Automate Directory Sync in vRO 7.4

I took quite a break from blogging this past year – and now that it’s VMworld 2018 again, I figured I’d contribute some useful vRO content as it’s always my biggest gripe when I’m there!

One of the big gaps that has been in vRA 7.x has been that you cannot perform a synchronization of your identity sources in a programmatic way. Since the transition from PSC/SSO lookups to vIDM, this is a pretty big feature to miss when you want to automate management of your users and groups.

Thankfully, a new API is available in vRA 7.4+ that is exposed by both the REST API, as well as the CAFE plugin making it easy to embed in your workflows.

It’s staggering to me that VMware didn’t include a pretty basic workflow to go along with this, but that’s OK. Here’s one for you that you can extend however you want! Given it’s relative simplicity, this is probably a good candidate for a vRO Action.

NOTE: This API only works for vRA 7.4 or higher!

First, you’ll need a couple of inputs:
cafeHost (Type: vCACCAFE:VCACHost) – the tenant where the identity source exists.
identitySource (Type: string) – the name of the identity source. The actual domain is extracted in the code.

Once you have those, bind them to a new Scriptable Task and put in the following code:

// Use tenant to create a connection to the Identity Store service.
var service = cafeHost.createAuthenticationClient().getAuthenticationIdentityStoreClientService()
var store = service.getIdentityStore(cafeHost.tenant,identitySource)
var domain = store.domain

// What's the current status of the identity source?
var status = service.getIdentityStoreStatus(cafeHost.tenant,domain).getSyncStatus().getStatus().value()
if(status !== "RUNNING") {
  // The source is currently not performing a sync, so begin one!
  try {
    System.debug("Sync of "+domain+" has started.")
  } catch(e) {
    throw("Failed at sync start: "+e)

  // Poll the sync operation to completion, whether it succeeds or fails.
  var retries = 36
  for(i=0; i<retries; i++) {
    try {
      var status = service.getIdentityStoreStatus(cafeHost.tenant,domain).getSyncStatus().getStatus().value()
      if(status == "RUNNING") {
        System.debug("\tSync of domain "+domain+" is currently in progress...checking again in 10 seconds.")
      } else {
        System.debug("Sync status of "+domain+" is now: "+status)
    } catch(e) {
      throw("Unable to query status: "+e)

A useful aside to this code: in case you ever need to know what possible values exist for any .value() method in the CAFE plugin, you can just output the .values() to the log, and it will return a list.

For this particular operation, these are your options: COMPLETED, FAILED, RUNNING, UNDEFINED

I’ve not run into a Undefined situation before, but these values should help you in extending or mapping out your logic for the workflow. My retries logic is pretty simple and easily modified. Find out what works in your environment and adjust it accordingly!

As an Action, I think the best case would be to use the code above, and once completed return a boolean on whether the synchronization process successfully completed, and you can error handle from there.

I hope to be bringing more stuff forward for the rest of the year! Happy orchestrating!


Coming soon on this blog, vRA pickup lines. Watch this space!

Deploying OVFs with vRealize Automation

vRA is good at only a few things out of the box – primarily VM template based blueprints.

One thing that doesn’t work at all out of the box is deploying OVF/OVA machines, which I will cover a way to do so in this post. There are many ways to do this thanks to vRO, but I think this way is fairly easy to digest, using appliances a vRA admin would typically have access to.

Use Case

For me it is simple – deploying a fully functional vSphere or vRealize environment requires a number of appliances. Being able to build a full reference VSAN environment with automation is pretty cool and nice to be able to hand back to other members of my team for testing or experimentation. Deploying vRO/vRA is a lot more complex, and with the 7.2 releases of these solutions, you can do the whole thing via API calls.

Caveats and Assumptions

Not all appliances are equal! IHV or ISV appliances often tend to only set an IP address and not enable post-configuration, so while this will showcase a pretty end-to-end solution, other stuff outside of VMware appliances may not work as well.

Also, this post assumes vRA is already set up and is working pointed to an existing vCenter Server for data collection.

This also assumes you have a method of allocating IP addresses in place, as well as a process to pre-create appropriate DNS records for the appliances  you build.

Setting the stage

For this particular post, I will detail deployment of a vCenter Server Appliance, version 6.0U2. Some parameters may change between versions but not too much.

When you download the ISO for the vCenter Server Appliance, extract the contents to a temporary folder. Search inside the extracted content in the folder VCSA to find the actual OVA file called vmware-vcsa.ova.

Launch the vSphere Client and deploy the OVA to your choice of datastore/host.

You’ll be prompted during the wizard to populate numerous values that would normally be handled during the VCSA UI Installer – leave them alone and continue.

Do not power on the appliance as part of the process!

Once the OVA has been deployed, simply convert the new appliance into a template.

Build your VCSA blueprint

In vRA, execute a data collection against your vCenter Server resources.

Once that is successful, go to Design->Blueprints and create a new composite blueprint.

Drag a vSphere Machine object onto the canvas, and set the names and descriptions as you like.

In the Build Information tab, specify these values

  • Blueprint Type – Server
  • Action – Clone
  • Provisioning Workflow – CloneWorkflow
  • Clone From – <The template>
  • Customization Spec – <blank>

Lastly, in case it is not part of your existing Property Groups (aka Build Profiles), you will want to pass this property in:

  • Extensibility.Lifecycle.Properties.CloneWorkflow = *,__*

Most documents emphasize passing the VMPSMasterWorkflow32 properties in as part of setting up Event Broker, so this is just calling out an additional requirement.

