CATEGORY: vCloudAutomationCenter

vRealize Automation 6.2 (vCAC) – GA! What’s New?

Another yearly quarter, and another product release! vRealize Automation 6.2 is now GA (Grab it!) and it brings so much awaited functionality to the table! This is the first release to have some impressive integration with VMware’s vROPS (formerly vCOPS) product, which is also GA today with version 6.0.

New Features!

vR Automation 6.2 / vR Operations 6.0 integration

Allows for Health badges to be viewed directly from item page, allowing the user to have a brief health summary of his VM. Also, vC-Ops-128xresource reclamation is available with insights from vROPs 6.0. When you’ll filter a VMs performance once vROPs is configured into the system, you’ll be able to search the metrics from vROPs rather then vCenter.
These two features are a huge benefit for day-to-day management of your private cloud VMs, and will surely drive great value in any environment where vROPs & vRA are integrated.

ASD Form vCO Workflow Execution

The ASD functionality of vRealize Automation always keep getting better and better. The latest improvements include being able to invoke a vCO action from the item form, when the form is displayed to the user. This, enables us to retrieve data for that request from 3rd party systems, or calculating addition information within vCO. This also applies to any custom day 2 operations you can build for vRealize Automation.

ASD Import/Export Content

This release also enables us to import and export content from vRA! Stuff like service blueprints can now be transferred from instance to instance.


VAMI Node Mgmt

Proxy Configuration for vCloud Air Endpoint

For those of you managing vCloud Air VMs with vRealize Automation, leveraging vCloud Air through an enterprise proxy is now possible via a special proxy setting in the vCloud endpoint

Centrelized Node info/log collection in vRA-VA

The vRealize Automation VA had it’s management interface revamped, and now allows for a full view of the installed components from a single point, checking if all components had communicated recently with the VA, and also the ability to collect logs in a centrelized fashion, straight from the VA’s VAMI management UI.

vRealize Applications & Custom Properties

For those of you who started exploring vRealize Applications, you can now expose the provisioned App ‘User queried’  properties, into the vRA request. Giving the user the ability to easily modify an application deployment at request time.

Come-Back Features!

Approval Props

Setting Approval Policy

Some of the (awesome) features that went away during the whole 5.2->6.0 transition are now doing a comeback! And these are GREAT news since these were REALLY handy stuff!

Editing Custom Properties on Approval

With vRA 6.2 you will be able to set custom properties to be editable by the approver! This is a wonderful feature that allows for a whole set of business logic approval use cases to be utilized again with vRA 6.2!

Calendar Widget


Approval Editing Properties

The all mighty calendar of events widget is now back, and allows you to view a calendar with all your item expiry / archiving / deletion dates right on the vRealize Automaion home page for every user! This is valuable to keep track on your VMs and leases and is a wonderful feature I really missed from 5.2

Hidden Features!

Wait… What?
So you’re probably wondering – “Why are there hidden features?” Well, the features that i’m going to describe below aren’t really meant for regular use, but are more related to my new role. I did think of some enterprise use cases where these could be beneficial, but keep in mind that they are considered ‘Experimental’.

Installing DEMs / Agents in Different Domains

One of the issues that I came across with some of my former customers (you know who you are!) was the need to manage several, unrelated domains with one vRA instance. This, naturally gets you to a decision point where IAAS is installed in a certain domain, be it management, prod, or where ever you see fit.


Calendar of Events

In order to have DEMs / vSphere Agents in other domains , you would need to do some nasty things. In this release, using the silent installer, you are able to grant a certain user in a remote domain (without any trust relationship) full access tothe IAAS repository. Meaning, that a vSphere Agent / DEM can be installed in a totally separate domain environment, under a different set of credentials from the main IAAS server components!

