Beginner’s Guide to VMware vCenter Orchestrator – Part 1

I see a lot of people coming to me with queries like:

“I saw vCO, it’s great, and where do I start?”

“What do I need to know to start writing my own workflows?”

“I don’t know programming, can I create workflows?”

“vCO looks great, what all can I do with it?”

So I thought might as well start a blog and let people about vCO. However as with everything, let’s start from the basics.

Step 1: Get to know the beast

There is a lot of documentation out there which will tell you a lot about vCO, but if you want to start with the very basics, here we go:

Orchestration describes the automated arrangement, coordination, and management of complex computer systems, middleware, and services.

Orchestrator is software that manages the interconnections and interactions among different software, processes and associated resources.

As you can see it is clear of the above definitions what vCenter Orchestrator is all about. However for the official description, here is the description from official VMware website:

“VMware® vCenter™ Orchestrator™ allows administrators to develop complex automation tasks, then quickly access and launch workflows from the VMware vSphere® client or various triggering mechanisms.”

Step 2: Prep work

Look at this section as prerequisites to start working with vCO. Once you done with these you are pretty much good to go and can start having fun with vCO:

  • Hands-on experience with vSphere
  • Hands-on experience with vCenter Server
  • How to install and configure vCO (Your very own instance)
  • Basic JavaScript programming (Click here)

Once you are comfortable with the four things mentioned here, you are ready to begin your vCO journey.

Step 3: The basics

Our journey begins with baby steps, getting to know the terminology of a technology is a must if you want to make sense of all the information out there. Some of you might already know this but let’s go through it anyways, doesn’t take much time either ways.

Server: The main orchestration engine which is responsible for everything that happens in vCO.

Client: A program used to connect to vCO Server to Run/Design workflows.

Actions: Smallest self-contained object of a workflow.

Scriptable Tasks: A user defined action-like object.

Workflows: A sequence of actions and scriptable tasks representing a business logic or use case. e.g Power on a VM and run a script on the command line.

Worfklow Level Inputs: Information required by the workflow as a whole.

Workflow Level Outputs: Information generation by the workflow as a whole.

Attributes: Think of them as workflow level variables. In other words, objects containing information which may or may not change during the course of workflow execution and is potentially accessible to all workflow actions or tasks.

IN: Variables which contain information is required by only one action or task, not accessible to any other action or task in the workflow.

OUT: Variables which contain information generated by only one action or task, not accessible to any other action or task in the workflow.

Packages: A collection of workflows and actions delivering a set of features.

Plugins: A feature pack for vCO enabling it to talk to an external component.

I hope this short first part has increased your understanding and curiosity about vCO. For the impatient ones, below are some vCO resources which I really find useful. I would recommend that you bookmark them.

Useful vCO Resources:

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