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.

vCAC VA HA

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

ApplicationsS

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

vcaccli

vCAC 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!

Downloads


Comments
Harvey Specter
Posted at 9:59 pm September 10, 2014
jgrinwis
Reply
Author

do you have any idea what we need to get the NSX part up and running. We got a separate vco server but after upgrading IAAS,vCAC and VCO and installing the vCAC 6.1 VCO packages in the lab our multi machine blueprints are not working anymore.
We also grabbed the NSX workflow package from the community site but it keeps complaining about missing vco endpoint when doing a data collection of security part. All other workflows where running fine.

We just restored our snapshot back to 6.0.1 and everything running fine again.

    Harvey Specter
    Posted at 10:58 pm September 10, 2014
    Kushmaro
    Reply
    Author

    You’ll need the NSX flow package + plugin in VCO.
    Plugin should be configured as well I believe (add NSX Manager there), vCAC should be configured with a vCO IaaS endpoint, that has the NSX manager configured in it, perform data collection as well on VC endpoint configured with the NSX url as well. (You can specify network & security url inside a vSphere endpoint config)

Harvey Specter
Posted at 2:46 am October 11, 2014
Jak
Reply
Author

Well written article covering new features of vcac 6.1.x.
Thanks and keep it up

Harvey Specter
Posted at 1:57 pm December 12, 2014
Robert
Reply
Author

Hi,

you write it’s now possible to display a output as the result of a day-2-operation (besides the old OGNL way of doing). How do you do that? I’m unable to find any information about it. Your blog post is the only info I’m able to get.

    Harvey Specter
    Posted at 7:29 pm December 14, 2014
    Kushmaro
    Reply
    Author

    Wow, Really? Surprising!
    well, I guess I should really post something about this shouldn’t I? :)
    Anyway, in short – you make a vCO workflow with out Params as the result, and then you are able to edit the service blueprint / day2 to show these params , on the left pane you’ll be able to select the out-variables.
    once these are in place, when you execute the flow, and go to the request details of that finished request, you’ll see the results!

      Harvey Specter
      Posted at 9:20 am December 15, 2014
      Robert
      Reply
      Author

      Hi Kushmaro,

      thanks for the info. Now It’s clear what you mean. Reading the post it sounded like the user would get feedback within the item view, not within the resquest view.

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