vBrownBag – Custom Properties in vRealize Automation

I was honored with the opportunity to present a discussion on how you’d use custom properties in vCAC/vRA to accomplish three use cases;

  • Select a standard VM size
  • Select a Network Profile (same list for everyone)
  • Select a Network Profile (different lists per blueprint)

Setting the Machine Name of a vCAC-provisioned VM to comply with a Corporate Standard – Part 4 of 4


In part 1, we configured the Machine Prefix, Property Dictionary and layout to accommodate our change. In part 2, we created and saved a powershell script to create the desired machine name from the inputs we provided. In part 3, we modified the Building Machine workflow stub to create and assign a new machine name. In this last part, we’ll finish by updating the blueprint and testing.

Recall that in Part 1, we created a Property Definition named “custom.machineRole” and a Property Layout named “machineRole.Selection”


  1. Navigate to Infrastructure/Blueprints/Build Profiles
  2. Create a new or edit an existing Build profile
  3. From the “Add from Property Set”, select the appropriate “VMware*” property set for your O/S.
  4. Save the updated Build Profile
  5. Edit your vSphere Clone or Linked-Clone Blueprint
  6. Confirm that the selected machine prefix is set to “Use Group Default” or is appropriateBlueprint Information
  7. Check the correct Build Profile for the Blueprint’s O/S. The objective here is to ensure the “VMware.VirtualCenter.OperatingSystem” property is set.
  8. On the Properties page of the Blueprint settings, add the following Properties:
    Name Value Prompt User Reason
    ExternalWFStubs.BuildingMachine No Execute the Workflow we’ve modified
    custom.machineRole Yes The name of our Property Definition
    VirtualMachine.Request.Layout machineRole.Selection No The Property Name indicates that a custom layout should be employed and the value is the name of our Property Layout


  9. Click OK to save the blueprint


  • Logon as a member of a Business Group that has an entitlement to the Blueprint we’ve worked on.
  • When requesting a VM from the blueprint, the request form should include the “Role” dropdown list with your values
  • The resulting request will include the “custom.machineRole” property set to the selected value
  • If you left the “write” lines in the PS script, you can check the C:\Scripts\nametest.txt file on the IaaS Server to ensure the values are passed and set correctly
  • Lastly, of course, check to see if the provisioned machine has the appropriate name

Once again…
You should visit Adam Bohle’s blog and his fantastic posts about this. He knows way more about it than I do. I stepped through his and Tom O’Rourke‘s procedures and wanted to document what it took. Those guys are the authority on vCAC.

Powershell Scripting out of vCAC
Easily change the name of a provisioned machine in vCloud Automation Center to conform with company naming conventions
Common LINQ Queries for vCAC
Add a new location to a Compute Resource


Extending vCAC IaaS to fix an annoyance

Background: When provisioning a Windows VM using the Clone Workflow and a vSphere customization specification that joins the computer to an active directory domain, the computer object is placed in the “Computers” container. I want to change that. 🙂

Solution Overview:
Modify the built-in Stub workflow to execute a Powershell script that moves the computer object based on the Business Group.


  1. Created a new Build Profile with the ActiveDirectoryCleanupPlugin, MiscellaneousVrmProperties, RemoteDesktopProtocolProperties and VMwareWindows2008R2_64Properties Property Sets.

    vCAC Build Profile Properties
    vCAC Build Profile Properties
  2. Created a new Windows 2008 R2 VM from a vSphere template, did not power-on. Took a snapshot
  3. Created a new shared vSphere Linked Clone Blueprint, included a customization specification that joins the machine to the domain
    vCAC Windows Blueprint Information
    vCAC Windows Blueprint Information

    vCAC Windows Blueprint Build information
    vCAC Windows Blueprint Build information
  4. Created a Business Group, Created a reservation for them, entitled the Business Group to the service and catalog item for the Windows Server
  5. Tested requesting a new machine, it was provisioned, sysprepped and joined the domain correctly. I was annoyed that the computer object was in the “Computers” container.
  6. Installed the VMware vCloud Automation Center Designer (found at https://your-vcac-server:5480/i) on the IaaS Server.
  7. Installed Active Directory module for Windows PowerShell part of RSAT on the IaaS Server


  1. We’ll need to indicate where we want the Computer Object moved to, so we’ll add that property. Since I wanted all of my Business Group’s computer objects in the same place, I added a property named targetOU to the Business Group and assigned the distinguishedName of the OU.

    targetOU property added to Business Group
    targetOU property added to Business Group
  2. Save the PS script to C:\scripts\movecomputer.ps1

    Import-Module ActiveDirectory
    write "VM Name - $vmName" | out-file c:\scripts\invoketest.txt
    write "Target OU - $targetOU" | out-file c:\scripts\invoketest.txt -Append
    Get-ADComputer $vmName | Move-ADObject -TargetPath $targetOU

    This script will write out our variables to a text file, so we can verify that they’re getting passed correctly. Then it performs the move. Please note that this will be executed by the DEM, so make sure the execution account has permissions to perform this action in AD.

