Monday @VMworld

Note: For the sessions I’ll embed the videos once they are released. Similar to the general session.

General Session

Big announcements

  • Acquisition of Pivotal and Carbon Black
  • Project Tenzu with Project Pacific bringing native Kubernetes into the vSphere space running Kubernetes on ESXi and stating that it can run over 8% faster than bare metal and 30% faster than a linux VM.
  • Some other announcements but my mind was already blown.

Build Your First Kubernetes Cluster on vSphere with Kubeadm [CODE1151UR]

Kenny Coleman @kendrickcoleman

VMworld Video

Packed house makes it hard to type, but obviously. Kubernetes is a main interest point for all of the attendees of VMware. Also gotta shout out to VMware Code as they booths are pretty slick and awesome at the same time.

  • Kubeadm – De-facto under the covers use of creating your Kubernetes cluster.
  • Checkout the Kuberenetes the hard way in git
  • what is your distribution server(what OS)
  • make your distribution configurable as a template.
  • Important to find the pipeline to build it.
  • Now time to look through all the ways to install Kubernetes.
  • Networking! How do you inter-pod networking setup?(calicok, canal, kube-router,romana)
  • Are you ready to install? Nope gotta figure out storage. Persistent storage is a needed process that needs to be done. Especially moving that storage to CSI(container storage interface)
  • blah.cloud to setup the install. Now you can install Kubernetes.
  • Resource pool with no resources in vSphere??? Use Clustername/resources in the file to utilize the cluster.
  • Kubeadm runs upgrades for you for clusters. Documentation on what can and cant be done and the pre-reqs
  • Project Tanzu still part of the whole solution.
  • kubeadm normally runs with one master, now in Beta it can look into multi-master setup.
  • KubeADM is in alpha for Windows in 1.16
  • How to get started – https://kubernetes.academy/
  • Go check out blah.cloud.
  • Free HOL on PKS – goto: https://labs.hol.vmware.com/HOL/catalogs/catalog/1212 and search PKS

Cloud Native Fundamentals: Containers and Kubernetes 101 for the VI Admin [KUB1126BU]

Nathan Ness @nvpnathan & Scottie Ray @H2Only

VMworld Video

  • Basically starting off right where the previous session talking about all the components of Kubernetes
  • But it all starts on a dockerfile(if running on Docker)
  • One beauty of Kubernetes and Containers in general, is that once you have the template, file, w/e to setup your app. it can be run on whatever DLL you have.
  • Kubernetes terms
  • Node = Conainer host w/agent called “kubelet”
  • Application Deployment File = configuration file of desired state
  • Container Image = runs in a pod
  • Replicas = copies of pods that must be running
  • Moving from a Container to a pod, a Pod is the concept of a side-car idea as a container is one microservice whereas the pod has multiple microservices.
  • Labels help, do that….
  • Type:LoadBalancer is Key to the Kubernetes service as it takes the application and turns it into HA with its replicas.

A lot of Q and A time after the session. It seems like a lot of people are looking for Kunernetes answers to questions they haven’t really defined. There are a lot of great training out there for Kubernetes, but I’m definitely going to write up some stuff to go over and help define those answers. Gotta get home though… and remember to do it while renovating our house to sell..

Continuous Application Delivery with Code Stream: A customer journey [HBO1080BU]

With Juan Hernandez, and Deepak Kallakuri

[No Link]

  • Trying to get code into a CI/CD pipeline is the hardest part of most companies. Figuring out how to create this process is paramount to keeping the process running well.
  • Two different pipelines sets, one for infrastructure as code utilizing Terraform, Cloud Formation, Cloud Foundations, CAS, ETC.  and Application Pipelines pushing code to an app(Using azure devops, Jenkins, spinnaker, etc.)
  • Code Stream is integrated with Cloud Assembly in CAS so it makes sense that the combination of vRA and CAS flows.
  • Northern Grumman went to 250 feature branch merges a day. That’s awesome.
  • CD pipeline for code stream

Once I get the video up or this its worth a watch for the demo itself. The co-joining between CAS and vRealize is a bit easier to understand when they talk through it. Though I’ll admit I’m not a fan at what Code Stream looks like. Perhaps the gui, and I need to dig in more with the code.

