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vCenter Orchestrator Holiday Gifts


The vCenter Orchestrator gifts season started a few months ago with the general availability of vCO 5.5. The compelling release was announced just in time to share the vCO momentum at VMworld.  Along with the amazing new features introduced, VMware continues with a lot more presents.

This year the holiday magic brings to vCenter Orchestrator users several updates, product integrations and learning gadgets that make automation with vCO more powerful than ever.

1. VMware has just announced the GA of VMware vCloud Automation Center 6.0(vCAC 6.0). The extension and creation of XaaS is done using the vCAC Advanced Service Designer which allows you to seamlessly leverage any vCO workflow and convert it to a catalog item or day 2 operation, available as a service in the vCAC Self-service portal.

 2. vCO CLI is the code name of the new debugging extension which will not only facilitate all experienced vCenter Orchestrator users and also helps the newcomers to programmatically explore the rich vCO ecosystem through interactive command shell. Access to the vCO plug-in’s inventory is integrated into the tool UI for easy navigation to the integrated solution objects.

3. Our super powerful and generic HTTT- REST and SOAP plug-ins are now able to support proxy configurations and assure security compliance of your automated solutions.

4. The long awaited vCO Powershell plug-in 1.0.3 is updated to support Powershell 3.0 inventory and is fully backward compatible with your existing scripts.

5. In vCenter Orchestrator plug-in for Microsoft Active Directory 1.0.4 the old configuration mode is removed and you are now able to configure the plug-in automatically through native vCO workflows.

For additional information on these materials, please visit the following sites:

The entire vCO team wishes you the very best for the holidays and 2014.


VMware vCenter Orchestrator 5.5 is now GA!

As part of the of the vSphere 5.5 announcement, we are extremely glad to share the general availability of vCenter Orchestrator 5.5 !

Large organization will greatly benefit from the enhanced cloud-scale architecture, out-of-the box high availability of the platform, and major improvements to the REST API.

Additionally, workflow developers can enjoy a more efficient development experience thanks to the new debugging and failure diagnostic capabilities in the vCenter Orchestrator client.

We continue enriching the vCO plug-in intelligences and number of integrations with variety of partner applications, including management systems from EMC, F5 Networks and NetApp. Please, refer to the VMware Solution Exchange for a complete listing of the available vCenter Orchestrator plug-ins.

 Optimized for growing clouds

vCenter Orchestrator 5.5 is greatly optimized for growing clouds thanks to significant improvements in scalability and high availability. The cluster mode configuration enables a collection of vCO orchestration nodes to work together, sharing a common database and provides high availability of the workflow execution in case of orchestration node failure. In addition, our extended REST API allows automatic installation and configuration of the necessary vCO server nodes. It also provides dynamic scale-up and scale-down of the orchestration capacity when vCenter Orchestrator is being used in conjunction with an external load balancer.

Workflow Debugging

The vCenter Orchestrator 5.5 client is fully equipped with a workflow debugger, allowing vCO workflow developers to easily test and fix their custom workflows. In case you want to re-run an extensive workflow from a common point of failure, you are able to configure and resume the execution from the last failed state of the workflow.

Security Enhancements:

The vCenter Orchestrator 5.5 appliance contains a complete set of security improvements, including Operating System updates and security hardening script enhancements, which seamlessly secure your orchestration deployment and reduces the platform surface of vulnerability.

Last but not least, you’ll still be able to leverage all of the workflow you’ve already created in the previous release and be able to run them seamlessly in version 5.5.

These are just the major new capabilities but you’ll find plenty of additional enhancements that make the automation and integration of your software-defined datacenter easier than ever before. For a full list of new features and capabilities, please refer to the detailed overview or the release notes.

As a reminder, in 2013, we continued to integrate vCO with the products from VMware Cloud Suite. Cloud administrators are now able to establish a self-healing datacenter and automatically remediate any infrastructure failure by simply leveraging the vCenter Operations remediation workflow package.

