IT administrators perform many tasks and procedures to keep the health of their computing environment up-to-date and their business running. Tasks might include the following diverse activities, for example, new employees require that accounts and resources are configured, a business acquisition requires integrating a system from another vendor, and new hardware requires provisioning. Individual tasks and subtasks are automated, but typically, not the whole process. In addition, the administrators must maintain quality standards and system efficiency.
System Center 2012 – Orchestrator can tie disparate tasks and procedures together by using the graphical user-interface Runbook Designer to create reliable, flexible, and efficient end-to-end solutions in the IT environment.
By using Orchestrator, you can carry out the following tasks:
¨ Automate processes in your data center, regardless of hardware or platform.
¨ Automate your IT operations and standardize best practices to improve operational efficiency.
¨ Connect different systems from different vendors without having to know how to use scripting and programming languages.
Orchestrator provides tools to build, test, debug, deploy, and manage automation in your environment. These automated procedures, called runbooks, can function independently or start other runbooks. The standard activities defined in every installation of Orchestrator provide a variety of monitors, tasks, and runbook controls with which you can integrate a wide range of system processes. Each activity in a runbook publishes data that is available to any subsequent activity in that runbook. You use this Published Data to provide dynamic, decision-making capabilities, which can include creating emails, alerts, log files, accounts, and more.
Orchestrator features & Architecture
|management server||The management server is the communication layer between the Runbook Designer and the orchestration database.|
|runbook server||A runbook server is where an instance of a runbook runs. Runbook servers communicate directly with the orchestration database. You can deploy multiple runbook servers per Orchestrator installation to increase capacity and redundancy.|
|orchestration database||The database is a Microsoft SQL Server database that contains all of the deployed runbooks, the status of running runbooks, log files, and configuration data for Orchestrator.|
|Runbook Designer||The Runbook Designer is the tool used to build, edit, and manage Orchestrator runbooks.|
|Runbook Tester||Runbook Tester is a run-time tool used to test runbooks developed in the Runbook Designer. For more information about Runbook Tester,|
|Orchestration console||The Orchestration console lets you start or stop runbooks and view real-time status on a web browser.|
|Orchestrator web service||The Orchestrator web service is a Representational State Transfer (REST)-based service that enables custom applications to connect to Orchestrator to start and stop runbooks, and retrieve information about operations by using custom applications or scripts. The Orchestration console uses this web service to interact with Orchestrator.|
|Deployment Manager||Deployment Manager is a tool used to deploy integration packs (IPs), runbook servers, and Runbook Designers.|
The following diagram illustrates each of the Orchestrator features and the communication between each.
The orchestration database is the center of the Orchestrator installation containing all runbooks, configuration settings, and logs. The management server is required as a communication layer between the Runbook Designer and the orchestration database. One or more runbook servers communicate directly with the database to retrieve runbooks to run and store information about the jobs created from the runbooks. The web service also communicates directly with the orchestration database and provides a web browser connection for the Orchestration console.
The following table shows multiple strategies available for extending the functionality provided by a standard installation of Orchestrator.
|integration pack (IP)||An integration pack is a collection of custom activities specific to a product or technology. Microsoft and other companies provide integration packs with activities to interact with their product from an Orchestrator runbook.|
|Orchestrator Integration Toolkit||The Orchestrator Integration Toolkit lets you extend your library of activities beyond the collection of standard activities and integration packs. The Integration Toolkit has wizard-based tools to create new activities and integration packs for Orchestrator. Developers can also use the Integration Toolkit to create integration packs from custom activities that they build by using the Orchestrator SDK.|
Automation by using runbooks
To automate a task or process in Orchestrator, you use the Runbook Designer to create a runbook. You add activities to the runbook by dragging them from the Activities pane, and then link activities in the required order to create a workflow.
This runbook monitors an event log. When it detects the specified event, the runbook checks the status of a particular process in Windows on a specific computer. If the process is found to be running, it is stopped. The runbook then starts the process and sends an email as a notification of the change of process state.
Each runbook activity finishes before proceeding to the next, and activities are available that provide complex logic such as requiring that multiple activities are completed before the runbook proceeds. By using a combination of logic on activities and smart links, you can implement whatever logic your particular automation scenario requires.