Building and Controlling Modern REST APIs with OpenAPI and Kong [CODE3326U]

With Dan Illson @dan_illson  http://www.cloudjourney.io

VMworld Video

  • Kong is a usable API gateway other things like ambassador
  • API = application programming interface
  • APIs bring multiple machines into one, as previously engineers didn’t care where the APIs were because normally they were all on the same machine, now they are all over the place.
  • APIs have built ins like get and post to utilize information
  • CRUD = Create, Read, Update, Delete
  • Lets talk about REST API
  • Key unit of measure of REST is a resource
  • REST is a good process of push pull information from one place to another.
  • OpenAPI Specification(Swagger 3.0)
  • OpenAPI definition is created via a Yaml file.
  • What is an API gateway? An element which coordinates and orchestrates how requests are processed.
    • It routes requests to services
  • Most commonly used as “front end” for sets of services/microservices
  • May also be “internally” between the components of an application
  • Kong – A popular open source API gateway implementation
    • Written on nginx
    • API driven configuration
    • Modular via plugins

The Genius of Kubernetes [CODE1172UR]

Richard Lander

VMworld Video

Automating Builds and Deployments, aka CI/CD for Dummies [CODE3330U]

Tim Davis @vtimd http://www.cloudjourney.io

VMworld Video

  • This is focusing on Software development and what those tools are like
  • Why automate
    • You can know whats out there but you need to standardize and create policy around it.
    • Also the manual process is bad… very bad…
  • What is CI/CD
    • CI = Continuous Integration
      • Your Code base when updated is deployed and set into a repo, and pushed into production via CD
    • CD = Continuous Deployment(Delivery) – Sending that code repo into production
      • Taking the code thats been built and sent into the production servers for actual use.
  • How does it work?(Demo)
    • Basically starting with a GitLab repository(because not a fan of GitHub).
    • Once the code is local, you can run the docker build and then push it to the docker repository(docker.io)
    • The build yml file indicates stages such as Scanning for claire scanning to run and find CDEs on any files they are using.
    • Performance scanning with Locust performance to check the application
    • One thing is a variable that can be piped into the yaml via the secrets stored in GitLab
    • How do you get all this into the pipeline? Automate one piece at a time, one stage at a time. Automation the build stage, if that works Automate the next stage etc. until you have a good and repeatable CI/CD pipeline.
  • Make it up as we go along.

Things that happened today!

vBeards with my VMug Leader!! I had to faux it… 😦

I found CODY!!

Sunday OTW and @ VMworld 2019

The Trip

Sitting here in a quiet terminal is slightly surreal. I’m not used to silence or the singular sound of roller bags one at a time going through. Its peaceful… too peaceful. I got here too early.

I’m a stickler for rules. I don’t know why, but if I’m told to be at the airport two hours early I don’t ask questions I just do. However, since waking up at 3AM and being unable to get back to sleep, getting to this point has been paramount. I should explain that the last time I flew out of DFW Airport I was late for my flight. I’m more a Love field guy. Suffice it to say I had a lot of anxiety about today.

One thing people don’t tell you about much is time management with VMworld. Oh sure the #1 thing people say to prepare you is “COMFY SHOES” its almost something on a t-shirt or a bumper sticker, but time management is paramount. Which is also something I’m not great with.

Lets see, I fly out and arrive a little after 11, and have 2 hours before my first session it get to the hotel, check-in, register at VMworld, and hopefully get something to eat along the way. Lots of places for things to go wrong. But one place to go right. to inform you, dear reader, that flying out on Saturday, isn’t a bad way to do it. Sure, its one extra night, and meals, but the free thought and peace of knowing you’re not crunched is definitely worth it.

Lets see If I get to Run Kubernetes on VMware. Which is paramount to my going to VMworld, since I’m being a deciding factor on where we should run out Kube cluster(AWS, Azure, on-prem, IBM, etc.)

TIM DAVIS WHAT UP! I normally catch up on twitter when I can, and the airport definitely affords that. While scrolling and responding back and forth in twitter I found out my friend Tim Davis was at the same airport on the same flight, but was chilling in the admirals lounge! He got me in so we could catch up and prep some more for the oncoming VMworld enjoyment. Thanks TIM!

Not much to state about the flight, it wa pretty non-eventful. I don’t normally fly American, so it was nice to see all the great stuff that they had. What I get Movies?! cool…

Run Kubernetes on VMware

@Boskey, and @morellatosimone

Well as a first session goes, this is impressive. A full house made right at the kickoff. Really excited. As this is a Workshop there isn’t much to discuss or talk about. This will supposedly be an intro into kubernetes and a great warm up for VMworld. Here.We.Go…