Additionally, vCenter Orchestrator offers bi-directional integration with vCloud Automation Center (vCAC). vCO workflows can be coupled with resources managed by vCAC, either as part of the provisioning and decommissioning process, or as a Day-2 operation available in the  vCAC self service portal.

So don’t hesitate to try it today and let us know what you think via blog comments, Twitter (#vCO) or the vCO Community.


The vCO Team

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:




Documentation Landing Page:


Release notes:


VMware Releases vCenter Orchestrator Gifts in Time for the Holidays

As 2012 comes to a close, we thought it would be a great time to end the year with some gifts to put under your (virtual) holiday tree!

2012 was a great year for automation in general, with the launch of the vCloud Suite 5.1, and orchestration in particular, with the release of vCenter Orchestrator 5.1.  Our team was extremely happy to see a tremendous increase in vCO adoption, and a growing list of integrations with other management systems.

In that spirit, we are very glad to announce the availability of several integrations and learning tools to make your automation projects easier than ever before.

1. vCloud Automation Center 5.1, which was just released, provides the ability to extend pre-built processes and post-provisioning actions by invoking vCO workflows. This means that any technical integration or logic built in vCO can be leveraged by vCAC’s lifecycle-management platform, thereby broadening the realm of self-service provisioning and basic administration for consumers of IT services.

2. Reversely, the new vCenter Orchestrator Plug-in for VMware vCloud Automation Center allows organizations to automate vCAC provisioning and post-provisioning tasks. With these two components, customers can leverage full bi-directional integration capabilities between vCloud Automation Center and vCenter Orchestrator.

3. Another new offering is the vCenter Orchestrator Elastic Service Plug-in. This plug-in provides a foundation for the self-scaling virtual datacenter, by automatically balancing the physical resources between virtual datacenters in VMware vCloud environments. This plug-in contains a rules engine that can analyze resource usage metrics (for instance, metrics captured by vCenter Operations Manager) and make scale-up or scale-down decisions automatically.

4. The vCenter Orchestrator Plug-in for VMware Service Manager enables organizations to automate operations around Configuration, Incident, Task and Service Request management.  Thanks to this plug-in, repetitive tasks such as updating an Incident or creating a Configuration Item when a new virtual machine is provisioned can now be fully automated.

5. And to help you take advantage of all of the above gifts, the VMware Training department just released over 10 self-paced vCO training videos available for free!

For additional information on these materials, please visit the following sites:


The entire vCO team wishes you the very best for the holidays and 2013.


Important vCenter Orchestrator Plug-in Updates

With the recent vCenter Orchestrator 5.1 and vSphere 5.1 availability, it’s obviously important to ensure that not just individual products but all of your integrations are up-to-date.

Besides the already released plug-ins for vCenter Server 5.1 (built-in) and vCloud Director 5.1, we are are glad to announce the availability of several plug-in updates to make your entire vCloud suite up-to-date:

1. The vCenter Update Manager plug-in has been updated to support version 5.1 and vCenter Single Sign On. This plug-in is essential for scanning and remediating vSphere inventory objects against baselines.

2. The vCO Multi-Node plug-in has been updated to support vCO 5.1, vCenter Single Sign On, and the new vCO REST API capabilities to leverage the remote invocation of new systems types such as actions and packages.  What’s more, this new version also provides better performance and corrects some previous defects.

3. The vCO Plug-in for vSphere Auto Deploy 5.1 supports… vSphere Auto Deploy 5.1!  Need we say more?

4. The vCO Plug-in for Microsoft Active Directory 1.0.2 provides support for vCenter Single Sign On and contains an import fix for concurrent workflow execution.

5. The vCO AMQP Plug-in 1.0.2 offers significant performance improvements and fixes a known issue with the vCO server restart.

6. The vCO Plug-in for vCenter Server 5.0.2 contains important performance improvements for customers who are running vCO with vCenter Server 5.0.

