Using the Workflow Editor
The Workflow Designer in Cisco Intersight Cloud Orchestrator is a powerful visual tool that empowers IT professionals to automate and orchestrate complex processes in hybrid cloud environments. With its intuitive interface and robust features, it allows organizations to enhance operational efficiency and agility.
As stated in our overview, the Workflow Designer offers a user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface, enabling users to design automation workflows visually. It is a low-code tool which eliminates the need for extensive coding, making automation accessible to a wider range of IT staff.
Users can also incorporate conditional logic within workflows to make dynamic decisions based on specific criteria or events. This flexibility allows for adaptive and responsive automation processes.
Version control capabilities enable users to track changes to workflows over time. Additionally, the Workflow Designer supports collaboration, allowing multiple team members to work on workflows simultaneously, which enhances teamwork and productivity.
Let’s start with a quick overview of the workflow design process:
- Define a workflow using the Drag-and-Drop Interface - Users begin by dragging and dropping workflow elements onto the design canvas to create a visual representation of the automation process.
- Connect and Configure Tasks - Task elements are connected to define the workflow's flow. Each element can be configured through an intuitive interface to specify its input, parameters, and output.
- Testing and Debugging the Workflow - The Workflow Designer offers tools for testing and debugging workflows before deployment. This ensures that automation processes operate as intended and helps identify and resolve issues during development.
- Deployment and Monitoring for Future Workflow Runs - Users can deploy it to the target environment once satisfied with the workflow. Cisco ICO includes monitoring tools to track the execution of workflows, providing visibility into their performance and status.
To better understand how an end-user will create a workflow, let’s cover more detail of each Workflow Designer sections used to build them.
The General Tab is the starting point that you will enter anytime you hit the ‘Create Workflow’ button within ICO. We begin defining a workflow by specifying some attributes for the workflow:
Display Name – User-friendly name to identify the workflow in the list of all workflows
Reference Name – A system internal (not seen by users) identifier which is used for version management
Organization – The Intersight org which the workflow will be created within (an Intersight Org is a logical entity that supports multi-tenancy within an account through grouping of resources)
Tag – Sets a tag for the task within Intersight (key:value pair)
Description – A description of the workflow
Failed/Terminated Actions – Enables overall functionality for additional post-workflow execution actions
Enable Retry – (if ‘Failed/Terminated Actions’ is enabled) Allows the workflow to attempt to execute the workflow again from where it last failed, or retry the entire workflow execution. (Retrying the execution of the workflow is only possible for up to two weeks after the last update to the workflow)
Enable Auto Rollback – (if ‘Failed/Terminated Actions’ is enabled) Allows the workflow to automatically initiate a rollback of actions that were performed if this setting is enabled. You mush select one of these conditions for rollback: “On Failure”, “On Cancel”, or “On Failure or Cancel”.
Enable Debug Logs – If this setting is enabled, debug log info for the workflow will be generated for each task that is run. Both request and response details are captured within these debug logs in Intersight.
Workflow Inputs – This section will let you create one or more workflow inputs, each of which will have a display name, reference name, description, restrictions (“Required”, “Collection/Multiple”, none), and data type. Any workflow input can be set as either mandatory or optional. In addition, you can create workflow input “Parameter Set” or “Progressive Disclosure” rules, which will define the availability of workflow inputs or filter the data based on previous selections made during the workflow execution.
Workflow Variables – This section lets you define one of more workflow variables, each will have a reference name, data type, restrictions (“Required”, “Collection/Multiple”, none), setting if it will use the Object Selector (this gives a list of Intersight managed object selectors, so that the workflow execution UI show inventory objects from inventory that match the selectors to help with filtering inputs to select), plus any initial mapping to a default value.
Workflow Outputs – This section lets you define one of more workflow outputs, each will have a display name, reference name, description, data type, restrictions (“Required”, “Collection/Multiple”, none), and an option for it to be set as “Secure” (Intersight supports secure properties as task input/output, and their values are encrypted and stored in Intersight)
NOTE: Workflow input values for inputs are essentially matching the same values as within the “Breakdown of ICO Tasks” section, and will not be repeated here.
Workflow Designer General Tab within the UI:
The designer tab is the graphical area which is used to construct your workflow. This graphical layout includes three areas to work with tasks within a workflow.
This area displays all of the Tasks, Workflows, and Operations that are currently available in Intersight, sorted into categories. You can drag and drop a task or a workflow to the grid area to create or edit a workflow. There is also a Search feature to assist the user to find a specific task or workflow.
Tools Area of the Designer Tab within the UI:
This area is where you actually build your workflow. A user will drag and drop tasks and workflows from the Tools area to this grid area of the screen. This area includes the following options that you can use while creating the workflow:
- Zoom in/out (zoom controls)
- Auto Align Workflow (aligns all workflow tasks in the grid area)
- Auto Align Selected Workflow Entities (aligns selected entities in the grid area)
- Toggle Task Search (lets user search for a specific task within the workflow)
- Auto Connect Selected Workflow Entity
- NOTE: Auto Connect will add the workflow entity in the design area, and allows a user to drag and drop a task in between existing tasks; possible locations where a task can be added is shown by a green ‘+’ icon
Tools Area of the Designer Tab showing possible drag & drop locations within the UI:
Task Properties Area
This area only displays when a workflow entity is selected; this is where you define the task properties, inputs, outputs, and variables.
The only new value that we have not seen previously is “Outcomes” which are possible values with Executors (our custom Infrastructure as Code tasks)
(NOTE: These values for inputs match the same values as within the “Breakdown of ICO Tasks” section and will not be repeated here.)
Task Properties Area of the Designer Tab within the UI:
The mapping tab of the Workflow Designer gives a read-only table view to show the relationships that exist across workflow inputs, task inputs, task outputs and workflow outputs. The task inputs and task outputs sections are displayed by task with the workflow, and these sections can both be collapsed to show only the task names.
NOTE: No edits can be made within the mapping tab, but it gives an easy visual to the relationships between all of these values, without having to check each component in the designer tab.
Workflow Designer Mapping Tab within the UI:
This tab gives a read-only view of the workflow as the full JSON which you would get when you export/download a workflow. Code from this tab can be copied to quickly clone large portions of workflows, or as examples of leveraging the Intersight API.
Workflow Designer Code Tab within the UI:
This tab shows any execution of a running workflow, or past executions. You can see a dropdown of all workflow executions, and then the display of all components from that execution including tasks, workflow inputs, task logs or inputs/outputs, and the overall workflow execution status.
This tab also provides buttons to either rollback or clone any previous workflow execution.
From the 'Actions' dropdown menu, we can see that we have the ability to export this workflow, manage versions of this workflow, save it as either a new version or a clone of the existing workflow, or we can delete the workflow.
These actions make it easy for a new user to start with any built-in/system workflow and clone it to use as a template, so that we can understand how to map workflow and task inputs/outputs. Users can also leverage having built-in versioning of workflows so that we can always keep a tested and validated version of a workflow, which can also be set as the default version, even while we are working on changes.
Overall, the Cisco Intersight Cloud Orchestrator Workflow Designer is a pivotal tool that transforms the automation landscape by offering an intuitive, yet robust, visual interface. Organizations can accelerate automation initiatives, reduce manual effort, and optimize operations in hybrid cloud environments with the help of Cisco ICO's Workflow Designer. Embrace automation efficiency with Cisco Intersight Cloud Orchestrator.