Blogs
Aug 10, 2018

vRealize Automation - Exploit The Extensibility Options!

SUNNY MALIK
SR. PRINCIPAL ARCHITECT - MICROLABS

Automating VM provisioning is most of the time the first step in an enterprise private cloud journey. Infrastructure provisioning process can be extremely complicated starting from multiple levels of approvals to coordination between the various teams for DR, and backup before releasing the infrastructure to the end-user.  Expecting an out-of-box solution to meet all these requirements without any customization can be very deceptive.

To ensure enterprises can automate end-to-end delivery of IT infrastructure and applications, it is essential to understand both out-of-box capabilities and flexibility or extensibility options of the private cloud solution under evaluation.

In this blog, we are exploring vRealize automation extensibility option, a VMware based hybrid cloud automation tool that enables customization and extensibility at multiple levels.

vRealize automation customization and extensibility is heavily dependent on custom properties and vRealize orchestrator’s workflows.

Custom Properties

Consider Custom Properties merely as the meta-data associated with the infrastructure requested or provisioned. There are two types of custom properties.

  • Supplied vRealize automation custom properties

vRealize administrators can use supplied vRealize automation custom properties to control various aspects of machine provisioning. Administrators can use these custom properties to either prompt end-user or add values themselves for configuration settings like network, platform, guest agent, and many other deployment parameters.

The complete list of vRealize custom properties is available here.

  • Enterprise-specific custom properties

vRealize administrators can also create their custom properties to capture the meta-data like the cost center, business unit or something like firewall ports to be opened, which may be needed to complete the machine provisioning process using a customized vRealize orchestrator workflow.

vRealize Orchestrator workflow

Provisioning or decommissioning a new machine, especially for mission-critical systems, typically requires interacting with several different management systems, including DNS servers, load balancers, CMDBs, IP address management and other systems.

Leveraging vRealize orchestrator pre-built workflows and plug-ins, enterprises have an option to automate these operational tasks across both VMware and third-party applications such as service desk systems, change management systems and IT asset management systems with minimal efforts.

So how is it done?

vRealize Orchestrator lets administrators or vRO workflow developers inject custom logic at various predetermined IaaS life cycle stages by leveraging IaaS state change workflows, known as workflow stubs. Administrators or vRO workflow developers use the workflow stubs to call out to vRealize orchestrator for bi-directional integration with external management systems.

Creating a state change workflow enables you to trigger the execution of workflow before or after the IaaS master workflow enters or finishes a specific state. For example, administrators or vRO workflow developers can create custom workflows to integrate with an external database and record information after “Initial Power On” or fetching a new IP from IPAM solution before “Machine Provisioning State” of the machine life cycle.

vRealize automation also gives administrators an option to execute workflows based on various conditions. For example, specific workflows to execute only if IaaS instance requested has SQL server in the service catalog. 

vRealize is also leveraged for “XaaS” or “Anything as a Service.” XaaS blueprints in vRealize automation will allow administrators to publish vRO workflows in the service catalog. It gives administrators an option to publish just any automated task in vRealize orchestrator as a service catalog. For example, if a workflow is written to reset the password, same can be published in vRealize service catalog and can also leverage out-of-box capabilities like email notification, request tracking multi-level approval, etc.

So, combining custom properties, vRealize orchestrator workflows, and service catalog, you can extend the capabilities of vRealize automation to achieve end-to-end provisioning of anything related to IT infrastructure and applications in your enterprise private cloud environment.  

Disclaimer: The information and views set out in these blogs are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Microland Ltd.