  • Definition of Devops in this session is “Improving the pipeline to deploy code.”
  • its time to abstract the Operating system. (Heck yes it is. This is the main response to containers in our environment)
  • Kubernetes is a container orchestration layer that maintains desired state, distribute containerized workloads, decouple app from infrastructure.
  • Focusing on the removal of the App from the Infrastructure, normally when building an application you need the binary, configs, resources, storage, replication, load balancer(if needed), security(ACL) and Upgrades(CI/CD)
  • The same app in Kubernetes speak turns int pods, Secrets, deployment, PV(Persistant Volume) Claims, Replica Sets, services, Network Policies, Labels, and Services.JKBk72RNS2a3YFXCDX8MSw
  • The infrastructure layer would be either vSphere, AWS, GCP, or Azure.
  • Kubernetes Workloads: Pods, Jobs, Cron Jobs, Daemon Sets, Deployments, Replica Sets, Stateful Sets, CRDs8uvwa8ErStW0k2kkSgMRQw
  • p0nWwEMKSHGOwE2cOM3%TA
  • XEYikXi7QV6GDLpSZhtdOQ
  • Normally Kubernetes is stateless applications, but here we define StatefulSet in action:
  • v4mS2YoUSd2S1sKtyj7Tow
  • LabelsdI50KvjtSv2ePVHILw2fdg.jpg
  • Deployments, Replica Sets and ServiceIfL43QceSiyf8it7KpbLLw
  • Map of Kubernetes and Load balancingxY7LcSO4SlaM+glqFXuFcA
  • Map of PODS(How it looks)NkHwQ9GkTkKBHM9gmvRTTQ
  • Now the good stuff. Persistent Volumes. This is definitely a confusing discussion and caused a lot of questions. Here are the slides to hopefully show what it looks like.PoXPDMVtTcmHXg3ttmaj3AKXUzbgnPQpCjcUzfH%dgbQ
  • Slide on Config Maps/Secrets. This is something that I don’t really know enough about and need to review but hey, thats what Google is for right?APqiEQZiF5arlBuFBPA
  • Good summary of the SessionfOisSMr7TieT3Hb5%fVNow
  • Here is the link to alot of the PODS. Unfortunately, this requires PKS deployed and a pod available. Perhaps you can spin up a PKS HOL and have time to go through this as the YAMLs and information is all in a public Github.
  • Labs here: https://github.com/Boskey/run_kubernetes_with_vmware/wiki

The main difficulty for me was getting the VKE and Kubernetes cli in the /usr/bin. Its worth noting that if you have El Capitan installed on your Macbook /usr/bin is now a system folder and you can’t move or copy files there. I got around this by putting it in /usr/local/bin and then setting the PATH variable there.

All in All an amazing session. Give @Boskey, and @morellatosimone a follow!

Opening the Solutions Exchange

HASHICORP IS HERE! Getting face to face with people for the application is probably as good if not better than any session at VMworld. I only did about 4 to 5 booths, but was able to hit up Hashicorp, Git, Puppet, and cloudbolt. So many more vendors to talk to, with the bigger companies like Cohesity, Rubrik, Dell, AWS, GCP, Pure, etc.

Obviously these are great conversations here but I’m extending an already extended blog, so lets just call it a great time had by all 🙂

Parties

With Jet Lag and everything I didn’t make any parties to talk about. I tried to get to the VMUG and the VMunderground, but didn’t make either. So sad… Now to bed… I’m really tired…

Automation: Getting Started with vRealize Automation (Part 3)

So at this point you should have the following:

  1. Endpoint connection with your VCenter
  2. Fabric Group allowing the resources to be granted
  3. Business Groups allowing specific group of users access to..
  4. Reservations setup to grant resources to business groups
  5. Reservation policies to allow specific Reservations to be called
  6. Network Policy to allow specific IP pools to be pulled/pushed from
  7. Active directory policy to place computer objects in specific OUs

You should have All this from the following blogs:

It sounds insane to say it but now that you have all these building blocks completed. Now you can setup your blueprints and start your deployments.

The Design

Before you start your blueprint plot out on paper or your mind or whatever how you want the end goal of the deployment. Do you want a SAAS solution tacked on? Are you using Enterprise vRA or Advanced? All of these questions lead up to how you deploy your instances. For this purpose we’ll assume the following

  1. You read my blog, and you did the stuff
  2. You use Customization specifications for vSphere deployments
  3. You utilize Templates for your deployment

With the following assumed I’m just going to walk through a basic setup for a basic deployment. The goal here isn’t to get fancy. Its really just to get your feet wet so that the next steps will be to custom build the server from there on.

The Canvas

Once your logged back into vRA you will go to design, and then click the green + for a new blueprint. Here is the screen you will see:Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.53.29 PM

So this is pretty basic,

  • Name is the name of the blueprint your creating
  • Id is the name of the blueprint as well, but no spaces
  • Description is pretty much what it is
  • Deployment limit, This limits the number of the deployments per request. This will allow users to build multiples of the same machine, However, you will need to have your naming statically set.
  • Lease Days – For this you can set the minimum of a lease, at the end of that lease if the user does not extend within the last two days it’ll shut down the machine and then the user can extend. If he doesn’t extend it will just stay shutdown. Once it gets to Archive day(s) it will shutdown the machine and delete it(So be careful). The deployment limit lease and archive are optional and do not need to be set.

