Greenfield vCloud Automation Center Deployment on Nutanix

Last week, before the 9/9 release of new the vCloud Suite software versions, i was asked by a potential Nutanix customer how long it will take from the moment the Nutanix block arrives on-site until a vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) environment can be up and running and ready for virtual machine (VM) deployments.


Short answer: For me it took 5,5 hours!


IMPORTANT: This was done under the conditions specified below and based on my experience. Time might be higher or lower depending on your experience and customer requirements and if you can (are allowed to) automate the process.

Don’t use this blog post for selling arguments, this is just a test i did for my own purposes

Time will depend on what you want to include in the vCAC setup so me and the potential customer had a conversation where he explained that the environment must be placed in a complete separate location (including network) and must be treated as a greenfield installation.

The below list includes what i could prepare before starting the deployment:

  • Physical switch to be used by the Nutanix nodes
  • IP address management for all components
  • Nutanix Foundation VM
  • Brian Graf’s vCAC IaaS prerequisites fix script

That means no automation could be used and i think you can lower the time a lot if that was possible.

The following is a list of customer requirements to be included in the setup:

  • Nutanix block including three Nutanix nodes installed with ESXi 5.5
  • Nutanix Storage Pool
  • Nutanix Containers
  • vCenter Server appliance
  • 2 vCenter Server Templates
    • 1 x CentOS 6.4
    • 1 x Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Active directory including required users (including service accounts) and groups (e.g. used for vCenter Orchestrator admin group)
  • DNS
  • DHCP
  • Latest version of vCAC components
    • Database (Microsoft SQL) must be hosted on separate VM
  • 2 vCAC Blueprints
    • 1 x CentOS 6.4
    • 1 x Windows Server 2012 R2
  • vCenter Orchestrator (added as vCAC Endpoint)

However, it seems to be pretty straight forward although it will require some hands-on compared to the excellent video “Complete Datacenter Automation by Nutanix” where an automated setup is shown (pretty cool actually)

The rest of this blog post will outline the steps taken to setup the vCloud Automation Center environment and being able to deploy VMs to the Nutanix platform.

I will no go into detail about how to create e.g. vCAC tenants, how to run Nutanix foundation, how to setup Active Directory, DNS, DHCP.

The following outlines the steps i took to set up vCAC on Nutanix:

  • Unpack the Nutanix Block and connect to physical switch.
  • Run Nutanix Foundation. My colleague Andre Leibovici has created a nice youtube video how to use Nutanix Foundation. Watch the video here.
  • Create 1 x Nutanix Storage Pool spanning all Nutanix nodes and disks.
    Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 13.11.55
  • Create 3 x Nutanix Containers (i enabled compression)
    Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 13.11.39
  • Deploy vCenter Server appliance
    Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 13.23.14
  • Configure vSphere cluster including adding ESXi hosts and Nutanix specific configuration.
  • Create vCenter Server folder structure.
  • Create 2 templates and put on MGMT Datastore.
    • CentOS 6.4 – Use DHCP, set NTP server and install VMware tools. Remember to prepare the virtual machine for vSphere customisation before converting to template.
    • Windows Server 2012 R2 – Turn off firewall, install VMware tools, enable RDP, enable DHCP and set NTP server. Yes i know that VMware vCloud Automation Center Support Matrix 6.0.1 does not list Windows 2012 R2 as a supported Guest Operating system or supported Active Directory but it doesn’t matter in this case since the customer wanted me to test this. Remember, this was before the 9/9 release.
  • Deploy virtual machines, 1 CentOS and 1 Windows, to the vCAC Datastore and convert to template.
  • Create 2 vCenter Server customization specifications (CentOS + Windows Server)
  • Setup (use a VM deployed from the Windows 2012 R2 Template) Active Directory (users e.g. service accounts and groups e.g. group for vCO administrators), DNS and DHCP. Consider the NTP config for this VM.
  • Setup (use a VM deployed from the Windows 2012 R2 Template) MSSQL 2012 Standard. Used by vCAC IaaS components and vCenter Orchestrator (vCO) database server.
    • Don’t forget to enable Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator (MSDTC), configure or disable firewall and install .Net 3.5 Framwork before installing MSSQL and connect vCAC IaaS.
  • Setup vCO
    • Deploy appliance
    • Initial configuration (vCenter Server license and Active Directory Authentication)
      Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 14.22.55
  • Deploy vCAC Identity Appliance and vCAC Virtual Appliance
  • Perform initial vCAC appliance configuration
  • Setup vCAC IaaS virtual machine
    • Install Windows 2012
    • Enable RDP, turn off firewall, install VMware tools, configure NTP.
    • Prepare for vCAC IaaS installation by running the prereq script.
    • Install vCAC IaaS – All components on same virtual machine.
  • Create 1 vCAC Tenant
  • Configure vCAC license
  • Create 1 vCAC Fabric Group
    Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 13.47.49
  • Create vCAC Business Group
    Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 13.48.16
  • Create 1 vCAC credentials (vCenter Server and vCenter Orchestrator)
    Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 14.25.18
  • Create 2 vCAC Endpoints (vCenter Server and vCenter Orchestrator)
    Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 14.42.07
  • Create 2 x vCAC Reservation Policies (1 Reservation Policy + 1 Storage Reservation Policy)
    Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 13.40.45
  • Create 1 vCAC Reservation
    Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 13.41.51
  • Create 2 vCAC Build Profiles (Used for vCenter Server folder placement)
    Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 13.42.55
  • Create and publish 2 Blueprints (CentOS + Windows 2012 R2)
    Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 13.43.05
  • Create 1 vCAC Service and add the 2 Blueprints
    Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 13.50.44
  • Create 1 vCAC Entitlement
  • Deploy 20 virtual machines via vCAC
    Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 13.52.38 Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 13.52.53
  • Install vCAC plug-in in vCO. I used Internet Explorer for this task.
    Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 16.05.30
  • Configure my vCO server as an external Orchestrator server in vCAC via vCAC -> Home -> Administration -> Advanced Services -> Server Configuration

That’s it.

When i get the time i’ll start working on automate the hands-on steps.

Software used for the deployment includes:

  • VMware-Identity-Appliance-
  • VMware-vCAC-Appliance-
  • VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance-
  • VMware-vCO-Appliance-
  • VMware-VMvisor-Installer-5.5.0.update01-1623387.x86_64.iso
  • phoenix-1.3_ESX_NOS-4.0.1-stable.iso
  • CentOS-6.4-x86_64-bin-DVD1.iso
  • en_windows_server_2012_x64_dvd_915478.iso
  • en_windows_server_2012_r2_with_update_x64_dvd_4065220.iso
  • en_sql_server_2012_standard_edition_with_sp1_x64_dvd_1228198.iso

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