Product Documentation

Create a Platform layer using VMware vSphere connector

Jan 11, 2018

This article explains how to create a Platform layer that you can use to:

  • Publish Layered Images to your VMware vSphere environment.
  • Package your App layers using a Packaging Machine running on VMware vSphere.

VMware vSphere software and settings are only required in the Platform layer in the following cases: 

  • The operating system used for your OS layer originated on a different hypervisor.
  • You want to package layers or publish images to a new location in your vSphere environment. 

Prerequisites

VMware vSphere prerequisites

  • Access to the VMware vSphere software to install on the layer.

  • VMware vSphere resource information, the information listed in the vSphere Connector Configuration you are using.

Other platform prerequisites

If you are creating a Platform Layer for publishing Layered Images and you are also running a provisioning service and/or connection broker, you also need the tools and settings for those services.

Prepare a new Platform Layer

  1. Select Layers > Platform Layers and select Create Platform Layer in the Action bar. This opens the Create Platform Layer wizard.

  2. In the Version Details tab:
    1. (Required) Enter a name for the New Version. This can be the software version or other identifying information.
    2. If you are adding a version to an existing layer, the Base Version field lets you choose which version to use as the starting point. The default choice is the latest version. 
       
  3. In the OS Layer tab, select the OS Layer you want to associate with this Platform Layer.

  4. In the Connector tab, choose the VMware vSphere Connector Configuration that specifies the location where you want to package layers and/or publish layered images. If the configuration you need isn't listed, Click New, and Add a Configuration .

  5. In the Platform Types tab, select the radio button that describes the purpose of this Platform Layer: to create and update layers, or to publish Layered Images.

  6. From the drop-down menus, select the platform(s) you are using.

  7. In the Packaging Disk tab, enter a file name for the Packaging Disk, and select the disk format. This disk will be used for the Packaging Machine (the VM) where you will install the tools, as described in the next two sections.

  8. In the Icon Assignment tab, select an icon to assign to the layer. This icon represents the layer in the Layers Module.

    • To use an existing image, select an image in the image box.
    • To import a new image, click Browse and select an image in PNG or JPG format.
  9. In the Confirm and Complete tab, review the details of the App Layer, enter a comment if required, and click Create Layer. Any comments you enter will appear in the Information view Audit History.

  10. Expand the Tasks bar at the bottom of the UI, and double-click the Packaging Disk task to show the full task description.

    Once the Packaging Disk has been created, the Task bar displays the location of the Packaging Disk in your environment (example task message shown below).

Next, you can deploy the Packaging Machine for your Layer.

The Packaging Machine is a virtual machine where you install the tools for your selected environment(s). It is a temporary VM that will be deleted once the new Platform Layer has been finalized. When the App Layering software powers on the Packaging Machine for you.

Connect to and log into the Packaging Machine

  1. Expand the Tasks bar at the bottom of the UI, and double-click the Packaging Disk task to show the full task description.

    Once the Packaging Disk has been created, the Tasks bar displays the location of the Packaging Disk in your environment. Double-click the task for details. 

Install the required platform tools

This section explains how to install your platform software onto the Packaging Machine. Keep in mind that the state of the software before you finalize the layer is what the image will use.

To install the tools for the selected platform:

  1. Remote log in to the Packaging Machine you created. Be sure to log in using the User account you used to create the OS.

  2. Install the platform software and tools, along with any drivers, boot-level applications, or files needed.

    • If this Platform Layer is going to be used for packaging new layers, install and configure your hypervisor tools and settings.
    • If this Platform Layer is going to be used for publishing Layered Images, install and configure your hypervisor, provisioning service, and connection broker tools and settings.
    • If a software installation requires a system restart, restart it manually. The Packaging Machine does not restart automatically.
  3. Make sure the Packaging Machine is in the state you want it to be in when the image is booted:

    • If the tools you install require any post-installation setup or registration, complete those steps now.
    • Remove any settings, configurations, files, mapped drives, or applications that you do not want to include on the Packaging Machine.

