Book Review: Automating vSphere with vCenter Orchestrator [Giveaway!]

A brand-new book from VMware Press by Cody Bunch (Twitter|Blog) provides complete coverage of vCenter Orchestrator.  Learn how to deploy, configure, and manage the vCO infrastructure to take your vSphere automation to the next level with Automating vSphere with vCenter Orchestrator.

Cody’s writing style is easy to read as he breaks down the various concepts into easy bites, even inventing a notional company to provide examples for some of the tasks.  These real-world examples really add value to the book and will help new users understand concepts and procedures.

I thought it was especially useful to include a section on how Onyx can be used to generate scripts to tackle more advanced tasks.  Several interesting appendices cover things like troubleshooting and deploying a vCO virtual appliance (vApp).

All in all, this is a useful read for vSphere administrators and is a reasonable length for reading cover-to-cover.

Win a Copy and Start Automating vSphere!

Pearson has generously offered to give away 10 copies of this new book to VCritical readers.  Here are two ways to win:

Leave a comment on this post – Describe one idea for vSphere automation with vCO in a comment below; 5 winners will be randomly selected.

Like VCritical on Facebook – Go to the VCritical Facebook page, “Like” it, and write something on the wall that has to do with vCO; 5 winners will be randomly selected.

Fine print:  Contest ends March 14, 2012 at 23:59 PDT.  Winners must respond by March 16, 2012 23:59 PDT or prize will be forfeited.

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25 comments

  1. Greg Carriger’s avatar

    1. Clone and customize a Windows VM
    2. Modify Hard drive 1 and 2 values
    3. Run diskpart to expand system and app partitions.
    4. Install Exchange
    5. Corrupt information store
    6. Delete VM
    7. Clone and customize RHEL VM
    8. Modify Hard drive values
    9. Install Zimbra

  2. Thomas Fruend’s avatar

    I’m an admin at an university in Germany. For our virtual desktop solution we use VMware vSphere/vCenter in combination with Oracle Secure Global Desktop. Deploying new desktops is not so easy as it can be with VMware View, so I’m looking for an better solution.

    New VMs should be deployed during normal operations. Lets say we have 100 VMs a possible solution could be like this:
    1) Remove 10 unused VMs from pool
    2) Delete this 10 VMs
    3) Clone ans customize 10 VMs from a new template
    4) Move the 10 new VMs to the pool
    5) Get new 10 unused VMs based on the old template
    6) Goto 2)

    It would be great to automate this task with the Orchestrator.

  3. Adam Robinson’s avatar

    Deploy 10 VM’s
    Customize traits according to pool
    Install appropriate dev tools
    Roll back VM’s at end of the day to prior image

  4. Samkit Shah’s avatar

    I am a QA engineer for Storage company and we are testing tight integration of our storage technologies with vSphere environments. Our solutions offer various great storage features and their integration with vSphere environments. Naming few, they will be VDI deployment utility, datastore creation utility, back up and replication utilities, Multipath extensions and Site recovery adapters.

    Testing this solution is a very complex job in terms and we have been working on automating some of our vSphere test environment building tasks using vCO. I am looking forward to this book for our reference.

  5. PZ’s avatar

    1. Automate health check reporting in virtual environment
    2. Create p2v job definitions for mass migrations
    3. Export critical information to facilitate DR

  6. Mike Preston’s avatar

    Deploy similar type VMs in a multi-forest environment, join correct domain, attach correct networks, VMs are ready to go for on site admins.

  7. Michael Mills’s avatar

    – Deploy a vApp from vCloud Director and apply vShield App configurations to that VM(s). The idea would allow for the ability to have organization owner’s provision and protect their own VM(s), based on what ports and what source/destination communications need to occur.

  8. Alex M’s avatar

    Lifecycyle management, the entire process from initial sizing and planning to creation, removal and cleanup ( including DNS entries and ACL rules via triggered PowerShell Scripts

  9. Daniel Myers’s avatar

    I think starting simple is the way to go, automation is just at the early stages for most people I have found.
    e.g. Detect, alert and fix old snapshots left laying around.
    This is the number 1 issue I see about the place!

  10. Andrew D’s avatar

    I don’t really know that much about vCO! But if Cody has written a book about it, i’d like to read about it.

  11. Marco S’s avatar

    Hi and thanks for this chance to win this great book,

    since I am still not familiar with vCO but it’s on my todo list for quite a while, this would be a good starting point.

    Two use cases I would like to spontaneously evaluate are: ease of automatic guest and host update management and automatic template / vm management, like deletion and creation eg.

  12. Dan Barr’s avatar

    I have not had a chance to get going with vCO in our environment yet, but it’s been on the to-do list for a while, and this book would certainly help. Thanks for the shot at winning it!

