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vCenter Orchestrator 5.1 Update 1 Released

Voila! vCenter Orchestrator 5.1. Update 1 Is Now Available!

This is not just an ordinary update release.  vCO 5.1.1 actually incorporates significant enhancement around built-in plug-ins and the vCO platform itself.

Please, take your time and read throughout the outlines below to find out more about this compelling release.

vCenter Server configuration

Yes, it is true: tedious manual configuration of vCenter Server is no longer required when you use vCO 5.1.1.  The new release provides out-of–the box workflows that automate the configuration of vCenter Server instances, thereby allowing you to dynamically provision vCenter Server capacity  in your datacenter.

Notifications, notifications, … and more notifications

Sending and receiving e-mail notifications have always been an important part of most automation processes.  In addition to POP, vCO now provides out-of-the-box support for the IMAP protocol. And triggering notification or notification-based workflows have never been easier thanks to significant improvements in available scripting methods.  The E-mail plug-in has been extended with several new scripting objects that can be used either with the IMAP or POP client for:

  • Retrieving messages
  • Reading details of the retrieved messages as well as file attachments
  • Searching messages
  • Deleting messages

Fine-tuning and fixes

When it comes to workflow development, we all know that the sum of little things is what adds up to a great experience.  With that in mind, we’ve included quite a number of changes and fixes that we trust will go a long way to improving your experience:

  • The zooming feature in the workflow schema has been enhanced so that it re-centers on the selected element(s).  It is now available in the contextual element menu and as a shortcut.
  • Copy and paste is the key to productive workflow development. vCO 5.1.1 is enhanced not to miss any of the properties of your workflow activity element during the copy paste process.
  • Take a deep breath and relax – no more issues with JSON.  vCenter Orchestrator 5.1.1 introduces a new JSON format that can be used by providing the Accept: application/json;v=5.1.1 header

For a complete list of all fixes, please be sure to read through the vCO 5.1.1 release notes and documentation listed below.

VMware vCenter Orchestrator 5.1.1 Download Landing Page:

https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/info/slug/datacenter_cloud_infrastructure/vmware_vcloud_suite/5_1

vCO VA:

 https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/details?downloadGroup=VSP51-VCL-VCOVA-511&productId=284&rPId=3571

Documentation Landing Page:

http://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/orchestrator_pubs.html

Release notes:

http://www.vmware.com/support/orchestrator/doc/vcenter-orchestrator-511-release-notes.html#resissues

Master of the integration – conquer VMware vCloud Director blocking tasks with the powerful vCenter Orchestrator plug-ins

One of the upcoming features of VMware vCloud Director is Blocking Tasks (call-outs). This enables a system administrator to configure many operations to block. They can be ublocked later by another application or can expire after a timeout. These blocking tasks generate AMQP messages that can be used to automate actions over them. This blog post shows vCO flexing muscles over blocking tasks. Doing this requires several plug-ins: AMQP, HTTP-REST, ActiveDirectory and Mail.

Whenever a vApp is created by an user in the vCloud Director the task is suspended and the user's manager receives a notification mail providing link for approval of the operation. When he approves, the vApp creation task continues in the vCloud Director. This is achieved by using a different plug-in on every step. AMQP plug-in is used to handle the blocking tasks notification messages. The HTTP-REST plug-in is used to communicate with the VMware vCloud Director over its RESTful interface. Active Directory is needed to find the user’s manager in the company's active directory database. Finally, the approval email is sent using the Mail plug-in. Webviews are used to build a simple web-based interface that the manager uses to approve or reject the vApp creation.

At the end of this article you can find links to a vCO package containing theexample and a video demonstrating the scenario. Jump right to the video at the end or read the details below describing  some technical aspects.

The message sent by the vCloud Director for the pending vApp creation is handled first by the AMQP plug-in. The next few lines of JavaScript show how to configure the subscription for the message. Note how the routing key is constructed. The detailed strucutre of the routing key is described in the vCloud Director documention.

Image1_setup_scripting

After its execution this script will create a new Subscription element in the AMQP plug-in inventory:

Image2_subscription_inventory

This subscription is ready to be used for a policy that will listen for vApp creation messages:

Image3_policy

The workflow is started by the policy on every message and does the rest of the work:

Image4_workflow

The user must define the vCloud Director as a REST host in the inventory:

Image5_rest_inventory

And then use it in the scripts to build the request URL:

Image6_rest_script

The VMware vCloud Director REST API responses are XML documents but handling them is easy with E4X (ECMAscript for XML):

Image7_xml

When the manager follows the web link in the notification mail he is brought to a web page showing again the request details enabling him to take an action on it:

Image8_webview1

Behind the scene the approve and reject buttons are handled by a script that answers the user interaction of the blocked workflow. When decision is taken the workflow continues and notifies the VMware vCloud Director to resume or cancel the pending task.

To get your hands dirty with this demo follow the link to the package that contains the example. It won’t work out of the box because the AMQP broker and the VMware vCloud Director configuration must be updated to match yours. Also the message handling policy must be manually created since policies cannot be distributed in a package.

Here is a video demonstrating the whole scenario: