System Center Orchestrator 2012 RC: Installed, now what?

Yesterday I’ve blogged about installing Orchestrator (SCO) – which was very easy. Once you are done with the installation you can open up “Runbook Designer” and start creating so called“Runbooks” right away.

History

System Center Orchestrator 2012 (SCO) is the first release from Microsoft with the new brand and product name. Before Microsoft acquired the product, it was called “Opalis”. The terminology was a bit different there. A “Runbook” was called “Policy” in Opalis. Microsoft changed a couple of terms. Anyway, both terms are basically describing a “Workflow”. I don’t want to use the term Workflow further because it might be confusing. As a beginner who just jumped into the SCO fun you might have a better understanding if you think of a workflow. You may wonder why Microsoft isn’t just using the term workflow? I’m not sure about that but other System Center products (like SCOM) already have something called workflow and they are very different. So I guess they just wanted to introduce a new term to clearly distinguish those.

What is a Runbook?

A runbook defines a number of “activities” to be executed in a certain order or under certain conditions. You can also think of it as a workflow or a graphically composed batch or script file. It’s basically the same just much more powerful (and simpler). The beauty and power of SCO is the ability to execute those activities on different systems, share and process their output at any time within the runbook execution, create complex and even nested runbooks, extend those activities using “Integration Packs” and even create your own activities using the SDK.

The above screenshot shows a (very) simple runbook containing two activities: one stops the spooler service on a certain machine and two sends an email about it to a defined recipient. I will dedicate a separate blog post about runbooks later, I just wanted to quickly explain the concept of a runbook. This blog post will focus more on the activities and integration packs.

What is an Integration Pack?

An integration pack (IP) is like an “add-in”. It allows you to extend SCO with additional activities. As you can see in the above screenshot there are a lot of activities shipped with SCO but there are more. Microsoft offers additional IPs for the System Center product line (see my previous blog post) but there are and will be 3rd party IPs. Once an IP is installed, you will see additional activities in the runbook designer.

How to install IPs

Installation of IPs isn’t rocket science but it’s not as simple as installing a Management Pack. After you have downloaded and extracted the IPs (like the System Center IPs) you will see .oip files:

Open the “Deployment Manager”. If you have UAC enabled, be sure you start it as Admin! Right-click on the “Integration Packs” node in the tree and select “Register IP with the Orchestrator Management Server…”:

Use the wizard to install one or more IPs (in my case I will install the SCOM, VMM and SCSM IPs):

After you’ve finished the wizard you may see one or more license agreements you have to accept, then all the installed IPs should show up in the Integration Packs folder. Also check the log entries for issues.
The IPs are now registered but in order to use them you need to deploy them. Right-click on an IPs and click on “Deploy to a runbook server or runbook designer”:

A list of all registered IPs appears. Select all IPs you want to deploy:

Enter the target computers where you want to deploy the IPs. Note: pressing Enter while typing a computer name causes the wizard to move on to the next page (which is not possible as long as no computer is in the list). Be sure to click on “Add” first to get the computer into the list!

After that you can set a scheduled installation time and choose whether or not to stop runbooks while deployment is done.
Be sure to keep an eye on the log entries. If you have issues with the deployment the log entries should help you find the cause of the issues. After the deployment is done, you can right-click on an IP and select Properties. The Integration Pack tab allows you to look up where an IP is deployed (click on Resolve):

Now, all you need to do is to restart your Runbook Designer and verify that all activities from the deployed IPs are available:

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