The result of playing with Certificates…..

So several days ago I blogged about Derek Seamans’ blog regarding how to install vCenter Server with custom SSL certificates. I also mentioned that I was going through the process once again with vCenter 5.1 u1….. well suffice to say I used the new tool provided by VMware to install some custom certificates and it all went pretty well….. apart from 2 things – Orchestrator and VUM.

VMware pretty much state that there’s a limitation to the tool if you use a FQDN rather than an IP Address to register the VUM server to vCenter Server….. which is a bit of a strange limitation as you would expect to use a FQDN rather than an IP Address as best practice (and let DNS sort out the mess)…. =)

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2041600

Anyways, I tried a manual process of updating VUM using the VMwareUpdateManagerUtility.exe found in C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\Infrastructure\Update Manager. Unfortunately it kept erroring out every time I tried to add in the SSL certificate – which is strange as it’s a simple GUI utility….. in the end I gave up and just uninstalled VUM and then pre-populated the SSL certificates in C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\Infrastructure\Update Manager\SSL before re-installing VUM. That seems to have worked as I can now access VUM via the vSphere Client. =)

Orchestrator was a bit more of a problem….. The VMware tool displayed an error saying it couldn’t find an installation of Orchestrator. I thought it could be because when you install vCenter Server, the Orchestrator services are disabled by default…. so having started the services and re-tried, it still errored out!

Turns out the Orchestrator service doesn’t fully start unless you go into the configuration web GUI and fix all the ‘warning and errors’…. and the main error was ‘Authentication’…… in the end the only way I could fix this error and get the services started was to actually install the root certificates, vCenter/SSO certificates and the Orchestrator certificate via the configuration web GUI…… kinda defeated the point of the tool from VMware!

I’ll have to re-visit this some other time to find out why it didn’t work!

 

On another note, my installation of SRM with custom SSL certificates went without too many hitches….. so all I need to do is collate all my screenshots and instructions together for a future post! Stay tuned…… =)

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Back to Blogging……

So I know I said I wasn’t going to blog much in the coming weeks, but giving the fact that my jury service has been cancelled next week (court case was cancelled so Jury was dismissed due to no other court cases running) and also the fact that my current work project has been cancelled (client cancelled the contract with my company), I pretty much have quite a bit of free time!

Not to mention that I had a sleepless night as all I could think about was that I NEED to blog some of the stuff that’s floating around my head regarding VMware – just so I can put my brain at rest!

So hopefully in the upcoming weeks, I intend to blog about the experiences I’ve had over the past couple of months touching upon:

  • Changing the SSL certificates of VMware products (away from the self-signed VMware ones to a CA certified one).
  • Transact-SQL scripts for creating databases for VMware products.
  • Loadbalancing workflow that I wrote recently to automate the deployment of a loadbalancer in vCD (and hope to generalise so that others can use it).

That should basically fill out my blog for a couple of weeks due to the vast amount of information to get down on paper (or in this case on screen).

First up tomorrow (yes, procrastination doesn’t disappear even when you have some free time!) will be a brief look at how you manually setup a loadbalancer within vCD, and then hopefully I can delve into how the vCO actions can be used for each manual step and what I’ve learnt.

Oh, and as for the job hunting part….. I’m quite thankful that at the moment it seems recruitment agents are calling me up rather than me desperately calling them up! I’m positive that I will be able to find another role that will allow me to continue my VMware journey! (and if you’re a potential employer, or recruitment agent reading this – please contact me if you have any opportunities of interest!)

^_^

VMware vCenter Orchestrator

So, for my first real VMware post I thought I’d blog about a little known (yet very powerful) VMware product called VMware vCenter Orchestrator (vCO)….

What?!? You’ve not heard of it?!?

Did you know it came free with that vCenter Server software you just splashed out a lot of cash for? No?!?

Well…. join the club……!! Probably 90% of the VMware clients I’ve dealt with over the years have absolutely no idea that when they installed vCenter Server (4.x and later – I’m talking about standard edition here, not the cheapy foundation or essentials), it silently installed a nice little tool called Orchestrator as an additional component….. Such a shame that there isn’t a fanfare when it does so, as this little tool can make an Administrators life a helluva lot easier!

If I’m honest, this is a product I’ve known about for years yet have never ever used until just before Christmas where I was forced to use it in anger for the current project I’m working on….. and I’m now kicking myself for not picking it up earlier! (sorry, did I mention Procrastination was a favourite hobby of mine? Well, keep that in mind as you read this whole blog!)

“So what is this great free little app that VMware has installed on my box?” I hear you ask…..

Well, VMware like to describe it as:

“……. an IT Process Automation engine that helps automate your cloud and integrate the VMware vCloud Suite with the rest of your management systems.”

http://www.vmware.com/products/vcenter-orchestrator/overview.html

Que?!?

Without boring you all with all the details, it basically provides a library of workflows that can help you automate your day-to-day manual tasks, as I previously said – it’s a tool that makes an Administrators life a lot easier! (I may touch upon vCloud Suite in a later blog… so let’s leave that for now!)

Take for an example the manual process of creating a VM – you need open up the vSphere client, decide whether or not you’re deploying from a standard template or creating a custom VM, check whether you have enough resources for the new VM, setup all the virtual hardware, fire up the VM, drop on an OS, assign the IP, name the host, tell someone the VM is ready for use, blah blah blah…… well there’s a workflow for that (well, a workflow which you may need to tweak)…. or how about deleting all VM snapshots that are older than 1 month? Well, you can build a workflow to do that too…..

Basically if you can do something in vCenter or vSphere…. then more often than not you can build a workflow to automate what you’ve just done manually!! Not to mention you can get hold of vCO Plugins for a lot of other products to help integration into your environment! (eg. vCloud Director, SOAP, HTTP-REST, AD, SQL, PowerShell, etc)

TBH, whilst it maybe fun to automate everything….. Orchestrator is probably best suited when you have:

  • A repetitive task that needs to be completed.
  • A time consuming task that needs to be processed.
  • A structured task which can easily be broken down for automation.

However, it’s not always easy to use Orchestrator…. there are many tasks where workflows just do not exist in the library, and you may need to build a workflow from scratch (especially if you want custom workflows for your specific environment)…. and more often than not this will involve you doing some programming (in Javascript)!

Now some of you will probably shudder at the thought of programming, but to tell you the truth it’s not too hard to pick up…… you’re not writing or developing a piece of software, you’re mainly writing a bit of code that manipulates a parameter to pass into an existing action or method. And I’m talking from experience, I picked it up quite quick….. the last time I did any sort of programming was in my first job straight out of uni (a bit of C#) and that was over 12 years ago!!

Anyways, I’ve waffled on a bit…… need to get use to this blogging marlarky and make sure I keep my readers (if I have any) interested.

If you want more information on vCO then visit the VMware link I’ve listed above as well as heading over to the vCO team at http://www.vcoteam.info/.

Suffice to say that this first blog topic came about after some success recently with creating a workflow in vCO that automatically deploys a load balancing service onto an Org vDC gateway within vCloud Director! A workflow that for some reason VMware did not even have listed within their library for gateway services in their vCD Plugin! Whilst the workflow I helped to create is still ‘work-in-progress’, it pretty much does what the client wants! I’m hoping I’ll have some time to tidy it up over the next few days….

But more on this another time….. However, much thanks go out to my partner in crime – Simon Sparks, as well as Hugo Phan (http://vmwire.com/) and Burke Azbill on the vCO Team!