Late last night was the GA (general availability) of vRA 8.3. As it's in my wheelhouse it's probably one of the few GA announcements that I tend to write about.

In this brief post I'll mention a couple of the changes that interest me the most. For the full list of what's new or updated, it's probably best to go read the release notes and try it out in your lab. Here's a couple of links:

vRealize Automation 8.3 Release Notes
Keep up with what’s new, changed, and fixed in vRealize Automation 8.3 by reading the release notes!
Official vRA 8.3 release notes
What’s New with vRealize Automation 8.3 – Technical Overview - VMware Cloud Management
vRealize Automation (vRA) 8.3 is the first 8.x version in our move to quarterly releases for on premises installations. vRA Cloud still offers monthly updates, which roll into the on premises versions, now on a quarterly basis. For this release our team added quite a few great features including…
CMBU Technical Overview of vRA 8.3

SaltStack Config

SaltStack Config (or, vRealize Automation SaltStack Config, to give it its full name) has to be one of the biggest additions. When you head in to Lifecycle Manager you'll see that the product support pack for the 8.3 release includes SSC:

vRSLCM product support pack for 8.3

What's more, you can deploy SSC through LCM as you can the other products, and it's based on a Photon OS OVA now too. It's on a per-tenant basis, so if you have multiple tenants then each will get their own SSC deployment.

There's also a new organization role available - "SaltStack Administrator":

Identity and Access Management configuration showing the new SaltStack Administrator role

But that's not all! The CMBU (Cloud Management Business Unit) technical marketing team has created a Salt module for vRA. It's available (for free) from Github:

VMwareCMBUTMM/salt_module_for_vra
Salt Execution Module for vRealize Automation. Contribute to VMwareCMBUTMM/salt_module_for_vra development by creating an account on GitHub.

The recommended approach for installing the Salt Minion on workloads is to use the bootstrap script (see https://bootstrap.saltstack.com) which can easily be executed through the use of cloud-init. And... you can specify the master address to be used through a Property Group.

Property Groups

We had these in vRA 7.x, and now they're in vRA 8.3 and will make standardisation across Cloud Templates easier.

New Property Group window in vRA 8.3

Property groups are created from under the Design menu and can be specific to a project or available to all projects. As the example text shows, you could define a group for compute-properties that you would then reference in a Cloud Template as follows:

Secrets

Secret
Photo by Kristina Flour / Unsplash

How often have you created a Cloud Template and ended up having to stick some sort of value or data in there that you'd rather wasn't easily visible or shared? Well now you can keep them secret.

Secret values are new to vRA 8.3 and allow for passwords, license keys, SSH keys etc to be stored away from prying eyes. They're created from a new option under the Infrastructure menu and associated with a project. (That association is strict though, a secret created for one project is not visible to another project.)

Creating a secret in vRA 8.3

Secrets can be consumed in Cloud Templates, for example:

'${secret.ssh_public_key}'

Which would return the value of the secret named "ssh_public_key". Secrets can also be consumed in ABX actions. Let's say you had an encrypted on your Cloud Template that placed a root password as a property on a Cloud.Machine object that you then wanted to pass to some other system via an ABX action. Well, you'd retrieve the value using something like the following:

variable = context.getSecret(inputs["customProperties"]["rootPassword"])

Other Stuff

There are lots of other enhancements, too many to mention here. But I'll be experimenting with them over the coming weeks. I'm already working with SaltStack so it's great to see that and vRA getting to know each other better.