Managing Local Admins via vRealize Automation

One of the major benefits of vRealize Automation (vRA) is the ability to add and extend the “Actions” available. These Actions enable self-service by the customer. One scenario I wanted to try was allowing someone to manage local administrators on a virtual machine they had provisioned.

Creating The Workflow

The starting point with this is creating a Workflow in vRealize Orchestrator (vRO). Managing local administrators would mean being able to add and remove members, so if I wanted it as a single workflow, there would be some sort of branching logic, such as the flowchart below:

Simple Workflow

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Creating Service Accounts with vRealize Orchestrator

vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) has a lot of plugins that allow it to integrate with other systems and services.  One of such plugin is for Active Directory.  This plugin allows you to perform a number of standard AD activities, like creating users.  vRO already has built in workflows to create and manipulate users.  In this post, I’m going to run through what you might end up implementing if you wanted to be able to create Service Accounts via vRO.

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Improving the vRA Admin Experience – Reservation Alerts to Slack

The Reservation system in vRealize Automation (vRA) provides a bucket of resources to a team or business unit via Business Group.  A risk with Reservations comes about with how I think VMware intended them to be used vs how some organisations may use them.  I suspect VMware’s intention was that Reservations should be self-managed by the Business Group associated with it.  This makes sense if each individual team has a Business Group as the scope of what’s in the Reservation is “their stuff”.  It would mean if a Reservation reached capacity, it would be up to that team to manage the situation.

What if the Business Group was being used differently, where it covers multiple teams?  In the event of the Reservation becoming full, the scope is larger than one team.  In this situation, it might be good to get a heads up on when Reservations are running low on resources.  Email alerts can be setup and yes, sent through to Slack, the formatting in Slack is less than desirable.  So I decided to look at a way of doing it better.

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Improving the vRA Customer Experience – Send Chef errors to Slack

One of the issues that can be amplified by automation is logging.  Some logs have an ephemeral nature, having a short lifespan due to various factors.  This can be especially painful if the logs relate to failures and contain information that could assist in fixing the problem.

This was the issue I was seeing when vRealize Automation (vRA) requests would fail when Chef attempted to apply settings.  If Chef failed critically, vRA would be made aware of it and fail the entire request.  Of course, vRA would then delete the virtual machine and the local Chef logs.  In many cases, there was a gap of only a minute or two between the Chef failure and the vRA cleanup tasks.

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