  3. Launch the vCAC Designer, Load the WFStubMachineProvisioned workflow from the list
    vCAC Designer Workflows
    vCAC Designer Workflows
  4. In the “Machine Provisioned” try loop, locate and double-click on the “Custom-Code” item.

    Custom Code section in workflow
    Custom Code section in workflow
  5. From the toolbox, under DynamicOps.Cdk.Activities, drag the GetMachineName element into the Custom Code box
  6. From the toolbox, under DynamicOps.Cdk.Activities, also drag the GetMachineProperty and InvokePowerShell elements into the Custom Code box, near GetMachineName
  7. Drag a connection from one of the “tabs” on the Start element to the GetMachineName element, from GetMachineName to GetMachineProperty and from GetMachineProperty to InvokePowerShell

    vCAC Designer - Workflow Custom Code Wiring
    vCAC Designer – Workflow Custom Code Wiring
  8. While still in the Custom Code element, click “Variables” (near the bottom), click Create Variable and enter vmName for the name, leave the variable type as String. Repeat with a variable named targetOU. These are going to hold the values we want to work with through the workflow.

    Custom Code Variables
    Custom Code Variables
  9. Select the GetMachineName element. On the Properties pane to the right, enter VirtualMachineId in the MachineId field. In the MachineName field, enter vmName. Ok, so where do these come from?!
    If you click on “Arguments” while in the GetMachineName element, you’ll see two, VirtualMachineId and ExternalWorkflowId. These are standard internal values that are used in these external workflows. So, we’re providing the VirtualMachine Id GUID to the system to look up the Virtual Machine Name. The “vmName” value is the name of the variable we assigned a moment ago and the GetMachineName element enters the retrieved Name into the vmName variable.

    GetMachineName Properties
    GetMachineName Properties
  10. Now select the GetMachineProperty element and work with its properties. Just like before, set the MachineId to VirtualMachineId. Here, we want to retrieve the value in the “targetOU” property and set it in the targetOU variable. So set the PropertyValue to targetOU without quotes and the PropertyName to "targetOU" WITH QUOTES.

    GetMachineProperty Properties
    GetMachineProperty Properties
  11. Select the InvokePowerShell element. Notice there are several more properties in with this one – don’t worry, we’re only going to use a few. In my case, I chose to use a PS script instead of a one-liner. This way, I could modify the script without modifying the workflow. So, check the box labelled “IsScript” and set the CommandText to the full path of the PS script in quotes. In this case, use "C:\scripts\movecomputer.ps1".

    InvokePowerShell Properties
    InvokePowerShell Properties
  12. Our script expects two variables to be provided; $vmName and $targetOU, so click the ellipsis beside PowerShellVariables. Click Create Argument to add a new variable. Set the name to vmName, leave the direction as In and the type as String, set the value also to vmName” no quotes. Repeat for targetOU. Here, we’re telling it to create PowerShell Variables and set their values to the values of the workflow. Click Ok

    Powershell Variables
    PowerShell Variables
  13. Click “Send” to upload the modified workflow to the Model Manager. Now that we’ve created the workflow, we need to make sure it fires when we want it to.
  14. Back in vCAC Infrastructure, modify the Windows blueprint by adding a property named ExternalWFStubs.MachineProvisioned. No value needed. This way, when this shared blueprint is used by any Business Group, the computer object will be moved to
    the OU given in the Business Group’s targetOU property.

    Property Added to blueprint to call customized workflow
    Property Added to blueprint to call customized workflow

When an entitled member of Business Group 1 requests a VM from the Windows 2008 R2 catalog item, the VM is correctly created as a linked clone, assigned an IP address from the network profile and its Computer Object moved as expected.

I probably should have broken this into multiple parts…

I would still be twiddling my thumbs if it weren’t for the following enormously helpful bloggers:

Resolving vCAC Design Center Crash

After having installed the vCAC Design Center, every attempt to run it failed. The GUI would not load. In my case, the Windows Application log recorded the error:

.NET Runtime Event ID 1026 in Application CloudUtil.
Framework Version v4.0.30319
Description: The process was terminated due to an unhandled exception.
Exception Info: System.Reflection.TargetInvocationException.

Only when I tried calling CloudUtil.exe from the command line did I get an error message indicating that the application could not establish a trust relationship with the vCAC MOdel Manager. This meant that the self-signed SSL cert was not trusted.

Logon to vCAC administration portal and import the SSL certificate into the “Trusted Root Certification Authorities\Local Computer” physical Certificate Store.

After this, I was able to successfully launch the vCAC Design Center.