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Installing vRealize Automation 8.0 in a Home Lab

vRealize Automation (vRA) 8.0 is a new animal.  It is an on-premise version of VMware Cloud Automation Services, rather than an upgrade from vRA 7.x.  It has four main components:  vRA Cloud Assembly (build and deploy blueprints), vRA Service Broker (deliver and consume service catalogs), vRA Code Stream (implement CI/CD), and vRA Orchestrator (develop custom workflows).

In comparison to vRA 7.6 (which involves virtual appliances, Windows based IaaS components, an MSSQL database, etc), vRA 8.0 has a very simple architecture.  Primarily, it consists of:

  • A three node cluster of vRA appliances (or a single node when high availability (HA) is not needed)
  • A three node cluster of VMware Identify Manager (vIDM) appliances (or a single node when high availability (HA) is not needed) or an existing vIDM instance.
  • A vRealize Suite Life Cycle Manager (LCM) appliance.

Based on my experience, you may struggle to find any VMware Hands on Labs or other means to gain hands-on familiarity with vRA 8.0. (The Try for Free link in the my.vmware portal currently takes you to a vRA 7.x Hands on Lab, not a vRA 8.0 lab.)  Like me, you may decide to deploy vRA 8.0 in your home lab.  I implemented a home lab based on the following:

  • Windows 10 Home running on a Dell XPS 8930 PC with an 8 core Intel i7-9700 3 GHz CPU, 64 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD, 1 TB HDD
  • VMware Workstation Pro 15.5
  • VMs running directly in VMware Workstation:
    •  vCenter Server 6.7 Appliance:  2 vCPUs, 10 GB vRAM, about 25 GB SSD storage (13 thin-provisioned vDisks configured for 280GB total)
    • ESXi 6.7:  8 vCPUs, 48 vRAM, 310 GB SSD storage (2 thick-provisioned vDisks: 10 GB and 300 GB)
    • Windows 2012 R2 Server running DNS with static entries for each VM:  2 vCPUs, 4 vRAM, 60 GB thin-provisioned vDisk on SSD Storage
  • After the vRA installation, these virtual appliances are deployed in the ESXi VM (in a VMFS volume backed by the 300 GB SSD virtual disk)
    • vIDM 3.31, 2 vCPUs, 6 GB vRAM, 60 GB total thin-provisioned vDisks
    • LCM 8.0, 2 vCPUs, 6 GB vRAM, 48 GB GB total thin-provisioned vDisks
    • vRA 8.0, 8 vCPUs, 32 GB vRAM, 222 GB total thin-provisioned vDisks

NOTE: Your biggest challenge in deploying vRA 8.0 in a home lab may be the fact that vRA 8.0 appliances require 8 vCPUs and 32 GB memory.  After deploying vRA 8.0, I tried re configuring the vRA appliance with fewer vCPUs and less memory, but had to revert after experiencing performance and functional issues.

 

NOTE: If you building a home lab for the first time, here is a great reference that I used.  https://www.nakivo.com/blog/building-vmware-home-lab-complete/

Fortunately for me in my relationship with VMware, I have access to free product downloads and evaluation licenses.  If you do not have access to free product downloads and evaluation licenses, you may need to request a vRA 8.0 trial via your VMware Account Representative (Currently, the my.vmware portal does not appear to provide a link to a free trial).

To get started, you should use Easy Installer, which can be used to install LCM, vIDM, and vRA.   It can also be used to integrate with a previously deployed vIDM instance or used to migrate from earlier versions of vRealize Suite Life Cycle Manager.

In your first attempt, you could choose to use Easy Installer to deploy the minimum architecture, which includes a single LCM appliance and a single vIDM appliance, but no vRA appliances.  This enables you to verify that LCM and vIDM are deployed successfully and remediate any issues.  Next, you can use LCM to deploy a single vRA appliance.  Finally, you can use QuickStart to perform the initial vRA configuration.