  • vCO Plug-in for vCenter Update Manager 5.1: download
  • vCO Multi-Node Plug-in for 5.1: download
  • vCO Plug-in for vSphere Auto Deploy 5.1: download
  • vCO Plug-in for Microsoft Active Directory 1.0.2: download
  • vCO AMQP Plug-in 1.0.2: download
  • vCO Plug-in for vCenter Server 5.0.2: download

As always, be sure to check VMware Solution Exchange for a complete list of plug-ins available from VMware and our partners.  That’s your best place to find the latest integration solutions such as the ServiceNow plug-in recently published by InterraIT.


The vCO Team

VMware vCenter Orchestrator 5.1 is now GA!

As part of the broader announcements around vSphere 5.1, we are extremely glad to announce the general availability of vCenter Orchestrator 5.1!

As we mentioned last year, 2011 was all about bringing you new plug-ins (and more plug-ins…) to simplify multi-system integrations.

Whereas the emphasis on plug-ins has not stopped, we are extremely excited to announce that vCO 5.1 includes some major new capabilities!


Launch Workflows Directly from the vSphere Web Client

vSphere administrators and operators can now launch vCO workflows directly from the vSphere Web Client, thereby saving precious time and preventing the need to switch into and out of multiple user interfaces. Operators can use the vSphere Web Client to launch any workflow, whether pre-built, custom, and whether it interacts with VMware or partner applications! Operators can run workflows from the vSphere inventory browser in just a couple of clicks. Based on the object from which it is run (for instance a host or a VM), a workflow’s input parameters get populated automatically to save time and eliminate errors. Operators can run multiple workflows concurrently, or schedule them as recurring or future off-hour tasks. For larger organizations, administrators can allow different groups of operators to have access to different categories of workflows.


Develop Workflows More Easily

Workflow developers can also benefit from a simpler, faster, and more enjoyable development experience thanks to a complete redesign of the Workflow Designer. The new Designer allows workflow developers to use multiple screens, detach windows, customize workflow icons, and perform many more operations in just a single click. Auto-attach and auto-layout capabilities also greatly reduce development time. And to simplify workflow administration, vCO 5.1 introduces new capabilities such as version control and automatic generation of workflow documentation in PDF.


Richer Integration Capabilities

vCenter Orchestrator 5.1 includes a new REST API that does everything covered by the current SOAP API… and more! The new REST API provides more control and flexibility when launching workflows programmatically. It also introduces support for new capabilities around content management such as workflow and package importing and exporting. In short, vCO administration itself can now be more easily automated.

These are just the major new capabilities but you’ll find plenty of additional enhancements that simplify and enhance the automation of your virtual and cloud infrastructure. For a full list of new features and capabilities, please refer to the detailed overview or the release notes.

And finally, while vCO 5.1 is a major enhancement over version 4.2, you’ll still be able to leverage all of the work you’ve already created in the previous release.

So don’t wait any longer! Try it today and let us know what you think via blog comments, Twitter (#vCO) or the vCO Community.


The vCO Team



Configuration Elements revisited

What are Configuration Elements?

A configuration element is a list of attributes you can use to configure constants across a whole Orchestrator server deployment. That’s what the vCO documentation states. In other words, the configuration elements are the easiest way offered by vCO to organize and establish a set of constant values which will be accessible from any key element of vCO (workflows, policies and web views).


A configuration element is a vCO entity composed basically of a list of attributes which are defined by a name, a type, and (once it’s configured) a value. Moreover, configuration elements support versioning, user permissions and access rights like other vCO entities.

How to create Configuration Elements

The creation of configuration elements is detailed on the official documentation, so there’s no need to describe it here (see http://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-50/topic/com.vmware.vsphere.vco_dev.doc_42/GUID1A027CCA-B462-4580-A7E5-F0431CF75C3A.html).

How to use Configuration Elements

As example let’s define a workflow with some inputs, attributes and a scripting block that require to access to some configuration element to get the value from its attributes. The sample workflow would be used to send e-mail notifications from vCO, for example when some external event occurs or some specific condition is satisfied.

So on the one hand the workflow “Send notification message” defines these inputs:

  • To: the addressee of the notification (an e-mail address)
  • Subject: the subject of the notification e-mail
  • Body: the notification message itself

Also it contains this attribute:

  • From: the sender of the notification (a default e-mail address)

And furthermore, before sending the notification the workflow attaches a predefined footer to the body of the e-mail.


