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VMware Event Broker Appliance – Part I – Deployment (Knative)

Introduction

I became aware of the VMware Event Broker Appliance Fling (VEBA) Fling in December, 2019. The VEBA Fling is open source code released by VMware which allows customers to easily create event-driven automation based on vCenter Server Events. You can think of it as a way to run scripts based on alarm events – but you’re not limited to only the alarm events exposed in the vCenter GUI. Instead, you have the ability to respond to ANY event in vCenter.

Did you know that an event fires when a user account is created? Or when an alarm is created or reconfigured? How about when a distributed virtual switch gets upgraded or when DRS migrates a VM?  There are more than 1,000 events that fire in vCenter;  you can trap the events and execute code in response using VEBA. Want to send an email and directly notify PagerDuty via API call for an event? It’s possible with VEBA. VEBA frees you from the constraints of the alarms GUI, both in terms of events that you can monitor as well as actions you can take.

VEBA is a client of the vSphere API, just like PowerCLI. VEBA connects to vCenter to listen for events. There is no configuration stored in the vCenter itself, and you can (and should!) use a read-only account to connect VEBA to your vCenter. It’s possible for more than one VEBA to listen to the same single vCenter the same way multiple users can interact via PowerCLI with the same vCenter.

For more details, make sure to check out the VMworld session replay “If This Then That” for vSphere- The Power of Event-Driven Automation (CODE1379UR)

Installing VEBA with Knative

The product documentation can be found on the VEBA website.

First we download the OVF appliance from https://flings.vmware.com/vcenter-event-broker-appliance and deploy it to our cluster

I am deploying a prerelease version of v0.6, so the version number still shows 0.5

I don’t have a proxy server so I leave all of the settings blank

This is the root password to log into the appliance. You generally need it only for troubleshooting. If you want the SSH daemon to auto-start, check the box. It is more secure to leave it unchecked.

These settings are all straightforward. Definitely disable TLS verification if you’re running in a homelab. One gotcha are passwords – you can move forward with blank passwords – if you use a blank vCenter password, the appliance won’t be able to connect to vCenter to receive events. It is best practice to use a read-only account – we don’t need any additional permissions to read the vCenter logs

These settings are for the new 0.6 feature – a vCenter user interface plugin! Using the plugin is not a requirement, but it’s a great way to easily deploy functions. The account you specify here needs permissions to register a plugin with vCenter:

  • Register and Update Extension – Install Plugin
  • Manage Plugins – Update Plugin

Definitely disable TLS verification in your homelab – and maybe you like to run Prod a little dangerously too?

Here we pick Knative, and then skip to the Knative section

Knative comes installed in the VEBA appliance – you do not need to specify any of these settings unless you want to use your own Knative instance.

Finally, we have networking settings, you won’t need to change any of these unless you have a conflict with the ranges.

The appliance boots up and configures itself.

Finished! This is what the console should look like if the deployment succeeds.

If you want to look around on the appliance, you can either log directly onto the console as root or SSH if you’ve enabled the SSH daemon. It is best practice to leave SSH disabled, the recommended method for administering Kubernetes on this appliance is via remote kubectl. We cover installation and setup of kubectl in Part II.