Now lets look at the design canvas:Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 11.14.51 PM

On the left you see your different categories and the assets you can deploy, From machines, Software components(ONLY IN ENTERPRISE LICENSE. Advanced will still see the option but not have the ability to change add one). Blueprints for nested deployment, Networks, XAAS, Containers, Config Management, and Other Components. These are all fun and great things to work with, but for this we’re going to keep it simple.

  • Machine Type – For now drag a VMware machine type onto the canvas and have that stick. This consists of the majority of properties, and is the central hub for the additional assets. Once you add the machine type into the canvas it’ll open up alot of other properties that we’ll get into.
  • Software Components – This is setup in Enterprise Licensed vRA and then can be attached to machine types in the canvas.
  • Blueprints – If you want to place an already setup blueprint in the canvas and attach multiple pre-built machines to a deployment.
  • Network & Security – Here is where a lot of you NSX automatons come in. For now we are just going to use the external network and connect it to our network profile.
  • Xaas – This attaches an automation for basically anything to a machine deployment
  • Containers – Deploys a container app into a cluster. However, there are pre-reqs there that are needed to be deployed properly.
  • Configuration Management – This deploys built in Ansible and Puppet workflows(I believe this started in 7.5 but perhaps 7.6)
  • Other Components – This is any other resource component or solution published for the deployment workflows

Videos:

Instead of giving a written write-up on how to do this, I figured its WAY easier to just see some of the pros do this in a video. @virtualJad has some amazing stuff thats older but still useful to get your feet wet, and if you’ve followed this blog the pre-reqs should still be there:

HOLs

Along with Videos, There are hands on labs that VMware uses to teach you how to create a deployment. Here are the labs:

 

I think these videos and HOL’s are a great way to pick up where this leaves off and get you going.

I hope this series has been a help to get you started using vRealize Automation.

 

 

The Positive Side of Failure

Disclaimer: This isn’t another Mental Health post. I’ll share that part of my story sometime later. This is going to be raw, so if you can’t read this, don’t. I am not looking for empathy or sympathy. These experiences brought me to where I am and I don’t resent them. I want this to be something that helps others know they can be better, and push themselves to find it. Even though the road is rough.

The first road

One thing people find strange about me is that I never intended to work with computers. The idea of IT work was something that sounded so tedious and horrible, that when I was 7 I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to do. No, 8 year old Nathan knew he was going to be a pastor, or a missionary but definitely something to do with the Gospel message of Good news. I taught Sunday school, lead children’s church as a teenager. Led worship once even, and while I was in college I was a youth minister for a small church. However, whatever religion, belief you are, you know that things don’t always turn out how you plan.

While I was in seminary our church went through a very rough time. So rough in fact that the pastor had lost the trust of the session. To those that know what that means its a pretty messed up place for all involved; the church, the session, and most importantly the pastor. The church voted to remove the pastor, a man who had been mentoring me in becoming a better version of myself behind the pulpit, and a strong help in my life.

This was rough, but then I was also flunking one of my classes. I talked to my teacher who told me,

“Just memorize this passage and I’ll pass you.”

Instead of taking the win, my reaction was, “Then why is this class mandatory?” The straw that broke the camels back was we were in seminary housing, and we were told we could have a cat. But when they found out we had one, they wanted us out. This lead to a perfect storm that taught me one thing. I was in the wrong place.

One thing that came out of it was my wife (who’s still married to me, don’t ask me how). Came home after another day of bringing home the $$ for the family, and found me in the middle of the living room, with all the pieces of my computer spread out. “What happened??”, I replied, “I found the noise in my computer, I KNEW it wasn’t the fan.” This led my patient wife to ask me later on, “So why don’t you work with computers??”

The second road

“So why don’t I?? Its always been a hobby. I’ve been ok with it from time to time, and for some reason my wife and others think I’m good at it… Nah, I’ll never be good at it.” 

This was my thinking after we moved out of seminary and into a house. I took a job as a barista at Starbucks over a job with Bomgar (which is now Beyond Trust). At the time we were living in Mississippi, and Bomgar headquarters was only 20 mins from my house. That nagging feeling stayed there. Especially when I couldn’t say what “DNS” stood for.

I worked as a Barista for about a year, and man I was good at it. I loved working with the people, and I REALLY loved my boss, Summer. She was a hard taskmaster but a good listener. She really helped me out once or twice at work. Some of the assistant managers didn’t take too kindly to me when I started, but I worked my way up, and moved to the only barista on the 6AM drive through (Which meant I took orders and made the drinks). Man I was good at that. It helped that I was good talking to people, after about 6 years in retail from selling toys, to books, and music.

