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Infrastructure as Code with VMware Integrated OpenStack

Historically, organizations had “racked and stacked” hardware, and then installed and configured software and applications for their IT needs. With advent of cloud computing, IT organizations could start taking advantage of virtualization to enable the on-demand provisioning of compute, network, and storage resources.  By using the CLI or GUI, users have been able to manually provision these resources. However, with manual provisioning, you carry the following risks:

  • Inconsistency due to human error, leading to deviations from the defined configuration.
  • Lack of agility by limiting the speed at which your organization can release new versions of services in response to customer needs.
  • Difficulty in attaining and maintaining compliance to corporate standards due to the absence of a repeatable process






Infrastructure as Code (IAC) solutions address these issues by allowing you to automate the entire configuration and provisioning process. In its essence, this concept allows IT teams to treat infrastructure the same way application developers treat their applications – with code. The definition of the infrastructure is in human readable software code. The code allows to script, in a declarative way, the final state that you want for your environment and when executed, your target environment is automatically provisioned. A recent blog on this topic by my colleague David Jasso referred to IAC paradigm as IT As Developer. For additional information on IAC, read the two Forrester reports: How A Sysadmin Becomes A Developer (Chris Gardner and Robert Stroud; Forrester Research; March 2017); Lead The I&O Software Revolution With Infrastructure-As-Code (Chris Gardner and Richard Fichera; Forrester Research; September 2017)

In this blog post I will show you how by using Terraform and VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO), you describe and execute your target infrastructure configuration using code. Terraform allows developers to define their application infrastructure via editable text files ending in .tf extension. You can write Terraform configurations in either Terraform format (using the .tf extension) or in JSON format (using the .tf.json extension).  When executed, Terraform consumes the OpenStack API services from the VIO (OpenStack distribution from VMware) to provision the infrastructure as you have defined.  As a result, you can use these provisioning tools, in conjunction with VIO, to implement Infrastructure as code.

For those not familiar with VIO, VIO differentiates from upstream distribution in by making install, upgrade and maintenance operations simple, and leveraging VMware enterprise-grade infrastructure to provide the most stable release of OpenStack in the market.  In addition to OpenStack distribution, VIO is also helping bridge gaps in traditional OpenStack management monitoring and logging by making VMware enterprise-grade tools such as vRealize Operations Manager and Log Insight OpenStack aware with no customization.

  • Standard DefCore Compliant OpenStack Distribution delivered as an OVA
  • End to end support by VMware, OpenStack and SDDC infrastructure.
  • The best foundational Infrastructure for IaaS is available with vSphere Compute (Nova), NSX Networking (Neutron), vSphere Storage (Cinder / Glance)
  • OpenStack endpoint management and logging is simple and easy to perform with VMware vRealize Operations Manager for management, vRealize Log Insight for logging, and vRealize Business for chargeback analysis
  • Best way to leverage existing VMware investment in People, Skills, and Infrastructure

Let’s look at the structure of code that makes IAC possible. The first step in defining the configuration is defining all the variables a user needs to provide within the Terraform configuration – see example below. The variables can have default values. Putting as much site specific information as possible into variables (rather than hardcoding the configuration parameters) makes the code more reusable. Please note that the code below is for illustration only.  Complete example can be downloaded from here.











The next step in defining the configuration is identifying the provider. Terraform leverages multiple providers to talk to services such as AWS, Azure or VIO (OpenStack distribution from VMware).  In the example below we specify that the provider is OpenStack, using the variables that you defined earlier.








Next you define the resource configuration.  Resources are the basic building blocks of a Terraform configuration. In the example code below (please use it as an illustration), you use Terraform code, which in turn leverages VIO, to create the compute and network resource instances and then assigns network ID to the compute instance to stand a networked compute instance. As you will see in the example, the properties of a resource created may be passed as arguments to the instance creation step of the next resource, such as using Network ID from the ‘network’ resource created, when creating the resource ‘subnet’ in the code below.











Infrastructure as a code allows you to treat all aspects of operations as software and manage almost everything in code, including servers, storage, networks, log files, automated tests, deployment processes, and so on. The concept extends to making configuration changes as well.  When you want to make any infrastructure configuration changes, you can check out the configuration code files from your code repository management system such as git, edit it to make the changes you want, check-in that new version. So you can use git to make and track changes to your configuration code – just as developers do.


In this blog post, we have shown how you can implement IAC paradigm by using Terraform, running on VIO.  Download 60-day VIO evaluation now and get started, or try out VIO 4.0 based VMware Integrated OpenStack Hands-on Lab, no installation required.

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