    I have two ideas that come to mind for workflows I’d like to automate:

    1. Rolling a reboot through a cluster, one host at a time. Obviously Update Manager does this for ESX updates, but there are other times we need to do this, like applying BIOS/firmware updates.

    2. Prep for an SRM test. Power on the Vyatta router VM for the “test bubble” networks, and clone in one of the domain controllers into the bubble for use during the test.

  13. Anthony’s avatar

    I want to make cool stuff like this: http://www.vcoportal.de/2012/03/let-your-vco-text-you/ Also lifecycle management and integration with our in-house VM creation scripts.

  14. Sim Alam’s avatar

    I’d like vCO to take all my legacy client-server crapplications and make them scalable and available, like all the cool kids are doing in the Cloud.

  15. Matt’s avatar

    Notify monitoring whenever I stand up a new server.

  16. Dwayne Lessner’s avatar

    Would love to automate VDI to move desktops into a quartine area once the AD account has been disabled.

  17. Jason Gaudreau’s avatar

    Orchestrate creation of new organizations with locked master image templates in the organizations catalog based on vDC Provider service levels and site locations with custom access roles.

  18. Jason Gaudreau’s avatar

    vCO Orchestration of a new vCloud organization with locked master image templates in the organizations catalog based on vDC Provider service levels and site locations with custom access roles.

  19. Alex G’s avatar

    1) Add a customized Date of Birth field in vCenter, and then use vCO to add a DOB stamp to each VM when it’s deployed. This helps figure out how old your VMs are.

    2) Another idea: if a VM sits powered off for longer than 48 hrs, use vCO to do a storage migration to a lower-tier archival storage (such as an NFS based VMFS datastore), and also remove it from any resource pools, moving it to an “Archived” folder instead. This frees up valuable high-performance storage for other VMs and could also take the VM out of the daily backup set. If it will sit static no need to back it up every day.

    3) One more: compliance enforcement – in conjunction with vCenter Update Manager, if a VM shows that it’s missing critical patches, or missing too many patches, then disconnect it from the production network and notify admins by email. Could be as simple as unchecking the “Connected” check box in NIC(s) settings. Optionally it could be connected to a quarantine VLAN/vSwitch, but be sure to record production network settings before hand, including IP and MAC addresses.

    4) Final one: A twist on #3 – instead of disconnecting the VM, if there’s any way to manipulate vShield setting from vCO, then check if the non-compliant VM has Internet access, and if yes, cut it off.

  20. Mauricio Harley’s avatar

    Yeah, I just got vCO to my demo lab and I feel excited. Actually, VMware has lots of great tools to help administrators to make their job. This book would be awesome to help my lab and real customer environment work.

  21. Rajesh’s avatar

    I want the book badly since I want to automate as below.
    I’ve just fallen in love with VCO and will upload all the workflows as I develop them. I’m already half way through with #1 but am getting stuck with small issues.
    1. Portal so that users can request for access to VDC for self creation/deletion and management of VM’s post manager approval in our pvt cloud.
    2. Bulk deployment/deletion of VM’s post manager approval
    3. VM reports for users and managers via PowerCLI plugin
    4. Cost details via Chargeback plugin
    5. Update management
    6. Alert management and remediation.
    7. UIM Provisioning.
    If I WIN this book I’ll consider as an honor and donate the actual cost of this book to an NGO in Code’s name 🙂

    1. Rajesh’s avatar

      Sorry.. I meant Cody’s name.

    2. Joerg Lew’s avatar

      No need to win the book 🙂 , but I want to share some ideas, therefore:

      Top things I DO automate with vCO:
      1. VM deployment based on orders from a custom Self-Service-Portal
      2. All tasks that 1st-Level Helpdesk guys have to do on vCenter (Power-Tasks on VMs, Snapshot handling,…). So they don’t need the full blown vSphere Client, and we have a good integration in Ticket-System and a perfect audit trail.
      3. Workflows that manage Exchange Mailboxes used by HR dept…. vCO is by far not limited to vSphere automation 🙂

      Things I WANT to automate in future:
      1. Network infrastructure components (switches, firewalls, router, load balancer)
      2. LabManager => vCloud Director migration (you need challenges to keep fit 🙂 )

      Cheers,
      Joerg

    3. Adam Eckerle’s avatar

      vCO would allow us to automate many management tasks. But the key would be the ability to delegate tasks down to lower tiers of support without having to spend lots of time training them. There are also quite a few routine tasks that just don’t get done a regularly as they should due to time constraints.

    4. Nick Hill’s avatar

      I would use it to roll out custom Student based VM that houses systems for online testing at the High school I work at. This way, all the kids can have a secure testing environment, and after it is used, we can set it up for the next group according to their settings! Wow this book looks great! I want to WIN!

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