From here, set your custom properties and build profiles as you like. One recommendation I have for vRA admins is to add a custom property on your endpoint that denotes the vCenter Server UUID – this helps identify which vCenter your machine deployed to, which is needed for steps coming up. If you have a single vCenter, this is optional, but you may want to put it in place now, just in case!

Publish and entitle your blueprint.

Create vApp properties workflow in vRO

The key to making this work is all about the vApp properties of the virtual machine once deployed. Once the VM is cloned from the OVF template you made earlier, but before the VM starts up, you need to be able to inject your custom properties at the vCenter VM level so that the appliance can bootstrap itself and initiate firstboot scripts successfully.

In vRO, create a new workflow. Add an input parameter named payload of type Properties. This will hold the content that the vRA Event Broker will use to populate your cloned VM with what it needs to build properly.

Create an attribute called vc of type VC:SDKConnection and set the value to your vCenter Server.
Create an attribute called vcVM of type VC:VirtualMachine and leave it empty.
Create an attribute called iaasProperties of type Properties and leave it empty.

In the workflow schema, create a Scriptable Task and bind the payload input parameter to it, as well as the iaasHost, and vc attributes on the input side. Bind the vcVM and iaasProperties attributes on the output side of the task.

Insert the following code:

// create search query IaaS for the VM and its properties.
var properties = new Properties();
// query IaaS for entity
var virtualMachineEntity = vCACEntityManager.readModelEntity(, "ManagementModelEntities.svc", "VirtualMachines", properties, null);
// now get the properties you need for the applianceType value
var vmProperties = new Properties()
var props = virtualMachineEntity.getLink(iaasHost, "VirtualMachineProperties");
for each (var prop in props) { 
vmProperties.put(prop.getProperty("PropertyName"), prop.getProperty("PropertyValue"));
// get your output to an attribute
iaasProperties = vmProperties
// construct the Managed Object Reference to find the VM object in vCenter
var object = new VcManagedObjectReference()
object.type = "VirtualMachine"
object.value = payload.machine.externalReference

// query the vCenter for the actual object
vcVM = VcPlugin.convertToVimManagedObject(vc,object)

The above code should be fairly straightforward – it is pulling in your IaaS custom properties into a vRO object, and it is also finding the vCenter Virtual Machine so that you can manipulate it. Next will be the code that updates the OVF Properties of the VM in question.

Updating the OVF Properties

Create a Scriptable Task in the schema of your workflow.

On the input side, bind the values iaasProperties and vcVM.

Paste the following code into the task:

// create the properties variable to be called later
var ovfProps = new Properties()

// construct the reconfiguration specification, which will add the vApp Properties from IaaS to your VM.
var vmspec = new VcVirtualMachineConfigSpec()
vmspec.vAppConfig = new VcVmConfigSpec()

var newOVFProperties = new Array()
// get the existing VM's OVF property list.
// this is needed to match the 'key' value to the 'id' and subsequently 'value' parameters. The 'key' is required.
var vmProperties =
for each(prop in vmProperties) {
// get the key value
var key = prop.key
// define new property spec, which will edit/update the existing values.
var newProp = new VcVAppPropertySpec()
newProp.operation = VcArrayUpdateOperation.fromString("edit") = new VcVAppPropertyInfo()
// assign the new key = key
// get the values from ovfProps - these are of type VcKeyValue, properties are .key and .value = = ovfProps.get( = true
// add the new OVF Property to the array

// assign the properties to the spec = newOVFProperties
// now update the VM - it should be OFF or this will fail
try {
// reconfigure the VM
var task = vcVM.reconfigVM_Task(vmspec)
System.log("OVF Properties updated for "".")
} catch(e) {
throw("Error updating the OVF properties: "+e)

Save your workflow and exit.

With the workflow completed, now we need to go into the Event Broker and create a subscription so that this workflow will be executed at the correct time during the provisioning process.

Setting up the Event Broker Subscription

In vRA, go to Administration->Events->Subscriptions, and create a new subscription.

For the Event Topic, choose Machine Provisioning and click next.

For the Conditions, you will want to set it up with All of the following and at least these values:

  • Data->Lifecycle State->Name equals CloneWorkflow.CloneMachine
  • Data->Lifecycle State->Event equals CloneWorkflow.CloneMachine.EVENT.OnCloneMachineComplete
  • Data->Lifecycle State->Phase equals EVENT

For the Workflow, choose the workflow you created above.

Ensure this is a blocking subscription, otherwise it will execute asynchronously. Since this absolutely has to complete successfully to ensure a proper build, blocking on this one is important!

And finally, because it always seems to happen to me – make sure to PUBLISH the subscription! Friends don’t let friends troubleshoot an Event Subscription that is a draft…


At this point you can begin testing your deployments, and verify that the workflow is firing at the appropriate time.

Additionally, it may make sense to build an XaaS service that allows for you to customize the names, sizes of the appliances, or changing default domain, VLAN, etc.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions feel free to ping me on Twitter.

If you’re curious as to the other available states you can use, check out the Life Cycle Extensibility – vRealize Automation 7.0 document, starting around page 33. Each release has a version of the document with the latest information, so find the one for your version.