On the other hand the configuration element “Email” defines these attributes:

  • default_sender: the sender’s e-mail address, which will be different for different environments (e.g. development, integration or production)
  • default_subject: the default subject of the notification e-mail
  • default_footer: the default footer of the notification message, which may contain for example a legal notice text


Now let’s match the workflow elements with the configuration element attributes.

To set the value of an attribute
In that case it’s a workflow attribute but it’s exactly the same process for attributes of policies and web views.
You have to go to the General tab of the workflow in edit mode and select the option of linking the value of the attribute to a configuration element attribute. Then you choose the proper configuration element and the desired attribute.


Once you select the attribute it appears linked on the workflow’s attribute value.


In this way you linked the attribute “from” of the workflow to the value of the attribute “default_sender” of the configuration element “Email”. And after that you can use the attribute “from” like any other attribute inside the workflow.

To set the default value of an input parameter
The easiest way starts like setting the value of an attribute. You create an attribute called “default_subject” in the workflow and you link it to the value of the attribute “default_subject” of the configuration element “Email”. After that you go to the Presentation tab of the workflow in edit mode, select the input “subject” and add the property ”Default value”. Then you link the value of that property to the workflow attribute “default_subject” that you have just created.


Once you select the attribute it appears set on the “Default value” property value.


In this way you linked the input “subject” of the workflow to the value of the attribute “default_sender” of the configuration element “Email”.

To set the value of a variable inside a scripting block
The easiest way again starts like setting the value of an attribute. You create an attribute called “footer” in the workflow and you link it to the value of the attribute “default_footer” of the configuration element “Email”. After that you go to the “Schema” tab of the workflow in edit mode, select the Scriptable task element and add as a local input parameter the workflow attribute “footer”.


In this way you linked the scripting task input “footer” to the value of the attribute “default_footer” of the configuration element “Email”.

And once you have all the inputs of the Scriptable task element set properly you can actually write the code that will send the email (for example you could use the Mail plug-in and its EmailMessage object).


How to access Configuration Elements directly via scripting

The previous section describes how you can access to configuration elements via workflow attributes. That’s the easiest way but it has some minor drawbacks (or major if you use configuration elements a lot from your workflows). The two main drawbacks are:

  • You must define an extra workflow attribute for each configuration element attribute that you want to use inside that workflow.
  • You must set those workflow attributes as input parameters of each Scriptable task which you can get the attribute’s value from.

Alternatively, to avoid using extra workflow attributes, you can make us of a custom action that implements the logic for accessing to the proper configuration element attribute and getting its value. For example you can define an action like this, inside the module “org.company.mymodule”:


This action receives as parameters the path to find the configuration element, the name of the configuration element and the name of the attribute that you want to get from the configuration element. With that information the action tries to find the proper configuration element and return the value of the desired attribute.

The best is that you can invoke the action very easily from the presentation of a workflow (e.g. the case of the “Default value” property):


And you can invoke it also very easily from inside any Scriptable task without passing any extra input parameter to the Scriptable task itself:


The main benefits of that method are:

  • You avoid the extra workflow attributes.
  • You can invoke the action directly from workflow presentation elements.
  • You can invoke the action directly from any Scriptable task.
  • You could replace the logic of the action that gets the values from the configuration elements and use, for example, an external properties file or a database. Since you are writing the code here you have infinite possibilities.

And the only drawbacks are:

  • You have to make sure that the action is included inside your package.
  • You have to make sure that the proper configuration elements are included inside your package as well.

How to import/export Configuration Elements

You can import/export configuration elements in two ways:

  • Import/export a single configuration element
  • Import/export a set of configuration elements inside a package

The first way, import/export a single configuration element, is not very common. Here you probably want to import or export some specific configuration settings at development time to try them somewhere else. In that case, when you export the configuration element you get a file which contains the definition of the configuration element with both the list of attributes (names and types) and the values for those attributes. And when you import that file you create a new configuration element in vCO with again both the list of attributes and their values.



