VMware Bare Metal Automation for VMware Telco Cloud Platform 3.1 | November 2023

About VMware Bare Metal Automation for VMware Telco Cloud Platform

VMware Bare Metal Automation™ (VMware BMA) for VMware Telco Cloud Platform™ is a bare metal provisioning tool, readying servers for operating system installation. VMware BMA bootstraps the server and installs the necessary software and firmware (BIOS and hardware) for VMware Telco Cloud Automation to start its infrastructure and CaaS automation processes.

For VMware Telco Cloud Platform customers, VMware BMA now completes the journey to realize end-to-end network automation — from initial zero-touch provisioning to supporting network services and network slices.

What's New

VMware BMA 3.1 is the official General Availability (GA) release.

VMware BMA ─ GIT Integration

VMware BMA is integrated to Git repository. So you can use the Git repository as a central repository to store the workflows from VMware BMA. You can Git Push workflows from VMware BMA to a Git repository and Git Pull workflows from a Git repository to VMware BMA.

Import CSAR Package to VMware Telco Cloud Automation

Starting from the VMware BMA 3.1 release, you can import CSAR package to VMware Telco Cloud Automation (TCA) as a Network Function and instantiate VMware BMA Core and VMware BMA Remote Workers via VMware TCA portal. For more information, see the Managing Network Function Catalogs section in the VMware Telco Cloud Automation User Guide at VMware Telco Cloud Automation Documentation.

Integration of VMware BMA Workflows with VMware TCA Workflow Hub

VMware BMA has a direct integration with the VMware TCA workflow hub.

From the VMware TCA workflow hub, you can trigger a VMware BMA workflow to be a part of the end-to-end orchestration workflow designed by the VMware TCA workflow hub.

For more information, see the Workflow Hub topic in the VMware Telco Cloud Automation 3.0 User Guide in the VMware Telco Cloud Automation Documentation.

Out Of The Box Workflows Enhancement

The new workflows added to VMware BMA 3.1 are:

  1. Firmware and Bios update workflows (for Dell Hardware)

  2. Photon OS 5.x imaging workflows

Global Settings

The options that were in Admin drop-down menu is now moved to Global Settings icon.

Components of VMware BMA

Download the Container Images and the Helm Charts from the VMware Downloads section. The following are the components of VMware BMA.

VMware Bare Metal Automation 3.1 Helm Charts

  • VMware-Bare-Metal-Automation-Core-Chart-3.1.0-v2023.2.459-b6.tgz: VMware BMA 3.1 Core Helm Chart

  • VMware-Bare-Metal-Automation-Remote-Worker-Chart-3.1.0-v2023.2.459-b6.tgz: VMware BMA 3.1 Remote Worker Helm Chart

VMware Bare Metal Automation 3.1 Container Images

  • VMware-Bare-Metal-Automation-Core-3.1.0-v2023.2.459-b6.tgz: VMware BMA 3.1 Core Container Image

  • VMware-Bare-Metal-Automation-Remote-Worker-3.1.0-v2023.2.459-b6.tgz: VMware BMA 3.1 Remote Worker Container Image

VMware Bare Metal Automation Out Of The Box (OOTB) Workflows

  • VMware Bare Metal Automation Out Of The Box (OOTB) Workflows is available as a ZIP package that you can import after installation from the VMware BMA Web User Interface.

    • VMware-Bare-Metal-Automation-Workflows-3.1.0.zip : VMware Bare Metal Automation Out-of-the-Box Workflows are designed to help customers to image their servers and includes processes like pre-validation, network configuration, and so on.

VMware Bare Metal Automation Input Specification Template File

  • VMware-Bare-Metal-Automation-InputSpec-Template-3.1.0.zip : Templates for input specifications for VMware Bare Metal Automation 3.1.0 workflows.

Functionalities Supported by OOTB Workflows

OOTB Workflows are engineering developed workflows designed to support the following functionalities:

Installation of Operating System (ESXi and Photon OS)

  • Customer Input specification

  • Create virtual disk and custom ESXi and Photon OS ISO image, as per customer input specification.

