Automating the vRealize Automation Manager Service Failover

During a couple of vRealize Automation (vRA) design engagements I had to explain that the vRealize Automation Manager Service doesn’t have an Automated Failover process (active/passive) and relies on a manual intervention. This was quite hard for the customers to understand and accept because of active / active redundancy of other vRA components like the Web Service.

So OK what does the vRA Manager Service do (link)?

The Manager Service is a Windows service that coordinates communication between IaaS DEMs, the SQL Server database, agents, and SMTP. IaaS requires that only one Windows machine actively run the Manager Service. For backup or high availability, you may deploy additional Windows machines where you manually start the Manager Service if the active service stops.

And that last part is something my customers didn’t like (at all) because this depends on a person to activate the service manually. OK then how can we solve this?

Automating the Manager Service Failover

I like to keep things simple and wanted to Automate the Manager Service failover with vRealize Operations (vROps) monitoring the service and kicking off an action when the service is down. Eventually I got this to work but this took way too much effort and didn’t like the complex setup of vROps sending a SNMP trap to vRO and then let vRO kick off a Powershell script on the vRA IaaS Manager server. So back to the drawing board and the solution was way too simple… Running a scheduled task on the Secondary vRA IaaS Manager server that checks the Manager Service on the Primary and then starts it locally when the service is down.

Pre-requisites

  • Powershell allows the execution of scripts
  • Scheduled task is running under the vRA Service Account
  •  
    The Script

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    Upgrade vRealize Automation 6.2 To 7.x

    This post describes how to upgrade vRealize Automation 6.2 to 7.x. Before performing this upgrade please read my previous post “vRealize Automation 7 Upgrade Considerations“, this post describes multiple pitfalls and could prevent potential issues.

    Done reading? OK then let’s start!
     

    upgrade vRealize Automation
     

    Step 1 : Backup current Installation

    Before you do anything backup your current installation! Believe me when I say this is a critical step, if something goes wrong you don’t want to rely only on a VM snapshot…
     

    Step 2 : Shutdown vRealize Automation services on your IaaS server

    Shut down services in the following order on the IaaS servers. But be absolutely sure not to shut down the actual machine, otherwise the appliance upgrade will fail.
    Each virtual machine has a Management agent, which should be stopped with each set of services.

  • All VMware vCloud Automation Center agents
  • All VMware DEM workers
  • VMware DEM orchestrator
  • VMware vCloud Automation Center Service
  •  
    (more…)

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    vRealize Automation 7 Upgrade Considerations

    For an engagement last week, I had to find out if there are any considerations for performing an in place upgrade to vRealize Automation 7. And funny enough I found a few…
     

    vRealize Automation 7 upgrade
     

    vRealize Automation 7 Upgrade Considerations

    • Minimum upgrade version to vRA 7.0 is vRA 6.2.x
    • Note : vRA 6.2.4 will not be supported for upgrade to 7.0 until 7.x
  • vRA 7.0 will only work with vRO 7.0
  • Customers with vRA 6.0 / 6.1 need to upgrade to 6.2.x first
  • The upgrade process to vRA 7.0 will stop if :
    • Physical Endpoints are detected
    • vCloud Director Endpoints are detected
  • Application Services Blueprints will not be migrated
  • Add component for Multi Machine Blueprints will not be available in 7.0
  • vRA 7.0 vRO Plug-in is not backward compatible
  • Customizations that leverage Custom Components Catalog (CCC) and vCloud Automation Center Designer (CDK) will not be supported in 7.0
  •  

    Background Information :

     

    Physical Endpoints

    All previously supported physical endpoints like HP iLO, Cisco UCS, Dell iDRAC etc are not supported. I could not find any specific reason for it, only that it did not make the vRA 7.0 release.
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    vRealize Automation MSB3073 Installation Error

    Last week I was working on installing a distributed vRealize Automation (vRA) installation for a customer. The installation went smooth until I had to install the first Website and Model Manager Web Service component, then the dreadful “Error Configuring vRealize Automation Server. Open the log?” message appeared.

    vRA-Error

    And when I opened the vCAC-Config.log the following error was logged :

    OK so lets fix this badboy, first things first.

    MS DTC

    Start with checking the MS DTC settings
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    Start, Shut Down or Restart vRealize Automation

    vRA-Logo

    The start, shut down or restart sequence of vRealize Automation (vRA) isn’t that difficult, but if you throw in a load balancer or if you have a bigger distributed vRA environment then things get interesting.

    Load Balancer

    When you are using a load balancer in your configuration you need to check your load balancer for what kind of “health monitor” you are using for the vRA Appliances. Because if you are using the vRA Appliance service “health monitor”, you need to change it to just plain old ICMP or the vRA service won’t come online after a cold boot.

    vRA-LB

    Start vRealize Automation

    When you start vRA after a power outage or a controlled shut down, you must start the vRA components in this specified order :

    1. Boot the MSSQL Server / Cluster
      • Wait until Service is up
    2. Boot the PostgresSQL Server / Cluster
      • Wait until Service is up
    3. Boot the Identity Appliance or SSO Server
      • Wait until Service is up
    4. Boot the Primary vRealize Appliance
      • Wait until VM is up
    5. Boot the optional Secondary vRealize Appliance
      • Wait until VM is up
    6. Boot the Primary Web Server
      • Wait until VM is up
    7. Boot the optional Secondary Web Server
      • Wait until VM is up and wait 5 minutes
    8. Boot all the Manager Servers
      • Wait until VMs are up and wait 2-5 minutes
    9. Boot all the vRealize Automation Agent Servers
      • Wait until VMs are up
    10. Boot all the Distributed Excecution Manager Orchestrator / Worker Servers
      • Wait until VMs are up

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    Required Firewall Ports for vRealize

    In this post I’ll describe the required firewall ports for vRealize Automation (vRA), vRealize Business (vRB) and vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) with some additional components like IPAM.
     
    Required Firewall Ports for vRealize
     
    The past few months I have been working on designing and implementing a couple of firewalled distributed VMware vRealize solutions. And every time I had the same challenges, not really well documented ports. For example, if you try to install a vRealize Automation IaaS component you need to have port 5480 open from the IaaS server to the vRealize Automation Appliance. This is not mentioned in the official vRA Port Requirements under “Outgoing Ports for Infrastructure as a Service Components”, so this was always a struggle to get this past the security guys why this port needed to be opened because it isn’t in the official documentation.

    Therefore I have created the Visio drawing above with all different components and the required firewall ports for vRA, vRB and vRO that can be used as a reference point. (more…)

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    How to customize the vRealize Automation login page

    After my twitter feed went berserk after William Lam published his blog post about “How to customize the new vSphere 6.0 Web Client login UI“. I wondered if the same thing could be achieved for the vRealize Automation (vRA) SSO login page and while I was at it add a “disclaimer” to the login page, due to a question from a customer. Here is the result :

    Before :

    vRA-Branding-before

    After :

    vRealize Automation login page

    So what do you think? My Cloudy Tenant login page looks a little bit different then before right? Who doesn’t want to log in here? 🙂

    OK you want to know how I did this? Let me show you. (more…)

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