vCenter Orchestrator in it’s basics is a workflow development tool that can be used to schedule and automate multiple tasks in your environment. A tool that can be used to create and execute workflows not only on your vSphere environment, but with the use of plugins you can manage other types of applications such as Active Directory, SQL, etc. In the past I’ve often heard of vCO being described as a hidden gem inside of your vCenter Server; meaning it’s usually already there and licensed but for the most part, you are probably not using it. Such is the case with myself. I’ve often thought about trying to learn this technology in order to execute some of my common day to day tasks through a more automated and scripted fashion but I’ve always resulted to things like PowerShell and PowerCLI to do the same job. Why? Well, comfort really. I already have a good handle on Powershell technology and could get things done faster there rather than learning something new. That being said with the introduction of vSphere 5.1 a bunch of new features and enhancements were made with the vCenter/vCO interoperability. The biggest IMO was the ability to execute a vCO workflow while directly inside of the vSphere Web Client – contextually!!! This integration is what enticed to have a closer look at vCO. Basically I now have the ability to create workflows that can do pretty much anything and grant access to myself or to others to simply right-click a host from within vSphere and execute them.
Thus leads me to these series of posts where I will try and take you though my experiences with vCenter Orchestrator; and it couldn’t come at a more opportune time. I have approx 50 hosts to configure and deploy within the next few months and in effort to keep them consistent I decided to do so with a PowerCLI script that I had written a while back. The only difference being I will be executing this script through vCenter Orchestrator (to get that super awesome right-click functionality). Now there is certainly some overlap here. A lot of the actions that the PowerCLI script performs actually have workflows already created in vCO that do the same thing however in this case I’ve decided not to use them – baby steps right! Also, it helps to highlight the power of the vCO plugins – I can in fact do things like execute PowerShell commands, run queries against SQL servers, move objects around in Active Directory, etc.
So with that said I guess you could call this post an introduction of sorts with nothing too technical included. Be sure to check out Part 2 – Installing and configuring vCenter Orchestrator where we will dive a bit deeper into the setup of vCO.
My first vCenter Orchestrator Workflow