The pressure on IT departments across the globe has exponentially increased over the last few years. Driven mainly by the pandemic and digital transformation efforts, this pressure has forced IT departments to do more with less and automate as much as possible.
VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) has been an important platform helping IT departments increase efficiencies while providing services to the business. The business can be defined by any internal or external user or group of users needing IT to perform their job function and advance organizational objectives. These services can range from business applications, secure access to these applications, and in some cases, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), or Anything as a Service (XaaS).
Below are some examples of IaaS, PaaS, and XaaS:
- IaaS: A virtual machine running Windows Server
- PaaS: A virtual machine running Microsoft SQL or Microsoft Visual Studio
- XaaS: Self-service database refreshes for development environments
VMware acquired SaltStack in 2020 to bolster vRA’s ability to deliver on PaaS and XaaS use cases. SaltStack is an agent-based configuration management tool automating the deployment of application components.
vRealize Automation Advanced and Enterprise customers active on SnS are entitled to vRealize Automation SaltStack Config (vRASSC). The process for obtaining this entitlement is to file a non-technical service request through the VMware Customer Connect portal. Below is a KB article with more details:
There are two ways to deploy vRASSC.
- Standard Installation – Installs the vRASSC required components in four or more separate nodes
- vRealize Lifecycle Manager (vLCM) – Installs all required vRASSC components on a single node.
For the remainder of this article, we’ll focus on the vLCM deployment.
vLCM was developed by VMware to help with the lifecycle management of several of its management tools including but not limited to vRealize Operations, vRealize Log Insight, vRealize Automation, Network Insight, and now vRASSC.
Lab Product Versions:
- vSphere: 7.0.2
- vCenter: 7.0.2
- Workspace ONE Access: 3.3.5
- vLCM: 184.108.40.206
- vRASSC: 8.4.2
- vRA: 8.4.2
With the exception of vRASSC, all the above products were already installed in this lab environment before vRASSC was deployed.
We’ll start by login into vLCM using the admin@local credentials
Once logged in we’re presented with the below five options. Lifecycle Operations is where product installations are orchestrated and the first step of that process is to download the product binaries or installation files.
There are two ways to get access to the product binaries. One is to manually download them and then upload them to the vCLM appliance and point to a local repository OR, the much easier route, is to use your myvmware account and let vLCM handle downloading the installation files. Since I am a fan of easy, I went with letting vLCM handle this process.
Here I’ll input my myvmware credentials. Keep in mind that all credentials and certificates reside in the ‘Locker’ section shown in the vLCM home screen two screenshots ago.
Once I’m authenticated I click on Binary Mapping so vLCM can pull all software I’m entitled to from myvmware.com.
One nice feature of vLCM is that it checks the VMware Interoperability matrix letting you know what versions of the products are supported. As you can see below, the latest version 8.4.2 of vRASSC can be deployed.
I can now see the various installation media options. In this case, we’ll opt for the 8.4.2 install since this product isn’t deployed in this environment.
I’ve now requested vLCM to go fetch the installation files.
Here you see the details of the request.
Below you see the request progress.
Once this is complete, I can now go to the ‘Environments’ section to add a new product to the ‘Felix Lab’ environment.
I now select vRASSC from the various options and opt to do a standalone deployment for the purposes of this article. A vRA integrated deployment will add this deployment to the vRA inventory for use in vRA IaaS and PaaS workflows.
It’s always important to read and accept the UELA, so we'll quickly accept and move on.
I now go to add licenses and select my trusty vRealize Suite 2019 vExpert license.
And we hit our first snag. When deploying vRASSC via vLCM you need a vRealize Automation Standard Plus license that you get via the process detailed in the above KB article.
Once we followed the process the license was accepted, and we were good to go.
The next step in the process is to select the certificate. I pre-created this certificate within the Locker portion of vCLM.
You then select where within your vCenter environment you want the appliances deployed.
You then must specify environment network details that are conveniently pre-populated from other deployments by vLCM.
Here I provide the FQDN and IP address of the vRASSC node. I pre-created DNS entries for vRASSC in my Domain Controller which is where my DNS service runs.
Then we get to the precheck portion. This is a very important part of the process that will decrease the chances of the deployment failing.
Luckily, we passed the precheck portion with flying colors.
vLCM now takes over and automates the deployment of vRSSC. As you can see below, all stages completely successfully the first go around.
Once completed we can now login to the UI and see that the ‘saltmaster’ node and up and running.
vRASSC is now deployed and we’re ready to start deploying agents on the endpoints we’d like to manage. vRASSC supports both Windows and Linux endpoints and can deploy application components or keep a known good state of these endpoints to avoid configuration drift. The latter is an additional license.