Deploying VMware App Launchpad for VMware Cloud Director

In this post, I am going to review the deployment steps for installing and configuring the newly available VMware App Launchpad. Also, I will be doing a high-level overview as I am learning about this new VCD addition.

Download Link

VMware App Launchpad Introduction

First, the VMware App Launchpad is a platform that allows for the ability to create application catalogs within VMware Cloud Director (VCD) for self-service. The value behind this is Bitnami’s entire catalog platform, which is integrated into VMware App Launchpad. A provider can also create custom applications and expose these through the plugin.

The following video is a great introduction to this new addition –

Requirements

What’s required for a successful VMware App Launchpad (ALP) deployment? Below are the summarized requirements, but here is the official documentation on requirements.

  • Dedicated VM to run App Launchpad code
  • VCD 9.7, 10.x, or 10.1 instance
  • AMQP Broker

For my specific lab environment, I didn’t have a AMQP instance established yet. Therefore, I utilized Bitnami’s free RabbitMQ appliance and deployed it to this VCD lab environment –

Successful initial deployment and configuration of said appliance complete!

I now have configured my VCD instance to connect to this RabbitMQ appliance and see my remote connections –

I will be using a Photon instance to install the ALP RPM package and see how this works.

Deployment Steps

As stated above, I am going to deploy ALP to a Photon-based appliance. As you will see, I ran into some fun here. 🙂

Installation steps are here – but I am going to walk through installing it on my instance.

Initial Installation on Photon 3.0

After scp’ing the RPM up to a temp directory on the system, I ran the yum command, but it didn’t work. I then tried just a RPM and received a message that I was missing Java 1.8.0 –

Checking dependencies, I do see the Java requirement.

Therefore, I went and searched for the right Java package, which seems to be the right dependency. Below are the two packages I installed.

tdnf install openjre8
tdnf install openjdk8

However, there’s something quirky with this RPM and installing on Photon. According to Engineering, they have only validated/tested on CentOS 7 and 8. After exhausting my troubleshooting, I decided to install it without the dependency check –

rpm -i --nodeps vmware-alp-1.0.0-15936169.x86_64.rpm

Complete! I’ll provide my final comments on this Photon install experience in my summary (i.e. please use CentOS 7/8 for now).

Running alp for the first time, one must accept the EULA:

Now we are ready for the initial configuration.

The command to connect is pretty verbose, but clear on what it requires. We must have a service account, system admin account, and our AMQP information.

alp connect --sa-user account-to-become-alp-service-account --sa-pass 'service-account-pass' --url Cloud-Director-URL --admin-user Cloud-Director-system-administrator@system --admin-pass 'Cloud-Director-system-administrator-pass' --amqp-exchange dedicated-exchange-name --amqp-user dedicated-amqp-user --amqp-pass 'dedicated-amqp-user-password'

I added a new service account along with a new exchange:

I wrote out my connect command in notepad, below is my command I used:

alp connect --sa-user alpuser --sa-pass 'XXXXXXX' --url https://vcd.dp-pod.zpod.io --admin-user admin@system --admin-pass 'XXXXXXX' --amqp-exchange alp --amqp-user user --amqp-pass 'XXXXXXX'

Accept the certificate and verify the connectivity.

I can also see my service is running:

After the successful connection, I can now see a new RMQ connection –

Configuring for VCD UI Accessibility

Logging into my Provider UI, I can now see the new plugin!

Now I’m ready to walk through the setup.

Setup is easy. The first step is to establish our catalog, then select if this is backed by internal apps or our VMware Cloud Marketplace, and our initial template –

Once completed, we are ready to create our first catalog and publish it to tenants.

Up next, let’s walk through what we see from the provider constructs.

Walkthrough

Reviewing the post-installation configuration, I can see ALP install process created a new org called AppLaunchpad. It also created a respective oVDC. This is where the catalogs will be shared and exposed to each tenant.

It seems catalogs are created within the org construct. Then the provider will expose it via the AppLaunchpad plugin –

I was ready to create my first app – a RabbitMQ app! Within the vApp Templates location, I uploaded my OVA that I downloaded earlier and allowed VCD to import this in….

Import completed.

Last, I set this as my “Featured Application” –

Organization User Experience

Last, let’s take a look at it from my org user. I can now see this as a featured app along with a Launch button –

Deploying the app is easy with a few advanced options if required.

Very intuitive and easy to use for any type of user.

Final Thoughts

Once I got over the Photon installation issues as documented above, the installation and configuration was a breeze. If you are a provider, I suggest installing this on CentOS 7/8. This aligns to our documentation until we iterate this further.

Finally, this plugin is available to any provider that is entitled to VMware Cloud Director. However, the Bitnami catalog comes within the MSP program. Therefore, do talk to your field team or aggregator further about it.

Overall, for an initial release, this is extremely valuable. I look forward to future releases of the VMware App Launchpad.

-Daniel

3 thoughts on “Deploying VMware App Launchpad for VMware Cloud Director”

  1. Hi Daniel,

    thanks a lot for your post!

    We try to deploy ALP in our lab, after the ‘alp connect’ command, we receive the certificate information and accept it.

    After that, we receive the following error:

    Can’t find the upload path of plugin when installing plugin!

    Do you know what can cause that?

    Thanks!

  2. OK, i was able to fix it. i used the admin account as service user, after i created a user for alp in vcd, it worked!

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