System Center Orchestrator 2012 - what's changing?

OIS 6.3 is repackaged and given a facelift but remains fundamentally the same.

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By Kerrie Meyler and Pete Zerger.  Now that System Center Orchestrator 2012 is available in beta, you may be wondering if it is worthwhile to continue creating policies with Opalis Integration Server (OIS) 6.3. Will you have to rewrite all your OIS policies for the next release?

This is a valid question, as Opalis Software's first release of OIS was not compatible with its previous OpalisRobot offering. However, Robot had a different code base than OIS. This is not the case going from OIS 6.3 to Orchestrator 2012, as the underlying engine is not changing, and Microsoft has announced that policies built in OIS (unless they use Legacy objects), along with their data, are usable in Orchestrator. Of course, some things ARE changing; here is a quick look:

New Operator Console. The OIS console is based on Java, requires numerous downloads, and has a fairly painful installation. With Orchestrator, Microsoft has rewritten the console in Silverlight, and it now ships with the core product and uses typical Microsoft installation technology.

New Web Service. The Java-based Opalis web service is replaced by an OData web service. Invoking runbooks through this web service doesn't seem to be documented yet.

Renaming. Here are some of the terminology changes with Orchestrator 2012:

  • Foundation objects become standard activities (and objects are now known as activities). These objects have updated, as have the icons for these objects.
  • Policies renamed to runbooks
  • Action server renamed to runbook server
  • Policy Testing Console becomes the Runbook Tester
  • Operator Console now the Orchestration Console

Changes in Foundation objects (now Standard activities).

  • Workflow Control category now called Runbook Control
    • Custom Start now Invoke Data
    • Publish Policy Data now Return Data
    • Trigger Policy now Invoke Runbooks
  • Notification Category - Send Page activity gone
  • System Category - Purge Event Log activity gone

WSDL gone. System Center Orchestrator 2012 uses a ReST-based Web Service so there is no WSDL. The web service supports OData, enabling easy management of the runtime environment.

Security. Updated cryptography and security model based on Microsoft best practices, allowing for centralized security management.

Operating environment for system components. Orchestrator must be installed on Windows 2008 R2 (SP1 is supported), and requires Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 for its database engine

No Oracle backend support. This should not be much of a surprise, given that Microsoft does not have a history of using Oracle for a database engine. System Center Opalis Integration Server 6.3 Unleashed warns that this was not anticipated to be a supported platform in the next release. And from what we've heard, the people who had to support it are happy it's gone!

Although there is no longer support for Legacy objects - and their use was not recommended even in OIS 6.3 - the engine is still 32-bit and has not been re-architected. Other than some terminology changes, improved installation experience, and new consoles, the product remains fundamentally the same. This means that your policies will continue to work after you export them out of the Opalis environment and into the Orchestrator environment (presuming there are no legacy objects in the policies).

At the moment, Operations Manager 2012 and Orchestrator SCO 2012 work together, although most of the System Center 2012 beta products do not, and will not until MS produces updated IPs for them.

Figure 1 shows the new Orchestrator console, Figure 2 displays the .Net Orchestration Console and Web Service in IIS Manager.

Figure 1 - Orchestration Console

IIS console

Figure 2 - New .Net Orchestration Console and Web Service (in IIS Manager)

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