I’ve been talking to a lot of customers lately on the possibilities of VMware Orchestrator. Things like do they use it now, what they might be able to use if for in their current environment. But most of the discussions are in tandem with a vCloud design. Orchestrator has been a mystery for the last few years but VMware has been working on changing that since vSphere 5 was released. It is now being talked about more and 3rd parties are actively developing plug-ins to expand its abilities to automate other infrastructure.
I don’t plan on teaching you how to use Orchestrator, there is a good book by written by Cody Bunch on Orchestrator. What I do want to talk about is some ideas of what you might be able to use Orchestrator for and get your creativity flowing.
A workflow that clones a VM from a template , nothing exciting right. Well what if you could have the workflow do the customization part for you? So what does this mean, well the workflow could look at the template you are deploying from and then select a License Key for the proper OS that is being used. Then it could place the VM in the Active Directory OU of your choosing. Try doing this type stuff with standard vCenter customization templates, the licensing would take multiple customization files and the OU part would require the template to already belong to the OU you want it to end up in. This would add a lot of layers of complexity to your environment doing it the old way. But with a Orchestrator workflow you can accomplish this and make your admins lifes easier.
The idea here is not that much different from Idea 1, but it involves VCD. So the idea would be that we have several Organizations setup inside of VCD and the VMs from each Org need to belong to a different OU in Active Directory. Well you probably say there is no easy way to do that. You are right but with Orchestrator we can create a blocking task and a workflow with logic in it that will listen to the request coming from VCD and do a look up for which Org is requesting the VM and match that to logic provided in the workflow that will let it know with OU to use.
This idea came from one of the local VMware reps that I work with. The idea is to use Infoblox for IP and DNS management for vCloud. To make this work a blocking task would be created that would step in when a new vApp was created and use the Infoblox plug-in for Orchestrator. To give you an idea of how this would work in simple terms. You would deploy vApp and select that it grab an IP from a static pool in VCD. This allows the VM to be created but the IP is only temp and is taken from a small pool that is used just for this purpose. Then the blocking task will step in and request a permanent IP from Infoblox and register it with DNS. The workflow will then go back into VCD and change the IP address selection method to static-manual because it was now being provided from Infoblox.
These are some basic ideas but ones that I know people might be able to use. The whole idea is to get you thinking about what types of automation you might be able to accomplish with Orchestrator by providing some examples.
I thought it would be good to get others to submit their VCO automation ideas. I would like to find out what others are doing already with VCO or list ideas that you would like to try and automate with VCO. These should be tasks or things that are required in your environment on a regular basis that automation could be used to save time. You may already do these today with Powershell or something else. Lets share and help the community benefit.
As incentive I have a code for access to the online content from VMworld 2012. This will allow you to download the PDF versions of the slide decks and listen to the recorded sessions, there is also probably some other benefits that I have missed. I will award this to the best idea that seems both possible with VMware tools and would be beneficial to VMware shops.
About Brian Suhr
Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design