Next, you'll need to shut down the Packaging Machine and verify that the Platform layer is ready to finalize.

Verify the Layer and shut down the Packaging Machine

Once the tools are installed on the Packaging Machine, the next step is to verify that the Layer is ready to finalize. At this point, any required post-installation processing needs to be completed. For example, a reboot may be required, or a Microsoft NGen process may need to complete.

To verify that any outstanding processes are complete, you can run the Shutdown For Finalize tool, which appears on the Packaging Machine's desktop.

To use the Shutdown For Finalize tool:

  1. If you are not logged into the Packaging Machine, remote log in as the user who created the machine.
  2. Double-click the Shutdown For Finalize icon. A command line window displays messages detailing the layer verification process.
  3. If there is an outstanding operation that must be completed before the Layer can be finalized, you are prompted to complete the process. For example, if a Microsoft NGen operation needs to complete, you may be able to expedite the NGen operation, as detailed below.
  4. Once any pending operations are complete, double-click the Shutdown For Finalize icon again. This shuts down the Packaging Machine.

The Layer is now ready to finalize.

Layer integrity messages you may see during the finalization process

Layer integrity messages let you know what queued tasks must be completed before a Layer is finalized.

The new Layer or Version can only be finalized when the following conditions have been addressed:

  • A reboot is pending to update drivers on the boot disk - please check and reboot the Packaging Machine.
  • A post-installation reboot is pending - please check and reboot the Packaging Machine.
  • An MSI install operation is in progress - please check the Packaging Machine.
  • A Microsoft NGen operation is in progress in the background.

    Note: If a Microsoft NGen operation is in progress, you may be able to expedite it, as described in the next section.

Expediting a Microsoft NGen operation

NGen is the Microsoft Native Image Generator. It is part of the .NET system, and basically re-compiles .NET byte code into native images and constructs the registry entries to manage them. Windows will decide when to run NGen, based on what is being installed and what Windows detects in the configuration. When NGen is running, you must let it complete. An interrupted NGen operation can leave you with non-functioning .NET assemblies or other problems in the .NET system.

You have the choice of waiting for the NGen to complete in the background, or you can force the NGen to the foreground. You can also check the status of the NGen operation, as described below. However, every time you check the queue status, you are creating foreground activity, which might cause the background processing to temporarily pause.

Forcing the NGen to the foreground will allow you to view the progress and once the output has completed, you should be able to finalize the layer.

  1. Force an NGen operation to the foreground.

    Normally, NGen is a background operation and will pause if there is foreground activity. Bringing the task into the foreground can help the task to complete as quickly as possible. To do this:

    1. Open a command prompt as Administrator.

    2. Go to the Microsoft .NET Framework directory for the version currently in use:

      cd C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\FrameworkNN\vX.X.XXXXX

    3. Enter the NGen command to execute the queued items:

      ngen update /force

      This brings the NGen task to the foreground in the command prompt, and lists the assemblies being compiled.

      Note: It’s okay if you see several compilation failed messages!

    4. Look in the Task Manager to see if an instance of MSCORSVW.EXE is running. If it is, you must allow it to complete, or re-run ngen update /force. Do not reboot to stop the task. You must allow it to complete.
  2. Check the status of an NGen operation

    1. Open a command prompt as Administrator.

    2. Check status by running this command:

      ngen queue status

    3. When you receive the following status, the NGen is complete, and you can finalize the Layer.

      The .NET Runtime Optimization Service is stopped

Finalize the Layer

To finalize the Layer, you import the installed software into the Platform Layer you prepared in the Management Console.

  1. Return to the Management Console.
  2. Select Layers > Platform Layers.
  3. Select Finalize in the Action bar.
  4. Monitor the Task bar to verify that the action completes successfully and that the layer is deployable.