Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Retooling the Infoblox vRA Plugin to Support Event Broker

In this blog post I will provide information on using the Infoblox "VMware Cloud Adapter" version 3.2 with the new Event Broker feature of vRA 7.

This does not require any modification of the Infoblox workflows and the adapter will continue to work as written by Infoblox.

This content is intended for readers comfortable with vRealize Automation and vRealize Orchestrator.  As always, I do not assume any risk nor do I provide support for using the modifications outlined below in your environment.


I will create a workflow wrapper for one of the IPAM workflows to allow them to be executed from an Event Broker subscription.

You can download an example of the workflow from VMware's Sample Exchange.


I just finished a proof-of-concept with a customer where the Infoblox IPAM plugin for vRA/vRO was used to integrate DDI with vRA.  It's a great solution for customers who own or are considering Infoblox IPAM, with one drawback - it currently supports only using Workflow Stubs in vRA version 7.

While that's not a huge problem, it lacks the flexibility and usefulness of the Event Broker's Event Subscription capability.  If you're not familiar with the Event Broker, you can learn more in this webinar I conducted on vRA 7 extensibility.  Briefly though, the Event Broker replaces the Workflow Stubs beginning in vRA version 7.  Workflow Stubs are still supported for integrations that have already been built around them, but customers and partners are encouraged to transition to the Event Broker.


I am using:

  • vRealize Automation 7.0.1
    • simple install
    • embedded vRealize Orchestrator instance
  • Infoblox DDI Evaluation
    • NIOS for vSphere 7.2.6
  • Infoblox VMware Cloud Adapter version 3.2
  • "Reserve an IP in a network" will be the methodology used
You can follow the instructions from Infoblox for installation of the VMware Cloud Adapter (which I will refer to as "the plugin" or "IPAM plugin" in this post).  The installation will set up the plugin to use Workflow Stubs, and that's fine.  If you wish you can skip the steps to create the Workflow Stubs but you will still want to create the property group (we will make some small edits later).

The Event Broker Wrapper Workflow

If you watched the video I linked above, you will be familiar with a "wrapper" workflow that I provide for usage with Event Broker subscriptions.  This wrapper will extract the properties provided by the Event Broker input, allowing you to capture any information you need as inputs for the IPAM workflows.

For example, the IPAM workflow "Reserve an IP in network for VM" has the following inputs:

While the Event Broker provides a single input:

That single input contains most of what we need for the IPAM workflow.  There are a couple of exceptions, and I'll cover how to find those.  For now, let's start with the easy ones.

The Event Broker wrapper workflow simply prints the key:value pairs found in the eventPayloadProperties input, but it's easy enough to assign them to an attribute for further processing.  For starters, I make a duplicate copy of the Event Broker wrapper workflow and add the IPAM workflow "Get IP in network for VM" into the schema as follows:

Next, I'll promote all of the inputs for the IPAM workflow as attributes:

Next, since I will use the script element "Get payload and execution context" from the EB wrapper, I need to map the output of the script element to those global attributes so that I can update them.

Now, I will make changes to the script in the "Get payload..." element so that I can set the attributes as needed.  Luckily, Infoblox uses the same parameter names as the EB wrapper script!  So, once I have made the attribute bindings the following are already retrieved by the script:

  • vcacVm
  • vCACVmProperties
However, you will need to make some changes.  For starters, the "vCACHost" object is retrieved by the script, but using the var "host" but all I did to fix this was search for instances of "host" in the script and replace them with "vCACHost" as below (the red boxes indicate the two occurrences).

Next, for the "virtualMachineEntity" I added a single line of code:

I inserted that just below the block in the last image:


For what's worth, the IPAM workflow I am using has as input the vSphere virtual machine object, but it doesn't actually use that for anything - which is great because at the state this is called from vRA the VM doesn't yet exist in vSphere!  But, I'm including the code anyway since it will be helpful for other IPAM workflows.

Now to get the "vCenterVm" I need to look that up by the virtual machine ID provided in the machine properties from the Event Broker, using the vSphere plugin.  The following code block will handle that just fine:

I inserted that into the script just below the last line I added:

That leaves "externalWFStub" and honestly,  you could just leave this alone and not assign a value.  It is only used in the IPAM workflow for logging information, as shown below in this example workflow log:

I promised no modification of the Infoblox workflows, so I'll stick to that. Ideally, I could change the IPAM workflow to display "Workflow started from Event Broker" and provide the event information.  But, just to provide some logging info, I will get the Event Broker payload properties and use that for the "externalWFStub" value so at least that information is logged on run.

So, I added the lines below to my wrapper script:

Inserted below the last code block I added above.

With those changes, I now have a wrapper for the IPAM workflow that can be used with Event Broker subscriptions.  The other IPAM workflows can be used within the same wrapper, although you should verify that the inputs are handled by the wrapper script as I did for this IPAM workflow.

Preparing vRA 7

If you followed the installation instructions for the Infoblox VMware Cloud Adapter, then you should have one or more Property Groups in vRA.  These property groups are used to pass the property values that the IPAM workflows need.  However, these groups also activate the WFStubs and since I am using Event Broker, I don't want those WFStubs to execute.

I made a copy of the property group "Infoblox Reserve IP in Network" as below:

I renamed the new Property Group "EB InfoBlox Reserve IP in Network" and removed any properties that reference WFStubs and saved the Property Group.

Now I can associate this Property Group with a blueprint (and disassociate the Infoblox created Property Groups if needed).

Creating an Event Broker subscription is beyond the scope of this post, but you can find more information about that in the video recording I linked above.  A few things to note on the subscription:

  • I used the Lifecycle State Name "VMPSMasterWorkflow32.BuildingMachine" and Lifecycle State Phase "PRE" as this equates to the WFStub,BuildingMachine.
  • I made the Event Broker subscription a blocking subscription with a suitable timeout.  Obviously you need IP info or you don't want to continue with a build.
There's a lot of duplicate logging of properties between the workflow wrapper and the IPAM workflow spitting out the machine properties.  If I were running in production, I'd probably trim a lot of that logging information out or set it for debug only.

Finally, keep in mind that this is only for the IP provisioning IPAM workflow.  You will need to wrap the IP deprovisioning IPAM workflow as well and create an Event Broker subscription for that.

**UPDATE** Some readers have reported that the workflow package I linked will not import into vRO.  So, here is a link to the scriptable task within the wrapper workflow: