Using Wavemaker as Web-Frontend for vCO

UPDATE 23. Nov. 2011: Additional Reference: Christian Johannsen posted a great step-by-step example for Wavemaker & vCO on http://mighty-virtualization.blogspot.com/2011/11/vco-wavemaker-your-cloud-webservice.html

There are different ways to create a web-based frontend for Orchestrator:

  • Webviews (included, provide integrated finder for inventory objects BUT old, hard to learn, deprecated, don’t bother to start with…)
  • Perspectives (based on webviews, very easy to use, way to go for quick-wins)
  • build your own (call Workflows via the SOAP-based API of Orchestrator)

(for more details, see this post)

Now, rumors are out there for a long time, it seems that Wavemaker is a hot candidate as main technology for the web-based stuff in future (it was mentioned at VMworld and in the forums… Yohooo!).

The Video

To get started, see following screencast…
Disclaimer: Starting at 6:30 it gets very dirty! Do not let your children nor your VMware Support Guy watch this unattended, and only try this at home! :mrgreen:

Wavemaker as Web-Frontend for VMware vCenter Orchestrator – Sneak Preview from Joerg Lew on Vimeo.

(I used the current 6.4.2 BETA of Wavemaker against vCO 4.1, but should work as well with slightly different versions of both components…)

So, why is Wavemaker a perfect fit (The GOOD…)?

It allows to to create nice-looking websites with a real bunch of logic without the need for tooooo much knowledge about web-development. (Orchestrator allows to create complex automation for your complete IT-Infrastructure without the need for tooooo much knowledge about software development)

It defines the information flow between different elements via a parameter binding semantic. (How do you pass information through a workflow in Orchestrator??)

You can drag&drop content elements from the palette to your actual website, and program additional logic in JavaScript (in the vCO you can drag&drop…. Well, you get the point…)

It uses the same platform. (see the dirty end of the video đŸ˜¯ ), so a good integration is possible.

It’s the same company. (<EVILMODEON>So if VMware learned something from the  **yourAdjectiveHere** acquisition of Dunes some time ago, this time they get synergy earlier!!!<EVILMODEOFF>)

Drawbacks (The BAD…)

As external system, your wavemaker frontend has to call workflows via the API. So it is some effort to pass input parameters to the workflow, and it is a real bunch of effort (you don’t use “pain-in-the-ass” in a public blog :-?) if your workflow needs inventory objects as input.

So, in the current version you are bound to the features, the “usability”, and the limits of vCO’s current SOAP-API.

The Future (NOT ugly, quite the opposite!)

Two things on the horizon might make the Wavemaker<=>vCO-Integration perfect in future:
First, a new API in a future version of vCO could make the usage of inventory-objects as inputs easier;
Second, a bunch of pre-built vCO-related elements in the Wavemaker Palette could make the development of the web-frontend easier (compare it to the idea, not the complexity and not-documentation, of the vCO-related Tapestry objects in Webviews)….
=> Go vCO-Team! Go Wavemaker!

References

To get started with Wavemaker and the vCO-SOAP-API, see following links:

…and:

The way shown in the video using the SOAP-interface directly with a WebService-Variable in Wavemaker is not the only way (and maybe not the best one for every use-case). You can also create your own Java stubs (see the examples-zip in the Orchestrator Documentation), and use a “plain old” JavaService Variable against them in Wavemaker.

Summary

So in general, despite some hurdles due to the limits of the current SOAP-API, Wavemaker allows you to create good looking webinterfaces for Orchestrator Workflows. And it’s absolutely worth to dig into it, because this seems to be THE technology for webbased vCO-Access in the future.