing about this company would have to be the incredible pace and quality of innovation that we produce daily. Some of the most talented developers, engineers and strategists on the planet work for VMware – and I think the reason is that creativity and daring is fostered and even encouraged. Nobody is afraid to take a risk and it shows – just look at the unprecedented growth that the company has experienced over the past few years. The ESX hypervisor revolutionized the way that the industry thought about computing and infrastructure, and in a relatively short period for such a revolutionary shift. Now VMware is tackling the same transformation in so many other areas of the datacenter – networking and security through the NSX product, enterprise mobility through AirWatch, and homogeneous hybridity through the vCloud Air and newly-announced vCloud Government Services.

Finally, I love my customers. I never get tired of interacting with them. Each and every one has a unique story to tell and a unique set of problems that need solving. I get to travel the country and help all of these amazing organizations identify the barriers that are holding them back, then realize the benefits that VMware’s solutions have to offer. It’s one of the most wonderful and truly win-win situations I’ve ever encountered; my customers overcome the hurdles holding them back and transform their businesses, all while saving money. VMware, in turn, gets to keep on being the fastest-growing software company ever and continue producing incredible advances in IT. And I get to have a blast doing it. It’s genuinely a job I can feel good about. It’s fascinating, terrifying, challenging, and most of all fun.

That pretty much sums up my impressions after the first year. I’m looking forward to many, many more – we have so much potential and so many amazing new horizons to cross that the future’s never seemed brighter, not even to Corey Hart.

Incidentally, this bout of lucidity was brought to you by a velvety 2010 Suisun Valley Petit Sirah from Mangels Vineyards. This inky-dark wine has a big, bold mouth feel with tons of fruit on the pallet and a finish that seems to go on forever.  The Suisun Valley is a scrappy young appellation that produces some incredible and somewhat undervalued fruit, one which has the potential to be an increasingly major player over the coming years. I could draw an obvious comparison between enology and the software industry right now, but again… Nah. You got this.

Mangels Vineyards 2010 Petit Sirah

Here’s to the future.

Monitoring vRealize Automation with vRealize Operations and Hyperic

Have you ever deployed vRealize Automation? If so, then you know that it has a highly complex architecture, made up of dozens of individual components – and has historically been a bit of a hassle to properly monitor.

That said, there’s good news for administrators who have both the vRealize Automation and the vRealize Operations Advanced edition  – VMware has released a brand-new way to integrate the two, via the vRealize Automation Management Pack.  This new management pack brings detailed  application-aware monitoring of the full architecture of vRealize Automation, and includes a set of plugins for vRealize Hyperic as well as an updated vRealize Operations Management Pack for Hyperic. With the helo of this management pack and set of plugins, users gain the following capabilities:

  • vRealize Hyperic platform service monitoring for vRealize Automation related services
  • An inventory tree object in vRealize Operations Manager specifically tailored to vRealize Automation
  • A set of pre-defined symptoms, alerts, and recommendations for vRealize Operations specifically revolving around vRealize Automation monitoring

Before diving into implementation details, here are a couple of quick screenshots of what you can expect after deploying the new management pack and plugins.

vRealize Automation Environment View in vRealize Operations
(Click the above image for a larger version)

 

vRealize Automation Inventory Tree View in vRealize Operations

As you can see, it monitors the following high-level capabilities and their sub components :

  • vRealize Automation Appliance
  • vRealize Automation Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Server
  • vRealize Business (Formerly ITBM) Appliance
  • vSphere Single Sign-On (SSO)
  • vRealize Orchestrator

Here’s today’s obligatory wine tie-in. Given to a friend when he departed the employ of Viansa, this bottle of 2005 Ossidiana was signed by his friends and co-workers from all aspects of the winery. It’s also a finely blended Bordeaux – representing the perfect marriage of the 5 noble French grapes. The blend is proprietary and not disclosed, but it was clearly more than a little Cab. All sorts of grapes, styles, workers, techniques and technology coming together to produce one harmonious and easily enjoyable product. Can you see why I was reminded of this exciting new marriage of Automation and Management when we opened this bottle last night?

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All that aside, let’s get into some of the nuts and bolts of implementing this new connection.

First, we must assume that you have functioning instances of vRealize Automation 6.1 or above, vRealize Operations Manager 6.0 or above and vRealize Hyperic deployed. Getting all of those up and running in your environment is outside the scope of this article. You will also need Hyperic agents deployed to all of the appliances and servers involved in the vRealize Automation  stack. These can include (but are not limited  to):

  • vSphere SSO
  • vRealize Automation Appliance
  • vRealize Orchestrator Appliance
  • vRealize Business Appliance
  • vRealize Automation Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Server
  • Any additional Distributed Execution Managers (DEM)
  • External vRealize Automation IaaS Database Servers

Deploying these agents is also outside the scope of this article. Look for a forthcoming post on getting the agents onto the VMware appliances.

