vRealize 7 Orchestrator Deployment

This is part of a series of posts that will look at the deployment VMware vRealize product suite, commencing with vRealize Orchestrator.

VMware vRealize Orchestrator

VMware vRealize Orchestrator is a development and process-automation platform that provides a library of extensible workflows to allow you to create and run automated, configurable processes to manage VMware products as well as other third-party technologies. vRealize Orchestrator automates management and operational tasks of both VMware and third-party applications such as service desks, change management systems, and IT asset management systems.

Platform Architecture

Orchestrator is composed of three distinct layers:

  • An orchestration platform that provides the common features required for an orchestration tool
  • A plug-in architecture to integrate control of subsystems
  • A library of workflows

Orchestrator is an open platform that can be extended with new plug-ins and libraries, and can be integrated into larger architectures through a REST API.

vRO Architecture

A standard set of plugins are provided, however 3rd party extensible plug-ins can also be used.

The Orchestrator database comes preconfigued with a PostrgreSQL database and is suitable for small to medium scale environments. External databases are also supported (Review the VMware Product Interoperability Matrix for list of externally supported DBs).

vRO Appliance Components:

  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 Update 3 for VMware 64-bit edition
  • Embedded PostgreSQL
  • In-Process ApacheDS LDAP (only recommended for Dev/Test purposes)
  • Orchestrator/Process automation engine

After the appliance has been deployed we can setup the authentication provider to use directory services or vSphere authentication. However, according to the documentation LDAP authentication is deprecated. The default authentication mechanism uses ApacheDS LDAP, which is fine for testing purposes. For production you could change this to vCenter SSO authentication. VMware recommend using localised authentication providers to avoid long LDAP response times. Similarly narrowing the LDAP search path to a specific OU – should also help.

PostgreSQL Database

PortgreSQL comes baked into to the deployment, this is suitable for small and medium scaled production purposes. An external database is recommended for large scale deployments. Orchestrator supports external database deployments of Oracle, Microsoft SQL server and PostgreSQL. For this implementation I will just be using the embedded db, but should you want to use an external db you will need to setup this up as a separate workflow.

Connectivity

Once vRealize Orchestrator has been deployed connectivity is established via the vRO control centre a web-UI (https://ipOfvROappliance:8283). From the control centre we will perform some basic configuration and then connect using the vRealize Orchestrator Workflow Designer tool. This will allow us to connect the vRO instance to vCenter. Once connected to vCenter as an extension we can create and manage workflows from the vSphere Web Client.

Deploying the vRealise Orchestrator Appliance

Pre-Reqs:

  • VMware vCenter Server deployed and running
  • Enough compute and storage resources to support the vRO appliance.
  • If using the vSphere Web-UI – Install the Client Integration plug-in as this is required to deploy the appliance.

Deployment: Follow the deployment procedure found on page 26 of the install and configuration guide (note this references v6 documentation but is essentially the same for v7.x).

The password for the root account of the Orchestrator Appliance expires after 365 days. You can increase the expiry time for an account by logging in to the Orchestrator Appliance as root, and running passwd -x number_of_days name_of_account. If you want to increase the Orchestrator Appliance root password to infinity, run passwd -x 99999 root.

Initial Configuration

Here we want to set the authentication mode to vSphere (as we are adopting the simple deployment). Configure the database to use PostgreSQL (embedded).

1a. Open your browser to https://ipOfvROapplaince:8281/vco

1b. Under Configure the Orchestrator Server select ‘Orchestrator Control Center’.

ControlCenter1

 

2. Login to the vRO Control Center.

3. Welcome to the vRO Control Center.

4. Select Configure Authentication Provider, for this deployment we will use vSphere (PSC SSO domain).

4a. Set the host address to your vCenter server and accept the certification warnings.

AuthProvider

4b. Restart the services when prompted.

5. Configure the Database. I will be using the embedded PostgreSQL db in this deployment.

ConfigDb

6. Restart the services

Services

7. Next we want to navigate back to the vCO start page https://ipofvROapplaince:8281/vco

7a. Download and install the Orchestrator Client.

8. Open the Client and login with your vCenter Admin SSO user (administrator@vsphere.local)

vRO-Client_login

9. First up we want to connect this instance of vRO to an endpoint such as vCenter. To do this we need to create our first workflow.

