vCenter Orchestrator: Operation Automate

2 minute read

First, I want to thank the vCOteam for their help and all the others on the VMTN forums that helped me learn more about vCO and what it can do.  Secondly, I want to thank Cody Bunch from for inspiring me to write this, a little push from a tweet can go a long way.  Thanks again and now on to the fun stuff…

So for the past few weeks I have been working on some automation for a deployment at my company.  We have a rollout of roughly 200 facilities that will be receiving a small virtual footprint to replace the VMware Server deployment they had in place before my time.  We are utilizing the VMware Retail and Branch Office, or ROBO, licensing to accomplish this portion of it.  On the flip side, we need to be able to pump out many servers a day to get the deployment done within an acceptable time frame.  This is where automation is going to be key to the efficiency of this project.  Anything I can do to minimize the ability for human error will definitely make the process more efficient.

This is where vCenter Orchestrator (vCO) comes in.  With vCenter Orchestrator I can build automated workflows visually.  I know what a lot of you are thinking, yes, I could do this with PowerCLI but I feel that Orchestrator is better suited based on the requirements laid out in front of me.  vCO is only a portion of the equation but definitely the meat and potatoes of the deployment plan.  Along with the vCO workflows, I also use a slipstream ESXi installer that will do a little basic configuration prior to being put through the motions of the workflows.

One of the requirements put in front of me was that we needed to minimize interaction from a user to build one, and this user could be someone who is not familiar with ESXi or vCenter.  Needless to say the initial install is unattended so that portion of the process is taken care of.  Here are the end all steps we are trying to accomplish:

  • Add the new host to the ROBO vCenter Instance.
  • Push some ISOs over to them to aid in remote reinstalls.  (I will explain more in a little bit)
  • Deploy some VMs onto the host utilizing a business unit number to predetermine some things.
  • Make sure the network information is configured appropriately on the host so it can be plugged in and ready to go without the aid of anyone technical.

Unfortunately, I am going to break this up into a few posts because of the breakdown of what is being done to accomplish each step…so be sure to keep your eyes open for the next post where I will go through building a workflow to add the hosts to vCenter in about 2 clicks and a couple taps of the keyboard.  See you back here soon…

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