In order to do so, you’ll need to add two properties to the silent install for the DEM, named WorkflowManagerInstaller.msi . The properties are : DEM_REPO_USER / DEM_REPO_PASSWORD . An example of a silent install including these two properties should look something like this:


For this trick to work on a vSphere Agent, simply run a config command after the agent is installed:

[code] VRMAgent.exe -Repo-SetCredentials –user <username> –password <password> –domain <domain> [/code]

Proxying DEM Workers

When installing a DEM Worker with the silent installer, you’ll be able to add a proxy configuration for that DEM. So if you have any DMZ environments that you want to manage, this could be a great way to do so!

To proxy the DEM / Agent , simply use the silent installer mentioned in the paragraph above, and activate 3 new install parameters:

  • PROXY_ADDRESS <proxy ip addres>:<port>
  • USE_SYSDEFAULT <true/false>
  • BYPASS_ONLOCAL <true/false>

These are pretty self explanatory. The USE_SYSDEFAULT, tells the DEM to grab proxy configuration from the default system configuration found in IE proxy settings. BYPASS_ONLOCAL , will order the DEM to bypass the proxy when it detects a call from the same network he’s on.

vCAC Day 2: Detach Linked Clone VM

This post will demonstrate another very cool day 2 operation, detaching a linked clone VM. Though I didn’t implement it as part of a customer engagement, it just occurred to me that this can be done with some of the great vCO / ASD Day 2 operations.
In vCAC, when creating a linked clone blueprint, one must properly design the hardware infrastructure underneath. Or more correctly, your underlying storage.

There are many storage considerations that needs to take place when designing a Dev / QA typed linked clone environment with vCAC, since vCAC unlike vCD, doesn’t currently abstract the underlying linked clone machine management.
While this is not an issue if planned correctly, performance hits are something that can always lurk behind dark corners, when many VMs are using the same Read-Only replica.

This, got me thinking. If vCAC doesn’t do any abstraction on the VM provisioning layer like vCD, you could actually detach, or inflate, a vCAC linked clone vm, with a simple API call to vSphere. Thus, turning the VM to a full-clone machine, totally non-dependent on the ‘source replica’ it was generated from.
This is also an API call generally available in vCD as well as a ‘Consolidate’ operation. It’s available in the vApp VM menu given the right permission, and that the VM is powered off. BUT, in vCD, if a VM is consolidated it still won’t be able to do stuff as hard disk resizing – while vCAC VMs – CAN!

Thus, the main difference though is that vCAC VMs , when detached from their linked-clone replicas, just turn into day to day vsphere VMs, while vCD VMs will still be under vCD’s ‘Hard’ management thus a bit more tricky to back up / restore etc, and still retain the OvDC Linked Clone policy in some forms.

The Technical Details

Essentially, the API call we are going to utilize is for a VC:VirtualMachine object. The method is called ‘promoteDisks_Task’ we can see in vCO, that this method accepts two parameters,an array of which disks do you want to promote, and whether to detach them from the link clone replica.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 11.18.14

We’ll create a workflow for our Day 2 Op. Since the VM needs to be powered off during this operation, we will prompt the user for the best time for shut-down of his VM, by choosing an input of ‘date’ type (ASD will take care to present it automatically with a nice calendar. How cool is that?!) The second input for the workflow is the VM itself of course, of type VC:VirtualMachine.

With vCAC 6.1, we can create 2 workflows to run at separate cases, when the VM is Off, or On. The Off state workflow will not contain a date input, and the On Status workflow will. For this blog’s purpose, i’ll demonstrate only the On status workflow.

The workflow, will wait for the time specified by the user, then power off the VM grace fully, then, it will invoke the promote disks api call (we’ll get that in a second) and last it will wait for the generated task to end. Of course you can also opt to power the VM back on again.

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 18.12.15So what is in that scriptable task you ask? first , the scriptable takes in the VC:VirtualMachine parameter, and as out parameter has a VC:Task object (the task generated from promoting disks). The actual code that’s in there is:

[code]vcTask = vm.promoteDisks_Task(true)[/code]

This line of code will execute the promoteDisks task, on all of the VM disks, by specifying a null array, or only one parameter. Second parameter is ‘true’ for detaching disks (rather then just consolidating them).
Once the user will submit the request, vCO will do its thing, and by morning, that VM will turn into a regular boy! (VM!). The time this task takes may vary according to disk size, etc.