10. Select ‘Workflows’ icon (blueprint) and expand Library -> vCenter -> Configuration.

AddVCinstanceWF

10a. Select ‘Add a vCenter Server instance’.

10b. Select ‘Start workflow’ (green play button).

10c. Enter your vCenter server hostname/IP address as well as the HTTPS port (443). The location should be set to /sdk. As I am not using any CA signed certificates I will select ‘yes’ to ignore any warnings.

AddVCinstanceWF2

10d. Enter the vCenter admin user/password and select submit.

AddVCinstanceWF3

11. Once the workflow has processed you should be able to view the vCenter server endpoint and resources from the inventory object.

Inventory

12. The next task (optional) is to register the vRO instance with vCenter as an extension. This will allow us to the vSphere web client to manage and create workflows.

12a. Select ‘Workflows’ -> ‘vCenter’ -> ‘Register vCenter Orchestrator as a vCenter server extension’.

12b. Start the workflow to register vRO with the vCenter server instance.

12c. Set the vCenter instance as: https://FQDNofVC:443/sdk. Select submit to complete the task.

RegistervRO-VC

13. To confirm that task has completed login the vSphere web client then select vRealize Orchestrator.

vRO-vSphere-UI

14. There you have it, vRealize Orchestrator deployed. In future blog posts we will cover some basics around creating workflows before moving onto the deployment of vRealize Automation.

vRO-vSphere-UI2

Documentation References

WSFC/MSCS vSphere 6.x Enhancements

For those that aren’t aware, VMware released an updated Microsoft WSFC Setup and Deployment Guide for vSphere 6.x.
In a previous blog post I covered Microsoft Clustering Design Implications in vSphere 5.x. Fundamentally the deployment of WSFC has not changed significantly. However, there are a couple of new features that I wanted to cover here.
New Features and Requirements:
  • vMotion supported for cluster of virtual machines across physical hosts (CAB deployment) with passthrough RDMs. Note, you must use VM-hardware version 11.
    • VMware recommends updating the heart-beat timeout ‘SameSubnetThreshold’ registry value to 10. Additional info can be found on MS Failover Clustering and NLB Team Blog and in VMware’s updated WSFC Setup and Deployment Guide.
    • The vMotion network must be a 10Gbps.
      • 1Gbps Ethernet link for vMotion of MSCS virtual machines is not supported.
        • Fair enough, but most customer deployments using 10GbE also share that with other workloads. In addition using NIOC to prioritise traffic to prod workloads. So its not clear if the minimum requirement is 10GbE or higher bandwidth that can be provided by 1GbE.
    • vMotion is supported for Windows Server 2008 SP2 and above. Windows Server 2003 is not supported.
    • SCSI bus sharing mode set to Physical.
  • ESXi 6.0 supports PSP_RR for Windows Server 2008 SP2 and above releases (same as ESXi 5.5 but with restrictions)
    • Shared disk quorum or data must be provisioned to guest in PassThrough RDM mode only
  • All hosts must be running ESXi 6.x
    • Mixed mode operating with older ESXi revisions not supported.
    • Rolling upgrades of cluster hosts from previous versions of ESXi to ESXi 6.x is not supported.
  • MSCS (Windows Server Failover Clustering (WSFC)) is supported with VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) version 6.1 and later. See VSAN 6.1 Whats New!.
  • In vSphere 6.0, VMware introduced support for using Windows Server Failover Clustering or Microsoft Server Failover Clustering to protect a Windows-based vCenter Server.
Recommendations:
  • Modifying the MSCS heartbeat time-out: An MSCS virtual machine can stall for a few seconds during vMotion. If the stall time exceeds the heartbeat time-out interval, then the guest cluster considers the node down and this can lead to unnecessary failover.
    • VMware recommends changing the DWORD ‘SameSubnetThreshold’ registry value in each WSFC node to 10.
  • VMware also warns of deploying WSFC in vSphere environments with memory overcommitment. Memory overcommitment (worse active memory reclamation like compression, swapping) can cause virtual machine I/O latency to increase, potentially causing failover. Set memory reservations if you are concerned this may affect your WSFC/MSCS nodes.