As I was working at Starbucks my dad told me of one of his friends who needed a tech hand. I asked what was needed and he said, “Oh you just need to be able to image and re-image machines.” Thats childs play I though. I told my dad I’d be happy to look into that job all the while that voice was in the back of my head. “You can’t do IT… Its not your thing…” was the voice in my head. Arguably it was a jump. At this point I’ve only worked on my own computers and sold them at Circuit City(dating myself here). So I picked up the job.

Third Road

The interview process for this job was strange. I came to this mans house and gasped at how nice it was. I went to the front and rang the doorbell. After meeting his wife and son, I met the friend of my dad’s. He was a military man and I could tell from talking to him he was a strict man. After our discussion(which was over an hour), He told me I had the job and told me to start Monday. This wasn’t a problem as my manager at Starbucks was stellar and a friend from seminary. She let me off and I took the position.

Its worth mentioning this was my first time to touch a server. It didn’t help that it was a desktop server and not rails. In fact, I never touched a rail server through this job. I pushed updates, Ran CCcleaner and did random tasks. I basically did whatever his client asked me to do. I started to learn from them and him, but I was distracted. That voice never left. I never could break the idea that I could do well in this environment.

One thing I immediately realized was I had an issue with checklists, I had an astigmatism in my right eye that made me skip lines when I was reading, so I would miss steps.

I only worked for the man 3 months. Within the first 1.5 months we were at odds. I’d ask for help from him on the phone and he would talk me through things now and again, but one time I stayed on the phone after I said goodbye just out of tiredness and I heard the words,

“What an Idiot!”

To say my confidence was shattered at that job from then on is pretty easy to understand. I kept trying though. I became unable to think for myself, and leaned on him more which led him to get more angry at me. You see, he wanted me to ONLY do things his way, but my personality was more curious than that. If I had a document to follow, I’d still have questions about it.

In a troubleshooting session I called him and after working through some issues he said he would reach out to support. When I was back on the phone with him I was greeted by a friendly, “Good to meet you Nathan, let’s take a look.” So I began to talk through what was going on and what the issue was, after about 30 seconds, my boss interjected, “I’ve already told him the issue you don’t have to go into it.” I shook that off this time, because this time I thought I found the issue. I let him talk for a second then asked, “Well I think the problem is over in…” and was interrupted again,

“Nathan this is the guy who helped code the application. Your opinion is not needed or wanted, you can go home.”

So I did. I never heard what the issue was, and I asked. My boss never told me. It was a week later my boss said he believe my heart to not be in the job. A week after that I told him that I was going to quit. I’ll never forget his response.

Thats good Nathan, I think your a great artist. You should do guitar or choir or something in music but stay out of IT. You will never be successful in that field. You don’t have what it takes. I just don’t think you can comprehend it”

The artist statement was because I was a music minor in college. I played classical guitar and sang in the choir mostly. I also took a couple of classes here and there. The problem with going into music was I was in my mid 20s at the time and I knew I didn’t have the skills.

The pit stop

Calling the next couple years a pit stop is a generous statement. I literally had no idea what I was doing or where I was going. I took on odd jobs, played lots of video games.

That awesome Starbucks manager took me back, and even though she already had the staff to run the shop, she found a place for me. So I went back to Starbucks for another 6 months. That time was pretty critical for me because I started re-gaining some very needed confidence.

I began realizing that no matter what people said, I am good at things. I just don’t know what I should be doing.

My amazing wife continued to be my cheerleader, friend and hope each day. She took on some rough jobs to keep the bills paid, but she was just stellar through this whole process. She would come home and talk about the people at work and I would tell her how I played video games each day, and did some studying.

That studying was because I had an amazing cousin who spun up a Hyper-v cluster for me to utilize to learn Microsoft Active Directory and other computer issues. To be fair, I didn’t utilize it enough or appreciate the gift that he had created for me. My mind was in such a state that I just didn’t know what to do, and I needed a good kick to get me out of this funk.

The kick

During this time we had moved from Mississippi to Fort Worth, Texas. We were living in a house that my in-laws had and wanted to keep clean/kept up, instead of just being dormant. Well it was summer and we were told the house needed to be sold and we needed to find a new place. Also during this time, we were trying to sell the house in Mississippi that we bought. That house stayed on the market for over a year, and after swapping realtors we found out that we were asking well over what that house was worth. However, we got an offer and took it having to pull a 12k loan to get out of that house. Debt piling up and the fear of no roof over my head, the only thing I could do was go back into the job market. I went to a legitimate temp agency just to get something. Surprisingly, they said my skills are mostly fit for IT, and they place me at RadioShack as a graveyard shift tech for setting up new stores.

Its kinda funny how that 12$ an hour job was a godsend to us. My income had doubled and I thought, “This is ok for now till I find a better solution.”

