SSL Certificate Tool (CertGenVVD)


It’s always one of the parts of a new implementation that I don’t look forward to, generating SSL signed certificates for all of the various VMware products. This is something that i’ve done a lot of times in my years at VMware but I still avoid doing it if possible. Not surprisingly, a lot of customers reach out to VMware for support when renewing certificates too. The process you have to go through even just to generate the certificates is time consuming and prone to error.

  • First you have to write out the config files for all of the certificates.
  • Then generate a .csr file for each of those certificates.
  • Submit the .csr and get a CA signed SSL certificate back.
  • Download the root and intermediary certificates.
  • Create SSL Chains with the root, intermediary and SSL certificate. This is where one of the most common mistakes occur, mixing up the chain certificate ordering.
  • Using OpenSSL you can create a range of .pem or .p7b or .pfx files depending on what the specific product is that your implementing.
  • And then you can start to install the SSL Certificates for each product.

If you haven’t done this process hundreds of times, it’s quite a time consuming task and if you get it wrong it takes a lot of time to resolve issues. This is just one of those things that I don’t think anyone really enjoys doing. Until now, that is. I’ve spent the last week playing with the VVD CertGen tool and I’ve actually enjoyed my time doing it. So much so that i’ve even written a PowerShell script to make the process even easier and i’d like to share my work with the community.

First of all, I am no PowerShell expert and of course I can’t take responsibility for anything that happens with this script. The VMware CertGen tool does all the hard work, my script simply takes the input from a .csv file and then creates all of the config files which are then input into the CertGen tool. I’ve wrapped it all up into a simple process that anyone can use. The CertGen tool outputs CA Signed SSL Certificates for all of the products and automatically creates the various different certificate formats that each product requires. All that is left to do is upload the SSL certificate to the product.

CertGen Tool and Scripts

The first thing you need to do is review the VMware KB article KB2146215 on the CertGen Tool. This article will provide you with the instructions to use the CertGen tool. I will cover off the simple steps, however the KB article details the pre-requisites and configuration of the CA servers, the supported platforms, product compatibility and it also explains use-cases outside of what i’ll explain here. This blog article will cover the use of my script to automatically generate the configuration files from a .csv and a simplified set of instructions for the CertGen tool usage.

At the bottom of the KB Article, in the attachments section, download the CertGenVVD zip file.

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Extract the zip file to a location that will be easy to access via command line. This can be simply c:\Temp. The zip file contains the “ConfigFiles” folder, a “default.txt” file and the “CertGenVVD-3.0.ps1” script file.

Open the “ConfigFiles” folder and delete all of the existing config files, or you can delete the entire folder, the script will just re-create the folder anyway. Normally you would use these files to manually update the configuration details for each of your products. We don’t need to do this because we will use a csv file and then build all of these files using the script. You can also delete the “default.txt” file as we won’t need this.

Download my Certificate Config Tool which will include the csv configuration file “CertConfig.csv” and the “CertConfig.ps1” script. Extract this zip file to the same location as the CertGen Tool. You should now have a file structure that looks like this.

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I have offered the above instructions so that you can download the most up to date version of the CertGenVVD tool and use it in conjunction with my script. If you would rather a more simplified approach and download the pre-configured package, then you can download the Cert Tool zip file here which contains my configuration scripts + the CertGenVVD-3.0.ps1 scripts in a pre-configured directory. Just Download the zip file and extract to to a directory like C:\Temp.

Cert Tool Package Download

Creating the SSL Certificates

I first created this spreadsheet to be used with the VMware Validated Design (VVD) Configuration Workbook and the values are linked to the configuration cells within the VVD workbook. When using the VVD Deployment Tool the certificate configuration is entirely automated from generation of the configuration files and all the way to implementing the certificates for each of the products. I have simply exported the spreadsheet as a csv file and shared it as-is so that it can be more widely used outside of the VVD process.

Update the Cert Config csv

Therefore the first step you must do is update the values within the csv file. I have pre-populated the configuration details that I used in a test lab so that you can see how it works.