View all the running pods with

kubectl get pods -A
root@veba04 [ ~ ]# kubectl get pods -A
 NAMESPACE            NAME                                          READY   STATUS      RESTARTS   AGE
 contour-external     contour-5869594b-4mtnh                        1/1     Running     0          7m21s
 contour-external     contour-5869594b-tk8tg                        1/1     Running     0          7m21s
 contour-external     contour-certgen-v1.10.0-pl8qz                 0/1     Completed   0          7m21s
 contour-external     envoy-s4ngd                                   2/2     Running     0          7m21s
 contour-internal     contour-5d47766fd8-5ggc8                      1/1     Running     0          7m20s
 contour-internal     contour-5d47766fd8-95wws                      1/1     Running     0          7m20s
 contour-internal     contour-certgen-v1.10.0-dv6hn                 0/1     Completed   0          7m21s
 contour-internal     envoy-mxm5p                                   2/2     Running     0          7m20s
 knative-eventing     eventing-controller-658f454d9d-x7ps2          1/1     Running     0          6m42s
 knative-eventing     eventing-webhook-69fdcdf8d4-9tsj4             1/1     Running     0          6m42s
 knative-eventing     rabbitmq-broker-controller-88fc96b44-gww84    1/1     Running     0          6m31s
 knative-serving      activator-85cd6f6f9-4452r                     1/1     Running     0          7m46s
 knative-serving      autoscaler-7959969587-lvd9d                   1/1     Running     0          7m45s
 knative-serving      contour-ingress-controller-6d5777577c-sscjm   1/1     Running     0          7m19s
 knative-serving      controller-577558f799-h8rcb                   1/1     Running     0          7m45s
 knative-serving      webhook-78f446786-km7qw                       1/1     Running     0          7m45s
 kube-system          antrea-agent-t7hgq                            2/2     Running     0          7m46s
 kube-system          antrea-controller-849fff8c5d-flp9n            1/1     Running     0          7m46s
 kube-system          coredns-74ff55c5b-4w6x8                       1/1     Running     0          7m46s
 kube-system          coredns-74ff55c5b-bgm9b                       1/1     Running     0          7m46s
 kube-system          etcd-veba04                                   1/1     Running     0          7m51s
 kube-system          kube-apiserver-veba04                         1/1     Running     0          7m51s
 kube-system          kube-controller-manager-veba04                1/1     Running     0          7m51s
 kube-system          kube-proxy-r5zmd                              1/1     Running     0          7m46s
 kube-system          kube-scheduler-veba04                         1/1     Running     0          7m51s
 local-path-storage   local-path-provisioner-5696dbb894-qc9kk       1/1     Running     0          7m45s
 rabbitmq-system      rabbitmq-cluster-operator-7bbbb8d559-frthd    1/1     Running     0          6m32s
 vmware-functions     default-broker-ingress-5c98bf68bc-2fhhd       1/1     Running     0          5m7s
 vmware-system        tinywww-dd88dc7db-rjjf2                       1/1     Running     0          6m23s
 vmware-system        veba-rabbit-server-0                          1/1     Running     0          6m24s
 vmware-system        veba-ui-677b77dfcf-tss5t                      1/1     Running     0          6m19s
 vmware-system        vmware-event-router-b85dd9d87-g9cm5           1/1     Running     4          6m26s

They should all be running except for the ones that say certgen. We are most interested in the one named vmware-event-router. The extra text – ‘-b85dd9d87-g9cm5’ in this case – will be unique for every deployment.

The event router process is what connects to vCenter Server and reads all of the events. Let’s check the logs with:

kubectl logs -n vmware-system  vmware-event-router-b85dd9d87-g9cm5

We see that the event router has started up and is receiving events from our vCenter server.

Our set up worked, but what if yours failed?

kubectl get pods -A

You might log in and find the event router pod in a crashed state.

Check the pod logs to see if you can figure out the problem

kubectl logs -n vmware-system vmware-event-router-b85dd9d87-jhgtx

The logs show us that we failed to log into the vCenter. Time to check the configuration file.

The event router pod configuration file is located at /root/config/event-router-config.yaml

cd /root/config
ls -al

We see the .yaml file is there. Edit the .yaml file with vi

vi event-router-config.yaml

Our error message makes it obvious that we have a bad username or password. I intentionally put in a bad password to cause this error. But you might have made a mistake in the vCenter URL, or you may have forgotten to disable SSL checks in your homelab. Make the necessary change to the config file and save it.

We now need to recreate the Kubernetes secret – this is where Kubernetes securely stores credentials

kubectl -n vmware-system get secret

event-router-config is the one we need to rebuild

Delete the event-router-config secret

kubectl -n vmware-system delete secret event-router-config

Recreate the secret

kubectl -n vmware-system create secret generic event-router-config --from-file=event-router-config.yaml

Now we need to delete the crashing pod. Doing this will cause Kubernetes to recreate the pod with our new secret.

Find the broken pod

kubectl get pods -A

The pod is named ‘vmware-event-router-b85dd9d87-jhgtx’. Delete the pod.

kubectl -n vmware-system delete pod vmware-event-router-b85dd9d87-jhgtx

Now look for the new pod

kubectl get pods -A

This time the pod is running. Check the logs

kubectl logs -n vmware-system vmware-event-router-b85dd9d87-5tw7x

Success!

That’s all for this post. In Part II, we look at preqreqs to deploy functions.

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