The second way, import/export a set of configuration elements inside a package, is the most usual because the configuration elements are used from other vCO entities. That’s why if you create a package containing a workflow, action, policy, or web view that uses an attribute from a configuration element, vCO automatically includes the configuration element in the package. Nevertheless there is a small difference with exporting a single configuration element, the difference is that in that case the values of the attributes are not exported! In another words, if you import a package containing a configuration element into another vCO, the configuration element attribute values are not set. This is because the configuration elements are supposed to define vCO server-specific settings. And for example, if you set the server-specific attributes directly in a workflow, the workflow probably won’t work with the same settings if you import it into a different server or environment. That’s why after importing a package that contains configuration elements you have to set them with values appropriate to the new server, otherwise some elements could fail (workflows, policies, etc.) because they might not find the attribute values that are required.


The configuration elements are a powerful mechanism offered by vCO to define constant values across multiple vCO entities. They are easy to create and easy to use in many common scenarios. And the only thing to be aware of is that when exporting and importing them inside a package, their attributes need to be set to the proper values of the new environment.

The VMware vCenter Orchestrator Appliance Is Now Available!

Whenever we run into a VMware customer who is not using vCenter Orchestrator, it usually comes down to one of two things: 

  1. Not being aware of vCO's existence (and yes, we admit we have a lot more education to do in that area)
  2. Getting stuck on one of the initial configuration steps (and let's face it, configuring directory services and databases is not everyone's cup of tea)

Well, we're extremely glad to announce that vCO is now available as a preconfigured virtual appliance. This appliance significantly reduces the time and skills required to deploy vCO, allowing you to get up and running in under 15 mins.

And even if directory services have no secret for you, you can find comfort in the fact that the new appliance provides a low-cost alternative to the traditional Windows-based installation. In a sense, the "free" (vCO is included with vCenter Server) just got "even more free" 😉

The vCenter Orchestrator Appliance is an OVF (Open Virtual Machine Format) that is pre-built and pre-configured with Novell SuSE Linux Enterprise Server, PostgreSQL, and OpenLDAP, and can run on vCenter Server 4.1 and higher.

It offers tremendous flexibility yet makes no compromises on performance, making it ideal for a wide variety of use cases:

  • Product evaluations and proofs-of-concept
  • Development
  • Test
  • Production, including on a large scale

The appliance offers all of the components included in the regular Windows-based installation, along with the flexibility to use either the pre-built directory services and database, or to use external ones like Active Directory or Oracle for example.  What's more, the appliance has been certified to run at the same performance as the traditional Windows version.

In short, the vCenter Orchestrator appliance makes it even faster, easier, and more affordable to integrate the VMware cloud stack with your IT processes and environment.

To give it a try for yourself, please check the following sources of information:


vCenter Orchestrator Plug-in for Microsoft Active Directory now released

We are extremely pleased to announce the General Availability of the VMware vCenter Orchestrator Plug-in for Microsoft Active Directory!  
The VMware vCenter Orchestrator plug-in for Microsoft Active Directory allows organizations to automate the management of directory services tasks, particularly as they pertain to cloud provisioning use cases. For instance, the plug-in enables the automatic provisioning of vCloud Director organizations based on data retrieved from Active Directory. The plug-in also includes many administrative actions around computers, organizations, user groups and users, such as resetting passwords or adding users to a user group.

What versions of Active Directory are supported?

  • 2003
  • 2008

What versions of vCenter Orchestrator are supported?

The plug-in runs on VMware vCenter Orchestrator 4.1.x.

How many workflows and actions are there?

  • Total number of Actions = 14
  • Total number of Workflows = 32

What can the users do with the Active Directory Plug-in 1.0.0?

  • Browse Users, Computers, Groups and Organizational Units in an Active Directory multi-domain forest
  • Run pre-defined workflows like creation of Users, changing user Passwords and a lot more.
  • Create new custom actions and workflows that serve better to their scenarios.

Where can I find more details about the Active Directory Plug-in 1.0.0?
Below are some resources to help you better understand the value and scope of the Microsoft Active Directory plug-in: