Change of Direction

Sometimes at work priorities change.

Right now for me that means that my vRA studying is going to need to go on the back burner while I step into some Kubernetes sized shoes. This is both exciting and frustrating at the same time. On the one hand, learning Kubernetes is very exciting and full of a lot of diverse technologies. While on the other, I’ve spent a great deal of time working with an old version of vRA just for the purposes of the VCAP-CMA exam.

With any luck by the time I come back to it (if I do) the exam version will have been uplifted to something more recent!

So expect some Kubernetes content in the near future. Very probably a CKA study guide!

VCAP-CMA Deploy – Objective 8.2

Disclaimer: These are my notes from studying for the 3V0-31.18 exam. If something doesn’t make sense, please feel free to reach out.

The main goal for this objective is the security of vRealize Automation.

Objective 8.2 – Secure a vRealize Automation deployment in accordance with the VMware
hardening guide

References

This is very much around the appliance itself so familiarity with Linux hardening, particularly around SSH will be beneficial. Almost all these changes are made on individual hosts so will need to be made on each host.

Very roughly, this can be split into:

  • Client Access
  • Data at rest
  • Data in transit
  • Misc

I’m just going to run through a brief overview of each section. For further detail have a read of the very comprehensive documentation.

Client Access

To secure access to the appliance you need to think along the lines of creating a separate user to login to the appliance (VAMI, Console & SSH) and disabling direct root access. Once logged into a CLI you can su to root. Definitely only enable SSH when required. Also consider password policies and matching the local users password to the corporate policy.

You may also want to consider changing the default timeouts for vRA. The default is set to 30 minutes.

Data at Rest

This is to secure access to the data that is held on local disk. This is the database and application files. If you need access to the database for anything outside of the application you should create another user account for this purpose rather than using the default postgres user. There is also a list of commands in the hardening guide to ensure that the application files are secure, they are by default but this should give you an idea if something has been tampered with.

Data in Transit

Securing the data while it stored on the disk is no good unless the access to that data is also secure. You’ll want to disable SSL v3.0, TLS v1.0 & v1.1 and configure the accepted cipher suites as per your corporate policies on all the below services:

  • haproxy
  • lighttpd
  • vcac
  • vco
  • rabbitmq
  • IaaS Servers

You may also want to consider the response headers for these services to ensure that additional information is given away in this manner either.

 

VCAP-CMA Deploy – Objective 8.1

Disclaimer: These are my notes from studying for the 3V0-31.18 exam. If something doesn’t make sense, please feel free to reach out.

The main goal for this objective is the security of vRealize Automation.

Objective 8.1 – Renew, and/or replace security certificates on distributed vRealize Automation components

References

This is about replacing the certificates on these components:

  • vRA appliance
  • IaaS Manager Service Server
  • Web Server

Other certificates that are in use manage themselves through self signed certificates to communicate. An external vRO must be done separately but if you’re using the embedded one it will update automatically.

All of these can be updated from the VAMI page of the vRA appliance. The different certificates can be managed from two pages:

  • Host Settings page – vRealize Automation certificate
  • Certificates page – IaaS certificates

Both of these pages provide different options to complete the certificate replacement.

  • Generate – generate a self signed certificate to replace the existing certificate in situ
  • Import – Use an existing certificate
  • Provide thumbprint – Option to use a certificate if already imported into IaaS server certificate store. This just acts as a pointer, no certificate is physically transmitted

When you update a certificate, trust is re-initiated with other components.

Side note – If you use certificate chains, specify the certificates in the following order:

  1. Client/server certificate signed by the intermediate CA certificate

  2. One or more intermediate certificates

  3. A root CA certificate

If you offload SSL on your load balancer, you will need to SSH to the appliance to export the certificate to upload to your load balancer.

While updating the certificate, a list of recent actions and success/failure is show near the bottom of the page.

That’s all for this one, fairly straightforward. Although it’s always worth remembering that exam questions are going to be scenario based so you’ll be asked to achieve an objective that may well touch multiple parts of vRA.

 

VCAP-CMA Deploy – Objective 7.2

Disclaimer: These are my notes from studying for the 3V0-31.18 exam. If something doesn’t make sense, please feel free to reach out.

The main goal for this objective is the initial installation & configuration of vRB in line with vRA.

Objective 7.2 – Integrate vRealize Business with vRealize Automation

References

Pretty simple objective this one.

Once you’ve deployed the vRB appliance, browse to the vRB VAMI page, on the Register tab complete the details of the vRA appliance and hit register.

Unregistered_vRB

Once you’ve registered the appliance successfully, you see the red text at the top & the SSO status change.

Registered_vRB

Once this is done, login to vRA. You’ll notice that there are a few extra roles, once these have been granted you’ll see the Business Management tab and the Business Management section with the Administration tab.

The latter is the place to start as this is vRB data collection is configured. You’ll need to configure vRB to point to the required endpoints. In my case, a vCenter and NSX manager.

All done!

