vSphere 5 Lab Automation

I must admit the last few weeks have been super crazy which is why I havent been able to post as often as I would like. The other day, Alastair Cooke and company posted a nice automation tool that will enable you to build your lab in a snap.

I have personally not tried it out myself due to my crazy schedule but I know these guys are a group of very smart individuals. In a nut shell this tool lets you deploy your lab setup in a single laptop/dekstop with just 8GB of memory. Once deployed the tool will leave you with 2 ESXi hosts, 1 vCenter, 1 domian controler, 1 Freenas and 1 FreeSCO for you to test/learn etc. Keep in mind only free/open source software are distributed with the tool, you will need the installers and licenses for whats not considered free.

So, if you are new to vSphere and dont know were to begin, this will certainly help, you can also be a veteran and simply use this for testing purposes. The rest of the details are here.

vCD + vCO +AD What does this mean?

We are all aware of the VMware vCenter Orchestrator (vCO) and how it enables the automation of so many tasks in vCenter that could become tedious and boring after a while. In February 2011, VMware released the vCO plugin for vCloud Director aka vCloud aka vCD. How will this help you? Think about the process involved in creating an organization, virtual datacenter, users, networks etc. With vCO, you can create workflows to automate these tasks so that the ever shrinking and often under staffed IT department can focus on bigger and better things. vCO for vCD expanded the automation to your vCD environments which is slowly becoming the standard to start your own cloud.

Today, VMware has released vCO plugin for Active Directory. Some of you must be thinking whats the big deal? With this plug-in, you can enhance the level of automation you had before and provide better service to your customers. Tasks like creating AD accounts, deleting AD account, groups, memberships can all be automated by leveraging vCO workflows. It comes with 32 preconfigured workflows and you can create more as needed.  To benefit from this, you will need  to have a vCO setup along with your vCD. Not to mention you will need to have the underlying vSphere environment in  place.

Lets think of what this could do when all the pieces line up. The customer logs into your portal and creates a request. vCO creates the organization/virtual datacenter/network/ bla bla bla for the user. The user then creates a vApp that consists of two VMs in the vDC. Now with the AD plugin for vCO, the workflow for creating computer accounts for these VMs can be leveraged. Oh and did I mention the new organization that was created will now have the users that were also created in AD using a workflow. Next thing you know a customer decides  to leave, now a workflow can handle that task as well. You dont have to go and delete the child objects in the organization like you did before. Your workflow will delete all the child objects and finally your organization as well. Now your resources are available to be purchased again. And while you are at it, you can also clean up AD with the accounts that are no longer needed using the AD plugin for vCO.

To sum it up, automation is the name of the game. You dont have to be a hardcore developer to leverage vCO. If I can do it, anyone can. The only way to handle the ever increasing demand is by automating tasks that can be automated. It even decreases the room for error and helps to divert your time into bigger and better things besides creating a VM, adding a portgroup etc. Lastly, automation is also extremely important in ensuring your cloud meets the standard definition of what a cloud should be. Trust me, there are just too many definitions out there, and automation seems to be the common denominator.

You can download the AD plugin for vCO here.