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vRealize Automation 8 (vRA) brings an entirely new cloud management and automation experience to your on premises datacenter.  While the capabilities are new for on prem, the same codebase and features have been available with our SaaS offering, vRealize Automation Cloud, since January 2019.  We frequently talk about the new micro-services architecture, cloud agnostic deployment capabilities and infrastructure as Code option with YAML.  One area we haven’t written much about is the new simple and rapid install process.  For this blog post, I’ll cover what is running under the hood as well as what the install and configuration process looks like.

 

Whether your vRA 8 install is greenfield or a migration from vRA 7.x, the minimum install of vRA 8 is a single appliance.  A separate Windows VM is no longer required.  vRA 8 includes Cloud Assembly, Service Broker, Code Stream, and vRealize OrchestratorvRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager (LCM) and VMware Identity Manager (vIDM aka Workspace One Access) are also required to handle install, configuration, post install management and authentication.  When you go to download vRA 8 from My VMware, you’ll only be given the option to download and install using the LCM Easy Installer.  You can also use existing LCM and vIDM configurations for vRA 8 as well.

 

Minimum vRA 8 installation

 

Two additional vRA 8 nodes can be added to form a high availability and scale out cluster.  An external load balancer, NSX or F5 for example, is required when a cluster is deployed.  A two node cluster is not supported.

vRealize Automation cluster and load balancer options

 

The vRA appliance runs on Photon OS, with a broadly leveraged microservices architecture using Kubernetes and Docker.  vRA is comprised of numerous services, running in separate containers, with a PostgreSQL database per container, RabbitMQ serves as the message broker.  If you’re running in a cluster, each node is a Kubernetes master and we use PostgreSQL Streaming Replication between the cluster nodes for data availability.

 

 

vRealize Automation 8 architecture

 

vRA 8 offers an easy installer, which is presented on an ISO, and includes LCM, vIDM, and vRA OVAs.  Using the easy installer and in product Quickstart configuration wizard, the typical single node install and configure time is around an hour.  The easy installer provides options to install new vRA, LCM, and vIDM appliances or migrate your existing LCM and vIDM appliance configurations to new appliances.

The install wizard is similar to other VMware virtual appliances install processes.  Once you’ve decided how to proceed with new or existing LCM and vIDM installs, add your vCenter credentials, networking, storage, a Suite or vRA license key, appliance username and password, then poof a new vRA instance is born (after the usual OVA copying and installing stuff)!  Once the install completes, most of the subsequent vRA management, including upgrades, will happen in LCM.  The vRA appliance CLI is also used for some management tasks as well.  A VAMI is no longer used with vRA 8.

 

Completed vRA install within LCM

 

The first thing many of you will likely want to do is configure vIDM to include the necessary Active Directory accounts for authentication/authorization in vRA.  Configuring a directory can still be handled within vIDM or the new Locker functionality in LCM can be used.  I find LCM 8 a bit easier to work with for setting up the directory.

When you login to vRA 8 with the configuration account for the first time, you will be asked to run the Quickstart.  The Quickstart process allows you to add vSphere, NSX, storage, and template details, all for deployments.  Also lease and machine naming policies are configured based on your chosen settings.  This wizard will have vRA ready for deployments in a few short minutes.  The Quickstart also provides a few sample blueprints and releases them to the Service Broker catalog to get you started.

 

vRA 8 first login

 

The screenshot below shows all of the configurations that occur when you run the Quickstart wizard.  One area to note, the Quickstart does not configure an Image, it only references a template from your vSphere environment.  You’ll want to setup image mappings before moving forward post-install.

 

Quickstart configuration summary

 

Once complete, the console shows the services and options which are available.  You can add users and configure roles by selecting Identity & Access Management from the menu bar.  If you’re using Active Directory, remember you’ll need to add those details in vIDM or LCM through Locker before users and groups will appear in vRA 8.

In addition to the aforementioned services, vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) is accessible from the Console, as well as the vRA Migration Assessment.  vRO no longer uses a java client.  Instead you can access the embedded vRO via the new HTML 5 UI through this console.  An external vRO appliance option is available too.

 

vRA 8 Console

 

With the release of vRealize Automation 8 and previously vRealize Automation Cloud, you now have options to run a VMware cloud management platform in your datacenter or from the Cloud.  If you choose to run vRA on prem, the new streamlined install process will have you up and running in no time.