The Road I’m On…

Working at RadioShack ended up being a great experience. The people I worked with were fun and hilarious, the bosses were nice (mostly), and some were even tough taskmasters. But one thing they all had that I didn’t know existed in IT, was resilience. Failure wasn’t the worst thing, nor was following documents. The worst thing you could do was to be lazy and complacent.

While I was there I learned a lot, but still thought I’d never be great at higher level IT. I didn’t even think this was IT. I just slung hardware at problems and never really dug into much. Then after the project was over they were going to cut the contractors. However, I had worked through the night and into the day shift and had grown a good relationship with that team and manager. They had even put me in the day phone queue for a while to help with calls. After all this my bosses boss came up to me and said,

“Stop working overtime! I’m not going to pay it if you can’t watch your hours!” That shook me for a second, then the dayshift manager (who wasn’t my manager) piped up and said,“He’s worth it”. Then his boss responded, “Well, HIRE him.”

The guy that said that probably had no idea, and still doesn’t know how big those three words were to me. For the first time, I had worth in the IT field. I was GOOD at it, at a professional level. Even though phone help is seen at a lower scale, to me it was still a “big boy job”.

RadioShack definitely had its hardships, but I built great relationships with people, learned a lot, and went from a phone tech, to a level 2 server admin, to a network operator. My next job was a graveyard tech at an Oil company. I worked graveyard for about a year, and then moved to the day shift doing data analysis with BMC Remedy, and then the VMware guy who was dealing with vRealize Automation asked me to code the automation for creating, adjusting, modifying tickets and the CMDB.

My issues with checklists, went away with automation, and I finally found my home. I’ve been working automation ever since pushing either DevOps code based solutions, or Gui based automation that will push one thing to the next without having to manually click buttons off a procedural checklist.

The Positive Side of Failure…

This may read very negatively, but I’m very glad for each step I took along the way. I love my wife and remember each day that she did for me, what I do for her now. I love that she can be what she wants and has that freedom. I push myself each day to learn and grow, but more importantly, I push myself to ‘fail’.

Out of my career I’ve learned that failure isn’t an option, it’s a part of life. It’s going to happen no matter what you do. It is how you respond to it that defines your success. It took me a long time to learn that lesson. I still know people who deal with failure incorrectly. They think if they fail, they will never be successful. I find that I’m successful, because I fail, and I’m not alone. Here are some quotes by some interesting people:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. ” – Calvin Coolidge

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.  – Thomas A. Edison

As a kid, falling was embarrassing. As I got older, I got used to falling and picking myself back up. There’s not a sense of failure. It’s of disappointment. You train so hard to not make mistakes. When you do, you’re learning from that. How do I improve? How do I get better for the next time? Through every failure, there’s something to be learned. – Michelle Kwan

“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.” – C. S. Lewis

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious … and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

Let these be the voices in your head, and each time you fall, remember that fall, accept what happens, take the noise from the fall out of your head, and move on. Each fall is teaching you something, learn from it. Michael J. Fox uses the word vacuum very well:

“There’s always failure. And there’s always disappointment. And there’s always loss. But the secret is learning from the loss, and realizing that none of those holes are vacuums.”  – Michael J. Fox

This hits home for me. That voice in my head so many years, was a vacuum, and these take multiple forms. You can let it be a boss, a job that you lost, a friends issues, etc. The challenge of life is to learn from these and move on. Because if you don’t they may suck you in and down a hole that takes entirely too long to get out.

If you made it this far, thanks for staying with me. This is a bit of my story telling how I made it to where I am. I’m not the most amazing person out there, and I don’t have the technical knowhow to know everything, but that’s the path I’m on. Wether I learn from failing or reading, or doing, everything is learning. I may fail in how I teach my kids, or how I fix up the shower, or anything. This is my perspective now in life.

“I will fail. I will fall. But I will learn the best that I can from it.”

Automation: Getting started with vRealize Automation (Part 2)

In this part two, we have an endpoint with your vcenter, we have a fabric group to consume those resources, now that the infrastructure is prepped, it’s time for the squishy element….those dang humans.

In my previous post, we brought in AD, so users can be utilized from the domain to populate groups. These groups are critical to dividing your resources up, and allowing your users to consume it.

Business Groups

So now that users are a part of the solution, let’s divide them into groups called “Business Groups”. These groups have layered roles that will allow individual group management and resource management. Let’s go through that:

in vRA go to “Administration ->Business Groups” and the green “+ New” sign for new.Screen Shot 2019-06-28 at 7.20.33 PM

From here you will see the set for the group. You can include the name, Description, email for capacity alerts, and custom properties (if this business group ALWAYS has the same properties).Screen Shot 2019-06-28 at 7.23.44 PM

The next page will allow you to select the members of the group. This allows you to disect the group and allow layered rights as needed for the group. Here is a snippet from VMware about the rights:

 

Group manager role Can create entitlements and assign approval policies for the group.
Support role Can request and manage service catalog items on behalf of the other members of the business group.
Shared access role Can use and run actions on the resources that other business group members deploy.
User role Can request service catalog items to which they are entitled.

