vCenter Operations

Put Your Operations in Overdrive – Technical Overview of the vRealize Operations Management Pack for vRealize Orchestrator 2.0

If you are not already excited for vRealize Operations 7.0, maybe this will do the trick.  In this blog post I will provide the technical details for the latest version of the vRealize Operations Management Pack for vRealize Orchestrator 2.0.  This improved version on the management pack, which we introduced with vRealize Operations 6.7, brings the capability to add any vRealize Orchestrator workflow to the action framework in vRealize Operations – including your own custom workflows – for full automation of alerts and recommendations.  Buckle up, we’re going into overdrive!

Before we go straight in, let me share the requirements for this management pack:

  • vRealize Operations 7.0
  • vRealize Orchestrator 7.3, 7.4 and 7.5

Easier to Use Action Integration


In this release we get much easier workflow execution from the action menu.  For example, selecting the action “Manage Snapshots for VM” from a cluster resource gives us a pre-filled list of all VMs residing in the cluster so you can multi-select and select from a list of possible actions.

Likewise, selecting the workflow “Migrate a Virtual Machine with vMotion” provides pull down lists for each of the input options as well as a list of available host systems.

This is only the beginning – what comes next is really a game changer!

Any Workflow.  Any Time.


If you use vRealize Operations today, you are probably familiar with the Action menu found throughout the product user interface.  This allows users to easily launch tasks from within vRealize Operations for common tasks such as cleaning up snapshots, changing VM CPU and memory configuration, power operations on VMs and more.  Version 1.0 of the management pack brought new workflows that were powered by vRealize Orchestrator – including some new host operations.

Now in version 2.0 you can add ANY workflow to the action framework.  This creates a new and practically infinite set of options for troubleshooting and remediation.   For example, in the screenshot below, you can see that I have enriched the available actions for hosts, to include options for managing NTP settings.

This workflow is a custom workflow I created, from an example I found on, to solve a problem I frequently hear from customers.  Notice that when I run the workflow, the host input has been selected for me already making it easy to use these workflows with any vSphere object.

The other input for the workflow is the list of NTP servers.  I can simply provide a comma separated list of IP address or FQDN enclosed in parenthesis, brackets or braces/curly brackets.  This matches the workflow inputs in vRealize Operations.  Here is the workflow, and you see the inputs as well as the output.

The workflow logging is returned to vRealize Operations and logged in recent tasks.


Boost Your Recommendations with Actions

Having recommendations for alerts, providing guidance for what you should do next is good.  Having recommendations that have an associated action that allows you to quickly execute the recommendation is better.

Now you can have the best by combining your own vRealize Orchestrator workflows with recommendation actions.  This allows you to automate your organizations operations run book, reducing the risk of human error and providing an audit trail of the workflow through vRealize Operations history.

For example, the vSphere Security Configuration Guide alerts in vRealize Operations will let you know if a host has not been configured for NTP.  Here you can see I’ve added a recommendation with an associated action to set NTP configuration on the host to the correct values.

One click, done!  And the alert will automatically clear within the next 5 minutes as vRealize Operations checks the host configuration.

Fully Automated Remediation


Now, if you aren’t impressed by now and your mind isn’t going crazy with ideas on how you can use this management pack in your environment, then check out automated actions.  Why wait for someone to log into the product user interface, find the alert and click the recommended action?  Instead, simply enable the action as “automated” and when the alert triggers, your workflow will be run.

For this to happen, this is a requirement that the workflow only have a single input of a vCenter resource kind (such as a VM, Host System, Cluster Compute Resource, etc).  So, you will need to take your existing workflow and add a “wrapper” around it so that you can handle any additional parameters without user interaction.

Let’s look at the set NTP workflow from the last section.  The workflow requires inputs such as the NTP servers.

But, I can use vRealize Orchestrator configuration elements to provide those values and then wrap the set NTP workflow into a new one with a single input.  I will name this “reset NTP” and then associate it with the recommendation.

Now, I just need to go into the policies to make this an automated action and this alert will run the action to reset the NTP configuration to the required values.

Deeper Dive


I will follow up with a blog post that goes much deeper and provides step-by-step instructions on how to use the management pack with my workflows for NTP configuration of hosts.  If you are comfortable with vRealize Orchestrator and want to give it a shot, you can find the workflow package on Sample Exchange at VMware {code}.





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