 

VCAP-CMA Deploy – Objective 7.1

Disclaimer: These are my notes from studying for the 3V0-31.18 exam. If something doesn’t make sense, please feel free to reach out.

The main goal for this objective is scaling vRealize Automation

Objective 7.1 – Scale vRealize Automation components to a highly-available configuration

References

There are a few ways to scaling a vRA installation. The simplest of which involves installing IaaS components on your Windows servers & using the VAMI to add another vRA node to the cluster.

The automatable alternatives are vra-command and the API. They’re detailed really well in a blog post series (part 2 & part 3) from the Cloud Management BU over at VMware.

For this post (based on my assumptions about the exam) we’ll be using the manual method. Let’s say we’ve got any environment setup like the below:

Minimal_Deployment_Diagram

Later down the line, we want to make this setup resilient, looking like the below:

Minimal_Resilient_Deployment_Diagram

Firstly we’ll need to deploy another vRA appliance and another two Windows servers.

vRA Appliance

Browse to the active appliance’s VAMI and open the cluster page to confirm the component parts of your existing cluster.

Cluster_Status_Before

You can see the current status of the node is not in cluster mode and the three boxes that are part of the environment currently.

On the new vRA appliance’s VAMI page, log in and cancel the setup wizard. Browse to the cluster page, confirm the node is not part of a cluster. Fill in the details of the active node and hit the Join Cluster button. You’ll be asked to verify the certificate if you’re using self-signed certs.

Once complete, you can check that both nodes are visible on the cluster tab, messaging tab and on the database tab.

IaaS Nodes

Little bit more complicated for the IaaS nodes as you’ll need to satisfy the pre-requisites manually. I’m only covering this for one of the two boxes I’m adding, but the process is the same for each. Log into the IaaS box and download the IaaS installer from one of the vRA appliances. Run this, connect to a vRA box, select the IaaS role and run the pre-requisite checker. This will very quickly highlight if you’ve missed any of the pre-requisites! Assuming this passes, continue through the install. Once it’s finished, add the server to your load balanced server pool and all done!

VCAP-CMA Deploy – Objective 6.2

Disclaimer: These are my notes from studying for the 3V0-31.18 exam. If something doesn’t make sense, please feel free to reach out.

The main goal for the whole of section 6 is to understand the tenant administration required.

Objective 6.2 – Add additional tenants and/or business groups to existing ones

References

This should be a fairly quick objective to cover off.

Add additional tenants

Creating additional tenants is done by logging in as a System Administrator to the default tenant. From the Tenants tab, hit the new button to be presented with a fairly self explanatory form:

New_Tenant

Once you’ve completed this page and hit the next button, you’ll be asked to create any local users that you need. I typically create the bare minimum, to be used to configure Active Directory authentication. Once that is done, keep it as a Break Glass type password.

Then add the user(s) you’ve just created to the appropriate group(s) – IaaS Administrators or Tenant Administrators.

Add new business groups

Logged in as a tenant administrator, go to Administration, Users & Groups, Business Groups. Hit the new button (surprise!) and fill in the first page of the form. On the next page, you need to add users to each role. For a definition of what each group does, hover over the i button. You can also check out my post from the VCP for what permissions each group gets here. Once that is done, you can allocate a default machine prefix and an Active Directory container if required.

 

VCAP-CMA Deploy – Objective 6.1

Disclaimer: These are my notes from studying for the 3V0-31.18 exam. If something doesn’t make sense, please feel free to reach out.

The main goal for the whole of section 6 is to understand the tenant administration required.

Objective 6.1 – Manage Authentication Configuration to meet Business Requirements

References

There is plenty that can be said about authentication within vRA, but for the exam I think this will focus around adding & configuring an LDAP source for users & groups, probably Active Directory.

Key point to remember if you want to configure your tenant to use Active Directory, the default tenant will need to be configured first. I don’t know why this is, I should check it out.

There are three modes you can configure your vRA instance to communicate with Active Directory.

  • Active Directory over LDAP
  • Active Directory (Integrated Windows Authentication)
  • OpenLDAP

The difference between these is reasonably obvious. As for a use case – The AD (IWA) option should be used with multi-domain & multi-forest environments.

Let’s assume that’s done and we’ve got a newly created tenant. The requirements are that authentication should be done from Active Directory and that you should use integrated windows authentication.

Browse to Administration, Directories…

Add_Directory

Select Active directory IWA and fill out the page that follows. All fairly straightforward. After you’ve clicked Save & Next you’ll be asked to select the domains you want to use. In my lab that’s just the one, but if you’ve child domains, trust relationships etc. there will be multiple here (assuming you’ve got access to them with the bind account you’ve specified).

Once you get this far, you’ll e asked for the Distinguished Name of an OU where the groups (and then the users) are located ready for synchronisation. I typically don’t bother with the users as they’re synchronised if they’re a member of the group.

Once all the details are configured, you’ll get a review page which displays the number of groups & users that will be synchronised.