This FAQ has been updated to reflect the latest capabilities included in version 2.2, which became generally available on January 3rd, 2017.
Q. What is it?
A. This new management pack allows customers to automate the lifecycle of vRealize Automation (vRA), vRealize Orchestrator (vRO), vCenter Server, vRealize Operations (vROPs) and vRealize Code Stream (vRCS) content (i.e. blueprints, forms, workflows, templates, pipelines, etc.) and move them across various product instances or tenants as part of their development, test and production stages. The formal name for this management pack is the vRealize Code Stream Management Pack for IT DevOps but it is also known informally as “Houdini”.
Q. Why would vRealize Automation users need this management pack?
A. The primary reason is that blueprints, workflows and other types of vRA "content" is essentially code and, like any other code, should follow development best practices to ensure that it does not break anything in production. These best practices include developing and testing that code in a segregated environment before deploying it to production. One challenge today is that moving vRA content from one environment to another is often a manual, complicated, time-consuming and error-prone process. The management pack includes pre-built pipeline templates that automate and thus simplify that process. It provides a foundation for Infrastructure as Code initiatives.
Q. So what does the management pack actually do?
A. It allows vRA administrators to:
- Select the appropriate content (e.g. blueprint, workflow, etc.) from an environment (e.g. a "Development" tenant) and publish it to a destination environment (e.g. a "Production" tenant on the same or a different vRA instance).
- The solution automatically identifies all related dependencies (e.g. build profiles, custom icons, forms, etc.) for that content, it packages it, it versions it, and it stores it in a repository.
- It then exports that package to the destination environment(s), testing it along the way if requested by the administrator.
- It then imports, unpacks and deploys that content to the destination environment(s), including all associated dependencies.
- The operation is logged, along with all relevant details.
Q. What kind of content is supported by the management pack?
A. Currently, it supports the following VMware content:
- vRealize Automation: blueprints, actions, build profiles, property definitions, etc.
- vRealize Orchestrator: workflows, actions, configuration elements and packages
- vRealize Operations: alerts, dashboards, reports, views, etc.
- vRealize Code Stream: pipeline templates
- vSphere: templates and custom specifications
- Linux files
For a full list of supported content and versions, please refer to Appendix I of the Management Pack Operations Guide.
Q. Does the management pack handle the conversion of vRA 6.3 blueprints to vRA 7.1 or 7.2?
A. No, the management pack does not support the migration of content from one version of vRA, vRO, vROps or vSphere to another version. Upgrade of content is something that needs to be done as part of each product's upgrade procedure. That said, a best practice is to have well-defined tests for each type of content. So users can still benefit greatly from running their newly upgraded content via the management pack to ensure the tests still pass. And if the content is upgraded in a lab instance, the management pack can also be used to transfer the upgraded and certified content from their lab to production instance(s).
Q. What kind of technology was used to build the management pack?
A. It was built using generally available VMware products, including:
- vRealize Code Stream as the core pipeline engine that codifies and automates the software development lifecycle for vRA, vRO, vROps and vSphere content
- vRealize Automation Advanced Service Designer as the front-end UI that allows administrators to select the content to package, version, test (optionally) and move across vRA/vRO/vCenter/vROPs/vRCS instances.
- vRealize Orchestrator for various parts of the business logic, particularly determining content dependencies (e.g. vRO workflows associated with a vRA blueprint)
- A VMware Xenon-based repository to store and version content packages.
- CloudClient as the communication interface between the Advanced Service Designer and Code Stream
Pricing & Packaging
Q. What does the management pack cost?
A. The management pack itself is free, although it requires users to have licenses for vRA Advanced/Enterprise and vRealize Code Stream, which together provide the underlying platform for the solution.
Q. If I don't have a vRealize Code Stream license today, how can I see if the management pack is a good solution for my organization?
A. Evaluation licenses are available by clicking on the “Try for Free” button on the vRealize Code Stream page: www.vmware.com/products/vrealize-code-stream.html
Q. Is the management pack supported by VMware Global Support Services?
A. Yes, GSS support is provided to all licensed vRealize Code Stream and vRealize Automation customers who have a maintenance plan.
Installation & Configuration
Q. What do I need to deploy the management pack?
A. The following components are necessary in order to deploy the solution:
- A first vRealize Automation/Code Stream appliance (version 7.2/2.2 or higher), with 4 CPU, 20 GB RAM and 250 GB of space on which to install and run the Management Pack
- A second appliance instance (the Primary Content Server) that stores all content packages.
- The management pack installer itself (available under vRealize Code Stream 2.2/Drivers & Tools in the Download section of my.vmware.com)
For more details, please refer to the Installation Guide.
Q. Can management pack operations be triggered programmatically?
A. Yes, see the Operations Guide for sample JSON that is passed into the vRA Catalog.
Q. What prior knowledge/training does one need before using the management pack?
A. No training is required. Users need a basic understanding of how to deploy and configure a virtual appliance, particularly the vRealize Automation appliance. No knowledge of vRealize Orchestrator or vRealize Code Stream is required, unless it is to extend the solution.