From there, you will log into your vRealize Hyperic server as an administrator with the rights to install plugins. Select the Administration tab and the Plugin Manager link.

Now, if you are currently running vRealize Hyperic 5.8.4, you may see some existing custom vRealize XML Plugins already present in the environment. These need to be removed first, and look like the following. If you don’t see these plugins, skip this step.

vRealize Hyperic XML Plugins for vRealize Monitoring
(Click the above image for a larger version)

To delete them, simply select the Checkbox to the left of each plugin and select Delete Selected Plugin(s) from the bottom left corner. This may take some time to complete.

Now click the Add/Update Plugin(s) button in the lower right corner and upload the two new .JAR plugin files.

After that’s complete, you should see something like the following image. Notice the two new custom JAR plugins, highlighted in red.

vRealize Hyperic JAR Plugins for vRealize Automation
(Click the above image for a larger version)

Now, switch over to your vRealize Operations console. Log in with a user who has the administrative rights to update solutions. Navigate to the Administration tab and select Solutions from the navigation pane. Click the Green + (Add) in the upper left corner of the solutions pane. Follow the wizard that is produced to install or update the solution.

vRealize Operations Solutions

If you already had the vRealize Hyperic solution installed and working, you’re done with this part! If this is your first time installing the solution, you will need to configure the adapter instance. To do so, highlight the vRrealize Hyperic solution and click on the Gears icon in the upper left. Fill in the requested details about your vRealize Hyperic server as seen here, of course using your own settings. Test and save the settings.

vRealize Hyperic Adapter Configuration

Now all you need to do is wait for vRealize Hyperic to auto-discover your new services. Check your Hyperic dashboard after a few minutes and import them; after a few more minutes they will start appearing in your vRealize Operations Manager.

You can confirm which vRealize Hyperic metrics are flowing into vRealize Operations by logging into it with an administrative account, then navigating to the Administration tab and Environment Overview. Expand the Adapter Instances and then your Hyperic Adapter Instance. You will see the name of the Hyperic instance that you configured in the last step – select it and view the related metrics.

vRealize Operations Manager Environment Overview
(Click the above image for a larger version)

That’s all there is to it – now you can navigate to your vRealize Operations Content tab and view the vRealize Automation inventory tree.

vRealize Operations Inventory Trees

From here you can explore the related tabs – environment, analysis, troubleshooting, etc – and begin leveraging the wealth of new metrics at your fingertips.

The new vRealize Operations and vRealize Hyperic integration packs can be downloaded from the VMware Solutions Exchange here and here.

Enjoy!

You can also see this article cross-posted on the VMware Management Blog at http://blogs.vmware.com/management/2015/02/monitoring-vrealize-automation-vrealize-operations-vrealize-hyperic.html

What do Alt-rock, local beer and EUC have in common?

Normally I wouldn’t have much insight on the subject of EUC (End-User Computin,), but my current trip home for the holidays has presented a pretty cool opportunity to highlight this amazing technology, even if it is outside my area of expertise.

We haven’t been home in few years, and it was my first chance to talk to some of the family in a while. We decided to go out one night to see my cousin Drew play with one of his bands, The Loveless. Here’s an action shot of Drew on bass.

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This performance was paired with two amazing local beers – Loganberry Wit by Resurgence, and Live Pale Ale by Southern Tier. The Live Pale Ale is just a beautiful American style pale ale, with perfect hop character. But the Loganberry Wit was a real treat – those of us who grew up in the Buffalo area already know this, but for the uninformed, Loganberry is a berry widely used for punch-like drinks throughout Western New York and is a true regional flavor.

Anyway, by this point I’m sure you’re wondering what on earth all this has to do with VMware EUC. Well, as it turns out, Drew is part of a team of talented VMware administrators at Erie 1 BOCES (the Erie County Board of Cooperative Educational Services) who, in conjunction with the City of Buffalo, just implemented a tremendously successful VMware Horizon- based remote educational computing environment that has enabled Buffalo public school students to take their education with them to libraries and beyond.

Read more about the City of Buffalo’s success story at the following links:
http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/buffalo-public-schools/partnership-with-library-bridges-digital-divide-of-buffalo-students-20141208

http://www.wgrz.com/videos/news/education/2014/12/08/20118761/

Cheers!