Let your vCO Workflow text you! Yes, via SMS!

Working on another blogpost on some design best-practices for workflows (stay tuned…) a promising idea came into my mind:

What about sending text messages to my mobile from workflows?

I guessed there are many SMS-Gateway-Services out there which provide any kind of SOAP or REST-API… (I want to leverage an existing plugin for vCO for quick results). So google came up with this nice discussion:


I decided to give https://www.clickatell.com a try, because they

  • provide interational service
  • provide multiple kinds of API
  • seem to be reliable and widely used
  • don’t force you in a contract/monthly plan for my limited test usage

What you need to reproduce this example:

  • a clickatell account (I think it will work with most of the other SMS-Gateway services in a comparable fashion)
  • the REST-Plugin for vCO installed in your Orchestrator environment (see details here: http://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/vco_plugins_pubs.html (Select HTTP-REST for the plugin-download and a bunch of examples)


I quickly signed-up for an account, used the web-form to send a test message to German) mobile number, and prepaid for some credits to be able to send via the API.

After that, I created a new access for the “HTTP”-API of clickatell (no special settings):

(You may open clickatell’s API Documentation now in background if you’re a read-first-try-then kind of guy.)
For myself I just started my vCO client and ran the “Add a REST host”-Workflow from the library, providing just a name and http://api.clickatell.com as URL:

The workflow finished sucessfully, I confirmed the new host in the Inventory:

Now I called the “Add a REST operation”-Workflow to invoke the API-Call to clickatell (based on their example given when creating the API account):

(instead of hardcoding my credentials I used the generic {parameter}-notation of the REST-plugin for all the necessary parameters like username, password, API-Id, …, so that I can re-use the  operation later flexibly). The full “Template URL” value is:


When the operation was created (again: Confirm in Inventory-Tree) I started the “Invoke a REST operation” workflow providing all the input parameters:

aaand voila,  😎 seconds later the text messgae arrived on my mobile!   :mrgreen:

Now, the real-world use-case:

Well, sending generic messages to a mobile from a vCO workflow is cool|geeky, but what for? For a realistic example I used the Workflow-Generation of the REST-Plugin to let vCO generate my very own “Invoke ‘send a text message'”-Workflow in my very own Workflow folder for easy re-usage:

So I was able to re-use the created workflow in my Snapshot-Hunter-Workflow… (you know the pain with backup software which accidentally forgets to cleanup the VM snapshots! :evil:)

(The first element to find these workflows leverages the xpath-filter of the VcPlugin.getAllSnapshots()-Method, see the discussion here: http://communities.vmware.com/thread/342686 and http://communities.vmware.com/message/1673575 )

At the end: After scheduling the workflow as Scheduled Task in vCO, starting from tomorrow I will get waked-up by my mobile receiving an text message from vCO when there are leftover snapshots from the nightly backups!


  • Don’t fear any tasks integrating vCenter Orchestrator! When the external system provides an API, chances are that you get in run in a few minutes…
  • Remember: less and simple workflow inputs make it easy to use, many and generic workflow inputs make it easy to re-use! (referencing the “Workflow Development Best Practices”-session as a shameless plug :mrgreen:)
  • Sometimes it IS good to be creative|distracted when drafting a blog-post (expect the post I actually was working on soon…)
  • Turn off your mobile when you want to sleep in!
  • …and thank god I’m too tired to think about other use-cases for this…
    (I will not make an Orchestrator & Ringtone joke!
    I do not plan to provide a monthly subscription for my content, just text a SMS with “vCO Rockz!” to …..
    And I better not search for an API for Asterisk (“If you want to execute workflow XYZ, press 1; for all other requests press 2” 8-O)

Download the example

SnapshotHunter Package
SnapshotHunter Package
23.3 KiB

Be aware that it will NOT run out-of-the-box, because you have to add the REST-Host and the Operation in your environment! And: Don’t forget to set the necessary values for username, password, mobilenr, … in the configuration elements.You know that blogpost whith a great description of Configuration Elements, don’t you! 😛