  • Install ESXi and Photon OS Image

Pre/Post Installation Validation Capabilities

  • Pre-Install validation of host connectivity, authentication credentials, and storage device availability

  • Post Install Validation of host connectivity, FQDN, ESXi Image version, Photon OS Image version and server uptime

Server Information Collection

  • Collect information related to Imaging Host, Server Type, Vendor, SKU, CPU, and Storage.

Imaging Status Notification

  • Email notification on status of imaging

  • Granular start and stop time of imaging execution

  • Error handling

Secure Cloud Native Deployment Model

  • Highly available deployment

  • Concurrent ESX imaging support

  • Backup and restore and support bundle generation  

  • RBAC and TLS support

Bare Metal Servers Provisioning Process Overview

  • Deploy Cloud Native VMware BMA Core on your Kubernetes Cluster. VMware has tested 1.24.10, 1.23.16, 1.22.17, 1.23.10 and 1.22.13 Kubernetes version.

  • The VMware BMA Core includes two embedded remote workers and additional remote workers are optional. For more information, see VMware BMA Installation Guide and VMware BMA Architecture Guide.

  • Log in to the VMware BMA Core UI, apply the VMware BMA license if not applied during Helm Chart installation and import the OOTB workflows.

  • Place the ESXi image or Photon OS image on a customer provided ISO store. The webserver must have the genisoimage utility.

  • Prepare the input JSON specification file, initialize the workflow with this input and initiate the workflow.

Important Notes

  • VMware provides a ZIP package with out-of-the-box workflows to cover bare metal provisioning scenarios.

    • These workflows might require customizations. If you customize these workflows, ensure that you track and maintain the changes.

  • Bare metal server hardware tested by VMware with VMware's OOTB workflows are:

    • Dell XR11

    • Dell R750

  • Workflows are generic enough to cover different types of vendor's hardware, assuming the vendor supports the standard Redfish API.

    • If a hardware vendor has non-standard Redfish APIs, contact VMware Support team to verify if those specific APIs can be added to VMware BMA.

  • VMware Bare Metal Automation serves as a bare metal provisioning tool to the point of ESXi and Photon OS installation — bootstrapping the server and installing the necessary software and firmware for Telco Cloud Automation to start its CaaS automation processes.

  • VMware BMA is also an open tool for creating workflows.

    • VMware only supports specific workflows that are developed for bare metal provisioning.

    • VMware recommends using out-of-the-box workflows and customize them based on individual use cases.

Known Issues

No Direct Upgrade Path

  • There is no upgrade path to VMware BMA 3.1. This is due to some major internal architecture change. The workaround is to:

    • Do a fresh installation of VMware BMA 3.1.

    • Export the workflows developed in your current VMware BMA version (VMware BMA 2.0 or 3.0) and import those workflows to VMware BMA 3.1

    • Manually backport any specific configurations done in the previous version to VMware BMA 3.1.

VMware BMA Imaging Workflow Fails in Post Validation with ESXi 8.x

While installing VMware ESXi 8.x on a bare metal using VMware BMA Imaging Workflow, the image gets installed, but the workflow fails in post validation. The workaround is to:

  • Contact VMware Support and ask for the new SSH plugin that is compatible with VMware ESXi 8.x.

    • When the SSH plugin is uploaded, you will get the following error message. You can ignore it. For more information, see this KB Article.

      The blocks were added to the flow editor but the worker cannot be reconfigured, so workflows using these blocks may not execute correctly.

    • This issue will be fixed in VMware BMA 4.0.

Unable to Specify Disk for OS Installation

  • The workflow does not allow the user to specify the disk on which the OS must be installed. By default, the workflow selects the first disk on the server for installation.

Unable to have Multiple Host Entries in Input Specification File

  • The input specification file allows only one host entry if the network config type is set to DHCP and network device name is set to MAC address. The input specification file can have multiple host entries if the network device name is set to vmnic*.

Available Documentation

  • VMware BMA Installation Guide

  • VMware BMA Architecture Guide

  • VMware BMA Workflow Guide

  • VMware BMA User Guide

  • VMware BMA Release Notes

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