vCloud Automation Center 6.0 (vCAC 6.0)–Creating & Configuring Blueprints–Basics

Blueprints (BP) are fundamental building blocks for provisioning virtual machine, cloud machine and physical machine from vCloud Automation Center (vCAC). Blueprint represent processes and policies Tenant follows today.

Introduction to Blueprints

Before we start creating Blueprint (BP) we need to understand what kind of services you are planning for end users. When they request services (in this case IaaS only) are end users expecting a full fledge VM with OS installed, Full fledged VM with OS installed, configured and customized. Blueprints provides several of these options. I ‘m focusing only on VMware based VMs as highlighted below

 

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Basic Workflow

In basic workflow VMs are provisioned without any Guest OS. Well at first thought I felt there is no point in discussing this BP type. But lets start with simple. Lets understand the process and see how Basic BP differs from others.

1. First logging using tenant administrator/business group manager. I’m logging as tenant, as in the end he need to take full control of how to consume resources

2. Go to Infrastructure –> Blueprints –> Blueprints

3. For our purpose we will select Virtual > Blueprint > vSphere (vCenter)

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Blueprint information Tab

1. Type the name for the Blueprint. Name should reflect OS, Application or Service. Since in IaaS name of the OS and Version should be okay to start with.

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In below screen please note how screen changes if you deselect Shared blueprint, Business group appears automatically. Since I’m using tenant admin credentials to create & configure blueprint I have to select Shared blueprint (can be Shared across groups) option

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Build Information Tab

Build information tab is where you make choice about workflow type. In Blueprint type you have an option between Server and Desktop. I choose Server for this blog post. Next piece is Action. For basic workflow select create from the drop down menu. Next label Provisioning workflow automatically gets populated with list from which you select basicvmworkflow (shown in 2nd screen capture).

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Lets move to Machine Resource section. Key in CPUs, Memory (MB), Storage (GB) &

Lease (days): How many days you want VM. Leave it blank to make it permanent.

Do make a note of maximum section. Using maximum value you give user flexibility to choose between minimum and maximum values while provisioning VMs. e.g. for Memory (MB) we have minimum 512 MB and maximum 1024 MB. So end user can request a VM with memory from anywhere between 512 to 1024 MB

Properties Tab

In property tab we have option to use Build profiles. Build profiles I have cover in this blog post. You can create custom properties. Custom properties are used to pass value to OS during its provisioning process. And every workflow has pre-define list of custom properties

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I have used a very simple custom property here. VirtualMachine.Admin.ThinProvisionion which gives you control if you wish thin provision VM. This property is must if you are provisioning against local SCSI disk.

Actions

Select the actions you want to make available to the end users.

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At this point all four tabs we have been configured. There is more to discuss about Blueprint. I plan to cover it future posts especially the advance configuration options. Now I will move to other workflows i.e. Cloned and linked clone workflow. In both these workflow Blueprint Information, Action and properties tabs are similar and what we discussed in Properties and Actions tab above applies for these workflows as well.

Use blueprint actions and entitlements together to maintain detailed control over provisioned machines.

Creating a Blueprint for Cloning

Word cloning clicks immediately. It means we need a reference VM inside vCenter. This workflow is nothing but wrapper over the process we had done for last so many years. That being said you need a reference, pre-customized VM, you need a sysprep for Windows 2003 or earlier on vCenter. Simplest workflow and I guess widely used as long as we are focusing on IaaS.

Blueprint Information

Nothing here to configure but ensure your naming convention matches the workflow.

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Build Information

Select Blueprint type

Select action as Clone. This changes the workflow option to clone.

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After you select clone, immediately an option to browse to select image to clone from becomes visible.

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Browse to select the VM. This is actually a template must be available in vCenter

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I didn’t liked the name of the workflow. Cloning workflow is incorrectly named. It should be inline with deploying from template. At first look it gave me a feeling that I’m cloning VM. Coming from Microsoft background I don’t like cloning. That being said in reality we are deploying from template and not cloning from VM. So it is doing thing which I was expecting.

Go to the Machine Resources section and you might be surprised (as I was) to see Minimum resource column is already populated with some values. These values are picked from the template values and cannot be modified. Now just fill (optionally) maximum value you want to proceed with.

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NB:Custom properties available for CloneWorkflow are more in numbers compared basic workflow.

Linked Clone Blueprint

Linked clones are extremely popular with desktops and were introduced with VMware View. They work on simple concept of parent VM and base snapshot. Base snapshot is base virtual disk for virtual machines (often referred as delta disk) and points back to parent VM. All changes happens at base virtual disk only

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Primary requirement is to have a VM with clean OS installed and with a snapshot.

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After you click Clone from, you see a pop seen below. Select the VM to use as a reference/Parent VM.

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Select a snapshot to clone from. You also get an option to take snapshot from this interface but since I have press refresh button during screen capture it is not visible below.

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Nothing much in below screen, just read it and say Ok

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You get a smart option to delete snapshot when you delete blueprint. I think it make complete sense and should be always checked.

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With this we are done with basic blue print creation. In properties there are many custom properties available and more or less similar to cloned workflow. But one custom property is worth noting here is MaximumProvisionedMachines. By default vCloud Automation Center 6.0 (vCAC 6.0) allows you to create 20 linked clones of one machine snapshot. This property will allow us to override this default limit.

Next post I will be looking at exploring advance blueprint option.

5 thoughts on “vCloud Automation Center 6.0 (vCAC 6.0)–Creating & Configuring Blueprints–Basics”

  1. Hi,
    Great article. Really informative.
    I have an issue which I have been struggling with for days and I was wondering if you could help.
    I’m building a POC vCAC environment for my company. Reached the stage of creating blueprints. I’m trying to create a Blueprint using a Linked Clone of a Windows VM. It is a Windows Server 2008 R2 Std VM built on VM Hardware version 8.
    I’ve deployed a VM from my new Windows template and also taken a Snapshot on it. I then ran a manual inventory data collection on the vSphere agent in order for vCAC to discover the changes to the VM. However when creating the Blueprint and selecting the Linked Clone VM to use, the snapshot for my new VM is not displayed. The wizard displays ‘0’ snapshots available for the VM!
    I’ve tried a number of things; ran multiple data collections, created multiple snapshots, restarted the vCAC vSphere agent and service on the IaaS server, adjusted settings of the VM, for example removing the attached CD just to see if that would make a difference, but still no luck.
    Any ideas?

    1. Hi Flex, I never tried linked clone to be honest with you. Since my lab is back, up and running, I’m more than happy to try. Meanwhile can you see if there is any relevant log entry for this in vCAC

      1. Thanks for your response Preetam. I had a search through some of the logs and I discovered some errors in the DEM log.

        It seems that the DEM worker attempts to run the ‘vSphereSnapshotInventory’ workflow and fails.

        Would be a bit painful to post an extract of the full error message.

        Any clues as to what the issue may be?

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