Once we have the workflow ready, we’ll configure it as an ‘On Status’ Day 2 operation like so:

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 12.24.16


And create an appropriate form for it:

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.41.12

As far as IaaS reservations , and policies for the user using up storage space, a check can be made to see if the VMs data store has enough room for the operation. Part from that, vCAC will actually calculate a full-disk usage on your reservation when you use linked-clones. This is due to the fact that linked clones are able to reach maximum VMDK size, thus , causing over allocation of their owner reservation. With this default method of calculating reservations, we can give our users the option to detach their VMs without worrying that their reservation will be over-subscribed.

As funny as it may seem, I couldn’t get a working vCAC system to demonstrate this fully and take screenshots, but really wanted to get this post out as soon as possible. I‘ll update it hopefully soon with the rest of the screenshots showing the VMs turning to full clones after the day 2 initiated.

Also, a thank you is deserved for Niran Even-Chen my VCDX friend for letting me use his 6.1 system, to take the screenshots above. Go check out his website –

vCAC (vRA) Cloud Client is GA!

This is something that has gone a bit under the radar generally speaking (even mine!). A couple of days ago, VMware released its vRealize Cloud Client. But what is it you ask?
Well, essentially cloud client is a tool built to automate various tasks within vCAC 6.X, like:


  • Creating blueprints / catalog items
  • Requesting catalog items
  • Activating vCAC Actions on existing items
  • Creating IaaS Endpoints
  • Automate SRM fail-overs under vCAC management(!!!)
  • Launch vCO Workflows (!!!!)
  • Write scripts using cloudclient cli

A Bit of Background

So, this awesome great tool, was initially built internally to help support some of the complex automation we do around here at VMware R&D , hence, cloudclient is now in version v3.0. Personally, I like tools like these, that come out directly from an engineering necessity. Mainly, because they come from the purest of use-cases – our own VMware internal use-cases.

Unlike vCAC CLI which went out as GA with vCAC 6.1, and is also more of a cli tool to operate vCAC’s REST APIs, CloudClient lets you do a lot of things within vCAC , with simple, one-lined commands!

What Can You Use it For?

From a customer perspective, first this tool brings great openstack-novacli-like functionality and can help your developers to consume Infrastructure as a Service, without interacting with the vCAC GUI, and to automate the request of machines using scripts.

So lets say I want to test a build using Jenkins, I can call cloud client from any shell (cmd / linux) or external script, and request a predefined catalog vm for my testing automatically. After that, you can list your items and operate on the VM / MutliMachine environment you got with cloudclient.

Using Cloud Client

First, grab cloudclient ! After you’ve done that, you’ll need to make sure that wherever you run it (bash / cmd ) ‘java’ is set as an operable program – meaning , you have the “C:\program files\Java\jre7\bin\” folder configured to your ‘Path’ environment variable so you can run java.exe from where you’re running cloudclient.

After everything is set, just run cloudclient.bat / (and accept the EULA once, be patient! this awesome cli thing is FREE ! )
Once you accepted the EULA, you should see this:

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 20.44.07

Next , if you’re wondering about the options in this thing, is to type ‘help’ which will show you all commands available with CloudClient.
Keep in mind, that you can always use the Tab key to auto-complete what commands can come next! Also, if you’re clicking Tab and nothing appears, just try adding minus signs like: “vra command –” and then press tab to see what parameters are available.

