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VMware announced vCenter Orchestrator 5.5 : a major release including a lot of important new features. No more excuses to not orchestrate !


And here is the list !


vSphere 5.5 integration

vCenter Orchestrator is a component of vSphere 5.5. As such it is automatically installed and configured as part of the vCenter Windows based installation.

vCO & vCenter are integrated using Single Sign On. In the vSphere 5.5 client there is a new feature allowing to add new vCO instances to be managed and monitored.

vCO is shipping with an updated plug-in to manage vSphere 5.5.


Zero configuration through embedded directory service and embeded database

When vCO is installed as part of the Windows based vCenter Server it is pre-configured to use SSO. When the vCO appliance is deployed it is pre-configured to work with the Open LDAP server running in the appliance.

When installing vCO 5.5 as a stand alone server, the embedded OpenLDAP directory service and embeded HSQL database are configured by default. This was not the case in 5.1 where you had to manualy configure these.

Basically any of the different type of vCO installations leads to a fully functional vCO.

  • For production use it is recommended to use SSO or an external directory service (vCO supports Microsoft Active Directory, OpenLDAP, Novel eDirectory, Sun Java System Directory / Oracle Directory System.
  • For production use it is recommended to use an external database (vCO supports Microsoft SQL, Oracle SQL and PostgreSQL).


Resume workflow on failure

vCO 5.5 provides an option to resume a workflow run from the last failed activity. This option is a configuration of the workflow or can be set globally with a configuration file change.

When a workflow fails instead of stopping it reaches a new state similar to a user interaction. It is then possible to open the workflow to resume it. A key feature is that you can change the worklow parameters before attempting a resume. For example if a provisioning workflow failed because of lack of storage on a datastore you can edit the destination datastore before resuming the workflow.

This can be done from the vCO client but also from using the REST API. There is also a tiemout option allowing to fail the workflow after a certain time if it was not resumed.


Workflow debugger

The vCO client now includes a debugger allowing for runnning and debugging the workflow while editing it. You can add break points, inspect and edit inputs, outputs, attributes. You can resume, step into, step over, step return each element. The debugger works at the workflow item level, you cannot put breakpoints within a scriptable task for example.


API Explorer

Now includes a forward / back button for better navigation.


Internationalization level 1

vCO can now run in non english OS and can handle non english text and local date / time format. Localization of the workflow is supported by providing locale-specific resource files.


REST API enhancements

The REST API has been extended to support:

  • Export / import of packages and workflows
  • Setting workflow and actions permissions
  • Create, delete, edit a workflow


vCO configuration plug-in

A new plug-in is shipped with vCO. This plug-in exposes in the inventory the vCO server configuration. It allows to perform changes on the vCO server configuration using the internal scripting API or external REST API.


High availability !!!

And I kept one of the best feature for the end : vCO 5.5 supports active / active clustering !

vCO 5.5 supports to be installed in cluster mode which mean that if an orchestrator cluster node becomes unavailable in the middle of a workflow another node can take over and complete the workflow without service interuption !

It also allows to put the different nodes behind a load balancer to serve high amounts of client requests.

The cluster supports two different modes:

  • Active / Active : All the nodes of the cluster are active and provide concurrent connections
  • Active / passive : Some nodes are active, some are not. If all active nodes are down the passive node becomes active and pcocess the workflow.

Requirements : At least two vCO nodes, a shared database and shared directory service.


Other goodies

  • If you did not like the new 5.1 UI graphics, then you will be glad to know they were changed. If you liked them, well let's hope you like the new ones.
  • The workflow schema scaling / placing capabilites have been improved.
  • The appliance has been hardened to be more secure.