23 March 2018

Announcing General Availability of Red Hat CloudForms 4.6

CloudForms and Ansible Integration

Red Hat CloudForms 4.6, as announced in the recent Press Release. One of the key highlights of the release is the introduction of Lenovo XClarity as the first physical infrastructure provider, enabling CloudForms to go beyond hybrid cloud management and manage hybrid infrastructure.

CloudForms 4.6 continues to build on the automation-centric approach to multi-cloud management that was introduced in 4.5, aligning with Red Hat’s vision to simplify IT management with Ansible’s powerful automation capabilities.

Additional enhancements focus on provider capabilities and usability. Let’s take a closer look at what’s new in CloudForms 4.6, and be sure to check back in on this blog for more detailed posts on many of these new capabilities in the coming weeks.

Red Hat Management Demos

New Lenovo XClarity Provider: enables CloudForms to discover and manage Lenovo physical compute infrastructure alongside virtual and multi-cloud through a single pane of glass.

Ansible Automation Inside:  
  • Call Ansible playbooks as methods in state machines, allowing for hybrid Ruby and Ansible orchestration.
  • Compute resource linking in services, providing visibility of Ansible deployed compute items.
  • Provide a foundational layer to curate Ansible modules, adding secure authentication for Ansible callbacks to CloudForms.
  • Support additional Ansible credentials, including OpenStack, Azure, Google, Satellite, Subversion, GitLab, as well as Ansible Networking.

Additional provider enhancements:  Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, Red Hat OpenStack, Red Hat Virtualization

Usability enhancements for the Administrative User Interface:
  • Dynamic Resource Objects to quickly add the capability to provision and collect data on resources not supported by Red Hat CloudForms
  • Prometheus Alert Management
  • New service editor for easier service design
  • Create custom buttons in the Administrative Interface for frequent actions

Operations User Interface:
  • Enhanced snapshot management with more views for increased visibility
  • Improved user experience for resource details
  • Enhanced service dialog with validation of dialog fields as you type and more tool tips
  • Create custom buttons in the Operations User Interface for frequent actions
  • Additional Operations User Interface customization options to meet customer requirements for branding and access control

Red Hat CloudForms 4.6

Red Hat CloudForms 4.6 builds on the automation-centric foundation to multi-cloud management introduced in CloudForms 4.5, including increased support for automated infrastructure provisioning and scaling of Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform and Red Hat Openstack Platform deployments. CloudForms 4.6 is designed to make more Ansible capabilities available natively within CloudForms, including the ability for CloudForms to execute Ansible playbooks and visibility and linking into Ansible-deployed compute resources.

Integrate Openshift with Cloudforms

Red Hat CloudForms 4.6 also introduces Lenovo XClarity as the first physical infrastructure provider, enabling CloudForms to go beyond hybrid cloud management and manage hybrid infrastructure. The new Lenovo XClarity provider enables CloudForms to discover and manage physical compute infrastructure alongside virtual and multi-cloud through a single pane of glass. This view helps deliver valuable insight to system administrators to determine on-premise capacity and analyze the impacts of infrastructure modifications on workload and control infrastructure maintenance.

This video demonstrates how you can take manual tasks and processes and turn them into automation workflows. In this video we utilize Red Hat CloudForms and Ansible Tower to provide an underlying automation and orchestration framework to deliver automation to your IT organization.

Containers, OpenShift, Kubernetes all with Red Hat CloudForms

The demonstration shows how a user can order a service and have automation provision and deliver the resources while tracking the elements in a ticketing system (ServiceNow).

At a high level, the following areas are demonstrated:
  • Ordering an instance inside CloudForms self-service portal
  • CloudForms auto approval and quota escalation features
  • Ansible Tower’s powerful and intuitive workflows
  • Integration into third party web services (ServiceNow and Microsoft Azure)

This technical presentation details the integration points and technical value of all 4 Red Hat® Cloud Infrastructure components: Red Hat Enterprise Linux® OpenStack® Platform, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, Red Hat CloudForms, and Red Hat Satellite. This session will also illustrate several different deployment scenarios that this flexible offering allows. In addition, you'll learn about common integration …Full session details here: https://www.redhat.com/en/technologies/cloud-computing/cloud-infrastructure and http://itinfrastructure.report/view-resource.aspx?id=958. and here https://www.openstack.org/videos/

The definitive OpenStack Map

Presenting the OpenStack map, the process that went through its creation, and the next steps.

