VMware vRealize Orchestrator

What is this vRealize Orchestrator Thingy Anyway?

VMware vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) is an infrastructure orchestration tool.  vRO is a administration tool that can greatly aid in simplifying complex tasks through the use of workflows, scripting and specific product plugins (Microsoft Active Directory for example).

Where Did vRealize Orchestrator Come From?

In 2007 VMware purchased a product called Dunes Virtual Services Orchestrator from a Swiss based company called Dunes Technologies.  VMware re-branded the product to VMware vCenter Orchestrator version 4 inline with there then vSphere 4 platform and released it as bundled tool.  vCenter Orchestrator continued to version 6 when it then changed product suite to the vRealize group of products and was re-branded vRealize Orchestrator 7.  As a side note, if you are eligible to download vRO you may notice version 6 is named vRealize not vCenter; the name was changed from vCenter after the initial release of version 6 and now shows vRealize.

vRO was Included with vCenter

One very important thing to note is vRealize Orchestrator was included with vCenter up until version 5.5.  Yep that’s right, if you have vCenter 5.5 (or downwards to version 4) installed you have vRO in your environment.  In vSphere 6 vRO was removed from the vCenter install.  This is probably a good thing as running vRO from the vCenter was never recommended as any resources used by the embedded vRO install would impact the performance of vCenter itself which defeated the point of using vRO in the first place!  The end result is to use vRO in a vSphere 6 environment the vRO Appliance or the unsupported Windows version must be installed separately.

What Can vRO Do?

From a basic point of view vRO is a workflow engine that can be used to automate/orchestrate repeatable tasks with the VMware stack of products.  But if you delve a little deeper in the product you will come to realise that vRO is far more flexible than just basic VMware related products.  Highly complex tasks and many vendor products can be managed through vRO!

vRO can do almost any orchestration task, it is that flexible.  Examples of tasks that may be performed with vRO are:

  • User Creation
  • Virtual Machine Provisioning
  • Firewall Rule Automation
  • Operating System Maintenance
  • Software Deployment
  • Load Balancer Configuration

The list could literally go on all day.  The take home point is vRO is a great tool that is both very capable and very flexible.

Where Does JavaScript Come Into This?

Although not required for most tasks, a lot of vRO workflows can use a basic level of scripting within them.  The native language used for scripting in vRO is JavaScript.  All the scripting tasks in vRO require JavaScript to function.

Are You Saying I have to Learn a New Programming Language?

Yes and No…

The “Yes”: there is no getting away from it, you will have to use JavaScript if want to fully utilise vRO.

The “No”:  JavaScript is one of the most commonly used scripting languages in the world.  Chances are if you visit any webpage it will contain JavaScript in some form.   This is good as it means JavaScript is a well understood scripting language that has (literally) a ton of resources available to help with almost any issue you may have.  It also means that learning JavaScript has the added benefit of being a good general skill to have.  From a personal perspective, since starting to use vRO I have gained a lot of experience with JavaScript and I must say it is one of the easiest scripting languages I have ever worked with.

Almost the entire JavaScript language; everything you need to use vRO can be found on the following link:

http://www.w3schools.com/js/

It is an excellent source for any JavaScript related questions and has good examples that make sense.

Whoa, Whoa, What About PowerShell and PowerCLI?

For years now many Microsoft admins have been using PowerShell as the scripting language for Windows and by extension PowerCLI for VMware products.  Fear not!  vRO has a PowerShell plugin that will allow you to run PowerShell and PowerCLI scripts from a PowerShell host.  It works well and fits almost all the scenarios you may have when completing administration tasks.

A Final Note on Scripting

A word of warning, this website will assume you have some level of scripting knowledge (not necessarily JavaScript) but that you understand the concepts of basic programming.  If you have never touched a programming or scripting language you may find things a little overwhelming.  If that is the case I would suggest you either take the time to go on a course about programming or self study programming basics.  If you work in the IT field you will find this investment well worth it.  If you are a system administrator/infrastructure engineer you will find it doubly worthwhile.