Now, create the roles as needed. Here is an example:Screen Shot 2019-06-28 at 7.28.23 PM

Click Next. You will see the settings for a custom name and AD group. Now you can set these dynamically in the blueprints, which is what I prefer, but if the AD OU is always the same for that group, AND the naming is a standard constant(always DC-APP-SRV*** for all servers) you can utilize these fields:Screen Shot 2019-06-28 at 7.30.56 PM

Now you’ve created a business group. It’s time to create reservations. Let’s start with the Reservation Policy.

Reservation Policy

The reservation policy is kind of like a tag. The policy is used in blueprints to simply label a Reservation to be utilized by the policy.  To create one, go to “Infrastructure -> Reservations -> Reservations policy” CLick the “+ New” to add a policy:Screen Shot 2019-06-28 at 7.34.24 PM

Now we have a group and policy, Let’s make our reservation and grant resources to the users.

Reservations

Reservations are basically what they sound like. They reserve resources for the users to utilize. Once the resources defined in the reservation are exhausted the deployments fail stating “No Resources Available.” Pretty nifty for those that need to put a harness on sprawling server builds. To get to Reservations, Go to “Infrastructure -> Reservations -> Reservations” Click the Screen Shot 2019-06-28 at 7.40.07 PM to see the dropdown of possible endpoints. Of course we only have a center at this point, so select “vSphere(vCenter)” Here is an example of the first tab:Screen Shot 2019-06-28 at 7.43.38 PM

Now go to resources, and here you will see the actual resources in your vCenter. After you select your compute resource(Datacenter), You can set your quota, if you want a hard quota, the amount of Ram for the reservation, and the amount of storage and what storage cluster(I’m using VSAN) to use. Example:Screen Shot 2019-06-28 at 7.45.05 PM

The next tab is all about the network. Here you will set what VLANs are allowed to be used by the group, and also if you have an IPAM solution in a Network Profile, it can be selected here. I have another blog about Networking in vRA here. Here is an example with the VLAN and policy:Screen Shot 2019-06-28 at 7.48.46 PM

The last two tabs(Properties, Alerts) I don’t really use much myself. I can set the alert to notify at specific resource usage but, I don’t normally use them. Maybe I’m a horrible human being? meh…

So now the framework is all in place, you got resources, you got users, but next it’s time to get blueprints!

Automation: Getting started with vRealize Automation (Part 1)

Acronyms used:

  1. vRA = VMware vRealize Automation
  2. vRO = VMware vRealize Orchestrator
  3. vROPS = VMware vRealize Operations

I was hit with a shocking realization this past week. During a conversation with a VMware representative about automation and the success that we have found within it, he stated, “You know we could sell the cloud suite license to ten customers and probably two of them would use automation, and maybe one would be successful.”

I bypassed this statement and just moved on for the next couple days, but then a friend asked me how to create a blueprint on how to get started with vRA. I spent a huge amount of my time scrounging the internet for blogs to tell me how to do one thing or another, which is one of the ways I have helped our company be successful. Because of blogs, I found the answers I was looking for. I lost sight of what this blog was suppose to accomplish, which is to help others start. So… Let’s start.

You’ve installed vRA… Now What?

So with a fresh install of vRA, you now have a shell. Nothing is being managed, no domain users are able to login, and no machines are able to be built. It’s kinda a pointless stubb when its first deployed and needs someone to start the setup. During the installation you will stipulate the administrator password. This is your first login. Once you’re in, the screen you’re met with is kinda bleak.

Once your logged in, go to the “Administration” tab and select “Tenants”. You should be met with your default tenant for vRA, so, select it. From here, select “Local Users” and add a new user (Most will just name this account “Admin”).

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 7.58.55 AM
Pay no heed to the 2nd “Administration” Tab to the right, you shouldn’t see this.

After the account is created, go to “Administrators” and add your new account as “Tenant Administrators”, and “IaaS Administrators”. Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 7.46.59 AMThis will grant the needed access to start utilizing vRA. *BONUS POINTS*: you can configure your incoming and outgoing email servers here. Probably a good idea to do that too.