Not Supported / Limitations:

  • No Storage vMotion for VMs that are configured with shared disks.
  • No support for WSFC on NFS.
  • Running WSFC nodes on different ESXi versions (Pity as this would have been ideal for ESXi 5.x to ESXi 6.x upgrades).
  • Cant use WSFC in conjunction with VMware FT.
  • NPIV not supported.
  • Server 2012 storage spaces not supported.
References:

VCP6-DCV Study Resources

Quick note: The exam blueprint is no longer available in a PDF form. For those interested I’ve collated all the information which can be found in my VCP6-DCV study checklist.

Official Resources:

Evaluation:

Practice Exam:

Study Tips:

  • Use a Proficiency Matrix. Rene Van Den Bedem (aka. VCDX133) has a great post on this. In this blog post Rene looks at breaking the learning objective down into its logical components, and measuring one’s knowledge against a skills matrix.

Additional Resources:

Blueprint Documentation Set:

Atlantis USX/HyperScale Log Directories

I seem to be doing allot with Atlantis USX, HyperScale at the moment and knowing the location and detail of the logs is always useful.

USX General 

  • /var/log/usxm*.log* (log for USX Manager, REST API and Analytics)
  • /var/log/usxm*/usxm*.log (USX upgrades)
  • /var/log/boot.log* (System boot messages)
  • /var/log/usxm-vp*.log (VMware VASA log messages)
  • /var/log/xen_convert.log (OVF to XenServer conversion log)
  • /var/log/nginx/error.log (NGIX error messages)
  •  /var/log/usxm-bootstrap.log (USX startup information)
  • /var/log/usxm-download.log (USX updates)
  •  /var/log/usxm_cfg_env.log (Deployment config logs)

USX Manager, Volume and Service VM

  • /var/log/kern.log* (USX Manager kernel logs)
  • /var/log/boot.log* (USX Manager system boot messages)
  • /var/log/simplememory_sync.log (S-iM volume, backup log)
  • /var/log/corosync.log (Logs for USX HA – cluster engine)
  • /var/log/usx*.log* (Logs for USX Service and Volume VMs)
  • /var/log/atlas-health-check.log (Heath monitoring of USX volume, service and HA VMs)
  • /var/log/syslog* (System Events and HA resource logs)
  • /var/log/dmesg* (Device messages)

Reference: Atlantis Documentation Centre

 

VCDX5-DCV – Resources

The journey to achieving the VCDX certification is multifaceted, requiring highly developed skills in several areas. To give guidance and structure to my approach, I am compiling a reference library in addition to some of the great resources provided by the VMware community.

Overview

VCDX Community Resources

VCDX Holder Blog Resources (tagged “VCDX” search)

Reference Documents:

Books:  Most of these i’ve read a few times over and a few which I have only covered lightly. There is only so much you can store mentally from just reading. My personal study method is to: Read, comprehend, write, evaluate, lab (if required). The more I can do of this the better. Its a fairly logical approach which has helped me in the past.

  • vSphere 5.1 Clustering Deepdive – Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman
  • VMware vSphere Security Cookbook – Mike Greer
  • VMware vCloud Security – Prasenjit Sarkar
  • VMware vSphere Design SE – Scott Lowe, Forbes Guthrie and Kendrik Coleman
  • The Art of Network Architecture: Business Driven Design – Russ White and Denise Donohue
  • Virtualising Microsoft Business Critical Applications on VMware vSphere – Matt Liebowitz and Alexander Fontana
  • Networking for VMware Administrators – Chris Wahl and Steve Pantol
  • VMware vCloud Architecture Toolkit (vCAT) VMware Press : Technical and Operational Guidance for Cloud Success : vCAT Team
  • Troubleshooting vSphere Storage – Mike Preston
  • VMware vSphere Resource Management – Jonathan Frappier
  • Managing and Optimising VMware vSphere – Sean Crookston and Harley Stagner
  • Storage Implementation in VSphere 5.0 – Mostafa Khalil
  • Data Center Virtualization Fundamentals: Understanding Techniques and Designs for Highly Efficient Data Centers with Cisco Nexus, UCS, MDS, and Beyond
  • VMware vSphere Design Best Practises – Brian Bolander
  • Virtualizing SQL Server with VMware: Doing it Right (Vmware Press Technology) – Michael Corey, Jeff Szastak, Michael Webster
  • VMware vSphere 5, Building a Virtual Datacenter: Integration into the Datacenter – Eric Mallie, Rene-Francois Menneceir
  • Mastering vSphere 5.5 – Scott D Lowe, Nick Marshall, Forbes Guthrie, Matt Liebowitz and Josh Artwell