Building a VCF lab with pfSense (Part 3)

Part 3: Deploying VCF

In the previous parts of this series, I discussed the architecture of the environment and we went through the configuration of pfSense. Now it’s time to get our SDDC deployed in our home lab, using VLC to drive VMware Cloud Foundation.

I’m assuming that you already know about the VCF Lab Constructor (VLC). If not, you should go sign up for it here. This is simply a tool to assist you in deploying VCF in a nested environment. It handles a lot of the drudgery of getting a nested lab deployed.

In order to deploy VCF, we need to use a virtual appliance called CloudBuilder. In a normal deployment, a user would upload an Excel workbook or a JSON file to CloudBuilder. This provides the information that CloudBuilder would need in order to perform the deployment of VCF. This process is commonly referred to as the bringup process.

When using VLC, VLC can automate the process of uploading the JSON formatted file to the CloudBuilder appliance that VLC deploys.  VLC also leverages the same JSON file to extract information it needs to create the nested environment.

When you extract VLC, you will see a couple of samples of these JSON files. There is one for use if you are planning on deploying with Application Virtual Networks (AVNs) and one if you are not. We will need to edit one of these files to add our license key information and to change any configuration parameters to match our environment. As our environment is designed to use AVNs, we will use the file called ‘AUTOMATED_AVN_VCF_VLAN_10-13_NOLIC_v41’. Ideally, you would create a copy of this file and use a different name. This would keep an original, unmodified version for future use. The name of the file doesn’t matter, it’s the contents that do, so call it what makes sense to you.

Now if you have been following along and using the same networks as we’ve been describing, you won’t have to make many changes to this file. We basically only have to:

  • Add the LocalUserPassword
  • Add the license keys for all the software components
  • Change the ntpServers attribute to point to our pfSense instance
  • Change the gateway addresses to point to our pfSense instance
  • Change the transportVlanId attribute to reflect our Host TEP VLAN ID (14)

The easiest way to change these is just to search the file for the attribute. Ensure you go through the entire file, as some attributes (like the gateway address) will show up multiple times.

The LocalUserPassword and the license key attributes are typically unique to your environment. In this example, we are using our pfSense instance to provide NTP services. So, we will set the ntpServers attribute to the IP address for our pfSense instance. Remember, we made pfSense have the first IP address on each network. The NTP is provided over our management network, thus the value we need to provide for this environment would be

Likewise, the gateway IP addresses for the various networks will end in .1. The sample file will have them end with a .253. We just will search for this and change it to .1, which will be our pfSense instance.

The last attribute is the transportVlanId attribute. If you were using VLC in an automated fashion, then it places the host TEP network on the same VLAN as it does for Management, vMotion, and vSAN. In this example however, we created VLAN 14 just for this network. Just search for that attribute and change it to the correct value.

Once you’re done editing the file, we’re ready to start the deployment!

Simply startup VLC and when you see the initial screen come up, select ‘Manual’. At this point, you just need to provide the appropriate information. Note that you have the ability to select if you want VLC to initiate the bringup process for you. This is a handy ability as if you wanted to simulate the process for deploying VCF like you would in a normal environment, you can.

Personally, I’ve seen the bringup process a few times, so I’m just going to leave the option to initiate the bringup process checked.

Click the button to validate your entries and when it passes, click the button to deploy.

At this point, all you can do is wait for it to finish deploying or until it hits an error. If you encounter an error, I’d suggest you go back and validate the information provided to make sure nothing was missed.

Enjoy your new VCF deployment!