Using CertGenVVD to install a custom SSL certificate on vRealize Network Insight (vRNI)

08. October 2018 SDDC, VMware 2
Using CertGenVVD to install a custom SSL certificate on vRealize Network Insight (vRNI)


I am currently deploying a VMware Validated Design for SDDC at a customer, with the addition of vRealize Network Insight. This blogpost explains how to use the Certificate Generation Utility for VMware Validated Design for Software-Defined Data Center (CertGenVVD utility) to replace the default SSL certificate of the vRNI Platform Appliance. CertGenVVD is a command-line utility that you can use to generate custom certificates for the products that you use to build a Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC).  I’m not going to cover the prerequisite steps required to setup a CA and the CertGenVVD Utility itself. For more information, please refer to and the VVD Planning and Preparation Guide (page 34 of VVD 4.3).

Creating the config file

The CertGenVVD utility uses two config files. A “Default.txt” file and specific config files in the ConfigFiles folder inside the CertGenVVD folder. Default.txt contains default values for the attributes Organization, Organization Unit, Location, State, Country, Common Name and Certificate Key Size for CSR generation. In our case we will only place a single config file for vRNI inside the ConfigFiles folder:

CertGenVVD Files

The content of both files is of course specific to your environment, but the sample files provided with the CertGenVVD should give you some solid guidance. Here are the files I used in my homelab environment. Ensure the files don’t contain trailing spaces, tabs or anything similar!





Generating the custom certificate

If you have configured both config files correctly, and your environment is setup following the CertGenVVD requirements and guidelines, the following Powershell command will create a folder named SignedByMSCACerts and generate SSL certificates in multiple formats according to the certificate requirements of the SDDC management components:

.\CertGenVVD-3.0.2.ps1 -MSCASigned -attrib 'CertificateTemplate:VMware'

Analyzing the output

After you provide the P12 keystore password, the output of the CertGenVVD utility is:

CertGenVVD Output

The readme.txt contains a clear description of all the files:

vrni-01a.key		Private Key
vrni-01a.1.cer		Base 64 encoded. Certificate only.
vrni-01a.2.chain.pem	Base 64 encoded.  Private key, cert, and Root cert.
vrni-01a.3.pem		Base 64 encoded. Certificate and Root cert without private key.
vrni-01a.4.p12		P12 format. Private key, cert, and Root cert with encryption.
vrni-01a.5.p12		P12 format. Private key, cert with encryption.
vrni-01a.6.p7b		P7b format.cert and Root cert.

Getting the relevant files to the vRNI Platform Appliance

As per, vRNI requires the full certificate chain with private key, both base64 encoded PEM format. This means we are looking at the vrni-01a.key and vrni-01a.2.chain.pem files. Now, vRNI was acquired from a company called Arkin, so the appliance interface and CLI is a bit different from other SDDC components. We can’t SCP the files directly to the appliance. Instead we have to put the files on a Linux host and use the  custom-cert copy command directly from the vRNI CLI. If you don’t have a Linux host at your disposal, you could put them on one of your ESXi hosts (thanks for the tip @wessieloerus! See his original blogpost here by the way!).

Installing the new certificate

In my homelab, I took the following steps:

  1. I copied the files vrni-01a.2.chain.pem and vrni-01a.key to the /tmp folder of ESXi host esxi-01a
  2. I renamed the files to vrni.crt and vrni.key
  3. Logged into the vRNI CLI, I first removed the current SSL certificate: custom-cert remove
  4. I then copied the files using the commands
    • custom-cert copy –host esxi-01a –user root –port 22 –path /tmp/vrni.crt
    • custom-cert copy –host esxi-01a –user root –port 22 –path /tmp/vrni.keySSL Copy
    • I then applied the new SSL certificate using the custom-cert apply command. After a few moments, the new SSL was successfully applied and my HTTPS connection is secure!vRNI HTTPS



2 thoughts on “Using CertGenVVD to install a custom SSL certificate on vRealize Network Insight (vRNI)”

  • 1
    Rutger Blom (@rutgerblom) on March 18, 2019 Reply

    Thanks Jeffrey. This just saved me some valuable time.

  • 2
    DCLacoste on August 15, 2019 Reply

    Can you get by with vrni-01a.3.pem for the crt file (cert and chain)? The key is already in the key file?

    Cool post about this cert tool, will definitely look into using for my labs.

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