Login AM makes Image Management easy
Login AM was always a tool that focused on what we usually call "the inside of a virtual machine". It fully enables you to execute any changes on a machine but it always needed help from additional tooling to deploy the operating system. Now with the new Image Management feature we have the first feature that provides integration with a hypervisor to deploy and configure the virtual machine from start to end.
This feature is intended as an easy way to automate and maintain your machine images. Basically, any machine imaging technology can be used, like Citrix provisioning services or VMware Horizon linked clones. Using this new feature, you'll be able to create a virtual machine, join it to the domain, execute a set of Login AM packages and finally perform the actions needed to seal the image.
How does Login AM Image Management work?
The Imaging Wizard consists of a couple of steps. Image management is based on recipes (collections within Login AM). So you start by selecting a recipe (or create a new one). Within a recipe you can add packages. Packages are the bread & butter of Login AM and they hold all configuration items. Another new feature of Login AM is SCCM integration. I’ll discuss that later on in a separate blogpost.
Secondly you need to configure the vSphere connection details. You enter the credentials and vCenter URL. Usually you'll have these pre-configured in the Hypervisor plug-in. After that you can decide from which template you want to deploy (the list is directly retrieved from vCenter) and how you want to deploy it in vSphere. We've made the number of vCPUs and memory configurable on the hardware side and the virtual machine network, storage and host on the logical side of things.
Login AM Image Management Wizard
After that you're presented with different options to seal the image. We've made pre-configured options for shutdown, snapshot and a combination of both. Additionally, you can run a custom seal command enabling you to use any image deployment technology in combination with the imaging feature.
By now you're ready to deploy. You'll be presented with an overview of what'll be executed and the wizard will show extensive progress information. During the image creation process we do the following:
- Clone virtual machine from a template within VMware.
- Reconfigure the machine to the configured hardware.
- Start it, wait for it to come online.
- Remotely connect to the machine and join it to your domain.
- Reboot the machine and wait for it to come back online.
- Initialize the machine in Login AM.
Login AM Image Management deployment
From that point the already present features in Login AM will take over. It will install all applications, infrastructural components and changes that are configured within he Login AM recipe.
What do you need?
We obviously do have some requirements. For now, we support VMware vSphere with vCenter. So, the terminology used will be specific to VMware.
- We need access to the vCenter machine using the VMware PowerCLI. We already install PowerCLI for you during the update, therefore we only need a (service) account that has access rights to vCenter and can deploy machines.
- We need a VMware template machine from which we can start the deployment. We have a couple of requirements for the template:
- VMware Tools need to be installed
- PowerShell 3.0 needs to be installed
- .Net Framework 4.5.2 needs to be installed
- We need to set the credentials of a local admin account within the template
- PowerShell remoting needs to be activated
Why do you need this?
When using Login AM to automate your entire imaging process it enables you to make quick and easy changes at any time. You can reproduce the exact same image over and over again without having to rebuild the image from scratch manually.
This not only makes your time to production for any change much faster, it’s also more reliable. Not building your image from scratch, not relying on documentation—which is always flawed in some way—and not relying on manually performing tasks which always goes wrong at some point means less risk and less time involved.
This also enables you to create small changes or improvements to your image without touching any of the existing configuration. Since the creation of the image only takes a couple of minutes to start, you can quickly deploy even the smallest changes to a test or acceptance environment. Greatly speeding up the change process.
Do you want to know more about Image Management? My colleagues Dennis Damen wrote an interesting blog about the real challenges of Image Management.
Want to get started with Image Management? Download the latest version of Login AM today.