To get familiar with the installation, I recommend that you review the How to Deploy vRA 8.0 article at VMGuru:  https://vmguru.com/2019/10/how-to-deploy-vrealize-automation-8/.

To learn what Easy Installer does, refer to this link:  https://docs.vmware.com/en/vRealize-Automation/8.0/installing-vrealize-automation-easy-installer/GUID-CEF1CAA6-AD6F-43EC-B249-4BA81AA2B056.html

Based on my experience, here is a summary of steps that you could use for installing vRA 8.0 in a home lab.  (Be sure to use the official documentation when you are installing vRA 8.0: https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vRealize-Suite-Lifecycle-Manager/8.0/com.vmware.vrsuite.lcm.80.doc/GUID-1E77C113-2E6E-4425-9626-13172A14D327.html)

Installation Steps:

To get started, download the vRealize Easy Installer and run it on a Windows, Linux, or Mac system.  https://docs.vmware.com/en/vRealize-Automation/8.0/installing-vrealize-automation-easy-installer/GUID-1E77C113-2E6E-4425-9626-13172A14D327.html

Use Easy Installer to:

  1. Deploy the LCM appliance to your vSphere environment.  https://docs.vmware.com/en/vRealize-Automation/8.0/installing-vrealize-automation-easy-installer/GUID-4D23B793-4EC8-4449-8B3A-34CB1D9A8609.html
  2. Deploy the vIDM appliance to your vSphere environment. https://docs.vmware.com/en/vRealize-Automation/8.0/installing-vrealize-automation-easy-installer/GUID-1C15C31B-D51F-4881-9CD1-EFB29C683EFF.html
  3. Skip the vRA installation.

Complete the Easy Installer wizard and monitor the installation progress.

Use LCM to install vRA 8.0 into a new environment.

vRA provides QuickStart to simply your steps for performing the initial vRA configuration, such as adding a vCenter Server cloud account, creating a project, creating a sample machine blueprint, creating policies, adding catalog items, and deploying a VM from the catalog.  You can only run QuickStart once, so get familiar with it before launching it. To learn more about what QuickStart does to vRA Cloud Assembly and vRA Service Broker, refer to the Take me on a tour of vRealize Automation to see what the QuickStart did at https://docs.vmware.com/en/vRealize-Automation/8.0/Getting-Started-Cloud-Assembly/GUID-4090D3A8-49C5-4530-8359-C8265B784C80.html .

NOTE: If you choose not to use QuickStart or if something goes wrong, you can use the Guided Setup.

Use Quickstart to perform the initial vRA 8.0 configuration. https://docs.vmware.com/en/vRealize-Automation/8.0/Getting-Started-Cloud-Assembly/GUID-91597976-E472-493B-8017-2D37DC8DC0E5.html

 

 

VCP-DCV 2019 Exam Preparation – Presentation

Here is the slide deck that I used in the presentation on Preparing to Take and Pass the VCP-DCV Exam at the Boston VMUG UserCon 2019.

VCP-DCV Cert Prep Slides

 

VCP-DCV 2019: vSphere 6.7 Exam Prep

At the beginning of 2019, VMware released a new VCP-DCV 2019 certification and a new certification exam: Professional vSphere 6.7 Exam 2019 (2V0-21.19).

Steve, Owen, and I began drafting a new appendix for use in conjunction with the VCP6-DCV: Official Cert Guide (VMware Press) when preparing the vSphere 6.7 exam; but, we determined that the changes in exam structure and content made the endeavor futile.  We realized that the effort was huge and the product would not be ideal.  Instead, we decided on developing a new guide that we would release shortly after next major releases of vSphere and the exam.

But, due to the absence of ideal VCP-DCV vSphere 6.7 exam preparation tools, I am posting this very, rough draft of vSphere 6.7 Appendix here.  Feel free to use as-is:

Appendix-VCP-DCV-2019

NOTE: The Exam Preparation Guide for the Professional vSphere 6.7 Exam does not provide any details for the exam objectives.  Here is my quick attempt to identify some potential subtopics.  (This is not official.  It is just based on my knowledge of the topic and information that I found in the official VMware documentation.):

VCP-DCV-subtopics

Building DR Solutions with VMware Site Recovery Manager

This is the slide deck I used for the Toronto VMUG UserCon 2019.

