We are starting a new series of Posts to learn how to use and optimize vRealize Orchestrator or just vRO. We will learn about installation, configuration, high availability, integration, development and workflow distribution.
In this Post we will discover its huge potential. And by the way, the Orchestrator license is free ;-)
What is vRealize Orchestrator?
We know it as VMware Orchestrator, vCenter Orchestrator (vRO), vRealize Orchestrator or just vRO. It’s a service to automate different kinds of tasks which could be very simple or really complex. We are going to make reference to it just as vRO.
The vRO license is associated with a vCenter license so, if I have vCenter, then I have Orchestrator too.
History and evolution
In September 2007 VMware bought Dunes Virtual Services Orchestrator. That product was made by a Swiss company called Dunes Technologies.
The main objetive was to simplify the management of complex infrastructures.
VMware Orchestrator was born as vCenter Orchestrator 4.0 included in vSphere 4.0.
What can vRO offer?
Basically efficiency. From simple repetitive tasks up to really complex workflows, different dependent processes based on VMware and third party plugins or just as a fast way to run simple functions.
It isn’t a development environment but has some similar concepts. First we need to invest some amount of time to learn how it works but, after a few hours, we will be able to see how that invested time will transform into efficient processes with task simplification as a result.
What can I automate with vRealize Orchestrator?
Here is the key to the awesome potential of vRO. This tool is not just for VMware solutions.
We are talking about a big octopus with lots of tentacles that will manage a high number of technologies and, at the same time, will make the administrator’s life much easier.
The vRO will work with vCenter, SSO, vCloud Director, vRealize Automation, Iaas, vRealize Operations Manager, Site Recovery Manager, Update Manager, AutoDeploy, vCNS and NSX.
We also have a high number of vRO plugins to work with Active Directory, SQL Server, Cisco UCS, EMC, NetApp, HP, HTTP-REST and Amazon AWS just as an example. And pay attention because that list is still growing.
One of my favorites is the integration with Powershell. It’s dynamite. Using it we are not only extending vRO with Powershell, we can also call the VMware API and after that start running PowerCLI scripts and commands…. Yeah!!!!
There are some other third party companies like Infoblox, Pupet, F5, Hitachi, Brocade, IBM and more that offer their own vRO extentions but some charge a fee.
I haven’t finished yet. We can run some SSH commands, always from vRO, and we can manage SNMP to send and receive traps. I know, you are starting to think about vRO+Nagios… very useful, isn’t it? Yes, we can configure both solutions to work together and improve them.
After we have reviewed all those technologies and solutions we can see that the product limit is really high; the only restriction would be our own capacity and skills for developing workflows.
We are going to detail some examples just to be a little clearer.
-Creation of a new Active Directory user account generating a random password, adding the new user to one or more groups, defining a mobile profile, putting the user object into a specific OU, creation of the Exchange mailbox, assigning (or creating) a VDI desktop (Horizon View or Citrix XenDesktop), creation of the file structure and assigning access to applications and printers.
In fact one human resources person could run this entire workflow without having any Active Directory rights. This workflow can be run through vSphere Web Client, vRealize Automation portal or just in the vRO Java Client.
New network segment
-Definition of the new vLan tag into a physical switch, creation of the vDS Port Group with advanced properties, new NSX Edge with their corresponding firewall and NAT rules. And of course sending a confirmation email after finishing the workflow.
Deploying a test environment
-Deploying a group of Linked Clone virtual machines. Connection of those vms to the new network segment, assigning a post-deploy script and scheduling the cleaning process workflow.
Procedure for powering off an entire Datacenter
-Sending an email to all users to advise of the procedure for shutting down. After a few minutes, the shutting down procedure starts considering the correct order and dependencies to shut down the different services, virtual machines, physical servers, storage and other physical devices that require a shutdown.
In the same way we can develop a workflow to power on the same Datacenter considering, again, the different orders and dependecies and sending an email to the admin group when all services are ready.
vRO Workflow example
vRO Platforms and requirements
We can install vRO over a Windows platform or we can deploy the vRO appliance. We know that all VMware Appliances work over a Linux platform(SUSE).
vRO needs a Database and comes with an embedded one (Postgres) but we can also use an external database like Oracle or SQL Server. The option to use the external database is specially useful when we want to deploy a HA vRO. Yes we can do it!!!
vRealize Automation (the older vCAC) comes with an embedded vRO. If we are going to use vRA we can do that but, for performance reasons, it is highly recommended to use an external instance of vRO.
The Hardware requirements are ridiculously few:
2 vCPU’s + 4GB of RAM + 4GB of virtual disk
If we are going to use an embedded database we need to consider increasing the RAM and virtual disk size.
Ways to run vRO Workflows
We are going to see the different ways to run our workflows:
vRO Client: vRealize Orchestrator includes a Java Client. We can use it to design, administer and schedule all our workflows. Of course we need to provide our credentials before using it so we can see that there is a way to protect or limit the access to the workflows.
vSphere Web Client: this is a great option to use different kinds of workflows through the vSphere Web Client just using the right click on any inventory object.
We are talking about extending the functionalities of our vSphere Client just like a tailored suit ;-)
vRealize Automation Catalogue: This is definitely the most elegant and professional way to offer the entire list of workflows to our users. And keep in mind we are referring to users instead of administrators.
Using an access control to protect every automated task we are going to optimize our infrastructure in a controlled way giving the option to run the different workflows for our users. Those workflows were older manual tasks made by administrators only.
Product documentation: https://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/orchestrator_pubs.html
vRO Official Blog: https://blogs.vmware.com/orchestrator/
vRO Team: http://www.vcoteam.info/
vRO Book (vRO): http://www.amazon.co.uk/VMware-vRealize-Orchestrator-Cookbook-Langenhan/dp/1784392243/ref=pd_sim_14_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=51GRuG0HFvL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR130%2C160_&refRID=17F8PJKZEEJQ2E58Q2FF
12 vRO Video Series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z1GwpyoV7U&list=PL6611Q6qmwxX6eVkJqsBJboke0MnFFkF2
vRO Official Course: https://mylearn.vmware.com/mgrreg/courses.cfm?ui=www_edu&a=one&id_subject=56449
On the next Post we will see how to install and configure our vRO!!!