Fabric Groups are basically what allows resources to be consumed by vRA. It really doesn’t do anything until the Fabric Group is created. So lets do that… first thing to do is create your Fabric Group Endpoint(Basically what resources are to be consumed). Log Out of your “Administrator” account and log into the account you created above. Go to “Infrastructures -> Endpoints -> New ->vsphere”

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 7.16.23 AM

Now you will see the needed information to create your endpoint. Please note the examples that VMware gives you before you start typing. Many gung-ho automation enthusiasts have lost hair because they didn’t look first. TAKE NOTE** The name you input here, SHOULD MATCH the name you install as your vcenter agent during installation of vRA. If you have forgot that, you can go on the agent box and look at the service. Most will dupe the name of the agent with the service. If it’s not you will get a message “The Vsphere agent does not exist or may not be running“. The correct inputs and test connection should show:

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 7.23.28 AM

So click “OK”. Now that you have your endpoint we need to create a Fabric Group. On “Infrastructure -> Fabric Groups -> New” you should see your new vCenter ready to be managed:Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 7.27.32 AM

Configure the name of the group, its administrators and select the resource to manage it. Now we have resources, we have tenant admins. We need users. “Administration ->Directory Management -> Directories -> New” This will allow you to create a new Domain to sync to vRA so user management at the base level is controlled in AD. Custom groups can still be utilized, but in a different way after is pulled in from AD. You can use this over LDAP, IWA, Or Local. You should see the following:Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 7.38.57 AM

Input the Directory name, and the Sync Connector will default to Master node. Select your search attribute, and your Bind User information(Again Note the defaults VMware puts in the fields before you input your data, as it helps you). Test your connection and now you have a directory. To sync users, Go to the Directory and click “Sync Settings”. From here you will see config tabs for management of the users. Here is an example of syncing the domain users:Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 7.41.59 AM

Now you have users, and resources. You probably want to give yourself God Rights in this environment(Doesn’t everyone?). From here, logout of your admin account and back in as the default “Administrator” account. Go back to “Tenants -> Default Tenant -> Administrators” Now that you synced yourself in the directory, and you should now be able to add your domain account as “IAAS”, and “Tenant Admins”. Here is an example of how it should look:

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 7.46.59 AM
vcoadmins is a default built in “Custom Group” for vRO administration.

After you add your domain accounts here, log in now with your God-Mode Domain Credentials(The new Directory, or Domain, will be available on the login screen).  After your in go to “Administration -> Users and Groups -> Search your username”Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 7.51.05 AM

Select your username and go to the “Add roles to this user” window to the right. Go hog, you earned it.Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 7.55.39 AM

Now you have god rights, you have all the roles your heart could wish for; you have an endpoint and resources. The next steps are Reservations, Network Profiles, and then Blueprints.

I’m going to try to get things out more often. Sickness has plagued my house, but I’d love to help at least one person learn how automation helps life.

Terraform: A Noob continues…

Ok, so you have Terraform installed, well… neat. Remember this is from the perspective of a guy learning Terraform, so come along with me and let’s learn together.

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty and start learning what this whole ‘infrastructure as code’ is really all about. The first thing we are going to do is open a Terminal/cmd prompt and go to the Terraform folder.
Note: On mac I had to run all terraform commands with “sudo”. I went through some changes so I could “sudo -su” the terminal to raise the permissions.

touch example.tf

or for cmd prompt
type nul > "example.tf"

Now that you have the example folder, it’s time to fill it in with the needed information for a basic apply…

Note: It’s best to go ahead and create a free account with AWS. Here is a great link to start your free account.

Now open the “example.tf” file to edit using either “vim example.tf”, (Probably need sudo) or opening notepad.

Paste the following:

provider "aws" {
access_key = "ACCESS_KEY_HERE"
secret_key = "SECRET_KEY_HERE"
region = "us-east-1"
}
resource "aws_instance" "example" {
ami = "ami-0338bce19a7cb103e
instance_type = "t2.micro"
}

Update the access_key and secret_key with the needed information. To find this in AWS you would go to the IAM to create a user. Once the user is created, go back into the user in IAM and under “Security Credentials” and click “Create Key”.

I updated the ami to a newer template. When I tried to run the apply, the base template would not work from the site. On vim run your “:wq” or “ctrl + s” in notepad to save the work. Now run the following command

terraform init

You should see something similar to the following:

Screen Shot 2019-05-09 at 7.14.52 PM

Ok, now the fun begins. You now have the AWS provider, and you have a file you can utilize for deployments. Next run:

terraform plan

You should see the following:Screen Shot 2019-05-09 at 7.18.42 PM

And finally:

terraform apply

Which will deploy the instance to your EC2 account.
Screen Shot 2019-05-09 at 7.26.14 PM

Cool! But whats cooler than building stuff?? DESTROYING IT WHA HA HA… ok..

Terraform makes that easy to:

terraform destroy

This will run in realtime and loop until the instance is destroyed. I really liked that as a feature because once the destroy command is done, the machine is really gone. Pretty awesome. I plan to move through this into more variables, and into file structures per provider. Also, I really want to dig into how this will work with vRA and Azure. Stay tuned.