Using Chef with VMware vRealize Orchestrator


Recently, VMware announced the general availability of their VMware vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) plugin for Chef (formerly vCenter Orchestrator). This plugin offers a number of vRO workflows for interacting with the Chef Server (such as modifying nodes and environments) and bootstrapping new nodes with support for both Linux and Windows nodes.

If you are already using vRealize Automation (vRA) and vRO to provision machines in your environment, the new vRO plugin can be used to help introduce Chef into your environment or help close the gap between existing vRO and Chef use. Here’s an example use case for provisioning new virtual machines:

  • An end user request a new VM using vRA
  • vRA creates the node and executes a “base provisioning” vRO workflow
  • The “base provisioning” workflow performs some enterprise-specific steps for the VM to be usable, such as:
    • Setting the VM’s OS network and DNS configuration
    • Registering it with a DNS service
    • Adding the host to your company’s CMDB
  • The “base provisioning” workflow then executes some vRO Chef workflows, such as:
    • Bootstrapping the node, which installs the Chef software
    • Setting the node’s run list, which would include your company’s “base” cookbook that all nodes must have
    • Setting the node’s environment
    • Executing the first run of chef-client

This combination of vRO and Chef use benefits all users: the VMware team is able to provide a self-service offering to end users for creating VMs and centralizing the provisioning of those VMs, and the end users continue to use the power of Chef to automate the deployment and configuration of your company’s applications.

And don’t forget, the best way to consume vRA and vRO resources as a Chef user is with Chef’s API-driven open-source integration plugins:

  • knife-vrealize: use Chef’s knife tool to create and manage hosts directly using vRA, and execute arbitrary vRO workflows
  • kitchen-vra: use vRA resources from within Test Kitchen to test your cookbooks on vRA-managed  infrastructure
  • kitchen-vro: use vRO workflows to spin up resources to use within Test Kitchen to test your cookbooks
  • chef-provisioning-vra: true “infrastructure as code”, allowing you to provision vRA-managed VMs and other resources from within a Chef recipe

If you currently have a substantial vRO investment within your organization, VMware’s Chef vRO plugin on the Solution Exchange might be a great way to maximize Chef awesomeness for your end users!

Adam Leff

Former Chef Employee