Automating CloudForms Appliance Deployment with Ansible

Red Hat CloudForms ships as an appliance to simplify deployment as much as possible – a Red Hat Enterprise Linux server with the appropriate software loaded, ready to be configured with a few basic configuration options.

Traditionally, these servers are configured using the command line tool appliance_console. This is a simple, menu-based interface that allows you to configure the core functionality of the appliance and makes it exceptionally easy to do so. Unfortunately, menu-based interfaces don’t lend themselves to being automated easily.

However, there is a solution!

Openstack Cloud Management and Automation Using Red Hat Cloudforms 4.0

All CloudForms appliances ship with another tool called appliance_console_cli. We can combine this tool with an Ansible playbook to automate the configuration of our appliance(s).

Before we go further, take a look at the sample playbook located on Github. This playbook shows a simple scenario that configures two appliances:

A primary database in which we use a separate disk and configure an internal VMDB
A non-VMDB appliance which joins the region in the primary database.
The playbook sets some standard configuration for all the appliances – namely a common root password, and an appropriate hostname – then uses the appliance_console_cli tool through the Ansible shell module.

Let’s take a look at some of the key options available to appliance_console_cli, as of CloudForms 4.5. This isn’t an exhaustive list, so have a look at the help output of the command to see them all:

Server configuration options

–host: set the hostname for the appliance. Also updates your /etc/hosts – handy!
–ipaserver, –ipaprincipal, –ipapassword, –ipadomain and –uninstall: establish this host in an IPA realm, using the principal and password you provide. Note the principal must have the privileges needed to register the host and register a service.
–logdisk, –tmpdisk: specify the devices used for the log and tmp directories.

Database options

–region: the region for the appliance; needed when establishing a database
–internal: specify this if you want to create an internal database (i.e. you’re not connecting to a remote postgresql db)
–hostname, –port, –username, –password, –dbname: key details for your database. Without the –internal parameter, these are used to join your appliance to an external database.
–dbdisk: specify a device to use for the postgresql data directory. Very handy!

Preparing the appliance

–fetch-key, –sshlogin, –sshpassword: fetch the v2_key encryption key from a remote appliance with the provided SSH login credentials. All appliances connected to a VMDB need the same v2_key!

CloudForms 4.6 extends the commands of appliance_console_cli and brings it closer to feature parity with appliance_console. A major improvement is the ability to configure database replication on the command line, just by running different parameters on your primary and standby nodes. Super useful! This will be the focus of a future article, and I’ll extend the playbook to deploy two VMDB appliances in a primary/standby configuration.

What are you waiting for? Head to Red Hat Customer Portal and try out the CloudForms 4.6 Beta! General Availability is just around the corner…

Ansible Automation

Don’t forget, the upcoming release of CloudForms 4.6 brings improved embedded Ansible Automation Inside capabilities. If you are not familiar, Embedded Ansible has been a feature of CloudForms since version 4.5 and allows to store and execute Ansible playbooks from within CloudForms.

For example, Ansible Automation allows to execute a playbook as part of a Service Catalog request to configure provisioned VMs for the requester. Alternatively, a playbook can be executed when a user interface button is pressed, or in response to an event or alert.

Automating the Enterprise with CloudForms & Ansible

Ansible Modules and CloudForms

Ansible 2.4 provides Ansible modules to manage CloudForms: manageiq_provider and manageiq_user. These modules use the CloudForms REST API to automate the configuration of providers and users.

Combining these configuration modules and the playbook above allow to provision and configure CloudForms appliances, define users in the VMDB, and configure new providers – all in a single play!


Ansible is being embedded throughout all cloud software platform at Red Hat, and CloudForms is no exception. Keep an eye out for future posts in this series, where we will test drive some of the new features of appliance_console_cli in the upcoming 4.6 release.

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