Aegis Workflow 101 - Hello World!

Aegis Workflow 101 - Hello World!

With the newly available Sentinel Adapter for Aegis, a new audience is exposed to the wonderful world of ITPA. To help them on their way this is a new series of posts on getting started with everyone's favorite automation platform - Aegis!

Aegis - A quick introduction.

The official description:

Aegis® is an IT Process Automation (ITPA) platform that enables you to define, automate, measure and improve routine IT tasks and processes.


Its a very open statement - and in many ways Aegis is simply a very open platform to automate tasks on. This series will hopefully give you some ideas on what Aegis is to you and how you can use Aegis.


First some terminology:


Process


The general steps to be taken to perform an automation task. An example of a Process may be - 'Remediate Low Disk Space on Messaging Servers'.


Workflow


The actual low level steps to perform the automation task. There may be many Revisions of a process each with a slightly (or completely) different implementation.


Activities


Activities are the building blocks of workflows. A workflow always contains a 'start of workflow' and 'end of workflow' activities. It will also contain a number of other activities which each perform single actions like writing to a file, sending an email, parsing a string, querying a database etc.


Connectors


Connectors join activities in a logic fashion in the workflow. The can conditions (only follow this connector if ...) or unconditional (always follow).


WorkItem


A running instance of a process is called a workitem. The version of a Process which has a state of 'In Production' is the version of the process which will generate the workitem.


Event


An Event is in Aegis can be used to start a workitem, or used in an already running workitem or ignored. Events are normally generated by adapters to respond to a condition on a target system, but can also be generated in other ways.


Trigger


A trigger defines an event or series of event conditions which can be used to start a workitem. An event can trigger more than one workitem of different types depending on configured triggers and their priorities. There is always a manual trigger which allows a workitem to be started manually with no event.


Ok so lets get started on our first very simple workflow. Workflows are designed in the Aegis Configuration Console.


First navigate to Processes and create a new Process by right clicking on a process folder and choose 'Create New Process...'.


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Skip the welcome screen and you come to the Process Creation Options menu. Choose the last option, 'Create a process with an empty workflow'.


Click next and give the Process a name - Hello World. Make sure the 'Open Workflow Designer' tick box is enabled and click Finish, your empty workflow designer will open up. This screen will look complex when you first see it - don't worry we will only use a small part of this initially.


Down the left hand side you will see the 'Activity Library Browser'. An activity library is simply a grouped list of related activities. You want to select the activity library 'Basic Workflow Control (NetIQ)'.


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From the activity list drag and drop the 'Start of Workflow' activity from the top of the list to the workflow design area. Depending on the user preferences this may or may not open up an activity properties window. If it does not, double click on the activity in the designer area and the properties window will open. Make sure the 'Trigger' tab is selected and then click 'add'. This will give you a list of available triggers as in my screenshot.


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On a new install you will only see the Manual Trigger listed. On a production system you may see hundreds. I have 2 for example. You need to select the Manual Trigger and then click 'Add' so the Manual trigger appears in the lower part of the window in 'Associated Triggers'. Click 'Ok' to close the properties window. A 'start of workflow' activity must always have at least one associated trigger.


Next drag and drop an 'End Of Workflow' activity over to the right hand side of the workflow design area. This activity doesn't have any configuration.


Next find the 'Echo State' activity in the same library and drag it across to the design area and open the activity properties. On the 'Values' tab, there is a single input parameter called 'Echo'. Type Hello World into that input.


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Click on the 'Activity Parameters' tab. This shows what the available inputs and outputs of the activity are. You will see it takes a string value at input and outputs a string value also. This activity simply outputs whatever was put into the input. It might sound at this point like a pointless activity, but where dynamic data is used it can be very handy to use an echo activity to see what data looks like at different points of the workflow. CLick ok to close the properties.


We are now left with 3 activities which we need to connect. Choose the 'Connect Activities tool' from the top menu bar. This can take a little getting used to - you basically want to left mouse click and HOLD on the 'start of workflow' activity, and then release the button as you hover over the 'Echo State' activity. Then repeat for the 'Echo state' to the 'end of workflow' activities.


Next Click 'Save Workflow'. This will also validate the workflow for errors - the most common are activities or connectors not connected correctly at this point. Then close the designer window fully. You should now be back viewing you process list.


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You should see under workflow revisions that you have 1 revision, and its state is 'under construction'. It is going to be 'checked out' to your user. While it is checked out to you, nobody else can edit the workflow (unless an administrator forces a checkin. You can choose the right hand menu option to 'Check in Revision' which allows the revision be edited by others. In this case select the option 'Put Revision into Production' - ignore everything in the pop up window for and click 'ok'. Your workflow is now runnable in your Aegis environment! Note only one revision can be in production at a time. Putting a revision into production also checks it in also there is no need to check it in separately.


Now open a browser and connect to the Aegis Web Console and navigate to your Hello World Process.


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Click on the green arrow which will prompt you if you want to run the process. If the green arrow isn't present, then the process does not have a revision in production. Agree to start the process.


The process should complete successfully in a matter of seconds - the console isn't exactly real-time so any delay is usually the console refreshing data. You will be taken to the properties tab of the workitem. Again on this screen there is a lot of stuff, find the 'workflow' tab just to the right of the 'properties' tab and select it.


You should now see your workflow all nice and highlighted in green showing success. double click on the Echo activity. You'll have an Input and an Output tab. If everything went correctly you should see Hello World at the activity output.


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And that it - your first workflow done!


Next up is: Aegis Workflow 101 - Input Builder

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