Zero-Configuration VMware Installs

One of our key goals at Sinefa is to strive to make everything low-touch. That is, everything our product does should be easy to do. We are constantly looking at ways to simplify the product and make improvements to support this initiative. As part of this low-touch goal, an area of the product we recently focused on was Instance Registration. Previously, users downloaded a Sinefa Instance image file for their hypervisor of choice, and once the software was up and running, they needed to login to the virtual appliance and perform a manual “registration”. This step was necessary so that the newly installed Sinefa Instance could be associated with the user’s Sinefa Account.

This manual registration step was the only configuration action required on the users part, assuming that the Sinefa Instance was able to obtain networking details from DHCP. If we could remove this step, then Sinefa Instances could be deployed without any manual configuration.

The solution we came up with was to customize the Sinefa Instance image download for each user. That is, whenever a user downloads a Sinefa Instance image, the download server builds the image on-the-fly for that user, and embeds information in the image to uniquely identify that user. So each user receives a slightly different image file, each containing their own registration information.

When the Sinefa Instance is started for the first time, the software looks for the embedded registration information and attempts to automatically register the Sinefa Instance. Manual registration is still available if required, but in most cases, no manual configuration is required by users when deploying Sinefa Instances.  That means that to get started, all you need to do is download and start the Instance.  No IP addresses, no usernames, no additional config.

We first added support for automatic registration in our 13.01 release. This release adds support for all VMware based hypervisors.