Last week I had an awesome opportunity to attend a VMware vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) bootcamp put on by the VMware team. If you aren’t familiar with vCAC, it can be described as an Enterprise wide IT Portal that helps customers deliver on the “Software Defined Datacenters” promise around IT as a Service. The lynchpin to any sort of successful “IT as a Service” (ITaaS) offering is the workflow engine. In the case of VMware, the Workflow engine has sort of been the “red-headed step-child” of their offering and honestly more people OUTSIDE of VMware know, love, and evangelize this product than most inside of VMware. I’m talking about VMware vCenter Orchestrator or vCO for short. Over the years I started hearing from people like Cody Bunch (@Cody_Bunch), James Bowling (@vSential ) and others speak to the power of vCO and how they were using it but it always seemed “interesting” to me, but not compelling. Fast forward to these last 18 months it’s clear that in order to get ITaaS you must have a pretty robust workflow engine and vCO is a VERY robust offering. Oh ya, vCO is also FREE with your vCenter Purchase !
As I was sitting through the vCAC Bootcamp, more and more features and processes became apparent that vCO can do. Now, in some cases there are other ways of doing some of these processes, but when you stitch multiple workflows together it becomes clear that doing these inside vCO makes a ton of sense.
Some of the things we worked through in class:
Provisioning a VM with vCO:
- Launch Deploy VM Workflow:
- Deploy from template
- Query against an iPAM solution to see the next available static IP
- grab that IP,
- add it into the customization script and
- assign it to the server
- Add a DNS “A” record with the IP address you just assigned to the VM
- Add it to AD System
- Create a ticket in Remedy (or any other tracking software).
- Unattended install of Anti-Virus package
- Unattended install of backup application
- Create an entry in CMDB
- Generate an e-mail to the owner when the process is completed.
And that’s just a simple process, I can imagine that others have more things that need to happen to the VM before it’s deployed into production. Include any other random AppDev dependencies you can think of such as, Java runtimes (32 or 64 bit) or .NET libraries (3.5 or 4.x) whatever your in-house Application/DEV team requires. With vCO/vCAC you as an IT org can now respond to the needs of your customers in a way that matches and even exceeds their expectations. So as you can see, your imagination is the limit ! If you want more ideas, check out VMware’s SolutionExchange and click on vCO Plugins
Workflow engines like vCO are the next evolutionary step in any IT workers career path. Just like the days of showing up with a binder full of 3.5” install disks/CD’s and installing Windows; or SQL 2000 using disks are gone so will be the days of simple “Right click, deploy from template” VMware admin’s have been doing over the years. Very rarely does someone request a straight up, plain vanilla Windows VM, not to mention vCO/vCAC allows us to cut down the crazy “deployment drift” that can be seen when you do these as one offs. They usually want it with a couple of other things setup like SQL, Oracle or any other application. Compounding simple workflows into more complex installs is exactly what vCO is for and the quicker you can get up to speed on it, the quicker you become more relevant to not only the company you work for, but LinkedIn searches as well In other words, as more IT departments mature and they start looking for workers that have IT as a Service background, vCO experience is going to be REALLY important !!
So, that takes me to this blog post. I REALLY need to get more up to speed on vCO and with that comes google searches and various other repositories of information and collecting them into one spot. Many people have done this, but I didn’t get into blogging for any other reason than to help me remember how to install things, set things up, or troubleshooting steps that I would probably need again in the future. Some people write this down in a notebook/onenote/evernote and then there are people like me that think “Well hell, if I’m running into this issue, maybe someone else might be as well and maybe I can save them some “Banging my head against the wall” time and publish this information for the greater community !
With that said – here is a start of pulling together some information around vCO. Feel free to leave other information in the comments section. I’ll update the list as I get up to speed.
List of for vCO Tutorials, vCO Overviews and various other vCO stuff !
- http://www.storagegumbo.com/ <- Rockstar vCAC resource and good friend – he gets first billing
- http://professionalvmware.com/vcenter-orchestrator/ <—Killer list of resources and info !! BOOKMARK IT !
- Get this book ——————————————>
Feel free to check back from time to time, I’ll be adding in more links !