Slide Deck

 

 

VMUG NYC Presentation: Building a DR Solution with VMware Site Recovery Manager

Here is the slide deck from the presentation delivered on Sept 20, 2018.

PDF DR SRM VMUG 2018

VCP6.5-DCV Exam Preparation

 


August 24, 2018 – Update

Steve, Owen, and I created this online Appendix E  for you to use in conjunction with the VCP6-DCV Official Cert Guide to prepare for the VCP6.5-DCV Exam.

Click here for Appendix E (version 6.5):   Appendix E

We also created a set of version 6.5 specific question that you should use in conjunction with the Practice Exams that com with the Cert guide.

Click here for the version 6.5 Practice Exam Questions:  Practice-Questions-vLore


 

The latest VMware Certified Professional (VCP) certification for Data Center Virtualization (DCV) is VCP6.5-DCV.  This is the first time that VMware is offering a dot-5 level certification.  In the past, they provided dot-5 exams, which you could use to earn a certification, but the certification level itself was not designated as dot-5.  For example, you could pass a version 5.5 exam to earn the VCP5-DCV.  (No VCP5.5-DCV certification exists).   But, now you have the opportunity to pass the version 6.5 exam and earn VCP6.5-DCV.

If you have not yet earned VCP6-DCV, you could seek VCP6.5-DCV or VCP6-DCV.  I  recommend that you base the decision on your skill set and readiness to take a specific exam.  For example, if you are very skilled with vSphere 6.0, but have little experience with vSphere 6.5, you may wish to lean toward VCP6-DCV.

I suspect the VCP6.5-DCV may become a popular certification for those who hold VCP6-DCV (or VCP5-DCV) and need to re-certify during the next year.

How to Prepare

A great way to prepare is to use the VCP6-DCV Official Cert Guide (VMware Press) and to supplement with a small amount of additional material to accommodate additions in the blueprint and changes in vSphere 6.5

I compared the blueprints of the version 6.0 exam (which is addressed in the Cert Guide) and the 6.5 exam.   Most of the changes are cosmetic, such as reworded and relocated objectives and sub-objectives.  A modest amount of new items appear in the objectives.  Some of the new items are already covered in the Cert Guide as part of covering related objectives.

So, I recommend that you:

Coming Soon:  Watch this vLoreBlog and social media for online content to accompany the  table that will provide details for each item in place of the references.

VMware Site Recovery Manager – Post Installation Changes

Today, I was pleasantly surprised to learn hands-on that many settings that I made during the installation of VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) could be easily modified after installation.

I have been using SRM for several years and it seemed to me that many configuration changes actually required reinstallation of SRM.  Recently, I learned that SRM 6.1 installer could be run in modify mode, which would allow me to change many of my original settings.  Last week, in a test environment, I had a need to change the Listener Port from 9068 (which is the default for SRM 6.1) to 9007 (which is the default in SRM 5.5).  I assumed that this specific change would require reinstallation, but I was able to make the change by running the change in modify mode..

Specifically, I logged into Windows on the SRM Server, drilled into Control Panel > Programs and Features, right-clicked the SRM program and selected Change.  A wizard appeared that looked much like the original installer.  The only item I changed in the wizard was the Listener Port, which I set to 9007.   I did not have to provide any other data, because the wizard provided all of my original settings as defaults, except for passwords (for the PSC account and embedded database user), which I had to reenter.  The Wizard applied the change and restarted the SRM service.

I was further surprised to see that it worked the first time without requiring additional steps.  I was immediately able to logon to SRM and test the recovery plans that I previously built.  I expected to need to manually modify the Windows Firewall to allow the custom port (9007), but I did not actually have to do so.

For more details, see Modify a Site Recovery Manager Installation the SRM 6.1 documentation.