Author Archives: Christophe Decanini

vCloud Director Service Builder and the vCloud Director workflow run service

 

In vCAT 3 we described how we could leverage vCloud Director blocking tasks and notifications to extend vCloud Director with new capabilities and as part of the workflow examples document, provided the notification package as an implementation example leveraging vCenter Orchestrator rich library of workflows.

vCloud Director 5.1 introduced a new API extensions feature allowing a cloud provider to extend the vCloud API with developing services providing functionality not available in the vCloud API. These API extensions have been covered in details on Christopher Knowles’s theclouds.ca blog. Thomas Kraus wrote about implementing a specific service leveraging a vCenter Orchestrator workflow on his Cloud Actual blog.

Now it is my turn to release a tool to create custom services leveraging any vCenter Orchestrator workflow as a service operation. “vCloud Director Service Builder” is a wizard based workflow allowing to create new services and their operations in a few clicks.

In addition once a service operation has been started the included “vCloud Director workflow run” service allows managing the workflow life cycle.

Get vCloud Director Service Builder and the vCloud Director workflow run service and find out more information in the vCenter Orchestrator Communities.

 

Orchestrating the Cloud


vCloud Suite provides all the components that are important to manage successfully a cloud. These components are integrated to provide a seamless out of the box experience for all the important operations .  This is great but there is a possibility do do a lot more.

The different components have APIs allowing to communicate with each other. Orchestration has plug-in adapters to drive these APIs in processes we can all understand : workflows.

Using Drag&Drop a cloud administrator can chain together operations from the different components to get a single new automated multi-step operation. For example in vCAT 3.0 there is a workflow example for mass import of vCenter VMs in vCloud Director including automatic remapping of their networks.

These operations are not limited to VMware components. Several vendors provide plug-in adapters for their own technologies so they can be automated in the same way. If there is no specific vendor plug-in adapter available then there are generic adapters such as SOAP, REST, PowerShell, SSH, SQL, mail, XML allowing to communicate with most third parties applications.
In vCAT 3.0 there is a “Custom deploy vApp” provisioning workflow that can be expanded to call out to these systems. For example this is used to get IP addresses from an IPAM system.

These custom workflows can be started directly by end users in several ways:

  • By the cloud admins and operators with using the vSphere Web Client as single pane of glass user interface.
  • By the cloud end users with using our self service catalog vCloud Automation Center
  • If necessary, workflows can be called automatically by an existing custom portal using the REST API of vCO.

In addition workflows are used indirectly:

  • Scheduled : For example recurrent maintenance operations.
  • As an extension of an existing process : For example the workflow example section contains a “blocking tasks and notification workflow” allowing to associate a specific workflow for a given vCLoud Director blocking task or notification. This is used for example to perform pre or post provisioning tasks or approvals.
  • As a new service providing new processes with leveraging the vCloud Service extensions : Creating a new URL for the vCloud API and associate it with a workflow to enable new services that can drive any of the internal or external components.
  • As a remediation system by leveraging vCenter Orchestrator policies triggering workflows on incoming events. For example vCenter Operations can trigger a workflow to remediate the issue that has been observed.

For further information on the workflow examples please check vCAT 3.0.
For further information on vCenter Orchestrator please check the product page and the blog page.