In order to log-in to vRA, we’ll type:

[code]vra login userpass –user –password MyPassword –server –tenant mytenant

If you’ve done it right, you should get a ‘Successful’ prompt back! For out next example, lets list all available catalog items:

[code]vra catalog list[/code]

The output should be:
catalog list

And finally, to make a request happen, we’ll need to perform a command similar to this:

[code]vra catalog request submit –groupid vmdemo –id CentOSx64 –reason Because –properties vminfo.project=ERP,provider-VirtualMachine.CPU.Count=2,provider-VirtualMachine.Memory.Size=2048[/code]

Inspecting this command carefully, you can see i’ve submitted a couple of properties with the request:

  • vminfo.project
  • provider-VirtualMachine.CPU.Count
  • provider-VirtualMachine.Memory.Size

So CPU Count & Memory Size are regular vCAC (vRA) properties, though when submitted through API , they need to have the ‘provider-‘ prefix , which is the same as saw when exploring the REST API through Firefox.

Some behaviour changes with 6.0 / 6.1 – In 6.1, if CPU/Memory are not set, request will go through with minimum CPU/Memory for the blueprint. In 6.0 (though I haven’t tested it) I believe the request will fail. So FYI :)

I must say, this is just a very short introduction to cloudclient and it’s capabilities. So go ahead, explore it, and if any more posts are needed – i’ll be sure to write them.

So leave your comments below! If you want, the official download page for CloudClient is linked Here

vCAC Day 2: Un-Archive VM

So, for a recent project of mine, I was requested with a cool ‘vCAC feature’ being able to archive, and un-archive a vCAC managed VM. I’ll explain the meaning behind the request.
Basically, the customer wanted to have his old VMs moved to low tier storage (SATA spindles), as part of the archiving process, in order to save on expensive storage, and of course for them to be able to back up ‘archived’ VMs in a certain manner, etc.
In order to achieve this, I leveraged two of vCAC’s abilities:

  • Use / Create a “Machine Expired” workflow stub.
  • Created a Day 2 Operation with vCO , to do a couple of things:
    • Storage vMotion the VM to its original datastore
    • Submit a lease extend request so the user won’t have to do two operations.

An “Expired” state workflow already exists in the vCAC stub workflow library, so its pretty simple to utilize it in order to trigger a storage vMotion operation to move an expired VM to a predefined storage location.
All we have to do next is to keep the original storage location in a custom property, for later use, to be able to get the VM to its original location.

I’ve created a custom property called “VirtualMachine.OriginalDatastore” and assigned it to my vSphere blueprints. What we need to do next is to write a vCO workflow to update that property with the VMs datastore ID when the machine’s expired, and also trigger a simple Storage vMotion to a predefined location (or an archive storage location that is decided by what ever logic you choose.

To trigger the expired vCO workflow, we can either use the vCAC Designer , or the vCO vCAC plugin (Extensibility pack.
I’ll cover doing this with the extensibiltiy pack. Simply copy the workflow template from the vCAC Extensibility package (vCAC -> Infrastructure Administration – > Extensibility) and generate a new workflow off of it.

Archive Flow


(Action is ‘addUpdatePropertyFromVirtualMachineEntity’)
As for the scriptable code:
Basically i’m just preparing variables needed to update the property on the expired VM.
After that, i’m updating the blueprints property to store it’s original location, and the I svMotion it to Archive Storage.

Now for the cooler part – Un-Archiving / Un-Expiring the VM. Here, we will create an ASD day 2 operation, that will:

  • Read the previous datastore data for that VM, locate the datastore object.
  • Storage vMotion the VM to its original datastore
  • Request a lease time extension on behalf of the user, so the VM won’t be ‘Expired’ anymore.

And here is how the workflow for it looks like:



First off, i’m receiving a VC:VirtualMachine object from the day 2 operation (the VM the user is requesting the operation on) so in the first activity I find the vCAC IaaS object that is that vCenter VM, with an action.
After that, I need to check if the machine is actually expired, since this day 2 is meant for ‘Expired’ VMs. This , BTW, can be avoided with vCAC 6.1, since I can expose the ‘Un-Archive’ Day 2 operation only when the VM status equals ‘expired’.

If the VM is in an ‘Expired’ state, I continue to read the ‘Pre Archive Datastore’ cusom property I put earlier on in the VM. After that, I get the VC:Datastore object of that datastore. Now, you can notice that if I don’t find that datastore, I ask the administrator what to do. He can opt to cancel the entire thing, or to continue extending the lease on the current VM ‘Archive’ datastore and let it power-on there.
If I find the datastore, I svMotion the virtual machine to its correct datastore. vCAC will pick this change on the next data collection cycle.

Lastly, I generate an action request to change the lease, to the user’s chosen date. This workflow, also takes a date variable as an input. This will prompt the user for a date, with a nice calendar UI in the Day 2 operation form.

Since I won’t be able to really show you how this is actually done in this context, i’ll link you to a very helpful community article written by one of our vCAC vCO plugin lead developers, that will help you to understand how to submit a request in vCAC using vCO.

I hope you enjoyed this article, leave your comments below!

vCloud Automation Center 6.1 GA – What’s New?

Now that vCloud Automation Center 6.1 is generally available (grab it!) we can go more into the details of whats new! I’ve been waiting for this release for quite some time, as it improved some nice things and set a standard for next versions. So are you ready? lets go!


Installation Changes Quick-guide

Some notable installation changes can be seen with this new version. In terms of install steps, they are still the same:

  1. vCAC SSO (Id Appliance / Windows Install / vCenter Server)
  2. vCAC VA (Clustered or not)
  3. vCAC IaaS (Distributed or not)

An important note regarding the identity appliance – Upgrades from 6.0.x will still need the <id appliance FQDN>:7444 format in the host name field, BUT a fresh install will not require the port, only the host FQDN.
On the vCAC appliance side – achieving HA is now a breeze. Simply install 2 vCAC VA Appliances, configure the primary one, and add a secondary to the cluster by clicking an “HA Mode” option. This will configure the Web app, and messaging for HA mode, PostgresSQL will still have to be configured manually.


HA Mode in vCAC VA Configuration Page

As for the vCAC IaaS component, the installation of the components is pretty much the same, but a couple of things changed. .Net 4.5.1 is now the new IaaS operating framework, but you will also need Java 1.7 x64 or later to be installed on the db machine as well.

UPDATE: Looks like it might be the Manager server that specifically needs Java rather then the DB, I’ll re-check and update pre-req script soon.

The new pre-req checker will obviously warn you about this, also another tiny thing i’ve noticed – When you download java from Oracle, using a server box (an 2008 R2 for that matter) the Java you will get is an x86 one since IE is a 32 bit application, thus your computer is detected as such. So pay a good attention to which version of Java you download, since x64 is a must here.
The install script below will handle all pre-reqs, as well as attempt to download the Java 1.7 x64 and set JAVA_HOME (which is also required) for you.

After we’re done configuring everything, it’s time to login! At a first glance we can notice the vCAC UI got a nice minor revamp , showing the vCloud Suite colors & theme, and also a bit of a flat design. I like it overall.
Oh and another minor thing, you can now also access vCAC through –
https://vcac-host-fqdn/vcac/org/tenant (no more shell-ui-app, though it will work as a soft link)

New Features

vcac6 ui

New vCAC 6.1 UI

A major change that had to go deep into the vCAC 6.x code base was support for the standard i18n language codes, which includes some standard languages such as German, Japanese, Chinese and more. This is actually something coming all the way from Pat Gelsinger for all of the VMware products.

Enhanced NSX Support

This version of vCAC is mostly ‘the NSX version’ it brings some major improvements to the way multi-machine blueprints are deployed with complex networking and supports NSX in order to do so. A good example of this is the support for NSX features like:

  • Logical Switches
  • Distributed Logical Routers
  • Security Groups & policies
  • Distributed Firewall Rules
  • Load Balancers

Basically all of these improve a lot of the NSX functionality, for instance, the ability to utilize DLR enables us to deploy single-arm edge devices, with an internal link that serves as a gateway, and the external link is served by the ESXi DLR.

