Updating an Onboarded Deployment in vRA 8.x

Hello Everyone!

On today’s post, we will go through the process of updating an onboarded deployment in vRA 8.x

The onboarding feature allows customers to add VMs that were not deployed from vRA, to the vRA infrastructure. This means that these VMs are added to one or more deployments, and once they exist within vRA, operations such as power cycling, opening a remote console, or resizing CPU/RAM are now available.

However, there are scenarios in which customers would want to expand these deployments, not with new onboarded VMs, but with newly deployed VMs (or other resources) from vRA! These deployments will use an image, a flavor, could use a multitude of inputs, tagging, networks, etc. So how do we do this?

Onboarding the VMs using an auto-generated Cloud Assembly Template

The first thing we need to do, is to create an onboarding plan, select a name for our deployment, and select the VMs we’re going to onboard initially.

Creating the Onboarding Plan
Adding two VMs to be onboarded

On the deployments tab, we can rename the deployment if needed, but the most important part is to select Cloud Template Configuration and change it to Create Cloud Template in Cloud Assembly Format this will allow us to have a source for our deployment, that we can edit afterwards to allow for future growth

Cloud Template in Cloud Assembly format

It is important to note that the imageRef has no image available. Since this is not a vRA Deployment but an Onboarding, none of the resources are being deployed from any of the images. We will come back to this item later.

After saving this configuration and clicking on Run, our deployment will be onboarded

Updating the onboarded deployment to add a new VM in a specific network

If we check on the onboarded deployment, we will see that it is mapped to a specific Cloud Template (the one that was auto-generated earlier by the Onboarding Plan)

So if we were to do an update on this deployment, we need to edit that Cloud Template

I will now add a vSphere Machine resource as well as a vSphere Network:

inputs: {}
    type: Cloud.vSphere.Machine
      image: 'ubuntu'
      cpuCount: 1
      totalMemoryMB: 1024
        - network: '${resource.Cloud_vSphere_Network_1.id}'
    type: Cloud.vSphere.Network
      networkType: existing
        - tag: env:vsphere  
    type: Cloud.vSphere.Machine
      imageRef: no_image_available
      cpuCount: 1
      totalMemoryMB: 4096
    type: Cloud.vSphere.Machine
      imageRef: no_image_available
      cpuCount: 1
      totalMemoryMB: 4096

This is what our template looks like now. So the next thing we should do is click on Update, right?

Update is Greyed out!

The update task is greyed out because ir Cloud Template does not have inputs. Since we don’t have inputs, what we need to do is to go to the Cloud Template, and instead of selecting Create a New Deployment we should select Update an Existing Deployment and then click on the onboarded deployment.

Updating the Onboarded Deployment

After clicking on Next, the plan is presented.

Notice something wrong here?

The update operation will attempt to re-create the onboarded VMs! That’s not something we want, and also, in this scenario, it will fail since there is no image mapping to deploy from!

What we want is to leave all the VMs that were previously onboarded, untouched, and only add our new VM and network. So how do we achieve this?

This is achieved by adding the ignorechanges parameter with a value of true to every resource in the cloud template that was previously onboarded – In this scenario, this would be our 2 DevTools VMs

Adding the ignoreChanges parameter

If we re-try updating the deployment now, the only tasks that should appear will be the ones for the new resources (VM and Network)

Update deployment showing the new tasks

After clicking on ‘deploy’ and waiting for it to finish, our deployment will now like this

Deployment updated with our new VM and network! Hooray!

Offboarding/Unregistering limitations

It is important to note that vRA’s limitations for unregistering VMs are still present. The only VMs that can be unregistered from vRA are the ones that were previously onboarded. VMs that were deployed from vRA will not be able to be unregistered without deletion. The fact that the deployment VMs are part of an Onboarded Deployment does not change this.

Closing Note

I hope you enjoyed this post! When I started working on this use case I figured it was not as trivial as I thought, and after doing research and testing, found this walkthrough/solution.

Let me know if this was useful in the comments!

Until next time!

6 thoughts on “Updating an Onboarded Deployment in vRA 8.x

  1. Hi Lucho, question, vRA is configured to use the internal IPAM solution, so how do we update the IP address of the network’s – manage IP ranges to show that particular IP is allocated now, or is this a limitation, would love to hear your feedback. Thank you


    1. I have the same question. I asked VMware Support and they said that it can’t be done. Whilst I was in the process of migrating from 7.6 to 8.6, after the in-built IPAM was imported, a new VM was created in 7.6 and now if I onboard it, its IP address does not show up as allocated in 8.6 internal IPAM which causes VM provisioning failures when vRA 8.6 attempts to use that IP address (DNS workflow throws an error as it should and stops the VM provisioning)


      1. AFAIK onboarding does not take any network profile into account, therefore no IP range is updated. You should re-write your ranges to leave this VM untouched.

        Example: If the onboarded VM is and your range was to you should then convert that to two ranges
        Range 1: to
        Range 2: to

        Then repeat if there are more VMs onboarded in the same network (and group the IPs together when you can)


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