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  • Every row with a “Name” on it relates to an individual certificate that will be created
  • If the DNS1 column contains an “n/a” then the certificate for that row will be skipped. I have included certificates for a number of fake hosts in the configuration csv that you can leave as n/a or delete the row if you don’t need them.
  • Some products require additional SANs (Subject Alternate Names), therefore each DNS column references an additional SAN for each certificate. If you don’t require additional names, leave the cells blank.
  • The domain name needs to be populated because the PowerShell script uses the short DNS name separately. The script will combine the short DNS and Domain Name to create the FQDN.
  • Some products require the IP address. You can populate that here or leave it blank for the products that you only want to have a DNS record and not locked to an IP address.
  • The FileName column is the name of the configuration file that gets created. The name and folder structure of the Signed Certificates is created by the CertGenVVD Tool and is based on the Common Name inside the certificate (the FQDN).

Once the csv file is complete save it with the same filename “CertConfig.csv” in the same directory as the “CertConfig.ps1” file. The script expects this file to be in the same folder as the script, as does the CertGenVVD script.

Prepare the Microsoft CA Server

To use a Microsoft Certificate Authority Server you must ensure that the server meets the pre-requisites that the CertGenVVD script required. This is fairly simple to do, if you have administrator rights to the CA.

As part of the Certificate Authority services, you must ensure that the following additional services are installed and configured

  • Certificate Authority Web Enrolment
  • Certificate Authority Web Serviced

You will also need a Certificate Template that is used to sign the certificates. Open your CA server settings, expand the folder structure, right click on “Certificate Templates” and select “Manage“. Right click the “Web Server” and select “Duplicate Template“. I create a VMware specific Template that includes the following configuration.

  • Template Name – VMware.
  • Compatibility of Windows Server 2003 and upwards.
  • In the Subject Name tab, make sure “Supply in the request” is selected.
  • In the Extensions tab.
    • Delete all the application policies.
    • In Key Usage select “Signature is proof of origin (nonrepudiation)”.

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Close the Certificate Templates Console and add the new VMware Certificate Template to the CA by right clicking on the “Certificate Templates” folder, select “New” and then select “Certificate Template to Issue“. Find the “VMware” certificate and click OK.

Prepare the Operating System

On the Windows Operating System that in intend to execute the scripts from you will need to install OpenSSL and Java. Without these installed the CertGenVVD script will not work.

You should download the most up to date versions online, however for ease of use I am using the following versions that are bundled with the VVD Deployment Tool.

Win32 OpenSSL
Java 8u60

Download and install OpenSSL and Java. Once these are installed you will need to set your environment PATHs to include these products. To do this, right click on your computer, go to “Properties” and then “Advanced System Settings“. In the “Advanced” tab click on “Environment Variables

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Create a new System Variable called JAVA_HOME and enter the path to the Java application folder.

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Scroll down through the “System Variables” and find the “path“. Edit the path variable and add the OpenSSL and Java Path’s to end of the variable. Use a semicolon “;” as the separator.

Execute the CertConfig Script

  1. Change Directory to the location of the CertConfig.ps1 script. In my case this is C:\Temp\CertTool
  2. Execute the “CertConfig.ps1” script
  3. Answer the default configuration questions:
    1. Organisation
    2. OU
    3. Location
    4. State
    5. County
    6. Key Size (Default is set to 2048)

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That it! You will now see a new folder called “ConfigFiles” within the Cert Tool directory that has been fully populated with the configuration files for each of your certificates.

Execute the CertGenVVD Script

  1. Set the execution policy to remote signed with the following command.
    Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned
  2. Do a test run of the CertGenVVD script by first running the script with the -validate parameter. This will check everything is configured successfully and ready to issues the CA signed certificates.
    ./CertGenVVD-3.0.ps1 -validate
  3. Execute the “CertGenVVD-3.0.ps1” script with the required parameters (as defined in the KB article KB2146215.
    ./CertGenVVD-3.0.ps1 -MSCASigned -attrib “CertificateTemplate:VMware” -config “labrat.local\labrat-CA” -username labrat\Administrator -password VMware1!

The -attrib parameter references the CA Servers Certificate Template that will be used to sign these certificates. You created this when preparing the CA Server.

The -config parameter is the name of your CA Server.

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You will be asked to enter a password for the p12/pem certificates. This is required.

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It will only take a minute and the script will do all the rest of the work. When the script is finished you will be presented with a list the certificates that were generated, which will be located in a new directory called “SignedByMSCACerts

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