What is Provisioning?

This topic introduces you to the concept of provisioning in BMC BladeLogic Server Automation (BSA). It includes the following sections:

Provisioning with BSA

BSA automates OS installation and configuration with support for all major operating systems, as well as the leading virtualization and cloud platforms. It also provides the ability to choose the best mechanism for delivering that OS — from traditional unattended installs, to image-based provisioning, to template-based provisioning on virtualization platforms.

What kinds of provisioning does BSA support?

BSA provisioning performs unattended installations of OSs onto new physical machines (bare metal machines) or re-provisions existing machines. You can also run Batch Jobs that configure server settings, deploy files, and install software after installing the OS. BSA supports four provisioning technologies.

The technology that you use depends on the operating system being provisioned. Each provisioning technology requires supporting components:

  • PXE environment — For provisioning Microsoft Windows and Linux servers. Requires a DHCP server, a PXE server, a TFTP server, data stores, and agent installation files.
  • JumpStart environment — For provisioning Oracle Solaris servers. Requires a working JumpStart environment, configured for and stocked with all of the operating system installation files for provisioning your target machines, including RSCD agent installation files.
  • IBM Network Installation Manager (NIM) environment — For provisioning IBM AIX servers. Requires a working NIM environment, configured for and stocked with all of the operating system installation files for provisioning your target machines, including RSCD agent installation files.
  • Ignite environment — For provisioning HP-UX servers. Requires a working Ignite environment, configured for and stocked with all of the operating system installation files for provisioning your target machines, including RSCD agent installation files.

BSA also enables you to perform basic ad-hoc actions on virtual assets in their environment (such as starting and stopping virtual machines), as well as more complex management tasks such as deploying virtual assets (such as creating virtual machine, adding disk to existing virtual machine). BSA provides with essential tools for the management of the virtual environment and on-demand deployment of virtual assets.

For information about setting up the components for each technology, see Implementation process for provisioning.

Overview of physical server provisioning

Physical server, or bare metal, provisioning in BSA enables you to boot a piece of hardware over the network and remotely install an operating system and software onto the machine. 

To enable provisioning, you must set up the provisioning system, create components used by the provisioning process, prepare devices, and create and execute Provision Jobs that perform the unattended installation of the operating system. You can use these steps as a checklist for performing all of the tasks required to set up the provisioning system and provision servers. 

The flowchart illustrates the installation and execution tasks you perform during bare metal provisioning. Click the image below for a full-size view. 

Overview of virtual provisioning

Manually creating and deploying virtual systems takes a great deal of time and effort. It is also potentially error prone because there are so many steps that must be repeated during the installation of each virtual system, which varies by virtualization platform.

With BSA, you can build a repeatable process for deploying new virtual machines. You can create a new VM from scratch, or base it on an existing VM or template. You can quickly replicate and deploy new virtual systems from:

  • An existing virtual system as a template, using a BLPackage and Deploy Job
  • A specific configuration that you define, using a Virtual Guest Package (VGP) and Virtual Guest Job (VGJ).

What is a VGP?

The VGP describes the new virtual machine you want to add and bundles configuration changes so they can be deployed to hosts or clusters using a VGJ.

A VGP consists of an instruction set and any files needed for implementing configuration changes. Configuration changes can consist of additions, deletions, and modifications to any of the server objects BSA supports on all operating systems. This capability allows you to create multiple VGPs, each designed and tailored for a specific use. For example, you can create one VGP that defines a VM for an development SQL server, while another can be tailored for use by QA as a web server.

 You can base the VGP on an existing VMware VM Template, or create the VGP using values of your own, if you do not have an existing virtual machine or template on which to base the configuration. Having a base package from which to deploy new virtual machines helps enforce consistency and standards, such as including Antivirus and management software on any new virtual machine.

You create a VGP using the following methods:

  • Use a Virtual Guest Template Enrollment Job to automatically discover operating system templates on those systems, and create VGP s for the discovered templates, as described in Automatically creating a Virtual Guest Package . (For VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix Xenserver, and RHEV Manager platforms.)

Types of virtual provisioning

The following table provides an overview of the types of virtual provisioning you can perform using BSA.

Typedescription

Template-based VM provisioning

A VGP can be based on the VM Template supported by the underlying virtualization platform (for example, VMware and SCVMM support templates for various operating systems. You can use these templates for VM creation).

The VGP bases the configuration of the VM as specified in the template. You can alternatively override some of the configurations, if required. In this case, you must provide some additional customization to the configuration specified in the VGP. The VGJ creates the VM and also customizes the guest OS based on the configuration you specified. The VM is also enrolled as a managed server in BSA.

This method is the most common way of provisioning VMs. See Manually creating a Virtual Guest Package for details.

Bare metal VM provisioning

Alternatively, you can create a bare metal VM from scratch, providing all the configurations manually when you create the VGP. The VGJ creates a bare metal VM. The VM in this case does not have an OS installed on it, so you would need to follow the steps similar to the bare metal physical machine provisioning process.

See Manually creating a Virtual Guest Package for details on creating the VGP.

 See Provisioning a bare metal VM for more details about provisioning an OS on to a bare metal VM.

Post VM provisioning

You may want to perform additional tasks after the VM has been provisioned (for example, you want to install new software that was not present in the template, or upgrade existing software). You could specify this in the VGP or in the VGJ. See Post-VM creation configuration for more details.

Where to go from here

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