Also, vCAC 6.1 comes with a builtin vCO 5.5.2 Server, which contains by default, a new version of the NSX plugin for vCO! This is actually crucial in running some of the logic for vCAC / NSX integration, so if you configure vCAC for an external vCO IaaS endpoint, and plan to use NSX, be sure to install the NSX plugin on that vCO server!

This plugin will also enable you to perform some great day 2 operations on your VMs, like adding a machine to a load balanced configuration, or a security group.

ASD Capabilities

Add Day2

Add a new day2Op. Notice the ‘Status equals On’

Advanced Service Designer has been around since 6.0.x release, and VMware has extended some of the things it can perform. For example, you can now assign a day 2 operation to a VM on a VM filter basis.
This means that from now on you will be able to decide when does a VM shows its ASD Day 2 operations, according to its properties. For example, show a custom day 2 operation only if a VM is Powered On, since it is only relevant to that state of the VM.

You will also be able to filter-out operations to be displayed based on other parameters as well, kind of like the parameters available with approval policies.
Also, one of the problems with vCAC 6.x was the lack of ability to specify that a certain Day 2 operations is an ‘Un-provision’ operation. You had do delete the item off of vCO’s cache, and get vCAC to refresh its inventory as well. With the 6.1 ASD, you can specify whether a Day 2 operation is a ‘Provisioning’ one like lets say – clone a vCAC VM (and provision a second VM off of it) , or un-provisioning an ‘abstract’ item.

Last thing new and exciting about ASD is the ability to show output to the users from an ASD Day 2 operation! Meaning, you can have the output of the vCO workflow displayed to the user after the day 2 operation is done, if you need to let him know of a specific output. This is a lot nicer then an email in some cases.

Application Services


Application Services 6.1

As part of the vCAC 6.1 release, VMware’s former ‘App Director’ or now, Application Services , is also released in a new version. This version has better integration to vCAC , allowing for users to deploy fully blown multi tier apps as service catalog items.
Some of the new features include:

  • Resuming a failed App deployment
  • Multi tenancy support
  • Allowing for additional day 2 ops

Users will now be able to own the infrastructure holding the application requested from the ‘Application Services’ provider (unlike in vCAC 6.0.x) so they are easier to manage, from the central vCAC item portal.

Also, the new Application Services platform is more tightly integrated with puppet, to be able to deliver puppet configured platforms, enabling application teardown, scale in / scale out using the puppet nodes.

Infrastructure Bulk Import

vCloud Automation 6.1 now allows you to bulk import your existing infrastructure into vCAC’s management, with the help of CSV files. Although you could also import brownfield environments in 6.0.x using the infrastructure organizer, things would get complicated when you would try to import a lot of machine with multiple owners to multiple business groups. The bulk import tool comes to simplify all of that, and generates a much simpler importing flow for the end user / admin.

vCloud Automation Center CLI



This version of vCAC comes built in with a little tool called vCAC-CLI. It’ll help you do some rest operations on vCAC with ease, and allow you to get well formatted JSON responses when you perform GET operations. This tool is not ‘CloudClient’ as some of you may or may not know, but more of a vCAC cURL tool.
The tool is Java based, so you can use it from any client OS (Mac / Windows / Linux). You can download the vCAC-CLI tool directly from the vCAC Appliance.
Expect some more in-depth posts about this one later on.

vCloud Automation Center API

The fruits of the vCAC 6.0.x API have ripened and the vCloud Automation Center 6.1 exposes a fully blown Rest APIs accessible even without the help of our friend vCO !

XaaS & Dynamic Types Plugin

vCO 5.5.2 Dynamic Types plugin should now be in full sync with vCAC 6.1, allowing for users to create any vCO inventory item (and thus, a vCAC ASD item) off of services equipped with external REST/SOAP APIs … I’ll be fiddling with these capabilities soon, so expect some interesting updates in the posts to come. Meanwhile, you can check out this few guides at vCOTeam.Info to get your game going on new XaaS options and capabilities!